Does God choose us based on foreseen faith?

by Matt Slick

No, God did not choose us based on foreseen faith. If He did, then God will be showing partiality by making choices based on what He foresees people will do. But God space against showing partiality.

"For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?" (James 2:2-4).

The partiality that God is speaking about is looking at a person to see what kind of quality or possession he or she has and then showing favoritism based on it. Therefore, if God were to choose us based on something He saw us do in the future, then He would be showing partiality based on a quality in us. But, there is no partiality with God, (Romans 2:11).

Romans 8:29, those whom he foreknew

But some might respond and quote Romans 8:29 which says, "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."

This verse is often used to try to prove that God foreknows people and predestines them based on that foreknowledge. But there are two problems with this. First, notice that the verse says "those whom he foreknew he also predestined . . . " The foreknown ones are also the predestined ones. They are the same group. It cannot mean that God looked into the future at the whole of humanity to see who would eventually choose Him. This would imply that He was learning and this is not biblical (1 John 3:20).

Second, God only "knows" believers. He does not "know" unbelievers. Consider the following two verses:

  • Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS."
  • Galatians 4:8-9, "However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?"

In these two verses, we see that Jesus says to the unbelievers that He never "knew" them. We also see that God only knows believers. So, whenever we see God saying that He knows a person, it means that person is saved. If God says He does not know him, then the person is not saved. Furthermore, in both the above verses, the word for "know" is the Greek ginosko. The word for "foreknow" used in Romans 8:29 is proginosko. The prefix "pro" is added to the word "ginosko." So it makes sense to say that God is knowing once He predestines. In other words, He only knows the predestined ones.

Again, God did not choose us based on foreseen faith.

Do we choose God?

But, we do choose God because God enables us to choose Him. He gives us the faith we need to be able to trust in Him.

  • John 6:28-29, "Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
  • Philippians 1:29, "For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."

Yes, we do choose God because the work of God is that we believe and it is He who grants that we believe. Therefore, in the work of God, we freely choose to believe in Him.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.