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The Doctrines of Grace: TULIP Revisited
by Carol Berubee

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Unconditional Election, Part III

How is Election Accomplished? Foreseen Faith or Forelove?
Most professing Christians will reason that the elect are chosen due to God's foreknowledge in which God looked down through time and saw who would make a decision for Christ in faith. The problem with this theory is that it denies the fact that the fallen will is in bondage to sin and it denies the sovereignty of God, putting salvation in the hands of man.

The will of the unregenerate is not free to exercise faith toward God. Man's will is free only in the sense that we have volition, but we cannot make a decision to accept Christ. Essentially, the unregenerate man chooses between one sin or another, but he never chooses Christ. The will is bound in sin; it is not free to exercise saving faith. The natural, or unregenerate, man cannot understand the things of God; therefore, he cannot choose God. Only the regenerate believe God. The doctrine of unconditional election answers the question of how the sinner, whose will is bound, can "choose" God.

Unconditional election says that God, in His sovereign will, has chosen whom He will save. It is to these elect that He gives the faith to believe. According to this doctrine, God -- not man -- is sovereign. The question that will be asked is how God decides whom He will save. Most will say that God foreknows the decisions people will make: Those whom He sees making a decision for Christ, he elects; those He sees as rejecting Christ, he does not elect. But can you see how this puts salvation in the hands of man? In this scenario, it is man who chooses God, and then God is responsible to answer to the wishes of man. This scenario puts man in control and puts God in the position of obedience and responsibility. This scenario says that man is sovereign but God is responsible. You may have heard Christians saying the opposite: "God is sovereign but man is responsible." That's true. But often, these same people believe that man chooses God of his own free will and they fail to see that their theology actually strips God of his sovereignty.

Surely, the Bible speaks at length concerning foreknowledge. Certainly, God foreknows. But does the Bible say, concerning salvation, that God foreknows decisions, or that God foreknows people? There are several passages that show us that the Biblical usage of foreknowledge concerns God's intimate relationship with people, but does not refer to their decisions. God knows all people, but He has a special relationship with certain people, those whom He foreknows. When we see "foreknew" in relation to people in the Bible, it means "foreloved." You can see this usage in the following verses: Genesis 18:19; Exodus 2:25; Deuteronomy 7:7-8, 10:15; Psalm 1:6, 144:3; Hosea 13:5; Galatians 4:9; and 2 Timothy 2:19.

Let's look at a few other examples.

Amos 3:2
"'You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.'"

God is omniscient and knows all people, so how can He say that He has only known this one family of people out of all the families on earth? The answer is that He knew Israel in a way that He did not know any other family. Israel was His chosen people.

Jeremiah 1:5
"'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.'"

God did not only know "about" Jeremiah, He knew Jeremiah in special way, and set him apart even before he was born.

Matthew 7:22-23
"'Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you..."'"

Certainly, Christ knew these false prophets. In fact, He knew them very well. He knew things about them that they did not want Him to know. So, again, the meaning here is that Yeshua did not know them in a special, intimate, loving way.

1 Corinthians 8:3
"But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him."

We know that God knows all about everyone. He knows everything there is to know about all people. So in what way does He know those who love Him differently than those who do not love Him? God knows those who love Him in an intimate way. He knows them through a special relationship; in this case, it is the relationship consummated in Christ.

So, we see that God knows about all people, but He knows or foreknows/foreloves only certain people. These are His elect. But God does not say that He foreknew the decisions that individuals would make. Of course, He does know every decision that every person will make, but the Bible does not speak of Him electing or having relationship with people based on their foreseen decisions.

If we look at Romans 8:29 again, we can see this in action.

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..."

First, if we try to say that God's foreknowledge simply speaks of Him knowing all people, we can see that this verse would teach universalism. It would say something like this: "...whom He foreknew (which is everyone He ever created since He knows all things), He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..." See, we would end up saying that all people will eventually be Christians based on the fact that God knows everyone. So, foreknowledge speaks of a special relationship, not just a general knowledge.

Now, if we go the next verse, we can see how foreknowledge not only speaks of an intimate relationship, or forelove, but we also see that foreknowledge does not refer to decisions people will make.

Romans 8:30
"Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."

Verse 29 says that those whom He foreknew, He predestined. Verse 30 says that whom He predestined, He also called and justified and glorified. Nowhere does it say that he foreknew and predestined based on human decisions. It says that the people He foreknew (foreloved), He predestined. It does not say that the decisions He foreknew, He predestined; rather, He foreknew people, not decisions, not faith, not a special personal quality. Those whom He predestined according to His forelove, He also called. He has a special calling only for those whom He has foreloved and predestined.

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