Minister’s letter – Does God choose, or does he just know?
Our first sermon in our Malachi series tackled the topic of predestination, the teaching that ultimately it is God who decides who becomes part of his family—God chooses us first, and by his Spirit we are led to choose him by placing our faith in Christ.
This teaching understandably leaves Christian people uncomfortable, and a common tweak that’s applied is to say “all the Bible means by predestination is that God knows beforehand who will choose him”. But this tweak doesn’t quite work, because:
1. It strips the Bible-wide concept of predestination of all meaning. God knowing something in advance is not the same as him deciding an outcome.
2. It opens the door to humans providing an element of their own salvation, yet the Bible’s testimony is that our saving is entirely a product of God’s grace.
3. It misreads a couple of NT passages. Indeed, there are two verses which appear to suggest that God’s actions are based on foreknowing people’s choices (Rom 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2). But what is it that God knows here? Look carefully and you see it’s not people’s actions, but the people themselves. God has known from the beginning those he will choose (as opposed to simply knowing those who will choose him).
But think for moment about what those two verses do teach. God has known since before time that he would choose you! For longer than you can even imagine, God has determined to show his love to you! This is why we Anglicans say predestination is “full of sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort”. Praise God!