God’s Infallible Foreknowledge

Posted on March 28, 2014 by


Dear Reader,

This blog post is for those Christians that believe God sees/knows the future. It assumes that you also believe that is so. Of course,all are welcome to read this and respond in any way they see fit and proper.
fore·knowl·edge (fôr-nŏl′ĭj, fōr-, fôr′nŏl′-, fōr′-). n. Knowledge or awareness of something before its existence or occurrence; prescience

From Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary:


In his omniscience God knows what the future holds both for individuals and for nations. He knows and sees everything in advance and his will is carried out in accord with his plans and purposes. In the Old Testament God’s foreknowledge is usually represented by the verb yada[[;d”y], which is the normal verb for “know.” In the New Testament the main verbs are proginosko [proginwvskw], “to know in advance, ” andproorao, “to see what is ahead.” Foreknowledge is closely connected to election and predestination and to God’s sovereign rule of his universe.
As the all-knowing One, God knows everything about us, including “all the days ordained for me before one of them came to be” ( Psalm 139:16 ). He knows our thoughts and words even before they are expressed ( Psalm 139:4 ; Matt 26:34 ), and he can determine our life’s work before we are born. Jeremiah was set apart in the womb to be a prophet, chosen to minister to the nations ( Jer 1:5 ). The idea of choice is also evident in the call of Abraham to be the founder of God’s covenant nation. When Genesis 18:19 says “I have chosen him, ” the verb is literally “I knew him.”


From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy :FOREKNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL

First published Tue Jul 6, 2004; substantive revision Thu Aug 25, 2011
Fatalism is the thesis that human acts occur by necessity and hence are unfree. Theological fatalism is the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free.
Fatalism seems to be entailed by infallible foreknowledge by the following informal line of reasoning:
For any future act you will perform, if some being infallibly believed in the past that the act would occur, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed what he believed since nobody has any control over past events; nor can you make him mistaken in his belief, given that he is infallible. Therefore, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed in a way that cannot be mistaken that you would do what you will do. But if so, you cannot do otherwise than what he believed you would do. And if you cannot do otherwise, you will not perform the act freely.
The same argument can be applied to any infallibly foreknown act of any human being. If there is a being who infallibly knows everything that will happen in the future, no human being has any control over the future.
The theological fatalist argument just given creates a dilemma because many people have thought it important to maintain both (1) there is a deity who infallibly knows the entire future, and (2) human beings have free will in the strong sense usually called libertarian. But the theological fatalist argument seems to show that (1) and (2) are incompatible; the only way consistently to accept (2) is to deny (1). Those philosophers who think there is a way to consistently maintain both (1) and (2) are called compatibilists about infallible foreknowledge and human free will. Compatibilists must either identify a false premise in the argument for theological fatalism or show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Incompatibilists accept the incompatibility of infallible foreknowledge and human free will and deny either infallible foreknowledge or free will in the sense targeted by the argument.
There is a fallacy there my friends in that it assumes that if God foreknows our choice, our choice is not free. Now many people called Calvinists don’t believe in free will, so they say, but in reality, they live and act and judge others as if free will exists. I am a 5 point Calvinist but I believe in free will.  So we have this choice, we can believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge and thus NOT believe in the freedom of will OR we can believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge and believe in freedom of the will and be >compatibilistsic< in our understanding.
Do you believe in God having infallible foreknowledge?
If so, then what follows is, I believe, something for you to ponder and pray about as the SBC seeks to find unity among ourselves despite divisions in important understandings of election and atonement.
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 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. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [Acts 2]
Did these who nailed Jesus to the cross do so by their own free will? Did they betray Him and wound Him and gamble over His clothes and fulfill many other OT prophecies freely and willingly?
Yes? If so, the we are on the same page. Despite the truth that what was done was foreknown by God and His predetermined plan, it was done freely- by their own free will[s].
Lets continue.
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.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, [1st Peter 1]
Now as a Calvinist, I might be drawn to the words “has caused us” but my goal here is unity on election and atonement and the HOW of salvation is not in my scope. Instead let us look at the phrase “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
Now this passage in general poses no problem for my theology but it is used by  some to declare that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge and specifically they would postulate that it is His foreknowledge of our willfully chosen faith and trust in Jesus that makes us “chosen” or elect.
Now as a side note, there are those who see that no one is elect until they come by faith, as these understand from this passage from Ephesians 1:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him
The “us” are not individuals but are to be seen in a corporate understanding: as a person becomes “in” Christ they become elect because He is the Elect One..  Does this affect the thrust of my discussion?  No, as long as these also believe in God’s infallible foreknowledge. If so they are still in the same boat and headed the same direction.
Here then is a quick summary: God foreknows who will be saved and in that sense has always known who will be saved infallibly. if you have agreed so far but disagree with this, respond and explain why, if you so please. To add a little: God knows infallibly EXACTLY who will freely put their trust in Him and has known this from before the foundation of the world. These are, at least from the perspective of looking back in time from the second resurrection: the ELECT.
Still with me in the boat? I hope so. Now let us move out further into the sea, out where the waters can get quite choppy. Yes, let us move on to the Atonement.
We agree on God’s infallible foreknowledge, We agree that by that foreknowledge God knows from the foundation of the world who will be with Him in Heaven, the elect. And let us discuss Atonement.

in the many ways to look at atonement, one way is to look at when it happens. One might say it happens at the cross. Another might say it happens at the moment of faith. I think it happens at both places but with different definitions.

Until a person gets saved, the Bible is quite clear that the hate God, see Him as their enemy, are followers of Satan, and choosers of a sinful life. When a person gets saved, the Bible says that the love God, see Him as friend, follow Him, and choose a godly life. Their life is changed, the blood is applied, the Spirit indwells, they are forgiven, they are made new. Whereas before they were headed to Hell and deservedly so, they are now headed to Heaven. Thus it is fair to say that the atonement procured at the cross has been applied to these who have willing of their own free will put their hope and trust in Jesus.

And though we cannot see their heart, we can hear their testimony and see their changed life and give them the right hand of fellowship. From our perspective we see them as a new brother or sister in Christ. A year before Paul was met on the road to Damascus, it would have taken a prophet indeed to see Paul [then Saul] becoming a Christian one day. Who knew?

God. God knew.
He didn’t share it, but He knew.

God knew from before the foundation of the world the destiny of Saul of Tarsus. He knew infallibly that Saul would surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and willingly put his hope and trust in the crucified risen Lord.

I hope that the destiny of my daughters is to be in Christ, but I honestly do not know what they will choose. God does.

God knows if they will submit to Him or reject the Gospel and perish. He knows. He has infallible foreknowledge. He knows EXACTLY who, by name, by birth place, by fingerprint, by year, by country, by age, and by number, who will be saved. These and ONLY these will be saved, otherwise His foreknowledge is not infallible.

Assuming that it is, we can be bold to also say that God knows exactly who will not be saved, down to the number, and name by name., and that He has always known who these people are.

For a Calvinist, like me, that is simply a part of my understanding, even as hard as it is. For a non-Calvinist, you may be wanting to get out of the boat and put some distance from me in a theological sense. BUT WAIT… IF you believe that God has infallible foreknowledge, how can you not agree with what I have just said? Please respond and lets dialogue some.

Assuming we are in agreement so far, let us go back to perspectives and apply some ideas to the atonement. Remember i also said that one perspective of the atonement is when it is applied to a person, when they believe, but that another perspective is when it was procured there on His cross.

From our perspective and from the way the Gospel is to be preached, people are sinners in need of salvation that can only be found in Jesus and that until they do, they are lost; and unless they find salvation in Jesus they will remain lost and perish in their sins. And this Gospel we are  commissioned to preach to all men everywhere, so that in hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, they might surrender themselves to Him and be saved. We know not which are elect and which never will trust Him. Some we think are too hard and evil surprise us with their humility and their desire to bow before our Lord. In this sense, we have a general call, and we preach, in a sense, a general atonement, so that we do faithfully declare that all or any that call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike should preach that Gospel call to all. Every 5 pointer i know preaches that call to all. Even one that said that compared to our Calvinist leaning SBC church as opposed to another church down the road, said that they were the Free-Will Baptists and we were the unfree-will baptists happens to be a man who has gone many times to both Africa and South America to bring the Gospel to the poor, and has aided others financially to join him. He makes a general call and preaches a general atonement trusting in God to save.

But there is another perspective that we humans do not have but that God does. God knows exactly who in that crowd, if any, or if all, are of His elect [He has infallible foreknowledge after all]. When He decided to and when He did send His Son into the world, He knew exactly who would be saved and who would be lost, no more and no less. In that sense, and from that perspective, the atoning work of Jesus is particular, it is limited.

Now i am not speaking of God’s desires. I am speaking of what God knows, what He has always known, and what is pragmatic and sure: God knows that the blood of Jesus will only save a limited, specific, and particular number of people. No more and no less.

From God’s perspective the atonement is limited.
From our perspective it is general.

There is still a lot in these matters that we will disagree on, and should disagree on as our hearts lead us to truth. But if we agree on God having infallible foreknowledge, than these are things we can agree on, and should agree on.