Predestination and Foreknowledge
Scripture plainly teaches that predestination, which means to destine beforehand, is based on foreknowledge. God chose those whom He knew beforehand would choose Him! That’s why Paul said, in Romans 8:29-30 in that tremendous passage, “For whom He foreknew…” You’d better start where Paul starts. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” But He predestines on the basis of foreknowledge! The same thing is said in I Peter 1:2...
God elects, God predestines on the basis of knowing beforehand. That’s what the word “foreknowledge” means. I’ve checked it out in the Greek. It just means God knows what’s going to happen.
I had the privilege, last Saturday flying from DFW to Atlanta, I had the privilege of sitting by a schoolteacher who is going to Germany to be a teacher at one of our English-speaking schools in a military area of Germany. And she had a church background. But she had a deep deep disturbance in her soul. In fact, she was so deeply disturbed that she went to a chaplain there and told him how deeply disturbed she was, but she didn’t get any satisfaction or any peace. Well, needless to say, that kind of situation to a professor of evangelism means “Sick ‘em.” Excuse me for my failure in decorum and dignity there. But I knew that God was dealing with this lady. Her heart was hungry and open. See, God knew the situation. She said, “It’s sheer accident that I’m in this seat. I’m supposed to be in another seat.” But God knew the hunger of her heart. And God knew that she was ready for the message of Jesus. And He took all of the factors regarding her background, her hunger, and He chooses to use a vessel that was committed to Him to share the gospel. And sometimes I’m not that vessel that I want to be. And that is God’s way of demonstrating His election.
God elects and God foreordains and God predestines, but on the basis of foreknowledge.
The L in the TULIP stands for Limited Atonement, or Limited Love, or Particular Redemption. It really says that God did not love all men enough to have Christ die for all. It says that God didn’t care about the non-elect. He loved only those who would respond to Him in repentance.
I was discussing with an adamant Calvinist one day this very subject. He is a man of God but he doesn’t give 2 cents for the non-elect. He’s not interested in them. He couldn’t care less. I said, “You mean God doesn’t love them?” He said, “No, God doesn’t love them. He doesn’t love the non-elect.” I said to him, “Do you believe that the rich young ruler was one of the non-elect?” He said, “Yeah. He flatly turned down the Lord Jesus Christ. He turned Him down. He was one of the non-elect.” So I just turned my Bible to Mark 10. I said, “I want you to read this and stuff it in your Hyper-Calvinistic pipe!” The Bible says that when Jesus looked on the rich young ruler who was just about ready to reject Him, when Jesus looked on him, He loved him! And that word “love” is the same word that’s used in John 3:16. It’s the famous Greek word, “agape”! Jesus looked on this lost person and He loved him! And you will never pass a person on the streets of Mobile that God doesn’t love. You will never rub shoulders with anybody in a crowded shopping center that God does not love.
Limited atonement almost brings me to the point of righteous indignation. Why? Well first of all because limited atonement depersonalizes the offer of the gospel. You see, you cannot look a person in the face, if you want to witness to them about Jesus, you cannot look at them in the face and say to them, “Jesus Christ died for you.” You can’t do that. Because you don’t know that He did! You don’t know if they are one of the elect or not! Many Calvinists say, “We can offer the gospel to all,” but I want to say that that is impossible under Calvinism. How can you offer a salvation that is not provided? And If Jesus didn’t die for somebody, then salvation is not provided, and you cannot offer salvation to all.
Friend, I want to tell you, when I began to wonder how is God going to receive someone who has made as many mistakes as I, who has sinned as much as I have, friend, I look to the Cross. I look to the Cross. “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.” He died for me, God. That’s the only way I expect to be received. That’s the only way I expect to get into heaven. But if atonement is limited, how can I be sure that He died for me? In final analysis, I can’t! And that’s a part of the reason why I detest the tenet of limited atonement.
Now scholastic Calvinism says it is the duty of all people everywhere to believe. But listen, in the light of Limited Atonement, I ask you - believe what? They can’t believe that Jesus died for them because they don’t know that for sure! All people are commanded to believe, but it becomes a very nebulous proposition at that point. Believe what?
The I in the TULIP is what is called Irresistible Grace. That means that people who are going to be saved have no other option. They really don’t have a choice. The grace of God cannot be resisted. They cannot resist this special saving grace. Now the corollary to this follows: That is that those who are not elected are irresistibly damned– they cannot be saved. Like those who receive grace cannot resist it, so those who receive damnation cannot resist it.
Now, this is one reason why some groups have virtually given up on evangelism. Because it follows that if God works so irresistibly to either save or damn, Christians cannot affect the salvation of sinners, so they feel no responsibility for sharing that which might even have a tendency to interfere with the immutable purposes of God.
Sovereignty of God and Free Will of People
Now, ladies and gentlemen, all of us here, I trust, believe in the sovereignty of God – the absolute sovereignty of God. It is taught in the Bible. But along with the sovereignty of God, taught in the Bible also is the free will of people. You and I can choose. You say, “How can that be reconciled? That God is sovereign and yet people can make choices – people have a will regarding what they are going to do? If God is sovereign, how do you reconcile it? I don’t have to. Friend, there are times when you start looking at God that you scrutinize the inscrutable. And God doesn’t have one bit of trouble reconciling His sovereignty with man’s free will.
It was Spurgeon who was trying to lead a person to Christ, and somebody got frightened – they were always having to caution Spurgeon. “You may be speaking to one of the non-elect!” Spurgeon said, “Well….it’s all right. I don’t think God would mind too much if a few of the non-elect got saved.” My kind of Calvinist.
Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist wisely said, “The elect are the ‘whosoever will’s.’ The non-elect are the ‘whosoever wont’s.’”
God’s grace can be resisted. People do not have to say “yes to the call of God, and nobody is compelled to say “no” to the call of God.
I believe getting involved in Reformed theology is a backward step that you as an individual or that you as a church do not want to take.
-Dr. Roy Fish, Excerpts from “The C Word (Calvinism)” preached August 11, AD 1997 at Cottage Hills Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama. Part 2 of 2
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 4, AD 2013.
John 3:16 Conference, 2013
Roy Fish on Calvinism; part 1 of 2
Books on Calvinism, Predestination
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Sunday; Free Resources
Robert G. Lee On Calvinism
Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All
Other Articles on this and many other subjects in lower right margin.