Q. My Sunday school teacher explained that there are two views with respect to our salvation. The foreordination view says God foreordains everything that comes to pass according to His good pleasure. The foreknowledge view says God foresees who will believe Him, and chooses them based on this foreknowledge. I spoke to people in my cell group and their opinions are divided. Which is correct?
A. My short answer is the foreordination view is the biblical one. Here is my rationale. The key issue is the sovereignty of God. Both views agree that God chooses the elect before the foundation of the world
• Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
However, their reason for God’s choice differ. The foreknowledge view asserts that God foresees who will believe in Jesus, and chooses these to be saved:
• 1 Pet 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
In this view, the final decision of who gets saved rests with man, whether he believes in Jesus. God simply confirms man’s decision by choosing those who would believe. Man is sovereign, God is not, in the matter of salvation.
The foreordination view, on the other hand, claims that God chooses according to His purpose, the kind intention of His will:
• Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
• Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
In this view God’s choice is not pre-conditioned by man’s action. He does whatever His hand and His purpose predestined to occur (Acts 4:28). God is sovereign, man is not.
Logically, the foreknowledge view cannot be true, because by definition, God is sovereign. God is the Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe, with authority over everything. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. How can man the creature dictate the final outcome and God the Creator simply rubber stamp? It just does not make sense. But then how do we explain 1 Peter 1:2?
To begin with, foreknowledge is simply a subset of omniscience. Since God knows all things, of course He knows what will happen before it happens, including who will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. But His choice is not based on man’s action:
• Rom 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
• Rom 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Man’s will does not have the final say, God’s purpose does.
Secondly, foreknowledge mean more than prior knowledge. It includes that, but is not limited to cognition. The word “foreknowledge” translates the Greek noun prognosis, which means both foreknowledge and forethought, pre-arrangement:
• Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Jesus was delivered over by the pre-arrangement, not just prior knowledge, of God. It was His pre-determined plan.
Furthermore, foreknown means more than being known beforehand. The Greek verb proginosko can also mean predestined, foreordained:
• 1 Pet 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
“Previously known” would be inadequate, only predestined would do.
1 Pet 1:2 could therefore be translated “chosen according to the prearrangement of God”. So both logically and biblically, I believe the foreordination view is the correct one.