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The Foreknowledge of God - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2023 12:00 am

The Foreknowledge of God - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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March 16, 2023 12:00 am

Learn about the relationship between God's foreknowledge and predestination, election, and salvation.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, March 16th. How much does God really know? If you've ever wrestled with that age old question, then listen closely for a better understanding of the foreknowledge of God. If you'll turn to Ephesians chapter one, and I want to give you a lot of scriptures, and so you might want to get a pencil and piece of paper out. So you can refer to these again and want us to read the first 12 verses of Ephesians chapter one. Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ for the will of God to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace be to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.

In whom, that is in Christ, we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace. Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him.

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, that we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ. Now we talked about the sovereignty of God. And that is that God does reign over all the universe, that is all of the creation, including mankind. We said in order for him to be God, there cannot be one molecule beyond his omnipotence. There cannot be one single iota of knowledge beyond his wisdom.

There can be no place in all of the vast universe that God has created where his presence is not. For God to be God, there can be no limitation on him. In order for God to be God, he must have the attributes of such that he needs nothing. He is subject to nothing, he goes to no one for counsel, and there is nothing outside of God that God will ever need.

And you'll recall we said in his names that his names reveal some of his attributes. Elohim, that is infinite in power and absolute in faithfulness. Yahweh, or Jehovah, the absolute self-existent God. No beginning, no end, dependent upon nothing. Adonai, that he is Lord and Master.

He is the ruler and the sustainer of the universe. Now I say that to say this because one of the problems that arises when we talk about predestination and election or God's foreknowledge is this. Some people ask the question, do you mean to tell me that God can't send some folks to hell if he wants to? Why, sure he could if he wanted to.

So I want to establish a simple fact here. God cannot violate his own self-imposed attributes. God cannot act unholy. When we say are there things that God cannot do, he can do anything and everything except violate his own character. If he chose to, he could send us all to hell. The question is not, listen, the question is not what is God able or unable to do.

The question is what has God said he will and will not do? So I want us to look at these matters in the light of that. And I want us to look at these three terms of election and predestination and foreknowledge and let's begin with the idea of foreknowledge. Throughout the scriptures that word that God foreknows and the concept that we look at. For example, in verse four in divisions one, according as he had chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holding without blame before him in love, having predestinated us, according to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, where any of the made is accepted in the beloved for him to have done that he foreknew something.

Now, here's what I want us to understand. God could not be God without foreknowing what's going to happen. Foreknowledge simply means that God knows before it's going to happen what's going to happen. He knows what has happened. He knows what is happening and he knows what's going to happen. He not only knows what's going to happen, he knows what that this sounds humorous, but it's not. He knows what would happen if what was going to happen didn't happen. Now, that's the truth.

Now, I don't mean to be humorous about it. He knows all the possibilities of things that will and will not happen so that you and I can conjecture about God's knowledge. But the truth of it is there is not anything he does not know what is or what shall be.

Now, let me clarify something. Satan, and I hate to even enter his name in such a holy subject, does not possess the attribute of foreknowledge. He doesn't know what's going to happen. Now, he knows most of us well enough to sort of figure out how you and I are going to respond in certain situations, but he doesn't have foreknowledge. Now, he's also smart enough to have read the Bible.

And he knows according to this book where he's going to end up. That doesn't take foreknowledge. That just takes reading the truth so that when we talk about foreknowledge, we're not talking about everybody in heaven having foreknowledge. Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah God has foreknowledge of all things. Now, if he did not have that, why would you pray to him? You see, it is the fact that we are convinced of his foreknowledge that you and I get on our knees tonight and ask God what we ought to do three weeks from now.

If he doesn't know what's going to happen three weeks from now, why ask him? Foreknowledge says that he knows beforehand. God knows who's going to be saved and who's not going to be saved. He knows if you're going to be obedient or disobedient to his next request in your life. He knows whether you're going to trust him with your tithe or whether you're not going to trust him. But because he knows those things does not make them happen.

For example, if he knows that you're going to be tight and stingy and blind and selfish with his money, did he make that happen? God never makes us violate this book. If God is holy and he is holy, God could never participate in executing unholiness in your life and my life.

For example, scientists today, they are wise enough and intelligent enough and have studied enough that they can tell us years and years and years in advance when two planets are going to near each other at the moment or when we're going to have an eclipse at almost a split second. Now the scientist has absolutely nothing to do with that. He can't make it happen. He can't slow it down.

He can't speed it up. He can't make a total eclipse out of God's partial eclipse. Because he knows beforehand what's going to happen does not mean he caused it to happen. So that foreknowledge and causation are not the same.

And that's where a lot of people get hung up and that's as far as they want to go, especially lost people. They say, well, if God foreknows all these things, it's his fault. If he knew I was not going to be saved, why did he do that? If he foreknew it, then he caused it to happen.

But foreknowledge and the act itself are not synonymous. Now let me ask you something. If you have a problem with the fact that God knows who and who is not going to be saved, if that's a problem with you, let me ask you this question. Would you want to serve a God who doesn't know what's going to happen next? Would you pray to a God who doesn't really know what's going to happen? And you see, now watch this. You can't limit God's knowledge to fit your theology.

You say, well, now wait a minute. Here's what I believe. I believe that God knows everything, but I don't believe he knows who's going to be saved. He just left there.

Well, why would he leave that? You see, listen, he is absolutely and totally wise, but he's not God. He knows everything or there's something he doesn't know. And if there's anything he does not know, anything he does not control, he is no longer the sovereign of the universe.

So foreknowledge is not synonymous with the action. Right now, Ephesians chapter one, what about this thing about predestination? Has God predetermined us in some folks to hell and some to heaven? Well, let's see what he says in verse three and four and five, six. Paul says in verse three, blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And what he's getting ready to do here is to tell us how the Lord's blessed us.

He says, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, Aries tense, once and for all deposited to our account, all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Now, he's done that in Christ Jesus according as he hath chosen us in him. Listen, everything God does for us, he does for us through Jesus Christ. In him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us under the adoption of children. Now, I believe when he talks about his predestination, he's talking about the fact of what he has predetermined to do for believers, not that he's predetermined to save this man and cause this man to go to hell.

I don't believe you'll find in the Bible that God says that God's predestined these folks to hell and predestinated these to heaven. The things he has predetermined, the things he has drawn a circle about us about are those things that relate to believers, not to unbelievers. He predestinated us to be a family. Every single person who is saved is what? Predestined by God, preplanned by God to become or to be a child of God, to relate on the basis in the fellowship of believers to be children of God.

That is our relationship to each other, that's our relationship to him. Look, if you will, in Romans for just a second because here is the verse that we usually refer to at this point. In Romans chapter 8, now we know all about verse 28, but one of the greatest verses in this whole book, verse 29, let's stop at 28 as if we've learned it all. Verse 29 says, For whom he did foreknow, now listen, he knows everything. For whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be what? To be conformed to the image of his son. Who is God conforming to the image of his son?

Those who believe us. He's not conforming unbelievers, he's conforming believers. Listen, whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Listen, you see it's easy to read into that what is not there. Predestination is God's predetermined blessings for his children. He has not predetermined to send this host of people to hell, this host of people to heaven, and guess who is going where? He has predetermined to do something for believers. He, in his planning for humanity and the redemption of mankind, when a man receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, what does God do? He draws a circle around him and he begins the process of conforming that man, shaping him, pruning him, sculpturing him, sanding him down, bolstering him up, building him up, tearing him apart, putting him back together again. His process is that he has predetermined to conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Now listen, somebody says, well his predestination, is it irresistible or is it resistible?

I'll tell you why I know it's resistible. He has predestinated us to conform us to his likeness so that every single one of us is in the process of being conformed to the likeness of Christ. But sometime we don't want that, we want to have our way. He predetermined to conform us to the likeness of his Son. That is something he has decided to do for his children. Look in verse 5, back on Ephesians now. In verse 5 he said, if you'll notice, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will. Now watch this, I would never question the fact that whatever God does, he has the omnipotence, the unlimited power and the total absolute wisdom to do whatever he wants to do and the only reason God ever needs to do anything is because he chooses to. I would never question that. And those often times who are hyper in the area of predestination say, but wait a minute, you're saying God can't do such and such thing.

I'm not saying that. I'm just asking the question, what has he chosen to do? All of our salvation, all of us know in our heart, we wouldn't be worth anything apart from God and we cannot boast of anything in our salvation but it's the grace of God. He, as he says, watch this, according to the good pleasure of his will, he predestinated us. He arranged that you and I would be children in the body of Christ and have him as our father.

Every child of God, every believer has that relationship, whether we know it or not. Not only that, he says, he predestinated us to do what? To the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace. In fact, as a believer, every single thing we possess and experience that is of God is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ. So we are nothing.

We have nothing. We never will have anything or be anything apart from the grace of God. He has predestinated to bless his children, conform us to his likeness, fit us into a childlike pattern, into his body. All of this is part of God's plan for his children. Then if you look in verse 11, we're still talking about Christ, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Now listen, a lot of things that God does we don't understand.

And you see, the one thing that Paul keeps referring to here is this, that whatever God does, as we said before, he is self-existent, he is all-powerful, he is all-wise, he is omnipresent, he's not dependent on anything. Therefore, he keeps referring to the fact that it is according to the good pleasure of his will, according as God hath so purposed, listen, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, that we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ. You see, what has he predestinated us to? Having received him as our Savior, he has predetermined to bless, to build, to glorify himself through those who received him as their Savior.

Predestination refers to God's acts of blessing to believers and not predestinating some men to hell and some men to heaven. Somebody says, well, if a man is totally depraved and there's nothing good in him, how in the world can he be saved? We all get saved alike. It is the grace of a loving God. He says in Romans chapter 10, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Is that offered to some men and all men? Verse 13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Whosoever shall call, does that mean that only those who are elected are going to call, the rest will not call because they cannot be saved, and therefore salvation is only offered to a segment of society?

I can't believe that. And I do not believe that's what God teaches. When Jesus Christ's arms were stretched out at Calvary and they drove spikes through him and he stretched out his arm, he enveloped the whole world. And whosoever shall call upon him can be saved.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 03:23:44 / 2023-03-16 03:31:04 / 7

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