The time machine
Foreknowledge is the ability to know what will happen in the future. Apparently, being omniscient (knowing everything) is one of the side benefits of being God Almighty. Obviously, there is no way to explain how God can know the future. All I can say is our concept of time is completely irrelevant in eternity.
God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is an eternal being who has never had a beginning and will never have an end. These concepts are totally beyond our comprehension. Following are some verses that talk about God’s ability to know the future:
The extreme doctrines of both selective salvation and Arminianism have produced some unique views on the subject of God’s foreknowledge. Selective Salvationists think the reason God knows what will happen in the future is because He planned it to happen that way. They do not believe He inherently knows what will happen in the future. They created this belief because it reinforces their doctrine of selective salvation.
This view of foreknowledge, of course, is not true. Just because God knows the outcome of a certain event doesn’t mean He necessarily wants that outcome to take place. For example, He knows in advance you are going to commit a certain sin. Does God want you to commit that sin? No, of course not. If you want to say God planned every aspect of the future, you have to say God planned every one of your sins. This, of course, opens up a whole new set of problems.
Arminians, on the other hand, don’t believe in God’s foreknowledge. They say God’s knowledge of the future is only an educated guess based on human nature. They say since God has an exhaustive knowledge of the past and present, He is able to predict (prognosticate) what will happen in the future. They say God knows what people, particularly large groups of people, will do in any given set of circumstances. This view is also known as presentism, neo-Arminianism, or free-will theism.
Part of the reason Arminians take this unique position on foreknowledge is because it is a knee-jerk reaction to the doctrine of selective salvation. Their thought goes something like this: "God cannot have absolute sovereign control if He doesn’t know the future. Therefore, if He does not control the future, He can’t control who's getting saved."
This view on foreknowledge causes some serious problems in regard to the Biblical test of a true prophet. A key test of a true prophet is the accuracy of his predictions. The Bible says 100% of the prophet’s predictions must come true. It says a person is a false prophet if the accuracy of his predictions falls below 100%.
If God does not inherently know the future, there is no way to ensure the prophets predictions will be 100%. The prophet runs the risk of being stoned to death every time he makes a prophecy. If God tells a prophet to say, "Thus saith the Lord …" the prophet is delivering a promise from God. If the promise is not fulfilled, God becomes a liar. God, of course, cannot be holy and righteous if He is a liar.
The reason I bring up the issue of foreknowledge is because some Christians try to rationalize predestination with God’s foreknowledge. They find it inconceivable God would arbitrarily choose to send people to Heaven and Hell. They say His selection process must have something to do with His foreknowledge. They say God made His selection based on His knowledge of who will become repentant and humble in the future.
Although this approach to predestination is not nearly as harsh as the other view, it still lacks scriptural support. There is nothing in the Bible that says God used His foreknowledge to select people for salvation. This approach is just a rationalization used to try to explain away a difficult subject.
The reason these Christians were forced to come up with an alternate view is because they started out with the false assumption that predestination is referring to salvation. If they had realized predestination has nothing to do with salvation, they wouldn’t have needed to try to explain it away.
The Canons of Dort lists several things the Christian leaders felt were heresy. One of these "heresies" was the issue of foreknowledge (God using foreknowledge to make His selection). Article 9 says God’s selection was "not on the basis of foreseen faith." To emphasize the error of this viewpoint, the Canons of Dort addressed it a second time (under "Error V"). Here they say humility, repentance, holiness, and godliness were not the basis of God’s selection.
Other Chapters in this Section
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
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