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October 5, 2022 12:01 am
Many Christians misunderstand God's foreknowledge, imagining that He looks down the corridor of time to discover new information about the future. Today, R.C. Sproul disproves this notion by presenting the biblical understanding of divine foreknowledge.
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The apostle Paul knew that his teaching on predestination was going to cause some people to scratch their heads and in fact object in Romans chapter 9, Paul anticipated that they would call it unfair they say is not fair that God from all eternity without a view to what we do makes his decision and so the very fact that that's the objection anticipates that gives me great comfort that the apostle Paul was the first one who had to deal with his doctrine of predestination being challenged on the grounds that it was unfair.
Predestination rubs many people the Wrong Way, God chooses who will be saved and we don't have any say in the matter of Paul's letter to the Romans is pretty clearly that God has chosen those whom he will save to them Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul continues his series on the Westminster confession of faith continue now with our study of chapter 3 of the Westminster confession as we look at the first part of section 2. Let me read it for you. It reads as follows. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw this future, or is that which would come to pass upon such condition. Another way of saying this is that God knows all contingencies but knows nothing contingently or to look at it, even from a simpler perspective. If you would take the average Christian and asked them does God know the future. Up until this dreadful movement of open theism. That's plaguing the church in our day.
Virtually any Christian would answer by saying yes of course. God knows the future, he knows what's going to happen tomorrow. He knows what I'm going to say before I say is, and so on and so it's been a universal affirmation of Christendom that God knows the future, but then you ask the next question in that wonderful agreement about his foreknowledge in this omniscience begins to crumble you.
Here's the question how is it that God is able to know the future I would say that the average Christian's view of God's foreknowledge or of his omniscience with respect to things future is that God is saying this like a cosmic fortuneteller who looks into his crystal ball and out of the crystal ball he gets this information about what's going to happen tomorrow or it's just one of the great abilities of his mind that he can conjure up a vision of the future before it happens and that I say is probably the most common view that Christians have about God's foreknowledge is just some almost magical ability that he has the know what's going to happen before it happens just by the strength of his intellect, but the reformed view of God's foreknowledge is this that the reason why God knows what is going to happen in the future is because from all eternity.
He has decreed what is going to happen in the future, and so the reason why he knows all things about the future again is because those are examples of his eternal will.
He knows what's going to happen because he's planned that the happen it's that simple know this comes very much in the play when we get to the doctrine of predestination because again the most popular doctrine or view of predestination is the what we call the precedents viewer, the foreknowledge view where God looks into the future. Any scenes from his standpoint and eternity what the creatures are going to do it, looks down the corridor of time and he sees that that John Smith is going to respond positively to the offer of the gospel, but the Jerry Smith will reject the gospel. So God knows in advance. Who's going to say yes and who's going to say now and on the basis of that foreknowledge all future actions of volitional creatures. He makes his decision of election or rejection.
This despite the way in which the apostle Paul laborers. The point in Romans nine that that's not all. The basis upon which God makes his selection of the elect Paul laborers. The point that his selection of the elect is made before they're even born without having view of what they've done any good or evil, but that the purposes of God according to his sovereignty might stand, and I also remind people when we look at that passage in Romans nine that the coup de grace in it is.
Paul anticipates objections to what he's teaching there in Romans and the chief objection. He anticipates from his readers is the objection that some will say what then is there unrighteousness in God know if the apostle Paul is teaching in Romans nine that God looks down the corridor of time and sees that some people will say yes and other people say no and on the basis of our decision. He determines whether they're going to be saved or not say if that's what Paul is teaching. Would anybody ever raise the objection that that's not fair. What could be more fair than they have our election based on something that we do and yet the apostle anticipates that the objection to what he's teaching will be that it's not fair precisely because that is the objection that's given by people don't like the biblical doctrine of predestination they say is not fair that God from all eternity without a view to what we do makes his decision and so the very fact that that's the objection anticipates that gives me great comfort that the apostle Paul was the first one who had to deal with his doctrine of predestination being challenged on the grounds that it was unfair. I can think of any Arminian who's ever had to face that objection to his view of election, but any case, let's move on to section 3 because this gets into some other very important matters by the decrees of God for the manifestation of his glory. Some men and angels are predestined and everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death know what you have in section 3 of chapter 3 is the reformed doctrine that is called double predestination. There are those who teach historically a doctrine of single predestination with say yes it's true that the Bible says from all eternity. God selects certain people to be on special objects of his favor and without any view to their works or their actions there running their willing or anything else. God unilaterally by grace alone chooses to save some and to elect them on the salvation. However, with respect to the rest of the world. The rest of those people are still invited to come and still can come may come if they choose to come.
God is not foreordained that some people will perish from all eternity that is seen by those who teach single predestination as the decree to a Riverway or the horrible decree just can imagine that a just and holy God from all eternity decree that some people would be reprobate that some people would indeed perish everlastingly because of God's decree and so this phrase is a very weighty problem to deal with in our theology. I like to take the time we have left in this session to look at this business of the doctrine of double predestination because it's a doctrine that is so frequently distorted, caricatured and misunderstood among people and what I'm going to do is talk about two different types of double predestination. The one form of double predestination is what we call positive positive in its orientation. Now what does that mean this kind of double predestination would say that God from all eternity determined to intervene actively and positively in the lives of the elect create faith in their hearts make them fit to be linked with Christ through this positive intrusion and invasion as it will into the soul of the person bringing them to faith and on the other side of the corn. The flipside of reprobation is the idea that God, in the case of the reprobate likewise intervenes in their lives and invades their souls by his omnipotent power and creates fresh evil in them preventing them from coming to faith so that in both sides on the side of election and the side of reprobation there's a kind of what we call equal ultimacy or asymmetry between the way in which God works both in the hearts of the elect and the hearts of the reprobate. This is sometimes called a symmetrical view of predestination that the scales are balanced on both sides once was in a class seminary class were that he asked the professor if he believed in the reformed doctrine of election and the professor was indignant. He said no. He said because I don't believe that God brings some people kicking and screaming against their will into his kingdom while he shuts on other people who desperately want to be there to hear the man completely distorted the doctrine reformed doctrine of predestination I could believe he was teaching seminary particular Presbyterian seminary with that wildly caricatured idea of what salvation is because the whole point is that God never brings anybody kicking and screaming against their will into his kingdom. What he does in the case of election is that he through the power and influence of the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of the heart of the elect and in a sense makes that person willing who have left of themselves would never be willing because by nature.
We are totally indisposed towards the things of God. We don't want God in our thinking. We are by nature the children of wrath, and unless the father does something nobody Jesus says can come to me unless it is given to him by the father and so our basic moral ability are basic spiritual ability prior to regeneration is completely moribund.
We are capable of choosing Christ if left ourselves we have the faculty of choice anybody could choose Christ if they want him but the problem is where in the want him nobody's going to want him. Unless God changes that heart of stone and a heart of flesh that beats after the things of God's would be good to see you even choose me I chose you.
This side is positive that the reformed doctrine of predestination does teach that there is a positive action that God the Holy Spirit makes on the soul of the elect, bringing them to faith and without that intervention, that person would not and could not come to faith that clear.
But where this departs from historic reformed theology is on the flipside on the positive positive side reformed theology does not teach that the rest of the people are forced into sin by God and God creating fresh evil in their hearts so that they won't and cannot come no what the reformed doctrine is. This is a positive, negative one, which I explained that simply when God looks at the world of fallen people. He sees this mass of humanity. All these people who are in total corruption in original sin. All hostile to the things of God. All of them the desires of their hearts are only evil continually. They don't want God in their thinking. It's not like they're desperately seeking after God know when six after God, no, not one.
None is righteous, and what God does is he comes down and he expresses mercy and grace. By intervening in the lives of the elect and bring them to faith and what does he do with the rest of the passes over. He lets them up to their own devices they listen perish in their sin. It doesn't create fresh evil in their heart. If he leaves them alone they won't come home wagging their tails behind them, but they will continue to stay far away from Christ as they possibly can because they are basically hostile but doesn't the Bible say Luther had to wrestle with this in his his response to Erasmus, is one the best treatments of this your fine. Too bad the Lutherans don't follow it. But in any case, the year Luther was asked but the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart and Luther admitted that yes the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart with the question is how does God hardened Pharaoh's heart does he again go in there and plant fresh calluses on the heart of Pharaoh. All God ever has to do with the hardened anybody's heart is to give them more room and more opportunity to exercise their own evil inclination you ladies and gentlemen, reformed theology, as we will see when we look at the fall teaches the doctrine of the total depravity of fallen humanity, but even that doctrine is radically misunderstood because there's a difference between total depravity and utter depravity. If you take Adolf Hitler and use him as an example of a morally depraved person. Even Adolf Hitler, though it was totally depraved was not utterly depressed is total depravity means that his sin and corruption affected the total person. There was no part of Adolf Hitler that was not infected by sin. His mind is hard as Saul incenses all of those things in this whole person was affected by the fall. Nevertheless, as wicked as he was, we could still conceive of even greater evil being performed by Adolf Hitler and in fact sometimes in the seminary classroom. I'll ask the students to give me their nomination for the most wicked people in history and they'll talk about Hitler and they'll talk about stall and then they'll thought about me you were 01. People like that in a safe will all these people have in common. And if you look at the people who we bring forth as the most corrupt individuals in history. Virtually every one of them was a person who had an enormous power and authority with very little restraint on him where you and I have restraints on us that Hitler never had I have to be careful how I drive my car or get arrested thrown in jail or fine is a stall and never had to worry about how fast he drove his car near Odin worry about the law. He was lawless and the only way in which a person like Stalin or Hitler could be restrained would be by other powers coming up against them, like the power of the Allies in World War II put restraints to Hitler's evil and we look at Pharaoh.
We see he was the most powerful man in the world is time. Nothing was restraining him from exploiting the people that were under his power.
The only restraints on the evil of Pharaoh with God and God wants to harden his heart. All he has to do is give them more room on the leash withdraw his common grace that restrains him from himself because of God would take his restraints off of me and I knew we wouldn't be just totally depraved. We would be utterly depressed because it's part of his grace is the restraint that he puts upon our sin and our sinful inclinations and that's what Luther was trying to explain to Erasmus to get them to see that when God hardens is another way of saying that God gives people over to their own sin so that they harden their own hearts and in fact the final judgment of God. When you look at the end of the book of Revelation and we see the final judgment described that there is a kind of poetic justice that is exercised by God. And the worst kind of judgment that can befall a creature is this.
When God makes this statement. Let him who is wicked be wicked. Still, and he gives up people gives them over to their own evil to their own evil inclinations their own evil desires, and God did that for me I would be Hitler and so would you.
So when were talking about double predestination on the negative side, God doesn't force anybody to evil here, he leaves them to themselves. So in this scenario, nobody is treated unjustly. These people, the ones that are a lot do not get what they deserve. They get mercy. These people get justice they get exactly what they deserve what we all deserve. You see, were we cry that is not fair. As we say wait a minute. If God can exercises executive privilege here. If you pardon some he has to pardon all if you give grace to some he has to give grace to all will of God ever has to give grace that is not grace, is it when I'm thinking about because grace by definition is voluntary and if God wants to manifest his perfection by displaying in election, both his grace and his righteousness.
Both of those read down to his everlasting glory. God is is glorified in the reprobation of the wicked as he is in the saving of the elect and that's very difficult. I know for us to grasp and so will spend some more time on this as we cover these questions. Further along in these truths are difficult to grasp with Dr. RC Sproles careful teaching today.
These pieces start to fall in the place all this week we're listening to a teaching series by Dr. scroll on the Westminster confession of faith. The confession has been treasured by believers around the world for centuries. In fact, RC called it one of the most important confessions of faith ever penned Dr. scroll's book truths we confess is a helpful study companion for usually explore what the confession has to say. He shows how the doctrines of the Bible from creation to covenant sin to salvation fit together would like to send you a hardbound edition of this book, you can request it with your donation of any amount to litigator ministries. You can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind toward event. It's easy for all of us to get entangled by the distractions and challenges of everyday life and the collector time in God's word, but the challenges we face should provide us with all the more reason to study and that's where leader works to step in and help our team labors daily to help people around the world dig deep into the life-giving Word of God so that minds are renewed by truth and were grateful for your financial support which makes all of this happened was we heard ICC toward the end of his message today on some of these doctrines.
Some of these truths about predestination and foreknowledge of art difficult to grasp and he'll spend some more time on this tomorrow. Here's a preview if it pleases the Lord to choose me, it's his good pleasure in that choice and if it pleases the Lord not to choose me not to give me his grace, and let me perish in my sin than that pleasure of his will would be equally good. I hope you join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind