The issue of God’s foreknowledge and the predestining of a people for Himself is a pretty big topic for us. It is a difficult one, because we like to be in control of our life and what is happening in it. Another reason that these two topics/words seem to be hard for people is, in my mind, due largely to a misunderstanding of what it means for God to “foreknow” someone and what predestination actually is. In this blog, I will attempt to shed some light on the meaning behind these terms so as to better help you understand what is being referred to in the passages where this words appear or where their principles are shown.
One of the more common examples of the misunderstanding of these words is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, chapter 8 verse 29. The English Standard Version (ESV) translates this verse as follows.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29
First, I want to address foreknowledge. God’s foreknowledge is his intimate knowing or connection with someone. So God foreknowing a person, is like the intimate connection that you share with your spouse. I guess you could think of it as “love at first sight”. Therefore, Romans 8:29 could be worded in this way; “For those whom he had an intimate connection with…”
Now, I believe in order to understand predestination in all it’s fullness, you really need a good grasp on the Providential work of God. For now, I just will summarize this doctrine. God’s providence is basically God’s roll in the preserving and governing of his creation. Being of the reformed mindset, I believe that God plays a super active role in the preservation and government of all that he has made. To the point, that I believe not only does he allow things to happen but that He ordains and even causes it to happen. Therefore, I would say that predestination is God’s providential work in the salvation of His people. So I would say in the verses where predestined, in any of it’s forms, is used that is God’s active choosing and ordaining of said circumstance. Example, in Romans 8:29, the predestination is God’s active choosing of “those whom He had an intimate connection with” to be conformed to the image of Christ.
This is where you will find that having a proper framework through which your approach Scripture, to be vitally important because your framework WILL determine the way your see Scripture. Thus blinding you to the truth that Scripture is actually teaching.
- Westminster Confession of Faith
- Reymond’s New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith