Chosen and Foreknown
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. – Jn 15:16
I’ve always had problems with the concept of being chosen by God. When I came to the Lord some 29 years ago, it was all about me choosing Him.
Or so it seemed. I was on the carpet of my bedroom, crying for mercy from the bottom of my heart. So while I’ve often had a strong presence of the Lord, and could understand how I was led by Him into making the choice for Him, I never had the assurance that I was on the receiving end of being chosen.
And make no mistake, knowing you are chosen is an assurance. When you’re in the devil’s heat of battle, the difference between simply hanging onto the rear deck of the Gospel train for dear life and knowing that the Lord specifically zeroed in on you, as an individual, to be a recipient of salvation is vast. It’s the inestimable personal, subjective, relational factor.
So, all this time I thought that I was the one who did the choosing. Now, if I’m the one who did the choosing, my situation is tenuous. Because, knowing myself, I can easily “unchoose” something when the going gets tough. I know myself well enough to admit that.
And if I’m the one who did the choosing, I’m inherently uncertain about my relationship with God. Did He really want me? Is He really interested in me as a person, or am I just another salvation statistic?
But then the other day, as I was engaged in some difficult spiritual warfare, it occurred to me that never in a million years would I have chosen this way of life on my own. It’s just too hard! Given the opportunity, I would have taken the way of ease and pleasure, hands down. I concluded that there had to be something else at work that had drawn me to the Lord and had made me willing to fight against the forces of darkness. In other words, I was chosen.
That hit me. At once I saw that my position in the Lord is indeed personal, intimate, and permanent. My helmet of salvation seemed stronger. I had not merely attached myself somehow to Christ’s salvation (was my sinner’s prayer sincere enough? Have I obeyed well enough? …), and God was not merely a willing co-partner in my walk. No, my part in Christ is the Father’s own Very Big Idea.
As a result of that revelation, I was drawn into a more intimate and powerful position in the Lord. But there’s more. Today I was looking up Romans 8.28 to get its wording right, and I came across this amazement:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
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;
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. – Ro 8:28-30
The word foreknew literally leapt off the page at me. Before I was saved (“justified”), I was called; before I was called, I was predestined; but before I was even predestined, I was foreknown!
The image of God in heaven, before anything had been created, knowing me deeply, affirmed the level of intimacy and permanence He wants our relationship to have. Now, that word “foreknew”, in the Greek “proginosko”, means more than intellectual knowledge. It means more than empirical knowledge gained by observation. And it even means more than knowledge gained by being near something. It signifies a deep knowledge based on personal experience. In fact, the Hebrews used the word to describe sexual intimacy.
So there was God, with His perfect power to perceive and understand, knowing and experiencing me – knowing and experiencing you – deeply before the foundation of the world. Can you see the importance of this? Can you see the passion of God in it? Can you see that what we’re experiencing now, this “momentary light affliction”, is just a small – albeit critical – part of a carefully laid and passionately pursued plan that stretches from eternity to eternity?
And can you see the organic ontological unity that God is calling us to? How, when He seated Christ at His right hand,
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. – Eph 1:21
He also seated us there with Him?
This whole thing is astonishing. I can barely believe it myself, let alone express it. Simply amazing.
Praise be to God, who does all things well! Hallelujah!