Tuesday, October 25, 2016

His Perfect Prognosis (1 Peter 1:2a)

“[who are chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father….” (1 Peter 1:2a, NASB95)

In this and the next verse we will see one of the many pictures of the fullness of our one God manifest in three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. First, we read of God the Father having chosen those who are His elect or His saved ones according to His own foreknowledge. The Greek word here for foreknowledge is “prognosis” and it most simply has the meaning of before (pro) knowing (ginosko). The Bible is full of passages referring to His full and intimate knowledge not only of every single one of us, but of every detail of absolutely everything.

We have an English word that comes from this Greek word and it is one upon which many people are often found anxiously awaiting an answer. This is what doctors are expected to give every day when they give their prognosis concerning a disease or ailment. It is what economists do when the give their forecast for the future, whether it be immediate or long term. It is what weather persons do when they give us the nightly weather outlook for the next week. We all live based upon educated guesses based upon past patterns or presenting conditions.  For us today, a prognosis is simply nothing more than a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation. Sometimes that prognosis is more difficult to make than others, and sometimes it is completely wrong in its outcome. What makes it wrong is not the outcome, but the lack of full knowledge leading to the prediction and even the integrity or motives of the one making that forecast.

In 1 Peter (and elsewhere) we read that we are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Therefore, it seems logical to look to look to what we can know about His knowing, and what we can be assured of His telling us the truth about what He knows. First let’s look to His integrity, and in doing this we will quickly look to a couple of things. The first is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He staked His life on the truthfulness of the Father. As the Son, He humbled Himself to take on the form of man to go to a cross and lay down His life for us so that we might be given forgiveness and life in His. Repeatedly in the gospels we read of His own words saying that He came to do the will of the Father and that He and the Father were one. He put His life on the line before us to evidence this truth. And the historical result was that He rose from the dead on the third day just as the Scriptures had said.

Just as the Scripture had said is the second aspect of this that we will quickly look at. Scripture is full of prophecies of the coming of a Savior and many other things, and except for those we are still waiting to see fulfilled every single one of them has been fulfilled without fail. Everything God has said that He would do He has done. He has proven Himself infinitely trustworthy. His prognosis on everything has been absolutely perfect, and not one bit of this has been because He is just a good guesser based upon past experience or observed trends.

God made an active decision to choose us before we were ever conceived. This was not a matter of Him looking down the road of time and observing those who would turn to Him. Of the prophet Jeremiah we read, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NASB95) Jeremiah was God’s choice to be this special prophet to the nations. He formed Jeremiah in his mother’s womb. He was set apart for this work before he was born, and he was appointed by God. God’s hand was powerfully at work in every aspect of Jeremiah being who He called Jeremiah to be. Upon hearing this form God, Jeremiah responded, ““Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me [Jeremiah], “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:6–8, NASB95) Jeremiah would have a difficult task being God’s prophet, but in this Jeremiah was able to stand, not because He was doing good for God but because God was doing what He intended in him.

David wrote in Psalm 139, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Psalm 139:13–16, NASB95)

Clearly these Old Testament men knew that God not only had knowledge of what was going to happen, but that we had worked with purpose in that happening. He was in full control of His intent and His outcomes. And yes, He knew without failing every single sin we would commit or failing that we might have and He still made His choice. David said earlier in the same Psalm, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:1–5, NASB95) And his response to this in verse 6 is, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:6, NASB95)

God’s foreknowledge is before deciding based upon infinite knowledge and all wisdom, and it is for that reason that many translations will use synonymously the word “foreordain.” God from before makes a choice to choose and to set apart a people for Himself. There was no educated guessing going on. It is all about His perfect act shown to us through His perfect Son who, as we read in 1 Peter 1:20 was foreknown before the foundation of the world to bring salvation to us. The incredible freedom in this is knowing that God does not make mistakes, and this means us.

“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;” (Romans 8:29, NASB95)

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