The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. What matters is that God knows the event with infallible certainty. First of all, the notion of a divine “plan” does not mean that there is a kind of book in which everything is written down ahead of time. Therefore, since there is no succession of time for God, the argument runs, he simply knows all our free choices because he is right there with us. Why, then, doesn’t He intervene and keep evil things from happening to us? He will give us what we ask, or something better. He simply IS. You can see why this verse by itself could be used to teach that everything that happens to us is God’s will. Home Because of this, I have always tried to carry the mindset that â everything happens … Permissions A. What makes God so sure that I will choose the waffles just because they are in front of the french toast? Time is irrelevant to God, as is space. If God knows that fifty years from now Canada will invade the United States, it matters not (for our discussion) if God knows it because the event, 50 years away for us, is present to God. Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, board chairman of The Gospel Coalition, and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). So when I open the freezer tomorrow morning, although the choice may seem very free to me, in reality my choice cannot be other than waffles. Arminians go on to argue that libertarian free will is consistent with divine foreknowledge. On the contrary, prayer is multidimensional. You are quite right to argue that knowledge of an event does not make that event necessary. Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34). What it does show is that the determination and necessity of future events is really no greater for the Calvinist than for the Arminian. That may be a good hunch on his part, but as long as I have the power of contrary choice God has no way of knowing for sure that I will not reach behind the waffles and grab the french toast. ‘Sitting Quietly with God’: A Reflection from Will Graham, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201 Sadly, in recent years some leading pastors and theologians have challenged the idea that God has exhaustive knowledge of future events (an idea … If you can look into the future and see that I will choose waffles tomorrow, all you have done is seen the future. And if future choices are fixed and necessary, there is no place for the power of contrary choice. If you read in my journal entry for today: 窶弸esterday, ate waffles for breakfast窶� you simply know that I had waffles yesterday. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We know from Scripture that God is omniscient, which literally means “all-knowing.” Job 37:16; Psalm 139:2–4, 147:5; Proverbs 5:21; Isaiah 46:9-10; and 1 John 3:19–20 leave no doubt that God’s knowledge is infinite and that He knows everything that has happened in the past, is happening now, and will happen in … C. Job is a good person. He has authored numerous books, including Just Do Something. But let’s put these two together. So when it comes to foreknowledge the same applies. Some Christians affirm omniscience but deny free will (Calvinists).ﾂ� Other Christians try to affirm both (Arminians).ﾂ� It’s no secret that I’m a Calvinist so it will surprise no one that I agree with the middle sentence.ﾂ� I think open theism is a grave error.ﾂ� But given that it is very much a minority position among Christians, I am not concerned about it in this post.ﾂ� My reflections are focused on the disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians. That is, God knows with certainty that tomorrow morning I will choose the waffles and not the french toast. To which I would respond, that this misses the point. God knows that if I wake up tomorrow morning and find the box of waffles in front of the french toast I will choose the waffles. A: Nothing ever catches God by surprise; He knows everything that’s going to happen to us. The Bible teaches that God not only knows everything that will happen, He also knows everything that could potentially happen. It molds us into his image. It's got to be frustrating, all … Since God knows that in 50 years Canada will invade the United States, in 50 years it cannot be otherwise than that the United States will be invaded by Canada. We were chosen in Christ from the foundation of the earth (see Ephesians 1:4 You may object that foreknowledge of an event has no more influence on the necessity of that event than after-knowledge. This isn’t an easy question to answer; God is far greater than we are, and … In so doing, we can put the matter to rest, and go on with our lives. Furthermore we are told that God has planned (or predestined) certain things. God doesn't know everything that will happen in the future. Satan isn’t a cute figure with a red suit and a forked tail (as we often picture him). As the Psalmist wrote, “His understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5). If God knows everythin… All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." There is something erroneous in the question, “If God knows everything, why pray?” The question assumes that prayer is one-dimensional and is defined simply as supplication or intercession. What you know for certain about the past does not cause the past event but it does assume that it is fixed, or else your knowledge would not be certain. ©2020 BGEA The Bible does remind us, however, that evil is real, and although God is at work, Satan also is at work. Instead, by faith give your life to Jesus Christ and build your life on Him. God knows everything that will happen in our future, but aside from some big parts of his plan for humanity (like that final victory), he doesn’t make it happen. We know for certain that“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his u… M. Night Shyamalan, writer and director of the 2002 sci-fi action film hit Signs, strung together an intricate timeline of events all very dependent on their preceding events. The Episode Of David And Saul Scripture gives the following episode. We see this plainly with after-knowledge. Your knowing the future, you may argue, has no bearing on my choice of Eggos tomorrow. Suppose God knows for certain that tomorrow morning I will choose the waffles. This idea is expressed in Psalm 139:6-10. God does not look into the future per se because all of history past, present, and future happens for God in the eternal now. Nothing ever catches God by surprise; He knows everything that’s going to happen to us. Part of the problem in Open Theism is that by restricting God to the present only, His existence is defined in such a way as to imply that time is part of His nature and that He is restricted to it. They often base this on their understanding of Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”. Arminians argue that we have a libertarian free will, which simply put means that we have the power of contrary choice; or to put it another way, that our choices can be otherwise than they are. He must see something we don’t see, because only God knows the future.” We take solace and comfort in our conclusion that God knows every event before it actually happens. God is just and fair, and stands for people getting what they deserve, so that the good prosper and the wicked are punished. For if God certainly knows the future, then the future must for certainty come to pass as God knows it. What if you discovered that all the choices you thought you made freely were mapped out in advance? Take our Eggo example. Hence, free will (as Arminians understand it) does not exist even if it be argued that God窶冱 knowledge is timeless. In other words, God has the property of existing. It is as if he put into his cosmic VCR the tape marked 窶廳evin窶冱 Breakfast October 27.窶� He saw that I would choose waffles and therefore he knows for certain what my free choice will be. But Satan is a defeated foe — and some day Christ’s victory over evil and death and Satan will be complete! The proof is Jesus’ triumph over the power of death. Local: 704-401-2432 It is true, that none of this proves that God is the determiner of all things. By free will I mean free will as Arminians define it. “The Bible sweepingly says that everything human beings do is, in the end, the will of God.” When you give more careful attention, what you realize is that Paul is using a general statement about God’s working everything according to the counsel of his will as a support for a specific statement about predestination. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t build your life on the wrong foundation. In fact, that God’s knowledge has no succession of time points to a more important inference, namely, that God’s knowledge never increases. This means that it is God's will to allow sin to operate in the world. Nothing happens without His willing it. The universe was created to display God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), and the wrath of God is revealed against those who fail to glorify God (Romans 1:18–25). Nothing can occur other than how God knows it to be. God simply IS. If this were not so fixed, God, in 50 years may prove to be mistaken in his knowledge. Any certain knowledge of a choice proves that the choice itself is fixed and cannot be otherwise. Arminians and Calvinists (although not Openness theologians) believe that an omniscient God has foreknowledge of what choice I will make. Almost every Christian believes that God knows everything. God, who created everything, created space and time. Everything that happens has happened before, and all that will be has already been--God does everything over and over again. He’s unchangeable. The second problem is that in the middle knowledge system where humans have libertarian free will, how can God know even my potential decisions? This is why it’s wrong to think that prayer is only asking God for something. God is not in any particular place. Why, then, doesn’t He intervene and keep evil things from happening to us? Nevertheless, God, who knows all things, knows for certain that I will choose the waffles tomorrow morning. Rather, God sees everything from an eternal state of being outside of … God … If God already knows what’s going to happen, what’s the point of praying?” Recall from my last post that prayer doesn’t change God’s mind. In fact, it is the overarching goal of everything He does. Daniel 4:35 … If we make the analogy fit a God who stands outside of time and can experience the past, present, and future simultaneously, we can imagine that God is watching (and experiencing) on his cosmic VCR all my breakfasts from eternity to eternity. Privacy If he could change those events, then he wouldn't really know everything, and you are talking about a God who knows everything, so you can't be talking about a God that can do anything he wants. If anyone knows 100% of everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen, they are responsible for everything past present and future. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have eight children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, and Andrew. God knows all things actual and potential, hence he knows what I would do in any given circumstances. Nothing can occur other than how God knows it to be. God simply looked into the future and saw what my choice would be. Satan is powerful and absolutely evil — and in this present age he is doing all he can to impose his will on the world. It is a fixed and necessary consequence that I will eat waffles and not french toast. Prayer isn’t for God. It at least means that one is able to make significant decisions. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. I may choose the waffles; I may choose the french toast. Tomorrow morning I will open my freezer and choose whether to have Eggo waffles for breakfast or Eggo french toast. February 28, 2011 Further, the very idea that God “already” knows what we “will” do in the future is human, time-bound thinking, and a misunderstanding of how God knows everything. Therefore there is no place we can go to hide from God and God knows already all that has and will happen. As the Psalmist wrote, “His understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5). He alone gives us hope, because He is with us no matter what happens to us — and some day we’ll be safely in His presence forever. A related term (that can also be used as a synonym for omniscience) is foreknowledge. By this knowledge of all possible decisions and outcomes (middle knowledge) God can direct the future and know for certain what my decisions will be. Permit me a little exercise in theological philosophy and logic. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Can God really know for certain what I would do in any given situation? Then if I were to ask you, 窶弩hat will I choose, the waffles or the french toast?窶� All of you would say, with certainty, 窶弸ou will choose the waffles.窶� My choice cannot be otherwise. When David knew that Saul plotted evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring … If an omniscient God has foreknowledge as to my choice of waffles, than this knowledge must be of an event that is fixed and necessary. Yet deep inside, something is missing. We are part of a great spiritual battlefield, and every day spiritual warfare rages around us. In other words, foreknowledge does not affect future certainty; it assumes it. Since God窶冱 perfect plan is for me to choose the waffles he manages the circumstance such that I will choose the waffles (i.e. What Will Still Be True When the Election Is Over. God gets mad, because he can't change the events that he knows are going to happen. If God knows everything that will happen and has a plan for creation, what is the use of racking our brains to try and make authentic choices? I have power of contrary choice. Copyright © 2020 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved, Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com.ﾂ�, in Matthews, North Carolina, board chairman of The Gospel Coalition, and assistant professor of systematic theology at, (Charlotte). Our prayers should include praise, and also thanksgiving for all the good gifts God gives us. It holds then, if God truly knows all things and if he ordains all things, then everything that happens to us must happen as part of his plan. having the box of waffles in front of the french toast). God has a perfect and never-failing knowledge. It窶冱 no different than after-knowledge you may say. Many Christians believe human beings have free will. For example, when God sent an angel to stop Abraham from killing Isaac, God said, "Do not put out your hand against the boy and do not do anything at all to him, for NOW I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your … If God has certain knowledge of an event, whether that knowledge is a foreknowledge or strictly speaking a timeless knowledge, what matters is that God窶冱 knowledge is certain. Here’s another question. Because if it is certain, by whatever means, then the event will come to pass as it has been certainly known. But arguing for God窶冱 timelessness (which is a proper thing to argue) does nothing to help secure libertarian free will. The same issue still surfaces. But when I wake up tomorrow and look in the freezer I will have the power of contrary choice. But if God窶冱 foreknowledge is infallible, then what he knows will certainly come to pass. It just means that God can see what we will freely choose -- because that is what we freely choose -- and knows what it is. If you have after-knowledge of my breakfast choice because you read my journal from today, you can have certain knowledge that I ate waffles. By foreknowledge I mean that God knows everything that is yet to happen in the future. Knowing something ahead of or before its occurrence does not cause the necessity of the occurrence, but it does prove that it cannot be otherwise. It helps restore us to God’s likeness, which is what this life on earth is really all about. Thus, as the reasoning goes, just as your after-knowledge of my choice did not make my choice necessary, neither does your foreknowledge of my choice make it necessary. God knows what I will eat for breakfast tomorrow because he is already there. Middle knowledge is an attractive 窶徇iddle窶� ground, but it fails on two accounts. -1 Corinthians 13:12 A Solid Foundation in the Storm of Life What does it mean to be free? My wife is free to do as she chooses and her choice may disrupt God窶冱 intended circumstance. Does God know everything that is going to happen in the future? Some believe He knows everything that will happen but He doesn’t always cause it (especially sinful things). Here窶冱 why. God is not limited by what he created. For all certain knowledge of a choice (before, after, or during) demonstrates that the choice is necessary, fixed, and cannot be otherwise than it is. There is one other objection that may be raised: What about God窶冱 timelessness? He has authored numerous books, including, 7 Ways to Kill the Thanksgiving Impulse in Your Life, Gospel + Safety + Time = A Church Where Anyone Can Grow, A Burden Removed: A Biblical Path for Removing the Racism of Our Forefathers. Let窶冱 put these terms in a typical scenario. According to God’s will: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if my choice cannot be otherwise, then I have no free will in the libertarian sense. God窶冱 knowledge is certain, but my choice is in no way necessary or fixed; it is free and can be otherwise. I have libertarian free will to choose the waffles or the french toast. This has been the teaching of orthodox Christianity from early on. All events must come to pass as God knows them because they are to a timeless God if they had already been. God does not look into the future and see what’s going to happen. But by my reckoning the Arminian scheme does not allow for libertarian free will either. The glory of God is the overarching goal of creation. He does not need to put in a tape of 窶廳evin窶冱 Breakfast October 27″ because he is there right now. I can possess no libertarian free will (with the power of contrary choice) where God has a sure and certain knowledge of the future. Because God knows everything that will happen, this allows Him to predict the future ahead of time. The outcome of my choice is not fixed. Everything happens in a certain physical space and a certain time sequence. By Billy Graham • For if God窶冱 knowledge is always correct, that is, infallible and certain, then what he knows of the future will certainly and infallibly come to pass. The Bible tells us definitely that God knows everything. Let me define a few terms I’ll be using.ﾂ� By omniscience I mean that God knows everything. Please make sure all fields are filled out. If everything is in God’s hands, then He is required of everything. The Arminian objects to the Calvinist God because God窶冱 predetermination of all things does not allow for libertarian free will. God knows all things because he is the one who chose to bring the universe into existence with all that would occur. God窶冱 knowing what I will choose is simply a knowledge based on foreseen evidence, and this knowledge in no way determines my choice of waffles. • Topics: God. First, if God never violates human free will how can he effectively and consistently create the circumstances necessary to actualize my decision? The fact is, history is His-story or the story of God’s redemption of those who have repented and trusted in the Son of God. God has a perfect and never-failing knowledge. God cannot lie, and when He makes an unconditional statement about what will happen in the future, He does so knowing that He has the wherewithal to bring it to pass without overstepping the free will of any human being (which is also something that, by His nature, God cannot do). This isn’t an easy question to answer; God is far greater than we are, and His wisdom is far greater than ours. The Bible says, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? On the question of evil, Arminians have an easier time than Calvinists or Molinists. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). But this is not so. B. Contact Us. Your knowledge of this did not cause my choice, but your infallible certainty about the waffles proves that yesterday窶冱 breakfast cannot be other than waffles. In this view, some things happen that are not in God’s will. There is no before or after for God; he is outside of time and experiences all of our time all the time. It is up to my free will to decide. God’s sovereignty casts no shadow over the prayer of adoration. By this understanding, we are led to believe that divine omniscience, or foreknowledge in this case, is wholly compatible with libertarian free will. Of course, I’m not going to settle such a long standing debate with a single blog post, but I do want to think for a few moments about whether divine omniscience and free will are compatible.ﾂ� That is, can the Arminian have it both ways and affirm that God knows everything and that we free wills? But, he does not sit idly by and watch things happen. In fact, that God窶冱 knowledge has no succession of time points to a more important inference, namely, that God窶冱 knowledge never increases. The Bible indicates that God is sovereign over the world and nothing happens apart from His plan. Therefore, the timelessness of God actually strengthens the argument against libertarian free will. In his dealings with us he usually works within the space and time limitations that we live in, but he himself is not limited by either space or time. Still others believe God doesn’t know everything that will happen in the future, so He can’t be blamed in any way. Toll Free: 1-877-247-2426. God is all-powerful and causes everything that happens in the world. All events must come to pass as God knows them because they are to a timeless God … Everything that happens in linear time is inching close to the consummation of the kingdom of God which will extend into all time and never cease. We read the Lord saying that He, Declares 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 46:10). The Bible gives several examples of this. It is based upon the fact that God not only knows what will take place in the future but has revealed the key events to us so that we might have confident hope. Would God … If it could be otherwise, then the possibility exists that God in his foreknowledge is mistaken. Some Christians affirm free will but deny traditional omniscience (e.g., open theists). It’s for us. Someone at this point may raise the question 窶弩hat about middle knowledge?窶� According to middle knowledge, God does not determine human choices but he does create the circumstances necessary to actualize these choices. Thus, according to the Arminian, foreknowledge co-exists just fine with free will. God may try to arrange the situation such that the waffles are in front of the french toast, but he can窶冲 prevent my wife from getting up before me, eating the french toast and putting the french toast box in front of the waffles. He also sees the whole picture, while we see only a small part. So any middle knowledge that is certain undermines free will just like any other certain kind of knowledge. Open theists ) otherwise, then I have always tried to carry the mindset that â everything happens the! Not exist even if it could be used to teach that everything that is certain but... Bearing on my choice is in no way necessary or fixed ; it assumes it breakfast October 27″ he! 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