by Rev. Joda Collins
The Bible doctrines of Foreknowledge, Election and Predestination go hand-in-hand. These doctrines have been debated among wise and experienced theologians for more than two-thousand years. Every learned theologian knows these doctrines; however, no theologian understands everything he knows about all three or exactly how they relate to and interact with each other. There is not a person, alive or dead (except the Lord Jesus Christ) who fully understands the doctrines of Foreknowledge, Election and Predestination. There are plenty of people who write or speak as if they know everything about these doctrines. However, no matter what position a person takes on these doctrines or how artfully presented, a skilled theologian can pose a question or two that exposes a weakness in every position.
Here is what I know about God's Foreknowledge. Nothing takes God by surprise. He knows everything about everything, including every future event before it happens.
Here is what I know about Election. "...Israel my elect...." (Isaiah 45:4 KJV). The Jewish nation is the chosen (elected) people of God because the are special to God in a way that no other nation is special to God. That means that, if you are not Jewish, you are not now nor will you ever be special to God in the way that a Jewish person is or in the way that the Jewish nation is special to God. Another title for a Christian is "God's elect." (Romans 8:23). The concept of "election" is synonymous with the concept of being chosen by God, whether it be the chosen nation of Israel, the chosen Jewish people, a chosen Jewish person, or a chosen person whom the Bible titles a Christian. While the Jewish person and the Christian person are both elect, the election is not the same. Taking the word elect to mean chosen (which is what it means), you can choose clothes to wear and you can choose a house to buy and live in. You can choose a meal at a restaurant and you can choose to get up 10-minutes early tomorrow morning. Choosing something, someone, some time, some meal, some clothes or a house does not mean that every choice has the same value, importance, ramifications or emotional attachment to you. Jewish people are special to God in a way that no other person or nation can be. Whether that means the value, importance or ramifications of that difference is more or less important compared to other things or persons God chooses is debatable. Whether God has a greater emotional attachment to the Jewish nation compared to Christians is a valid question. The difference may be in degree or substance. I do not know. All I know is when I meet a Jewish person I am extra nice and extra considerate to him or her and I am always extra nice and extra considerate to Jewish people who are part of my life. After reading Genesis 12:3 and Deuteronomy 30:7, I am afraid to be otherwise.
Here are the two things I know about Predestination. First, every Christian is predestined to conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29.) Second, I know "...God...has blessed us (by)...choosing us...from (before) the foundation of the world...having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself...being predestined according to the purpose of (God)...." (Ephesians 1:4-5) (Parenthesis mine).
Here is one thing I know about Evangelism. Any conclusion reached by the study of God's Foreknowledge, the Election of the Saints and Predestination that ends with a de-emphasis on the importance, necessity or urgency of Evangelism is a wrong conclusion because:
1. Jesus sent his disciples out to evangelize.
2. Jesus mandates that every saved person evangelizes.
3. Where there is less evangelism there are fewer converts to Christ.
4. Where there is greater evangelism there are more converts to Christ.
5. The Apostle Paul said, "...woe unto me if I preach not the gospel...." (1 Corinthians 9:16)
6. Romans 10:13-15 states,"...whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How...shall they call on him...and...believe in him in whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?...."
7. The Apostle Paul gave his life to and for the cause of evangelism.
All of these facts means evangelism is valuable and necessary.
Do I believe in the doctrines of God's Foreknowledge, the Election of the Saints and Predestination? Absolutely. Do I believe that any one of these doctrines or any combination of these doctrines negates or lessens the value, necessity or mandate to evangelize the world? Absolutely not. Can I understand how some people could view these doctrines as reasons not to evangelize? Yes, I can. Can I explain these three doctrines in a way that everyone would agree with me or even in a manner where every reasonable person would have no lingering questions? No, I cannot and I have never met anyone who could nor read anything from anyone who did.
Does my lack of full understanding bother me? No. My joy and confidence is not in my understanding of doctrines, but in my personal relationship with God, the author of those doctrines. I do not have to understand everything about an airplane to relax and enjoy the flight when the plane is under the control of a skilled pilot. Plus, if you or I could understand everything about everything, we would be God and there would be no space left in our lives for faith. "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17). We are supposed to study God's Word (2 Timothy 2:15), but we are to rejoice in our relationship with our Lord (Philippians 4:4).
I thank God that he foreknew me, elected me and predestined me; however, let me tell you about Jesus. He died for your past, present and future sins so that you could be free of the penalty of your sins (hell) and spend eternity with him in a sinless heaven. To do that you must admit to God you are a sinner, be serious about being willing to turn from your sins and ask God to save you from hell to heaven. He will. (Romans 10:9-10).