By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love… 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father… 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:3-4; 1Peter 1:2a; Eph 1:5-6).
The Great Playwright
Each of us comes into the world with our purpose prewritten and handed to us by God, like an actor receives a copy of the play from the hand of the playwright. That copy contains the narrative, storyline, and plot behind the character he is assigned. Everything is already set up for him. The play contains his character development, actions, subplot, and the script – the words he is to actually speak during his appearance on stage. Nothing is left to chance.
In this way, the playwright is sovereign over his production. At his pleasure, the characters appear, act out their parts, or die, and let the play roll on. The playwright’s will is supreme. So, with God everything proceeds according to “his good pleasure which he purposed in himself” (Eph 1:9). Each person’s “purpose” is to fill the role that God has assigned to him. For, in actuality he can do nothing more. He doesn’t get to choose his parents, his nationality, his date of birth, or the historical conditions at hand at his birth. He doesn’t get to choose his particular talents and abilities, his assets, or his fortunes in life. He has nothing to say about his beginning or his end. God has his life all fixed, before he ever sees the light of day. Of his divine majesty even, Jesus the Son of God, hear the testimony of the scripture.
The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of him. (Mark 14:21)
So ultimately, in God’s production called “history,” we don’t get the chance to effectually ad lib, or wing it. Jesus’ life was prewritten, and all our lives are prewritten, whether we see it in the Bible or not. That is because all our lives who are saved are “in Him” (Eph 1:3-6, 22-23; John 17:21-23) And, why do we call it “history” in the first place? We call it history, because it is “His – story.” All history is nothing more than the story of God’s glory. And, whether the fortunes of his characters seem to be good, bad, or indifferent, everything revolves around the glory of the God who manipulates everything to make the point of His creative control, and His ultimate goodness to His “elect” — the characters He chose to receive His life and salvation in the end. This is the meaning of that verse, “[God] works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11).
The illusion that man controls his own destiny, arises from the fact that life as God has designed it, carries inherently within it a certain feel of liberty and license that forms the basis of human choice and determines God’s judgment upon us as “free will” creatures. However, in actuality, our only role in determining our own destiny extends merely to the decision as to whether we say “Yes” or whether we say “No” to God. We are free to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to God, but we have no power to determine our own destiny. Destiny is completely in the hands of the Great Playwright, God.
The Foreknowledge of God
Please allow me to give you an express and simple introduction to the key Bible terms here. All background information is from the “Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995). The word “elect’ literally means “picked out, chosen.” Every Christian who makes it to heaven is “elect of God” (Col 3:2; Rom 8:33). Being elect, he or she is also “predestined” or “predestinated,” as the King James Version renders it. Predestined means “to predetermine, decide beforehand” what our end shall be. No matter how messed up we appear to be when we come to God, we shall be just like Jesus in the end of time. That’s the meaning of the verse, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29).
I think that the most beautiful, elegant, and engaging concept of all in God’s sovereignty, is the idea of foreknowledge. The word “foreknowledge” is translated from the Greek word “prognosis.” You may recognize that word as a common word referring to the doctor’s medical outlook for us, following his diagnosis. It means “forethought and pre-arrangement.” Foreknowledge is a compound word, ‘fore’ and ‘knowledge,’ which means to know ahead of time. But, it is not a passive word. It is transitive and causative. The word ‘know’ in the underlaying Hebrew is first introduced in the conjugal context. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and, she conceived” (Gen 4:1). Here to “know” carries the distinct meaning “to be intimately connected with; to communicate life to, in love.” This is the sense in which we, God’s elect, are foreknown.
Before the Foundation of the World
In 1Peter 1:2, the scripture says that our very election derives from the fact that God foreknew us. In other words, the population of heaven was not left to chance, neither was it left to the will of mankind. But, before time began — before the Genesis 1:1 beginning — God picked out those from among the potential pool of mankind, and predetermined that they would be in his final cast of salvation. God told Moses, “I know you BY NAME” (Ex 33:12,17). True to the process and meaning of foreknowledge, God intimately, privately, and individually communicated his life to us in love “by name,” before He even created the world. We were chosen “by name,” not by subsequent reputation of works. It was a totally unilateral, sovereign, and purposeful decision of God the Father alone. And, subsequent to that foreknowledge, predestination came into view; meaning that the play of history was prewritten with the glorious salvation narratives of everyone who had been preselected to become God’s forever-child. As the word declares,
“[Our names] are written in the Lamb’s book of life… BEFORE the foundation of the world” (Rev21:27; 1Peter 1:20).
This is the high, holy, and glorious truth. From the beginning, man in his pride has argued and railed against this. Even most Christians that I know have trouble accepting this; at least, in the beginning. We just don’t want to accept that anyone, including and especially God, has control over our own destiny. “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul,” we prefer to believe. But, the scripture is clear. To those who still have doubts or objections, I will only point you now to this passage: Romans 9:6-24 – a whole entire chapter devoted to the truth of election. And, to those who embrace this doctrine, it is shouting time. Like Jesus said,
“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the [demons] are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because YOUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN (Luke 10:20). Selah. Hallelujah. Amen.