29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God’s Foreknowledge, Part Two (Concursus)
God “foreknew” that certain people would become Christians under His thorough step-by-step concurring or not concurring with their decisions. He knew every step in the process before the event of their salvation. God sovereignly concurred through it all; therefore, His decree included the concurring process. However, His decree was from eternity a one-fell-swoop reality.
God as the first cause of everything does not violate man as a second cause.
God foreknows what will be because He determined what will be. However, His determination does not override human will. God foreknew how He would deal with the will of man in each and every situation he faces.
What God decrees He foresees; He decreed free agency in man and He foresaw and concurred with each decision in His decree (although not necessarily agreeing). God knew everything that would be from eternity. Nothing is contingent in His mind and eternal council. God foreknew what He would concur with.
The word “foreknow” does not have a deterministic meaning when it comes to election. Foreordination and foreknowledge do not mean that God overrides the will of man. Part of His foreordination is that He gave us choice. God advances His plan through free decisions of human beings. Thus, God is not the author of sin. There is a difference between foreordination and cause. God is the direct cause of many things but not all things. Man is the direct cause of his sin.
It is inaccurate to affirm that God predestined those He foreknew would believe the gospel. That would put God’s sovereignty entirely at the mercy of human choice. Having made that point, neither is it proper to affirm that God forces people to believe because they are predestined. God is not the direct cause of every event.
God’s decree is consistent with the human freedom He gave in the decree. He never violates the self-determination that He decreed regarding man. There is a distinction between what God causes in His decree directly and what He allows in His decree indirectly (such as sin). God is not the cause of sin. Since God created man with free will, He will allow that will to function independently from Himself in one sense. He allows man to make the choice, but God never relinquishes His sovereignty in any event, thought, possibility, or situation that man might face. God’s permissive will is as much a part of His decree as His direct will. Independent will (whether angelic or human) is the source of sin.
There is a difference between the direct will of God and His permissive will in certain situations. The cross was God’s direct will from eternity. Nothing could change that from happening. God provided the cross to maintain the integrity of His absoluteness, His unchangeableness.
Acts 2: 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
The principle of decree does not oppose human freedom. God sovereignly manages the process whereby some people come to believe. He puts people, reversals, events, blessings, and numerous other things into the path of our decisions. In other words, human beings do not have absolute autonomy or freedom. We as finite beings would never come to an infinite God without His managing the process. Some people will exercise negative volition to God’s drawing (Jn 6:44) and will not believe. Others will turn positive and accept His drawing and believe.
God honors our trust or belief. He determines by decree from eternity that He will sovereignly concur with some events or situations and not others. There was never a point where God did not know the future (speaking in human terms). He takes every last person who has ever been born through this immeasurable process. Nothing is outside of God’s control through this progression.
God never relinquishes His sovereignty when bringing people to Himself. He draws all men to Himself. God’s foreknowledge carries certainty about all future, (although God does not operate in time) possible and actual events. Nothing is outside the domain of His cognizance. Since God lives above time, He knew everything He would do and everything man would do about His plan of salvation. Knowing is similar to seeing, which perceives an object for what it is. Faith does not exist because God foreknows it but because God knew how He would deal with man concurrently.
God maintains His sovereignty over human volition because man’s freedom is a limited freedom. God does not abandon man from His influence. There is no situation, action, or decision that man makes without God’s intervention. At times God permits man to go his way and at other times He does not, but on no occasion does God abandon man to himself. Nothing is certain apart from God’s concurring.