THE PLAN OF GOD: part one

God has no beginning and no ending. I call this absolute existence. "I AM that I AM."
"From everlasting to everlasting You are God." Ps. 90:2
But there is a temporal factor involved with God's plan because His plan involves creatures that come into existence in a point in time.
God also has ABSOLUTE knowledge. He who is the Alpha and the Omega; the first and the last; He who has no beginning and no ending, KNOWS FULLY and completely the end from the beginning - AND every single detail that will occur - physically, mentally and spiritually within the parameters of >"the end from the beginning"<.
He knows this inherently and absolutely.

The following passages indicate that God has knowledge of all things, people and thoughts BEFORE those things, people and thoughts come into existence.
This, by the very fact of the case, constitutes foreknowledge.
God's knowledge does not "come into play" IN THE REALM OF TIME. It has ALWAYS existed.

Heb. 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do."
When it says that there is no creature hidden from His sight, that should not be seen as knowledge that God acquired when any one creature came into existence or started thinking.
He knew everything BEFORE any creature came into existence.
Ps. 44:21; God knows the secrets of the heart.
139:4, "even BEFORE there is a word on my tongue, Behold O Yahweh, You know it all."
We cannot limit this knowledge to some moment just before something is spoken - it is not mind-reading. It applies to a time even BEFORE any thought of speaking entered the heart.

1 Chron.28:9; "For Yahweh searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts."
God's understanding of the thoughts does not come AT THE TIME that those thoughts and intents are made?
This is not a mind-reading ability.
God has known within the parameters of time (the beginning from the end), exactly what those hearts would think.

God's knowledge sees every detail in man's life. Ps. 33:13-15; "The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works."
(Mat. 6:8, Mat. 6:32, Luke 16:15, Acts 15:8, Rom. 8:27a)
This does not speak directly of God's foreknowledge. It speaks more to the fact of God's ABSOLUTE knowledge so that there is nothing hidden from His sight whether within the time context of a creatures thoughts or from BEFORE those thoughts were even formed.
Accordingly, without stating it specifically it certainly includes the fact that God has foreknowledge of the things in view.

But with Jeremiah, God gets very specific.
Jer. 1:5, "before I formed you in the womb, I knew you
and before you were born, I consecrated you."

This indicates that BEFORE Jeremiah was even conceived, God had knowledge of him. God knew of and about him.
This does not say that God "made a plan" for him before he was conceived, for that is stated next.
So, based on that knowledge God had of and about Jeremiah, He designed a specific plan for him.

God has ABSOLUTE knowledge. Is. 46:9-10,
He knows the end from the beginning, and MAKES DECLARATION concerning that knowledge.
"Saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure."
His purpose is accomplished based on knowing the end from the beginning.
Within the parameters of "the end from the beginning" and on into eternity future, God has designed a plan for the universe.

All the details of that plan revolve around a divine desire. The desire is indicated by the word, "good pleasure."
At Isaiah 46:10, the word is chAphātz which means, desire, longing, pleasure. Here and at 44:28 and 48:14 it has in mind specifically, God's desire for Cyrus. At Isaiah 53:10 it refers specifically to God's desire being fulfilled by the work of Christ.
From this, we can conclude that there is a GENERAL desire within the Godhead involved with His plan.
The verb, chAphātz is used of God to express that which is pleasing to Him, such as at Jer. 9:24, God delights in grace-kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth.
Hosea 6:6, "For I delight in grace-kindness rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

What we learn then, is that God does in fact operate on what He wants or desires.
There is a principle concerning God found at John 4:23, God seeks (desires) people to be worshipers in spirit and in truth. This surely does not apply simply to THIS particular occasion in the ministry of Jesus.
I believe it expresses a general aspect of God's essence and that it sets the tone for the entire plan of God that was designed in eternity past (before the foundation of the earth).
God WANTS creatures to love and worship him FREELY from the whole heart and soul and mind and strength (spirit) in perfect conformity to His character and viewpoint (truth). Mark 12:30; Deut. 6:5; Hos. 6:6.
Indeed, God's "desire" is expressed at 2 Peter 3:15 that He is "not willing for anyone to perish but for all to come to a change of mind."

Now - SOMEWHERE in the sphere of God's absolute existence; and SOMEHOW within the realm of God's essence and in the scope of His thoughts that are not as our thoughts; and according to His ways, which are not as our ways - and before the foundation of the world, He DESIRED to bring into existence creatures who would love and worship Him, and in return share in the full benefits of His perfect love.
But love and worship by very definition require FREEDOM on the part of the creature. A creature that is "programmed" with a robotic response of "I love you God," or "I praise you God," does not express true love and worship.
Thus, it was necessary for God to create creatures with volition or free will. This should be defined as the freedom and ability to THINK anything the creature wants. Not freedom to DO (act, perform) anything, but to think anything. What the creature wants to DO is governed by God's permissive will, that may or may not allow the action.
But a creature that has the freedom to love also has the freedom to reject.

So within the scope of God's absolute existence; His perfect loving desire; AND with full knowledge of what was needed, and what would happen, He MADE A PLAN to fulfill His loving desire to bring into being creatures who would freely love and worship Him and in return be the recipients of His perfect beneficent love.
God KNEW from the onset, not only the FACT of sin occurring (first in the angelic realm), but exactly WHEN it would happen (and secondly in the human realm).
Knowing fully what and when it would happen God designed a plan that would reconcile the problem of freedom to love and freedom to reject.

The plan would set in motion the chain of events leading to a point IN TIME when there would be creatures in existence who would love and worship God by choice and yet NOT HAVE the option to reject, because the whole history of sin would be on display, as it were, in the eternal "museum" of the universe (perhaps even having on exhibit, a visual of the lake of fire).
The museum will serve as a deterrent to sin, showing its cause and consequence, and it will deter anyone from WANTING to sin. Perhaps the "hand in the fire" is a good illustration. You do it once, and become fully aware of the consequences, you will never willingly do it again.

This plan is called, "the plan of the ages" at Eph. 3:11, and it revolves completely around the human nature and work of "Christ Jesus our Lord."
And since the plan revolves around Christ, it is said OF HIM,
that He (in His humanity) was "foreknown before the foundation of the world,
1 Peter 1:20. This is the verb, proginōskō as a perfect passive participle. Not only does the verb itself mean to know something BEFORE it happens, but the perfect tense emphasizes it, for the perfect tense sees this action as occurring IN THE PAST with the results finding reality in the present. And to establish it even more emphatically, we are told it is "before the foundation of the world." The passive voice further indicates that Jesus was the recipient of the action - The entire scope of the incarnation of the 2nd member of the Godhead was foreknown by the GODHEAD.
And at Acts 2:23 that He was "delivered up by the established plan and foreknowledge of God."
It was in fact the PLAN of God that designed that Christ needed to be sacrificed for sin. But it was the foreknowledge of the Godhead that KNEW beforehand, before the foundation of the earth, exactly what was needed and how to carry it out that is the basis for designing the perfect plan that would fulfill His perfect desire and love.
Thus, the deliverance of Christ into the hands of His executioners was according to the predetermined PLAN of God. The Greek word is boulā, which is said to be predetermined (Aorist passive participle of horidzō).
But ADDED to what "arranged" for the giving of the Son is the foreknowledge of God. The noun prognosis is used to indicate exactly what the verb at 1 Peter 1:20 means.

The basic un-doctored definition and usage of this verb is to know something BEFORE it comes to pass.
Outside a theological focus the word occurs two times and means EXACTLY, to know something BEFORE that "something" occurs.
Acts 26:5, "having previously known (about) me before."
since previously they have known before about me."
Present active participle, "since having known before"
Plus adverb, anōthen (before) for emphasis to indicate that they did in fact have previous knowledge about Paul.

2 Peter 3:17, "You therefore beloved brethren, knowing before hand, be on guard."
This is a present active participle to indicate the present foreknowledge about something that is going to happen before it happens. In this case, it is having foreknowledge because they were taught about the dangers from the untaught and unstable false teachers.

So given the normal usage of this verb -
AND given the fact that God has foreknowledge of everything that can be thought or done - there is no reason to CHANGE the meaning of the verb (or noun) to something different when we look at the 5 passages that have a theological focus.
Romans 8:29, for whom he foreknew: here is "proginōskō" again, to indicate that before God took specific steps to include "you" in His plan, he foreknew something. Now Paul gives us a very interesting order of events. And the fact that all these are verbs which occur in the aorist tense, indicates a context that views all of those events as completed steps in the plan of God for man's salvation.

1. He knew something ahead of time.
2. He assigned a destiny based on that knowledge.
3. He invited and accepted into a "called" status because of that destiny.
4. Because of that "called" status, He declared righteous (justified).
5. And because of that justification, He glorified. (which is the end result of God's salvation plan for the human race, glorified in resurrection body and living with God for all eternity.

It is contended by some that the word foreknow does not mean to know something before. It is claimed that the verb has the same connotation as "determine."
But such an assumption not only violates the natural and secular meaning of proginōskō, but also violates the very clear context of both Acts 2:23 and Romans 8:29. That violation being: there is absolutely no logical reason for using both "foreknow" and "predetermine" at Romans 8:29 nor for using "foreknowledge" and "predetermined plan" at Acts 2:23 if they are to be viewed as synonymous. Thus as is clearly the implication, they are to be viewed as two different ideas.

Since this distinction between these two words is of the utmost importance, I shall quote here from WORD MEANINGS IN THE NT, by Ralph Earle, page 182.
"The latest and best one-volume Greek-English lexicon of the NT is that by Arndt and Gingrich (1957) For this passage they suggest the translation 'choose beforehand' (p.710). Wuest agrees with this. He argues that in Acts 2:23 'counsel' and 'foreknowledge' (prognōsis) mean the same thing. Also n 1 Pet. 1:20, KJV translates proginōskō as 'foreordain.'

Wuest adds: 'The word should also be so translated in Rom. 8.29' (p.144).

However, in 1 Pet. 1:20 the ERV and the ASV have foreknow, although the RSV has 'destined.' Calvin, as might be expected, makes proginōskō here in Rom. 8:29 refer to our adoption (p.227)

But this theological connotation is unsupported by the majority of the best authorities. Lidell and Scott in their monumental Greek-English Lexicon give no such meaning for the term. Abbott-Smith has simply 'know beforehand, foreknow.'

Thayer agrees and interprets 1 Pet. 1:20 as: 'foreknown by God, although not yet made manifest to men' (page 538).

Cremer seems to fall somewhere between. He writes: 'proginōskō, however, essentially includes a self-determining on God's part to this fellowship (Rom. 8:29, whom God had beforehand entered into fellowship with')

Alfred, pioneer of the modern grammatico-historical method of interpretation, notes Calvin's rendering here ('elected, adopted as His sons'). Then he adds: 'But I prefer taking the word in the ordinary sense of foreknew.'

Meyer points out that the Early Church fathers (e.g., Origen, chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome) interpreted the term as signifying foreknowledge rather than fore ordination. He declares that the meaning is not 'to be decided by dogmatic suppositions, but simply by the usage of the language, in accordance with which proginōskō never in the NT (not even in Rom. 11:2 and 1 Per. 1:20) means anything else than to know beforehand - - - that in classic usage it ever means anything else, cannot be at all proved. (p.335)

It is being increasingly recognized that one of the most important backgrounds for the use of words in the NT is the LXX (Greek OT) this was the bible of the earliest Christians.

It is in this vein that Sonday and Headlam write: 'The meaning of this phrase must be determined by the biblical use of the word 'know,' which is very marked and clear - - in all these places the word means 'to take note of,' 'to fix the regard upon,' as a preliminary to selection for some especial purpose' (p.217).

Denny takes a similar view. He says: 'Yet we may be sure that proginōskō has the pregnant sense that ginōskō often has in scripture - - hence we may render, 'those of whom God took knowledge from eternity' (Eph. 1.4) .

The ANT reads: 'For those whom He foreknew--of whom He was aware (in the divine plan).'

Charles Williams makes it a little stronger in his translation: 'on whom He set His heart beforehand.'
In a footnote he asserts that this usage is found in the LXX.

Vincent speaks vigorously on the subject. He declares of proginōskō: 'it does not mean foreordain. It signifies prescience, not preelection,'
In a footnote he adds: 'this is the simple, common-sense meaning. The attempt to attach to it the sense of pre-election, to make it include the divine decree, has grown out of dogmatic considerations in the interest of a rigid pre-destinarianism. the scope of this work does not admit a discussion of the infinitesimal hair-splitting which has been applied to this passage, and which is as profitless as it is unsatisfactory.

The relation of this term to its context is correctly stated by Vine when he writes: 'The foreknowledge of God is the basis of His foreordaining counsels.'

One of the best treatments of this passage is in Godet's commentary on Romans, where he devotes over a page of rather fine print to this one word alone. He writes:

'Some have given to the word foreknow the meaning of elect, choose, destine beforehand - - -Not only is this meaning arbitrary, as being without example in the NT - - - but what is still more decidedly opposed to this meaning is what follows: He also did predestinate.'

After discussion several views held regarding this word, Godet goes on to say (p.325): 'In what respect did God thus foreknow them? - - -there is but one answer: foreknown as sure to fulfill the condition of salvation, viz. faith; so: foreknown as His by faith.'"

In light of this evidence it is most reasonable and consistent with the rest of the Bible to view foreknew and predestined as separate ideas and that foreknowledge comes first.

The Godhead knew exactly what PLAN was needed to fulfill His loving desire, and He knew exactly what would happen when He put that plan into motion. BECAUSE of His absolute foreknowledge, He designed that plan in its entirety revolving it around the 2nd member of the Godhead (THE WORD).
That plan that would encompass every detail of the "beginning to the end," involved the creation of the physical universe; the creation of angels; the creation of mankind; AND the details of resolving all the foreknown freewill expressions of unrighteousness.
And having absolute knowledge of the sin of angels and the sin of mankind, the plan was designed to manifest divine love, righteousness and justice. In reference to the human race, the plan was designed to provide for the salvation of the human race through the person and work of Christ. Based on the Godhead's foreknowledge of Christ's success in accomplishing the pre-designed plan of redemption, Christ was assigned a destiny as heir of the universe (Heb 1:2). That destiny was foreknown as part of the foreknown plan and that is what predestined means.

Because of this foreknown and predetermined destiny, Christ is designated as the CHOSEN of God or the ELECT one. The Greek adjective is eklektos.
1 Peter 2:4, Christ is "rejected by men but in the sight of God, chosen (ELECT) most valuable."
At verse 6, "Behold I lay in Zion a chosen (ELECT) stone, a priceless corner stone."
The Old Testament desiginates the Messiah as "My chosen (elect) one in whom My soul delights." Isaiah 42:1.
And God confirms to the disciples that Jesus is indeed "My Son, the ELECTED one." Luke 9:35, using the perfect passive participle of eklegomai.

Since Jesus is the ELECT one of God (foreknown before the foundation of the world, 1 Peter 1:20) all who are partnered with Him share that election. Everyone who trusts in Christ is placed into union with Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) or IN CHRIST and are designated as the elect IN Christ, and seen to be such also "from the foundation of the world."
Ephesians 1:4 says that God "chose us IN HIM (Christ) before the foundation of the world."
This is the verb, eklegomai as an aorist active indicative.
Believers are thus designated as "the elect of God" at Col. 3:12 (eklektos).
Jesus is the ELECT stone upon which the church is built. Accordingly, those who are of the church are designated as an ELECT race at 1 Peter 2:9.

Since Jesus is the ELECT ONE, foreknown from the foundation of the world; AND all who are IN CHRIST share His election, believers are likewise seen to be foreknown by God. And just as the foreknowledge of God PRECEDED the establishment of His "plan of the ages;" and preceded the sacrificial offering of Christ, likewise the foreknowledge of God knew who would believe in Jesus and accordingly placed them into the plan, IN CHRIST. This does not make God's predestination of the believer dependent on man's response. Predestination is based on God's foreknowledge of man's response, and that is simply the way God designed it.



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