Predestination or Freewill Part 4: God’s Foreknowledge. What is it?

I Peter 1:2; Romans 8:29
       Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God.
       For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): Does God’s foreknowledge of the future generate His purpose concerning it? Or is the reverse true of the infinite supreme cause: that His eternal purpose generates His foreknowledge of the future? If it is true that God’s foreknowledge always generates His purpose; then the ‘election of grace’ is conditioned on some foreseen spiritual good in man. Then the sinner’s will must be self-moved, in its first action, to quicken itself to choose God as his spiritual good.

JOHN L. GIRARDEAU (1825-1898): Election is not conditioned by the divine foresight of any good qualities, dispositions or acts of those elected: it is an unconditional election.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): “But,” say others, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It will be said, Ambrose, Origen, and Jerome believed that God dispenses His grace among men according to His foreknowledge which every individual will make of it. Augustine was once of the same sentiment: but when he had made a greater proficiency in scriptural knowledge, he not only retracted, but confuted it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): He hath chosen us―both Jews and Gentiles―whom He foreknew as believing in Christ.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Was it because God foresaw they would believe? No; for how can those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” believe in Christ? How could God foreknow some men as believers when belief was impossible to them? Scripture declares that we “believed through grace,” Acts 18:27. Faith is God’s gift, and apart from this gift none would believe. The cause of His choice, then, lies within Himself, and not in the objects of His choice. He chose the ones He did, simply because He chose to choose them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Now, God gives faith, therefore He could not have elected them on account of their faith, which He foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling—that I elected him to have the shilling—because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner, to say that God elected men because He foresaw they would have faith would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. Faith is the gift the God. Every virtue come from Him. Therefore it can not have caused him to elect men, because it is His gift.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): All this is easily accounted for on the doctrine of the contingency of events―on the possibility of being and not being, and leaving the will of man to turn the scale; and that God will not know a thing as absolutely certain, which His will has determined to make contingent.

JOHN WESLEY: Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated conformable to the image of his Son―Here the apostle declares who those are whom he foreknew and predestinated to glory; namely, those who are conformable to the image of his Son. This is the mark of those who are foreknown and will be glorified.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is absurd to think that anything in us could have the least influence upon our election. Some say that God did foresee that such persons would believe, and therefore did choose them; so they would make the business of salvation to depend upon something in us. Whereas God does not choose us for faith, but to faith. “He hath chosen us, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4―not because we would be holy, but that we might be holy. We are elected to holiness, not for it.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Mark―not because He foresaw that they would be of themselves holy, but that they should be holy―this was that God resolved He would make them to be.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): The grace of God does not find men fit to be elected, but makes them so. Here undoubtably falls to the ground the vain reasoning of those who defend the foreknowledge of God in opposition to His grace, and affirm that we were elected before the foundation of the world, because God fore-knew that we would be good, not that He Himself would make us good. This is not the language of Him who says, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, John 15:16.

C. H. SPURGEON: Foresight of the existence of grace cannot be the cause of grace. God Himself does not foresee that there will be any good thing in any man, except what He foresees that He will put there. What is the reason, then, why He determines that He will put it there? That reason, so far as we are informed, is this: He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, Romans 9:15. The Lord determines to display His love, and set on active work His attribute of grace, therefore doth He save men according to the good pleasure of His will. If there be salvation given to men upon the foresight of what they are yet to be, it is clear it is a matter of works and debt, and not of grace; but the Scripture is most decided that it is not of works, but of unmingled grace, for saith the apostle, If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work, Romans 11:6.

JOHN WESLEY: Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons, Ephesians 1:5―Having foreordained that all who afterwards believed should enjoy the dignity of being sons of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. According to the good pleasure of his will―According to his free, fixed, unalterable purpose to confer this blessing on all those who should believe in Christ, and those only.

A. W. PINK: “In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.” It was “in love” that God the Father predestined His chosen ones unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according—according to what? According to some excellency He discovered in them? No. What then? According to what He foresaw they would become? No; mark carefully the inspired answer—According to the good pleasure of His will.

C. H. SPURGEON: Election, we are sure, is absolute, and altogether apart from the virtues which the saints have afterwards.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Whatever men’s reasoning may suggest, if the children of God fairly examine their own experiences—if they do God justice—they must acknowledge that they did not choose God, but that God chose them. And if He chose them at all, it must be from eternity, and that too without anything foreseen in them.

C. H. SPURGEON: I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine. I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that there dwelleth in my flesh no good thing.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: For my own part, I know of no other doctrine that can truly humble man; either God must choose us, or we must choose God; either God must be the first mover, or man must be the first mover; either God must choose them on account of some goodness, on account of some purity, or acts of piety, or God must choose them merely of His grace, for His own name’s sake, and to let us know that we have not chosen Him, but that He has chosen us.

JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): Let the whole Scripture be read and diligently marked, and no sentence, rightly understood, shall be found that affirms God to have chosen us in respect of our works, or because He foresaw that we should be faithful, holy and just. But to the contrary, many places shall we find―yea, even so many as treat of the matter―that plainly affirm we are freely chosen, according to the purpose of His good will, and that in Christ Jesus.


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