We’re having our first get-together for those interested in our new church plant this Sunday and we’ll be making our way through I Peter. In the very beginning of the book, Peter encourages his recipients with the fact that they have indeed been chosen.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
His recipients can relax at their present sufferings and realize such incidents do not mean that God hasn’t chosen them. Instead these sufferings are rather an encouragement that He in fact has chosen them, and a long time ago at that. There is nothing to question regarding God’s love for them (though it would make sense to question if simple observation ruled the day). Calvinists love this part and we get a like a kid who just saw a sign for free cotton candy at the county fair. On the other hand “Free Willy’s” love the fact that God’s choosing seems to be based upon God’s foreknowledge-interpreted as God looking into the future and seeing if folks would have chosen Him. Now if foreknowledge or knowledge in the scriptures referred to choices that people would make that would be one thing. But the problem is that it does not.
He points out that knowledge refers to favor, not simply knowing something. It is knowing someone. Since he does a great job, there is no need to further elaborate on it. But one thing that hit me today when thinking about this passage was a concern about viewing God as middle school boy. Let me explain.
Often unsure and lacking confidence, the middle school boy will only profess and place his “love” (I know that’s getting a little loose with the language) upon a gal when he first knows said gal already likes him or will like him back. She might be flattered that he likes her, and when he gets a sniff of that, then he moves in for the “kill.” In other words the cause and motivation of his love is not in himself, but in the other gal. So he is in effect only placing his love upon her because she has first loved him or will be sure to respond to him.
So does God do the middle schooler thing and discern if so and so would “like” Him before he places his love upon and chooses that person? Now he doesn’t need Johnny or Suzie to pass notes or anything because that kind of info is at his fingertips already. But does He in essence, on the basis of his “recon,” then say, “Well I’ve chosen you and I love you?” Doesn’t that lessen the beauty of his love, at least a little bit? It probably does with a middle school gal.
In reality the scriptures depict God not pursuing us like a middle schooler but as a husband chasing a resistant and adulterous prostitute (Hosea). That’s love.
Bono once sang “Stop treating God like a little old lady!” But have we sometimes treated the process of salvation like a middle school romance? Perhaps the Savage Garden song-and I apologize for breaking it out but I just had to-“I knew I loved you before I met you” would be a bit more apropos.
I’m not Reformed and angry. My goal is not to Reform everyone; it really isn’t. But from time to time illustrations relating to predestination hit me and I like to share them. Hopefully those of you who don’t track with me theologically aren’t too offended.
I love that you referred to a SG song in this post. Good work. I was conversing with another guy about this issue when it hit me, if God's choice in election consisted of him looking into the future to see who would choose him, then what purpose does his election serve? If they are going to choose God before he first chooses them then election and predestination means nothing. His act of choosing is wholly inconsequential for salvation. Yet, scripture teaches God does elect. We should interpret scripture so as to give meaning to what it says and not render any portion superfluous.
Great point. If he elects based upon what we would have chosen, then it would not be election. It would be confirmation.