Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Pre-Evident Grace" -- a.k.a. The Real Meaning of Foreknowledge

This was a post I made in the comments on one of Elizabeth Prata's recent posts about Calvinism. I had remarked that the Bible itself was the strongest argument for the doctrines of grace, because after you hear all the preachers make their case, you are left with the undeniable fact that the Bible says God elects people for salvation not based on what they do. In fact, the Bible says faith is a gift, so how can faith be something you give to God to make Him save you? It can't.

I ended my first post by saying that those who don't accept Calvinism, ultimately, then, are not treating the Bible as if it is inerrant or authoritative. Someone replied that non-calvinists can believe the Bible's inerrant. I agree, it's possible, but here is what I had to say:

If you believe the Bible is inerrant in theory, then show that you believe it in practice.

When the Bible says this: "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. " (Romans 8:29-30),

then acknowledge that God decides where someone will spend eternity BEFORE the call (contemporaneous with regeneration and initiation of conversion), and before they become a believer who has faith in God (which is justification). The eternal destiny is set before belief begins. How then can anyone say that God decides to save people based on what they will believe? You can say that God knows the future, that is undoubtedly true -- BUT it misses the point that the logical sequence of God's actions from God's perspective are laid out in these verses, and it shows that God follows a sequence.

Foreknowledge is, (and this is yet another exciting proof of the doctrine of Illumination, because I had reasoned to this before) as John MacArthur recently said in a radio broadcast, not a mere knowledge of the future. In fact, the verse specifically does NOT say that it is the *future* that God knows (He does know it, but it's not the context), it is **those He justifies** that He knows.

This is an article from Grace To You confirming my statement about JMac's view.
What then is foreknowledge? God has an intimate relationship with certain people, others He does not. And as a merciful God, He would never enter into close communion with someone and then cast them off afterward. The point of foreknowledge is to show that God doesn't choose people based on their belief in Him -- He chooses people based on what sort of relationship He is going to have with them. Those whom He will be to as a Father, those He will secure eternally for salvation, and ensure that before earthly death, that He will justify them by faith and give them the right to be called children of God.

When I understood this passage, I understood why I naturally comprehended the qualities of God like omniscience, omnipotence, goodness, Biblical infallibility etc, long before my crisis of faith that led to my conversion whereafter I *consciously* apprehended the Gospel and can claim salvation by grace through faith. I was a nominal believer before, but I can see God's hand in my life keeping me from the kinds of behavior patterns (sexuality and drugs being obvious examples) that beset so many others I've heard stories from. I was morally upright, in a limited human sense, and it was by the grace of God, because I was not spiritually regenerate, just well behaved and with a good brain. I believe that God, knowing that I *would* be brought into a right relationship with Him as His child, extended "pre-evident grace" (if you will humor me making up a new word) to me even during the time of my life that I lived without the full knowledge of salvation.

That is foreknowledge. It is not "knowing that I would choose Him." It is knowing that He would choose ME, and ensuring that as a consequence, He would lead me by His Spirit to come to an eventual understanding of the Gospel that I might be saved through the hearing of the word preached.

If someone insists that Romans 8 implies that God saves men based on knowing that they will believe on their own, then they are not honoring the Word and even if they insist that it is infallible, they are not submitting to what it plainly says and are not in practice treating the Word as if it is true, or authoritative.

That is my lengthier treatment of this matter. I hope I neither seemed too harsh or too soft. It's a serious issue but it doesn't make someone a heretic -- it does require your repentance, though.

Thanks for reading.

~ Rak Chazak

No comments:

Post a Comment