Foreseen faith – Does God choose those he sees will believe?

Is the choice God makes in election, choosing who will be saved, really God choosing those he sees will have saving faith when he brings his grace?

We have to ask what the basis for God’s choice is, for Israel, for Esau, for Pharaoh (who wasn’t a nation!), and for others. For the reason Paul gives for Esau being rejected is not the foreseen unbelief of Edom, but God’s choice to make them unbelieving:

Romans 9:16  It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Romans 11:7-8  What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.”

Now why was this? To keep them from believing, apparently! Not that God foresaw their unbelief, but he foresaw their faith! And prevented it…

Isa. 6:10 “… lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

So there is a problem here, how could God see that people would believe, and then not choose them, so that they die in unrepentance? But we do see that God will take their potential faith into account at the judgement:

Matthew 11:21-22 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in dsackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.”

But as far as the question at hand, this implies that God is not choosing everyone he sees who would believe, such a method of choosing is not a description of election. See below for a further discussion of this.

Romans 9:13  Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Malachi 1:2-3  “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the Lord says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

But how is God’s choice of Israel in Malachi showing us a choice by foreseen faith?

Malachi 2:11 Judah has broken faith.

God knew their rebellion, even, so were these rebellious people to be thought of as Esau, in Paul’s mention of “I loved Jacob, and hated Esau”? What can Paul mean here, if this is an example of election by foreseen faith?

And Paul is not even specifying conditions for belonging to a group here, he is saying God chose this present person, this known group, and rejected another.

And how can we explain when God acted to prevent the Israelites from believing, in Isaiah 6:10, and in the further fulfillment of this in Matthew 13:15, where God prevented faith, that he saw would apparently happen, and most of these people died in unbelief?

Romans 11:28  As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs…

How is it that these enemies of God are all loved, according to election, if election is based on foreseen faith, and some of these will not repent?

1 Corinthians 1:26-29  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things– and the things that are not– to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Now if God is choosing those who choose him, then how can it be said that he chose the weak?

1 Corinthians 1:30  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus…

Not because of our choice!

The strong don’t have a really free choice, if “God chose the weak” means God’s purpose was to exclude the strong, by and large. I think it does mean that…

Paul doesn’t say “God prefers the weak,” Paul says he chose them, and that his purpose is succeeding, “that no one may boast.” If God’s purpose here fails, in choosing the weak, then someone can boast. But that is not possible…

Now you could say that “God chose the weak” means God saw the weak would come, and then called that his choice. But that is not the meaning of choice. And why didn’t God make everyone weak then, if he saw that mostly weak people would come?

Similarly, we have this verse:

Romans 9:27-28  Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

If this is God observing that Jewish people, by and large, will not come, what can “his sentence” mean here? This phrase indicates that this situation is God’s decision, as the following verse says clearly:

Romans 9:29  It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

It was up to God! Not up to them, to have descendants left, and up to God, to choose to save them.

And also we may ask, “Who makes people strong, or smart, or of noble birth, or Jewish?” God does, and thus we must conclude that if God made people he knew would not come, for the most part, if he strengthened people, knowing that would keep them away, then most of these people did not have a free choice.

Romans 9:27-28 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

Now we may ask, “Who makes people be born in one nation or another?” God does, and thus we must conclude that man’s choice is not primary in salvation, most Jewish people in Isaiah’s day, in Paul’s day, and in our day, have not had a really free choice, most of them cannot come, while they are on earth, until their turn comes again, and salvation is based on God’s decision, and not ours.

And the remnant of Jewish people who did and do come is by God’s decision:

Romans 9:29  It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

This is speaking of all Israel, up until Paul’s day, or else his use of this verse is inappropriate, to make his point:

Romans 9:31  Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

Romans 11:4  And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Not “I have observed”! I have reserved, this is God’s action, and God’s choice, “I have kept,” as some translations have it.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5  For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

Now people do not bring power to themselves, nor do they bring the Holy Spirit to themselves, nor do they convict themselves of sin! Thus the evidence by which Paul knows they were chosen is all dependent on God, and not on anything in them, Paul doesn’t say “because you believed, you must have been chosen.”

John 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit– fruit that will last.

We have instructions here, which all Christians have applied to themselves:

John 15:7  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish … John 15:15  I have called you friends … John 15:16  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:17  This is my command: Love each other.

The context is belonging, relationships, choices of the heart, “I have called you friends”…

And why would they think they had somehow chosen to be apostles? Jesus prayed all night, and then called those he named apostles. There was no announcement that we know of, for candidacy!

John 15:19  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Because of relationship, “you do not belong,” that is why the world hates them. Thus “chosen” here refers to relationship, here and in verse 16.

And we have “chose you out of the world” in 19, which refers not to their being chosen as apostles, when that choice was made, they were already “out of the world.” Thus the choice here, and in verse 16, is about salvation, and surely Jesus didn’t choose the apostles in this way, and not us, too.

They thought they had chosen him:

John 1:41  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). John 1:45   Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law..”

And it was assumed they would choose Jesus if he was the Messiah:

Acts 28:20  It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.

Mark 1:37  … and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

John 10:25  Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.”

Implying that they had a real choice to believe, thus prevenient grace must have been present.

John 10:26  … but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

There is a cause for the unbelief! Their nature caused it, “you are not my sheep.” It is not “you are not my sheep because you do not believe,” that would be foreseen faith. Instead “you do not believe because you are not my sheep,” and God makes sheep, people don’t make themselves sheep, thus God’s choice determines who will believe, not the other way around.

Romans 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

“Believe” and “confess” are passive, not active, and not middle voice.

Romans 8:29 (NASB-U) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…

Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge…

Here “purpose” comes before “foreknowledge,” so I don’t think noticing the order in Rom. 8:29 is conclusive. Also, must we say that God saw that people would crucify his Son, and then, realizing that, made a plan to give redemption through that act that he foresaw?

I don’t think this is at all the consensus, on how God provided the way of salvation…

Matthew 11:21 If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Now if God is choosing people based on foreseen faith, why did God apparently not choose them, when he saw they would believe?

Maybe this refers to an impossible world, though, not all Arminians are Molinists, now maybe they need to choose that.

But now we must have not just foreseen faith, but foreseen faith in a possible world. But that kind of erases one main purpose of the Arminian system, which is to show that all people have a really free choice in salvation.

If God sees that someone would have repented, if circumstances had been different, and they did not ever repent, then they did not have a really free choice, I think.

Now this might refer to the contemporary people of Tyre, but Jesus did perform (after much persuasion) at least one miracle there, and the parallel is with Sodom, and in similar passages, with Jonah and the Queen of Sheba, and Jesus says “long ago,” and speaks as if their judgment was already settled, but just not yet pronounced.

But even if this does refer to the contemporary residents of Tyre and Sidon, there is no guarantee that if there was one set of hypothetical circumstances in which people would have repented, that there will be a set of real circumstances that will be possible, and that will come about, where these people will actually repent.

We see an instance here where God foresaw faith, but without any indication of them being chosen, the indication is actually the opposite, for they are spoken of being judged with real unbelievers, in which judgment believers do not participate.

And prevenient grace, as I understand it, is supposed to affect man’s will so that they can be able to repent, to give them a fair chance to repent, and I think OVT people also say each person has a valid chance to repent.

But Tyre and Sidon, apparently, did not…

Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.

They were being hardened, otherwise, apparently, they would repent. Now could they repent later in this life?

Isaiah 6:11-13  Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

The implication here seems to be that most of them would not repent, though apparently they would have, if God had not hardened them.

“And what are the new Arminians but the varnished offspring of the old Pelagians, that makes the grace of God to [serve] the will of man? that makes the sheep to keep the shepherd? that puts God into the same extremity with Darius, who would gladly have saved Daniel but could not (Da 6:14)?” (Christopher Ness)

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