“…those whom God foreknew…”
If we continually focus on God’s sovereignty rather than on His redeeming grace, we can unconsciously neglect our calling to complete the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19-20). The Bible explains that, “…God created man…” (Genesis 1:27) but to fulfill His purpose, He did not place us under His direct control (see Romans 3:23; 8:20-22). We are therefore privileged to live with – a free will. This is precisely why our prayers are so important. Because of our spiritual design, our decisions actually – matter!
For reflection, remember that the Lord Jesus prayed through the night and personally chose His apostles. He reminded them, “…You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16a). In direct contrast with that experience, when He later taught them about His Father’s kingdom, (see John 14:1-4), He never said – you were pre-chosen to go there!
For better understanding, we know that many of those whom the Lord called to follow Him were already His spiritual sheep. Their personal monotheistic Old Testament faith had already been placed in Abraham’s God. This is why they immediately responded to Jesus’ voice when they heard Him call them (see John 10:27).
The Scriptures explain that God already – knew (1 Peter 1:2) who would sadly be making the wrong decision regarding their salvation (see John 14:6). As an example, Jesus declared, “‘… there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe…” (John 6:64)
God gave us the freedom and volitional capacity to make life’s many decisions. However, He alone possesses the ability to see the destination which we will each eventually experience! Because He greatly values a sincere believer’s faith (see Matthew 8:10) He has explained that the names of all true believers already are “… written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20b)
God’s divinely conceived plan fully provides for His foreknowledge and grace – while perpetually honoring our independence. We each have the responsibility and high privilege of making our own decisions (see Joshua 24:15). To fulfill His purpose, He lovingly fashioned us so uniquely that only He can ultimately comprehend the why and the how behind our creation!
To better understand foreknowledge, two closely related Biblical truths should be prayerfully considered. First, our Savior declared, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” and second, He later explained that “…when I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men to Myself.” (John 6:44 and 12:32) Because of the word all, our Savior’s drawing power, and our “free will”, there is the spiritual potential for everyone to hear and understand the gospel. This explains the profound global urgency for our participation in the Great Commission!
The Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit are actively and unitedly attracting humanity’s lost to seek and find salvation! We can be sure of this because the Scriptures declare that God is, “…not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9) This is why – we are each being called to perform the critically important ministry of personally presenting God’s truth to all those around us.
Without God’s inclusive love, not one of us could reside with Him in heaven. We are far too tarnished without His cleansing and forgiveness. However, on the cross (see Romans 5:8) He revealed His redeeming sacrificial purpose! His strong timeless love – knows no bounds! The Scriptures say, “God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In John 12:32 Jesus explained that all are being drawn to Him. The word all means that – no individual was sovereignly selected to believe and enter heaven. Being, “..predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29) relates to His improving our lives here on earth. The Bible calls this process – sanctification. What God foreknows relates to everything. What is predestined primarily relates to our being pre-gifted for His service! Thoughtfully read what Paul wrote, “for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
God’s grace is fully inclusive but definitely – resistible! Salvation therefore requires a choice! Our Lord stated His Father’s desire so clearly that every generation can understand it. “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
Across the centuries, those whom the Father foresaw placing their faith in His Son are described in John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.” All those whom God has foreseen and is currently keeping (see John 10:28-30) are referred to in the New Testament as His elect (see 1 Peter 1:1). They will be rewarded with eternal life because they chose to listen, believe, and act on what He said. Thoughtfully consider how the Lord Jesus described this, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me … I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:45b and 47) Coming to Him is our needed action!
God’s grace is why every accountable human being is endowed with the ability to personally know and love Him. The Bible declares, “… He [God] is patient … not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b) Spiritual seekers all need true fulfilment. This is why so many in our world are lonely, restless, and still privately unhappy! Our task as Christians is to help them understand and successfully complete their spiritual journey. Life’s ultimate purpose is to – find, love, and personally enjoy knowing our risen Savior!
By Billie Hanks Jr.