In the Appendix of the book “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented” by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, the authors describe two opposing interpretations of “foreknowledge: “Did God look down through time and see that certain individuals would believe and thus predestine them unto salvation on the basis of this foreseen faith? Or did God set His heart on certain individuals and because of His love for them predestine that they should be called and given faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit and thus be saved? In other words, is the individual’s faith the cause or the result of God’s predestination?”
In his 1 Peter – Foreknowledge of God Part II (1 Peter 1:2a), A Servant continues his discussion of “foreknowledge” where he focuses on the “elect.” Here is 1 Peter 1:2a: “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”
“Let’s turn, says A Servant, our attention to the word ‘Elect.’ By way of definition it means what you think, to pick or to choose. We are familiar with elections; we will cast ballots to elect a president among other offices. Spiritually speaking, we also choose whom we shall serve. Does God know the actual number of those who will accept the gift of God and go to heaven? According to the foreknowledge of God the answer is yes. This does not mean that God forced one to be saved or prevented another; it simply means God looked forward in time and was able to see every person’s decisions and know who will accept Him. Peter calls them the chosen; but how did he know they were the elect?, by the foreknowledge of God. If you will remember Jesus said he knew all along that Judas was the betrayer. Jesus knew Judas would sell him out before he actually went to the Jewish leaders and bargained for 30 pieces of silver. In John 13:21 Jesus said at the last supper “one of you shall betray me”. How else could Jesus know this other than foreknowledge?”
Most Christians believe that God knows everything before it happens. In Open theism, when someone sins, God has, what Adrian Stanley calls, a “knee-jerk” reaction – The Violation of Philippians 2:6-10 – Knee-jerk theism).
In Christianity and many religions, one of God’s attributes is omniscience, which subsumes every even occurring in time. So, obviously God foreknew Judas’s betrayal in exactly the same way he foreknew that A Servant would ask the question: “How else could Jesus know this (Judas’s betrayal) other than foreknowledge.” All we have so far are verities, glorious truisms. But there’s more; and it is that more in which the Arminian loses his moorings. I’m glad A Servant brought up Judas’s betrayal, because no event in the Bible illustrates more this more than:
“The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:26-28).
Here is part of another Arminian’s interpretation of the above verse: “The above are words from a prayer by Peter and John, and these verses are sometimes used as an attempt to support the idea that God predestines all things, including predestination of individuals to do ”evil” (and that this in effect doesn’t make it ”evil” since God is always good). The sacrifice of Christ is a holy and acceptable offering to God and he didn’t force anyone to kill Jesus. This unique event cannot be used as a blanket statement throughout the entire scriptures to show that God causes people to do whatever they are busy doing including SINNING. What was ”determined before” to be done? It was the death of Jesus (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world)! However, it does not say that God predestined anyone to make this goal come true.”
If, though, God (the Trinity) does not – cannot – decree that a particular person kill Jesus, doesn’t it follow that God can only plan the death of Jesus if he foresees someone deciding to kill Jesus. In this scenario, God’s freedom to make moral decisions is dependent on man’s moral freedom. The Arminian maintains that’s exactly how God wanted it to be.
Setting – Heaven before the Fall; before anything.
Father – Son, I’d like to send you down to earth to become a man to die for sinners.
Son – I do what you tell me.
Father – You’ll have to be killed.
Son – Would you be doing an Isaac on me; this time for real?
Father – Yes. So we’ll have to find an Abraham, a rotten version this time, to do the foul deed.
Son – Although there is no one down there who does good, it doesn’t follow that anyone will want to kill me.
Father – I have a plan; let’s pre-peek: you take these corridors of time and I’ll take those. Should take no time at all.
Son – Judas; of all people! Betraying me.
Father – Not our doing. Crucially, we can go ahead.
Son – Is Judas going to kill me?
Father – Go take another peek. We don’t have a moment to lose.
Son – There’s a whole bunch of them; the whole world.
Father – Everybody in the world?
Son – Not not everybody in the world; Jews and Gentiles.
Father – Good. And very good now that we can get things ready for your birthday.
We return to “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE (original caps) to be done.” (Acts 4:26-28):
Does “whatsoever” in “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE to be done” only refer to the end (the death of Jesus) but not the means (the agents of this death; how he was put to death)? Of course not. Here is another “whatsoever”: “Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
God determines (predetermines, same concept) all things, even evil – which resides in demons and in man – for his own purposes, which are always good. Arminians are far too sentimental.