“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”-Ephesians 1:4-5
The Doctrine of Election is a very controversial topic in Christian circles. When the issue is brought up, it tends to cause anger or frustration with those who do not embrace the Reformed view of this doctrine. I have met others who have altogether ignored the doctrine or are not familiar with the Scriptures that teach predestination. It is not as though there are obscure texts that Christians are interpreting subjectively to propagate this idea. Paul specifically speaks of how God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and the first blessing Paul states is that God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. Paul uses the word “Predestined” not only in Ephesians 1:5 and 1:11, but also in Romans 8:29-30. The word “elect” is used over twenty times in the New Testament as well.
We have to come to a correct understanding of this doctrine because it is taught in the Scriptures. We have to deal with it! There are two particular views that are the most popular among Christians. The first being the non-Calvinist view which is that God looked down the corridor of time, seen you praying and accepting Him, and based on this knowledge, He elected you to faith. The second is the Calvinist or Reformed view that God chose who would be saved based solely upon His grace and His freewill to choose. It is vital that we look to the Scriptures to see which view is correct. The non-Calvinist view of predestination is based upon a prior knowledge of God about the person. He seen the person accepting Him and then elected him or her based on His foresight. First, God does not need to look into the future to see the outcome of anything. He knows all things at all times. Isaiah 46:10 states, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'” God has ordained all things and as a result, He knows all things. His omniscience is not separate from His omnipotence.
Before God ever created the first speck of dirt, He knew His elect. This is the implication of Paul’s statements in the above Scriptures. He predestined us before the foundation of the world! Even more than that, Paul uses the word “Foreknew” in Romans 8:29, and Peter opens his first epistle stating, “To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. Peter uses a form of the same word. “Foreknow” does not mean, “Foresight.” “Foreknow” carries the meaning, “Those who God loved intimately beforehand.” These are the ones whom God predestined (Rom 8:29-30), and this is consistent also with the statement that the apostle John makes in Revelation 13:8, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Paul, Peter, and John are in agreement. God chose His elect and wrote their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world! In our next article, we’ll then discuss the reality that God’s choosing is based solely upon His grace, and also that man left to himself will never choose God.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.