The Bible contains words like “foreknowledge,” “predestination,” “election,” and “chosen.” By God’s use of these words, did He let something slip that would later become an embarrassment to Him? Should God somehow be ashamed and humiliated because He has chosen to use these words? Should He apologize for them? How absurd! God the Holy Spirit penned these words in the Bible centuries ago and they mean exactly what God intended for them to mean. Let’s back up and take a short glimpse into God’s eternal power and purpose.
In the Beginning God
The whole story begins with God! In the beginning there was God and God alone.
“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psa. 90:1-2)
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (Psa. 41:13)
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, ‘Amen.’ Praise the LORD.” (Psa. 106:48)
Before there was darkness, there was God! Before there was light, there was God! Before there were angels, there was God! Before there was Michael, there was God! Before there was Gabriel, there was God! Before there were fallen angels, there was God. Before there was a created universe, there was God! Before anything existed, there was God and God alone!
God is from everlasting to everlasting! If one could go back billions and billions of years, there would be God. If one could go forward throughout everlasting, there will be God! That means that there never was a time when God did not exist! He is the self-existent One. He had no beginning! No one or no thing created Him. God had no beginning and God will have no end. God did not will Himself “to be.” He always was what He is now and forever shall continue to be (Heb. 13:8).
Making His Glory Known
God brought the cosmos out of chaos, turned darkness into light, made divisions between them, transformed cursing into blessing, and moved from what was evil and darkness to what was holy. But why did God choose to do all of this? It is His plan to make known the riches of His glory upon His vessels of mercy that He prepared beforehand for His glory (Rom. 9:23; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14, Eph. 3:16, Col. 1:27). That’s it! That is God’s stated motive behind all that He has done, is doing, and will do. This is why Scripture makes clear that God’s creation and man’s redemption are entirely the work of God (Eph. 2:8-10; Jn. 1:12-13). God has left nothing for man to do, and so God alone is to receive all of the glory.
It was God’s will to create all things precisely the way that He did in order to place on display His awesome power and His wisdom.
“Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.” (Isa. 40:26)
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:18)
“It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens.” (Jer. 51:15)
God alone determined when and how life would be formed, and He has reserved for Himself the right to determine exactly how it will be used.
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
“I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight.” (Jer. 27:5)
God alone made all of these creative decisions before there was anything that is. He is the ultimate Executive! He is the ultimate genius! He did not consult anyone or anything. He did it all according to His plan and by means of His power.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36)
Vessels of Mercy
It was God’s choice to create man in His image and for man to rule over His creation.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Gen. 1:26-28)
It was God’s will that man be tested in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:17-18). It was also within the confines of God’s will to allow man to plunge himself into the slave market of sin. Are we to believe that the sin of Adam took God by surprise? God clearly permitted the fall in order to make known the exceeding riches of His glory through the immeasurable riches of Christ (Rom. 9:22).
It was God’s predetermined plan that the Lord Jesus Christ take on human flesh in order to redeem man from the slave-market of sin. The worth and work of Jesus Christ is obviously the crown jewel in God’s glorious plan. God always knew that there was going to be a slave market! He knew because He foreordained the work of the Savior before He made the world.
“For He (speaking of Jesus Christ) was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (1 Pet. 1:20)
Listen to these searching words of Jesus Christ!
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn. 17:24)
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, stated:
“It will be remembered that God ordained a Lamb before the foundation of the world and that Lamb was to be slain at God’s appointed time and way. By so much it is made clear that God anticipated the sin of man and his great need of redemption. God, however, told Adam not to sin, yet if Adam had not sinned there would have been no need of redemption which God had before determined as something to be wrought out. Was God uncertain whether He would save life on earth until Noah consented to build an ark? Was the nation Israel a matter of divine doubt until Abraham manifested his willingness to walk before God? Was the birth of Christ dubiety until Mary assented to the divine plan respecting the virgin birth? Was the death of Christ in danger of being proved untrue until Pilate made his decision regarding that death? Could God promise a kingdom on the earth knowing and so planning that it would be rejected in the first advent but in sincerity knowing and determining that it would not be established until the Second Advent?” (. S. Chafer Systematic Theology (Dallas Seminary Press, 1947), 5:347-34.
It was God’s predetermined will that Christ die! It was not mere chance that our Lord died when He did, where He did, and exactly how He did.
“This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23)
It was also God’s will that His vessels of mercy receive an eternal inheritance. God chose to reveal the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy. He purposed all of this after the council of His will.
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:11-12)
God alone will accomplish that which He has purposed. And God alone is to receive all the praise and all the glory for the way in which He has chosen to do it.
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.” (1 Chron. 29:11-13)
New American Standard Bible
Chafer’s Systematic Theology
New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown