What is the connection between predestination / election and foreknowledge?
Predestination/election (God's prior choosing) and foreknowledge (knowing who would be saved from eternity past) are difficult concepts to understand in studying the Bible. How are these concepts related?
In Ephesians 1:3-10, the apostle Paul sought to weave these concepts together: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
In the Arminian understanding of salvation, it is believed that God elected people to salvation based on what they would choose. Because God knew ahead of time who would believe, He chose or elected those particular people.
In the Reformed tradition, God both chose/elected those who would be saved ahead of time and knew how it would later take place. The emphasis is placed on God's sovereign control and knowledge of all things rather than human choice.
In both cases, it is affirmed that God chose ahead of time who would be saved and is in control of all things, including the salvation of all people. In addition, Romans 8:29 teaches, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined." In other words, God has done both. He knew ahead of time and He also chose ahead of time. This is not a case of one or the other, but rather both/and. However, in the Arminian view man's choice holds more weight whereas in the Reformed view, man's choice to believe is motivated and enabled by God's primary act of predestination.
As a perfect, infinite God who exists outside of time, He sees beginning and end of time and every moment in between at the same time. As Scripture teaches, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). We may not fully comprehend every aspect of salvation, but we can affirm what God has revealed in Scripture. He has chosen who will be saved and yet also calls His followers to share the gospel and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Believers cannot lack in zeal for sharing the gospel because of God's sovereignty, but instead can confidently share Christ, knowing that He is in control of the results.
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