Every truth God gives us in the Bible is deep and rich. Even simple truths have the power to shape the way the live, love, and think about God, others, and ourselves. The Bible’s teaching on God foreknowing his children is no different. I’ve often come back to this word when I’m afraid, sad, or unhopeful. Let me talk about what God foreknowing you means and then show you why it’s so encouraging.
Some of the greatest verses on God’s foreknowledge are Romans 8:29 – 30. Paul Writes,
For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
The word foreknew is simple enough to break apart. For-knew, or to know beforehand. So Paul is saying that God knew you before. Now there are two important questions we need to ask. The first is, before what? What did God know me before? I think it’s before God said “let there be light.” Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4 that God chose us (that’s every christian) before the foundation of the world. That’s right, before God created the first molecule he knew you! And that brings us to our second question.
What does it mean that God knew you? Is Paul saying that God knew every thought and action you would ever make before you made them? While I think this is true, I don’t think that’s what Paul is getting at. Paul is drawing on a much deeper use of the word know. Consider the following verses:
Amos 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
1 Corinthians 8:3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
Genesis 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.
In each of these verses know is used to mean much more than ‘I know some information about you.’ God knows the facts about every nation on earth, but he said to Amos, “Only Israel have I known.” Paul is aware that God knows every human on the planet, and yet he says that if you love God you are known by God. And certainly Adam had met Eve before Cain was conceived! It’s obvious the word know has a much deeper and richer meaning than we may at first think. It’s a knowing that that includes loving, choosing, and doing good. In that deeper, when God says he knows someone he means that he has set his attention, love, and grace on that person in a special way.
Now put those two together and be blown away that God foreknew you. Before God created anything he set his attention, love, and grace on you, christian. That’s right, God has loved you with saving love before he made anything. And that is wonderfully encouraging. Let me give you two ways this truth encourages.
First, God doesn’t love you because of your performance. God set his love and grace on you long before you were born. There is nothing you have ever done that earned God’s love. In fact, every truly good thing you’ve ever done has been because God had already set his grace and love on you. Even your faith to believe in Jesus was God’s gift to you (Ephesians 2:8 – 9). Faith is the first fruit, the evidence that God has set his love and grace on you. Practically that means that God’s love and grace toward you do not rise and fall based on your actions. His love and grace have roots in his foreknowing you.
Second, God will keep giving you grace. Have you ever wondered if God would ever cut you off? That one day you’ll wake up and all the love and grace you’ve know will be gone? Thankfully, that’s not an option. God foreknowing you means that he will never stop pursuing you! Isn’t that where Paul takes foreknowledge? Those God foreknew he predestined, justified, and glorified. That’s one reason we can be confident that all things work for the good of those who are called (Romans 8:28).
God foreknew every single person who has, is, or will one day put his or her faith in Jesus. If that’s you, be encouraged today. Long before you did anything good or bad God set his love and grace on you, and that will never change!