Question:

I just read your article on the subject of predestination and foreknowledge. I very well understood the difficulties and struggle of trying to explain subjects like these and wish to appreciate your efforts

I just want you to look at Acts 13:48 and Ephesians 2:10. I will like to know how these tie into your proposition that God's foreknowledge and predestination only apply to group and not individuals.

I'll be expecting your insightful response.

Thank you.

Answer:

I assume you are referring to Could you explain “foreknew” and “predestined” to me? If so, you missed a point. Darrell was not saying that predestination and foreknowledge only apply to groups. He stated that the two most commonly used passages that are cited as evidence that God predestines individuals to be saved are not talking about individuals but a class or type of people God plans on saving. There are passages where God predestines an individual to accomplish a task that God has designated. For example, God declared over 200 years in advance: "Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," and to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."'" (Isaiah 44:28).

Acts 13:48

"Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth.'" When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region" (Acts 13:46-49).

The key to understanding Acts 13:48 is to understand the Greek word tasso which was translated as "appointed" in the above verse. It means to place, set in order, arrange, determine, appoint or direct. For example, Jesus told the disciples to meet him at a mountain that he designated (tasso) (Matthew 28:16). The centurion stated that he was a man placed (tasso) under authority (Luke 7:8). Foreplanning is involved but the word does not imply foreknowledge of each individual. For example, Stephanas and his household had devoted (etaxan, a form of the base word tasso) themselves to the service of the saints. In other words, they were determined to serve their brethren.

Next, note that Paul charged the Jews with rejecting the gospel, "since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life" (Acts 13:46). Their rejection was their own and so they determined their own verdict of being unworthy of eternal life. In contrasted, the Gentiles were determined to have eternal life, these believed instead of rejecting the gospel. In other words, how you understand this verse depends on who you assumed did the determination. Calvinists insist that it is God who did the determining, though that is not stated in the verse. However, the context shows that the more natural reading is a contrast between the Jews' determination to be unworthy of eternal life and the Gentiles' determination to possess eternal life. One commentary that leans toward predestination admits, "While there is a strong indication of predestination, the text may simply be trying to distinguish between those who were converts and those who were not." [The Complete Biblical Library on Acts 13:48]. I disagree that there is a strong indication of predestination. Nowhere else is tasso used to indicate predestination.

"Those of them who had, either through previous religious instruction, or through the influence of Paul's preaching, heartily determined for eternal life, were in a better frame of mind to appreciate the evidence in favor of that Christ through whom alone it could be obtained, than the others who were so undetermined upon the subject that they appeared to judge themselves unworthy of such a destiny. Such was the difference between the two classes in the audience, and Luke's object is to declare the result of the difference in the fact that the one class believed, and the other thrust the word of God from them. To say that the difference had been wrought in them exclusively by divine agency would be to rob them of responsibility" [J. W. McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel].

McGarvey's last point is important. If God determined these Gentiles to have eternal life then He also determined these Jews to not have salvation. But this contradicts Peter's statement: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). It also contradicts what Luke just said in Acts 13:46. It was the Jews who determined themselves to be unworthy of eternal life.

Ephesians 2:10

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

This verse states that God prepared in advance goods works that His people should perform. It does not state that the people were prepared in advance.

God's followers are expected to follow the ways of God. "But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (I John 2:5-6). Sadly, God had ways for Israel to walk, but they refused. "Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!" (Psalms 81:13). But notice that God set the expectation and it was up to people to follow Him or not.

Response:

The point is well-understood sir. Bottom line: Each of us has a responsibility to choose, by our act of will, how we respond to God. Our choice then positions us to experience what God had already set in place. As he said in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, he has given us a choice, and how we exercise that right is up to us. But it will come with its predetermined consequences!

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