54.    Doesn't the bible teach that God chooses those whose faith he foresees?

Many Arminians believe the bible teaches that God elects those whose faith he foresees, based primarily upon two passages: Romans 8:30 and 1 Peter 1:1-2. Both of these passages speak of God's election or calling of those whom he foreknew. However, neither of these passages teach what Arminianism claims. God chooses the people whom he foreknows, not the people whose faith or works he foresees. But what does it mean to “foreknow” a people? Does it mean that God did not know anything about any of the non-elect, that their sudden appearance in history was a surprise to him? Of course not: the terminology of “knowing” someone, throughout the scriptures, means having an intimate personal relationship with that person, which is different from his relationship with anyone else (see Genesis 4:1, for example). Hence, God tells Israel that he has “known” them alone of all the families on the earth – not that he was unaware that other tribes existed,
but because he had a unique, special relationship with them (Amos 3:2). In the same vein, Christ declared that he would one day tell all religious imposters, “I never knew you,” which means, not that he was intellectually unaware of them, but that he did not have a relationship with them (Mat. 7:22-23). Thus, biblically, God's foreknowledge of the elect simply means that he loved and desired them uniquely, and considered them different from all others, before they were ever born or had done anything good or bad.

Furthermore, the bible could not mean “foreseeing faith” when it speaks of “foreknowing individuals” simply because other passages tell us very clearly that God definitely did not choose us because he foresaw our faith. God's election does not depend on “the one who wills or the one who runs, but on God, who shows mercy; [for] he has mercy upon whom he will and he hardens whom he will” (Rom. 9:16, 18). They who are saved are regenerated “neither of bloodline, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). That God's election of the saints is not conditioned upon any power, nobility, choice, seeking, etc., that he foresees in them is clearly taught in such passages as Deut. 7:7; Rom. 9:11-13; 10:20; 1 Cor. 1:27-29; 4:7.

So then, if God does not choose us according to his foreseeing in us faith or any good thing, does the bible say why he does choose those whom he chooses? Yes, in fact, the bible is clear that God chooses whom he chooses entirely according to his own good pleasure (Eph. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:9), for the display of his glory (Isa. 43:6-7; Rom. 9:22-24; Eph. 2:4-7), because of his unmerited love (Deut. 7:6-8; 2 Thes. 2:13), and so that no flesh may boast before him, as if a person had some cause within himself for his election unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:27-31).

Monergism Copyright © 2008