Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Do you believe that before God created the universe and mankind, did he already know every person who would be born and which persons would end up in

Jack Harney writes in response to previous post,

I asked a question about one of the most basic beliefs that all Christians claim, that God is omniscient...all knowing the past present and future. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that before God created the universe and mankind, did he already know every person who would be born and which persons would end up in heaven and hell? Do you believe that he knew that before creation?

This is a very interesting question and one that has occupied theologians for many millennia. I in no way claim to be a learned theologian, but I will give my opinion on this question. The fact that God knows the future is evident throughout the scriptures. The scriptures record hundreds of prophesies, many which have already come to pass. In fact, by some accountings, over 300 specific prophesies of the messiah’s birth, life, and death were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. God declares of Himself

“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

It is also apparent from the scriptures that God “knew” us before we were born. Our existence is not the result of random chance but the result of the determined plan and will of God. Consider what was written of both Jeremiah and David.

“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.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Psalms 139:16)

While God’s omniscience and His foreknowledge of us are abundantly attested to by the scriptures, the more difficult question relates to the concept of “free will”. Does man have a “free will” to chose to accept or reject the saving grace offered by God or is it God alone who chooses who will be save and we are powerless to change that decision? My understanding to this question is that, while God knows the end from the beginning, God does not dictate the end from the beginning. In other words, God is able to look forward and see the result of the decisions we will make by our own free will. We decide the direction of our life by the choices we make and God is able to see those choices, and their results, even before we were born. Consider what God says about the wicked.

“The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.” (Psalms 58:3)

Notice that He says that the wicked go “astray”. God created us with a purpose and a calling but it is up to us whether we will choose to walk in that purpose and calling. We can choose to go astray or we can choose to walk in the path God has prepared for us. Standing from a place outside of time, God sees it all, but we live in time and must walk through our lives and face our choices one at a time. In this way, God is both omniscient and man still has “free will”.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.” (John 14:29)

Let’s continue the dialog, David Robison


9 comments:

  1. Jack Harney10:03 AM

    David,

    Thank you for your reply. Within your response you did answer my question.You said, "God is able to look forward and see the result of the decisions we will make by our own free will." In other words, he knows in advance who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.

    One minor question would then be when did he know that? I'm sure your answer would be that since he has always known the future, he would have known who was going to heaven and who was going to hell well before the universe and mankind were even created. However, that's like saying that if you put a piece of candy out in the middle of the street some little kids will go out there to retrieve it and be hit by a car. Why would anyone do that on purpose.

    Basically, since god knew beforehand that some of us "kids" would do "wrong" given the temptations of life and would go to hell, then god went ahead anyway and created some of us for the purpose of going to hell. Given the choice of creating a race of humans who he had the power to protect from evil and eventual damnation, he chose to create a portion of those people for the purpose of going to hell.

    You say we are judged on our free will choices, but there is no free will when anyone already knows the outcome. And, what you are saying is that with the free will god has, he chose to do something terribly awful to a portion of the human race when he had the power not to. This isin't faith, it's insanity. Jack Harney

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  2. I certainly cannot defend all of God’s reasons for creating mankind and why He would allow them to fall into sin because God’s wisdom is higher than my own ability to understand it. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) But most of us choose to have children even though we know that there is always the chance that they will rebel from our authority and turn away from our values. Even though we know that our children might break our hearts, we still choose to have a family. Why? There are many reasons but for me it was because I wanted children that I could love and parent in the ways of God. Perhaps this is part of the reason why God chose to create us. We know that God used to enjoy fellowship with Adam as they walked together in the cool of the day. We also know that Jesus came to restore our broken fellowship with the Father through His constitutional death on our behalf. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) Maybe He created us so that He could love us, even if it meant that some of us would break His heart.

    One thing I do disagree with you on is your statement, “but there is no free will when anyone already knows the outcome.” Just because God knows the outcome does not mean that he directs the outcome. God knows what we are going to do because He lives outside of time, but that does not mean that He causes us to choose for or against the Kingdom of God. Also, it is not as if God, looking forward into time and seeing His creation on its path to hell, just sat back and did nothing and just watched it all happen. The truth is that God saw us rushing into the street to grab the piece of candy (to use your analogy) and decided to take action. God saw that all would sin and that all would be worth of death and decided to send His son to die in their place that they may be forgiven. “I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me.” (Isaiah 63:5) God knew that man was unable to save himself so He became man and came to die for our sins that, whoever would choose to believe in Him, would be saved.

    The real question is not, “Why would God allow mankind to chose sin?” but “What more could God have done?” God has already paid the price for our sin and has already made the way for each of us to be forgiven and to be reconciled back to God. And this salvation is without cost and without money, it only requires faith. So, what more could God have done? He has already done it all.

    David Robison

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  3. It seems to me that you are talking about two different gods. Jack, yours is the God of Deism, who created heaven and earth then stepped back and watched what happend. David, yours is the Living God portrayed in the Old and New Testament, who interacts with the world he creates, and still does. I believe in and prefer the latter.

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  4. Good obervation, thanks for the comment. David

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  5. Do you believe that Jesus was born on Dec. 25th? If so, does the Bible support this theory?

    Who is Jehovah, and should we worship him?

    Who is Babylon the Great? Is the entire world of false religion near it's end?

    Should you be worshiped or honored?

    Should your church members pay you to teach them the Bible?

    Is Jesus Christ Jehovah's only-beggotten Son?

    Do you have the answers to my questions, or you afraid to reply?

    Remember Babylon the Great is falling. Flee from her, if you do not want to go down with her.

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  6. If God knew that some of his sons would sin (adam and eve) why did he tell them to fill the earth and give them everlasting life just to take it back from them.

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  7. It is hard to understand a God who lives outside of time while we live inside the confines of time. God gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose and they chose poorly. God could have not created them then and there would never been anyone to sin. He could have created them without choice and free will then they would not have sinned. However, He wanted a people who would freely choose Him. It is easy to second guess God, but His wisdom far exceeds our own. Somethings must remain a mystery until we stand before Him at the end of the age.

    David

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  8. Sorry David.. You didnt answer my question... If god knew they would sin why tell them to fill the earth and fill it and promise them they would live eternally when he already knew they would sin? That would make god a liar or deceiver??!! But the bible is clear god cannot lie.. Please help me understand... Confused

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