It is written:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
In studying the Bible doctrine of the foreknowledge of God, Paul’s words are especially enlightening.
In Paul’s statements in Romans 8:28-30, he discusses the fact that God has been faithful to His people even in their sufferings. Nothing has separated God’s people from His love (Romans 8:31-36). Indeed, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37)!
Part of God’s faithfulness is seen in the fact that He allows our suffering to take place in this life for the purpose of edifying and molding us to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). All of this takes place in accordance with the foreknowledge of God.
When we are talking about the foreknowledge of God, we are discussing that He knows all things which will happen. Anything which can happen-anything which could happen-He knows beforehand. This is a teaching mentioned throughout Scripture, and which is also made clear by general revelation in nature.
Now, Calvinists often argue that predestination and foreknowledge of God are the same. How so? They often argue that the reason why God foreknows all things is because He has foreordained all things. So it isn’t so much that foreknows what will happen, but God has foreordained everything to take place.
So according to Calvinism, foreknowledge and predestination are virtually identical.
How far does this idea of God’s predestining things go?
I still remember with shock a Calvinist preacher who told me that God has foreordained and predestined every moral evil in the world, even rape. If anything morally evil happens, it is because God has foreordained it (or so the Calvinist claims). This isn’t surprising, since Calvin himself and his followers have been very vocal about their audacious claims:
“In some way (that we may not be able to fully comprehend) God is able without blameworthy ‘tempting’ to see to it that a person does what God ordains for him to do EVEN IF IT INVOLVES EVIL.” (John Piper, “Are There Two Wills in God,” in Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace, eds., Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce Ware (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 123, emphasis added M.T.)
‘Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at HIS OWN PLEASURE ARRANGED IT.’” (John Calvin, Institutes Ibid., 4.16.6, p. 532, emphasis added, M.T.).
‘We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, IT WAS HIS PLEASURE TO DOOM TO DESTRUCTION.’” (John Calvin, 3.21.5, p. 210)
“This their sin GOD WAS PLEASED, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, HAVING PURPOSED TO ORDER IT TO HIS OWN GLORY.” (The Westminster Assembly, Edited by C. Matthew McMahon and Therese B. McMahon, The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith with Scripture Texts and Proofs from the Authorized Version (KJV), 2021-2024 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Crossville, TN; Puritan Publications)
Now, we will deal with these claims of Calvinists more fully in a future article. Suffice it here to say that God is NOT the author of moral evil.
Genesis 18:25-Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Deuteronomy 32:4-He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.
2 Chronicles 19:7-Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
Habakkuk 1:13-You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?
Psalm 5:4-For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You.
James 1:13-Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
What about the claim that God’s foreknowledge and predestination are the same?
That will be the focus of our next study.