GRACE FOR TODAY Radio Message #513-514
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF GOD?
Pastor Don Fortner
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
2734 Old Stanford Road
Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Whenever you read, or quote, or even think of Romans 8:28, be sure you do not leave out those last four words. You will never understand anything in this Book, you will never understand anything God does, you will never understand the mystery and wonder of Divine Providence until you understand that God does everything “according to his purpose”.
When I read those four words, the first thing that comes to my mind, the first thing I want to know is this: “What is his purpose?” You may think, “It is impossible for us to know the purpose of God.” In a sense that is certainly true. It is written, “Secret things belong unto the Lord” (Deut. 29:29). We must never attempt to pry into the future. What God has purposed for us is God’s business. Our business is to trust him. However, the very next line of that text reads, “but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.” I want to show you that which is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture about the purpose of our God. The reason why these things are revealed is, according to Deuteronomy 29:29, “that we may do all the words of this law;” that is to say, That we may learn to trust the Lord our God. The purpose of God by which all providence is ruled is written in unmistakable words in Romans 8:29-30.
The opening word of verse 29, “for”, links what we read in verses 29 and 30 to what was just stated in verse 28. In other words, Paul is saying, “Let me explain what I mean by those words, according to his purpose.” Then, he explains himself in the rest of the chapter, beginning in verse 29.
“Whom he did foreknow...” All that God designed for our eternal happiness and glory he has graciously decreed and shall infallibly accomplish for us in Christ, because he foreknew us. The word “foreknowledge,” as it is in the Scriptures does not mean what men generally think it means. Foreknowledge with God is not merely a prescience, or knowledge beforehand. The counsels, decrees and works of our great God are not caused, do not depend upon, and never bow to the frail and fickle will of men. If foreknowledge does not merely mean knowledge beforehand, what does it mean? The Word of God tells us.
The word translated foreknowledge is the word from which we get our English word prognosis. You know what a prognosis is. It is commonly used as a medical term. A doctor first makes a diagnosis of a patient’s disease. Then he makes a prognosis. His prognosis is the direction and course he expects the disease to take. But the doctor’s prognosis is really a very fickle thing. It depends on many variables.
With God, foreknowledge is much, much more than a prognosis! There are no variables with the Almighty! With him, there are no unexplainable turns for better or worse. God’s foreknowledge is much, much more than a mere knowledge beforehand of what we will be or do. I repeat myself deliberately. The counsel and decree of God does not depend, even slightly, upon the frail, fickle, will of man. Contrary to popular opinion, God’s eternal purpose of grace in Christ was not the result of him foreseeing man’s repentance and faith.
God’s foreknowledge of his people is his everlasting love wherewith he loved us from eternity (Jer. 31:3). As Adam knew his wife Eve, in a special, distinct, loving way, so the Lord God knew his elect in Christ from eternity (Gen. 4:1). When our Lord says to many in the day of judgment, “I never knew you”, his meaning will not be I do not know who you are and what you have done. His meaning will be I never knew you like I know these my elect, whom I knew and loved from everlasting Matt. 7:23)
When the Scriptures speak about God knowing his people the meaning is that he owns and approves of us as his people. The Lord’s foreknowledge of us implies his election and ownership of us (Ps. 1:6; Jn. 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:19; Rom. 11:2.).
God’s foreknowledge of his elect in Christ is his foreordination of his chosen unto salvation and eternal life in him. It is in this sense that Peter uses the word in 1 Peter 1:2, where he says we are “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” The word translated foreknowledge in verse two is exactly the same word used in verse twenty There it is translated foreordained where the Holy Spirit describes the Lord Jesus Christ as the crucified Lamb of God by whose precious blood we are redeemed. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ died at Calvary by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge (foreordination) of God the Father (Acts 2:23), all God’s elect are saved by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge (foreordination) of God. So foreknowledge is God’s sovereign, free love determining from eternity the salvation of his elect.
God’s foreknowledge necessarily implies the infallible, everlasting security of his elect as well. If the Lord God knows me all is well. That means he loves me, owns me as his, and approves of me. If he foreknew me from eternity, as our text declares, that means that all is well for me from everlasting to everlasting. His knowledge of me is my security!
If you are a believer, a child of God, you are known of God from eternity! You are one of those “whom he did foreknow!” God almighty, in amazing grace and infinite love, determined to save you before the worlds were made! This is God’s foreknowledge - He loved you, he owned you, he chose you, he foreordained you, he approved of you, and he secured you in Christ before he created the universe! Thus, he predestinated you to salvation in Christ and declared you to be justified, called and glorified in Christ before the world began! That is the purpose of our God by which all providence is ruled.