I have been stirred to look again into my understanding of God’s perfect knowledge of the future. I had a lively discussion with several close and dear friends about this subject last weekend. (No worries here we are still close friends!) We were on opposite sides of the argument. I was advocating what I see as the Biblical point of view; that God has an exhaustive and causative knowledge of all things past present and future even the choices of men. They were standing with a point of view that is referred to as an Openness theology. That God knows the past and present perfectly and He can see all possible out comes of every choice that is currently being made but that He does NOT know what choice we are going to make. I don’t have the time, the eloquence, or the education to completely back my point of view on this, but I don’t feel like I can let this moment pass unmarked. To be honest I am saddened, heartbroken, and deeply shaken at the vehemence of my friends against the historical, orthodox view of God’s Foreknowledge. I know where they are coming from. I understand WHY they want to believe this. First they were taught it by a very good teacher. I heard the man teach and he had a lot of amazing and Biblical things to say. He had some real insight into the character and nature of God and I don’t think, in most of the things that he teaches, that he is off, but on this one point he is. Second it is on the outside an appealing thing to think about, for several reasons:
1. If God does not know or cause the choices of man then it is not God’s “fault” when things go in the apparent opposite direction He said they were going to go. When tragedy happens and the pain of life is huge we can look to the Lord and know He is standing with us in it and it is NOT His fault, but He is working in the midst of these regrettable circumstances to bring about our good. Things may not be exactly as He planned but He can through infinite patience and power work His way around to His desired end. That feels good! It really does! This sucks but God didn’t do it to me so I can worship anyway! It helps to keep accusation from our God is a good God, and a good God would not create someone knowing they would choose to reject Him and go to Hell. A good God would not choose to frustrate and confuse His people with the torments of failed dreams and unfulfilled expectations and most of all a good God would not choose for the innocent to suffer for no reason at all. He cannot have known that was going to happen and not done anything to stop it!
We will sum this reason up in the phrase “A good God would not let that happen”.
2. This means that prayer and preaching and the things we do for the Lord really have deep and lasting impact! What we do really really matters! If God knows and ordains all things then He already knows what we are going to do and what we are not and He has already seen the end therefore our actions do not matter. His end will come whether we choose to help Him or not. If He does NOT know our choices then we can either help or hinder His plan. He will work with us or around us, but it is up to us, and we are really helping Him really changing things and the future when we do what He wants us to do! My friends are people like myself that are called to a lifestyle of prayer and fasting and this adds urgency to prayer it really does. We will sum this statement up in the phrase, “My decisions mean something eternally”.
3.This may be a part of the other two but I wanted to add it in. This reason says that if God already knows every choice I am going to make that I am not freely making those decisions and I have no free will. We will call this one, “God gave me free will”
I do not make light of these reasons. They are real and powerful but lets talk about them one by one.
1. “A good God wouldn’t let that happen”. This is circular reasoning and it does not work. Even if God did not see it coming He still has the power to stop it. Which is a “better” God? The God who knows and even on some level “wills” evil because He is using this for His own glory shaping and molding the final end that He has set in His eternal purpose, or the God who is surprised by the evil of man but does little or nothing to stop it from happening? That, my friends, is not a good God. Which is a more comforting and powerful interpretation of Romans 8:28? – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God created this situation to do me eternal good, or God didn’t realize I would be in this place but now that I am here He will work it out the best He can. I can’t live with the second. I cherish the first! Even in my darkest times I can look around and say, “God knew. God wanted me here. He has something amazing on the other side and I will thank Him for this some day.”
2. The next two we will take together – “My decisions mean something eternally” and “God gave me free will” I agree with both of these statements. I do not believe that just because He knows what decision we will make means we are not free to make the decision. I don’t understand how the fact that He knows the outcome means He is taking away our free will? “Those He foreknew He predestined.” I love that phrase. It is a deep and abiding reality in my life. That God knew before creation that I would be His and He has waited with anticipation to see my face and love me. I am so grateful for that. I am humbled, honored and awakened again to the majesty of this drama I have the glory of being a part of. The eternal dance. My prayers cause Him to move just like He knew they would. He waits on them before He does what is in His heart. Why? Because He loves my prayers! My service blesses Him. Even though He doesn’t need it He loves it. He is the one who really does it all, but He wanted me along for the ride simply because He loves the look on my face when He does it. What a demonstration of His glory. That He could use weak broken erring vessels to accomplish His eternal purpose and He never has to rethink or change His plans. He had it in the palm of His hand all along.
Oh the depths of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God!
For From Him Through Him and To Him be all things!
To GOD AND GOD ALONE be the Glory forever AMEN!!!!!!