Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary. The Tree of Life for the week ending 05-02-99
Romans 8:29 "Because (we know) those whom He foreknew (believers only) He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son..."
This verse brings out the subject of the foreknowledge of God. Do not be quick to be familiar with this term seeing that it differs greatly from the omniscience of God. Foreknowledge is more intimate than omniscience. The omniscience of God knows all past, present, and future, probabilities and actualities of every single creature's life. God's omniscience knows all the alternatives of each of our personal lives. It is by way of His omniscience that He arrives at the avenue of foreknowledge. Foreknowledge being that category of God's knowledge which deals with believers only. Through His omniscience, in eternity past God sees who will believe on His Son Jesus Christ as Savior and God, the Redeemer who died and was raised again. Those individuals who trust that Jesus Christ is God and Savior are entered into an intimate group in the mind of God. God is not subject or confined to time as we know it. In His mind we existed billions of years ago and even way back then He knew exactly what decisions we would make. Note, He never interferes or violates man's free will, He merely enters our free will decisions as actualities into His divine decree. Once the decision for Christ is entered into His divine decree the believer goes beyond the category of God's omniscience, entering into the category of God's foreknowledge. Those whom He foreknew are believers in Christ only. The subject of God's knowledge consists of three categories:
* Self-knowledge, in which His knowledge of self and the divine attributes of each member of the Trinity are complete. This category could be termed as God's perfect subjective knowledge.
* Omniscience, in which God has perfect objective knowledge. He knows all about everything and every creature, past, present, and future. Omniscience tells Him every decision every creature will ever make.
* Foreknowledge is a more tailored and personal category of knowledge dealing with a specific group known as believers. Once God sees in eternity past that a person will respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He then decrees the outline for that believer's life in accordance with the believer's free will decisions.
Foreknowledge means that the believer was in the mind of God billions and billions of years ago. Through your decision for Christ you are entered into God's foreknowledge which thereafter places you in divine predestination. Those whom He foreknew He also predestined. Predestination means you were in the plan of God in eternity past. Once a believer is categorized as a believer in God's divine decree there must be a plan for that believer which goes beyond the plan of salvation for the unbeliever. The believer's entrance into God's personal plan is known as predestination. God has, through His omniscience, predestined you to His highest and best. Of course, this requires positive decisions on your part in order to appropriate this greatness. Our knowledge of God must be followed by action for truth, Ephesians 2:10. We were created for the glory of God, but not all believers will glorify Him.
Matthew 7:14 calls this plan the narrow road to life. God's plan is not based on probabilities but actualities, beginning with the free decision one makes to believe in Christ as God and Redeemer. Thereafter, the narrow road grows less and less occupied. Many fall by the wayside through the successful scheming and distractions of the enemy to our Lord Jesus Christ and the enemy of predestination, Satan. But regardless of who falls away, once a believer is placed in Christ, he is always a believer in Christ. Once you are decreed into the foreknowledge of God there is no exit. His intimate knowledge of you as His child is based on your union with Christ and is a fixed and non-negotiable union. Once in Christ, the believer possesses divine perfect righteousness and God can never turn His back on His righteousness in us! So, foreknowledge refers to intimacy as noted for us in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..". Though it's taken from the Old Testament the principle remains applicable and salient, God knew all our decisions even before we existed, before our parents existed, and so on. In knowing of the person's decision for Christ, the believer is entered into God's foreknowledge. God therefore enters that believer into His divine decree as such and predestines that believer to His highest and best. He creates an eternal savings account with rewards and blessings specifically tailored to that believer. He also places that believer in the body of Christ exactly where He sees fit, 1CO 12:11. But His perfect design does not guarantee its execution. We must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to actualize these blessings.
Rewards and good works are prepared in eternity past through God's foreknowledge for each believer. But only those blessings which we withdraw through lining up our free volition with God's sovereign volition will be entered as actuals in the divine decree. Lining up our thinking and decisions with the perfect standard of God comes through our consistent perception, metabolization, and application of the knowledge of His word as accurately taught by our pastor-teacher from the originally inspired languages of the Bible. Nothing ever happens or takes place without God pre-determining or decreeing for it to transpire. He knows perfectly well who is positive toward His word and exactly what they can and cannot handle. He has everything under control and though you may feel at times that you do not, remember Romans 8:28, to those who truly love God (through dedication to His word), all things will work together for good!
His omniscience knows the alternatives of your personal life, the probables as well as the actuals, and His foreknowledge decrees all the acting variables as part of predestination. Again predestination is the believer being entered into God's plan from eternity past. Election then follows as the believer being entered in as part of God's royal family forever, this was also executed by God in eternity past. Great blessings and rewards await the believer in Christ but whether or not they are exacted depends on the believer's execution of the spiritual life that God has designed for him as part of predestination. Predestination is simply the act of an infinite and intelligent wise God determining the future of events in history based on His foreknowledge. This all means that God had a plan for your life and it existed way back in eternity past. God is perfect, His plan is perfect, and every solution to every problem is perfect, but the perfect solutions of God are past over by believers who opt instead for human solutions based on emotion and subjectivity. It is up to the believer to select the divine solution as DEU 30:15 informs us, "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity." Following every problem will be an array of varying solutions but only one is the divine solution. Many times there are difficult courses of action or decisions that must be made. However, the easiest way to solve you problems is to make it simple, and therefore to make the solution simple you must think objectively. To think objectively you must begin by stabilizing your thinking through claiming a promise. This will deliver you from fear and panic and allow you to regroup mentally. Once you claim a promise you begin a system of thought or procedure which is the basic stage of the faith-rest drill.
Once you have stabilized your mentality, you are ready to concentrate on the doctrine in your soul. Of course, if you haven't cultivated God's word in your soul, there isn't going to be much to stabilize you and nothing to apply. God has intended for us to utilize doctrinal principles. This means you don't depend on others for your spiritual strength. Note, this does not obliterate the prospect of friendship and true Christian fellowship in which two people comfort each other through the sharing of doctrinal viewpoint. But, until you have doctrine in your soul, the mind of Christ, you will have no solutions in life. Until you can concentrate in pressure situations and apply the doctrine in your soul you are no where near spiritual maturity. The mature believer becomes a leader in time of danger or catastrophe. The panic-stricken believer becomes trouble. Our example is found in Exodus 14:10-14 in the account of the panic-stricken and irrational crowd accusing Moses of trying to lure them out into the wilderness to kill them. But Moses was prepared as a mature believer and even though he didn't know what the actual outcome would be, he trusted in God and rested on the truth in his soul.
Oftentimes when believers do not see immediate solutions to their problems they intensify their instability by either panicking or settling for the easily accessible human solution. This only adds to the complexity of the problem at hand. The principle of doctrine is to make it simple and this of course starts with directing one's thinking back to the promises and rationales found in God's word. Only then can the simple, divine solution come to mind. Knowing that you were in the mind of God billions of years ago and in the plan of God from eternity past certainly paves the way to "know" that all things really do work out for good for those who continue to truly love God. Those whom God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!! What greater plan can man possibly contrive?
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries