The Foreknowledge of God

This is one of various articles in our Discipleship Series. You may read the other articles here .

“All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

According to the Bible, God has all knowledge. He cannot learn because there is nothing unknown to Him. The fact that God knows everything from before creation is a source of comfort to some and a source of difficulty for others.

Known to God Are All His Works… (Acts 15:18)

It is awesome to see what God has done to reveal Himself to the world. He is not only the Creator of all things, but is creation’s redeemer. God, who exists outside of time, (and has existed from all eternity past,) knew the consequences of creating man: our rebellion and need for redemption. He therefore, in His foreknowledge and preordained plan, exercised in His creative work the inclusion of the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. He is the substitutionary offering for our sin and for its accompanying judgment.

According to the Bible, God knows the end from the beginning. It is therefore necessary to understand that God did not create man to find that a plan of redemption would be needed, but in fact planned redemption as part of His creation. Nothing was an after-thought and nothing took Him by surprise. It is therefore comforting to know that the plan from the beginning was to redeem us unto Himself, a people for His good pleasure, and to whom He would bestow grace and eternal life. Those He redeems cannot surprise Him. They can’t let Him down or disappoint Him. Before saving us He knew everything we have done… and all we are yet do. God did not and does not trick Himself into blindness or ignorance about our past… or about our future. Knowing this, we understand that He is pleased to save us…in spite of us. He will never “change His mind” about us, about how He loves us, or about the salvation He provides. We are secure in Him.

Based upon an understanding of God’s foreknowledge and preordained plan Paul enthusiastically declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:3-8)

What great comfort we have in the Lord. How awesome is His grace toward us, and the security we have in Him. Praise the Lord who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Not Willing That Any Should Perish… (2 Peter 3:9)

At the other end of the spectrum is the fact that God, knowing all things before time, has nonetheless created mankind, knowing also that many would reject His gracious offer of salvation and be damned to an endless eternity without Him. For many this provides a great deal of discomfort. God’s sovereign act of creating man, knowing many would end up in an eternal hell, is seen as unjust and unloving. However, creating men without the freedom to respond to Him would provide a greater criticism. Those He created and appointed to eternal life would be forced into a relationship with Him (as though that would be a bad thing), and those He created for hell would be pre-appointed to that destination without hope of eternal life.

The Question of Love

The above position forces us to ask many questions. Did God predestine some people to an endless eternity in hell so that He might predestine others to heaven? Why not just create those He predestines to heaven and leave the others “uncreated?” Why would God create anyone whom He claims to love just to send them to hell without hope of heaven? What kind of love creates only to destroy? What kind of love desires to damn? The Bible clearly says God is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Is that a play on words? Was Peter wrong in his declaration? Does God pre-damn some to hell without remedy? Is God trying to trick us into believing He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) when in fact He doesn’t? Was Paul wrong? The answers to these questions are obvious. God is love. It is His nature to save. He is grieved over the sin of man and has therefore provided atonement for sin. The sacrifice Jesus made is not just for those who are saved but was for the sin of the whole world. “And He Himself (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) It is those who refuse His offer of forgiveness who are damned.

Sola Scriptura (The Scriptures Alone)

The only reliable answers to the questions we ask are found in the Bible… in the Bible alone.

He Draws All Men to Himself (John 12:32)

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32) Earlier in John we find the Lord involved in a discussion with Nicodemus about this very thing. He taught that He would be lifted up (crucified) for the sins of the world and if He were lifted up He would draw all men to Himself. He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) The drawing power of God through the person of the Holy Spirit is available to all men everywhere as a result of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. And why? Because He is not willing that any should perish.

Misstated Foreknowledge

Some people believe God knows all things because He causes all things. This belief is unbiblical. The Bible teaches us that God know all things – before time began. Some people believe God must cause things in order to know them. This too is error. Satan may “predict” future events and then attempt to bring about their fulfillment but this is certainly not the way God acts upon or see’s into the future. The future is as plain to God as the past. It is as if God observes the universe from the outside, including past, present and future. He is able to “see” it all at once. Were it any other way God would be limited. If He were limited He wouldn’t be God. If God only know what He causes, then not only is He limited but is responsible for every act man has done and will do. He would therefore be responsible for the acts of men even when those acts are evil. No rational person can attribute to God the atrocities of fallen man. It is man who has chosen to reject the ways of the Lord; the resulting effects are all around us. For this reason, Jesus died, to save us from sin and sins consequences.

The summary of these things brings us to understand that the only true and living God, who knows all things from before time began, desires all men to be saved. Therefore, He draws us to Himself. He is not willing that any should perish. So, before time began He planned for our redemption – in Christ. Those who refuse His gracious offer are left to themselves and will spend eternity in hell separated from the God who made them. It will be the fault of men who refuse His grace and therefore suffer the consequences. All men deserve hell. It is the appropriate consequence for our sin. However, God, in His great love, has provided Himself a sacrifice for our sin, that we might inherit eternal life. In His foreknowledge God new many would reject Him. However, He chose to allow this that He might make His glory known to those who believe. Surrender to Christ today.

Blessings upon you all,

Pastor Paul D. Van Noy