Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; Acts 2:23
This scripture is the answer to how God accomplishes His plans without violating the free will of man.
If you look at this scripture carefully you will see that Peter is preaching and he is accusing the Jews of doing evil because they crucified Jesus, but at the same time he is saying that Jesus being crucified is all a part of God’s plan. But how could it be possible that these Jews be held responsible for Jesus’ death when it was God’s plan for it to happen in the first place? It doesn’t seem right does it?
But Peter explains it all when he says ‘predetermined purpose and foreknowledge of God.’
Predetermined purpose means God’s plan. That means that it was God’s plan to have Jesus crucified and to die for our sins. Foreknowledge means the knowledge God has of what will happen in the future. God uses what he knows about the future to accomplish His plans. And since He knows everything perfectly, He does it very well.
Let’s illustrate this by going back the story of Joseph.
God’s PLAN (predestination) is to use Joseph to save his family and to show the world His Glory. God KNOWS (foreknowledge) that Joseph’s brother’s would sell him into slavery if given the chance. God KNOWS that He can influence the Ishmaelite traders to go this certain route. God KNOWS that Jacob is going to send Joseph to check on his brothers. God sends the man to direct Joseph to where his brothers are in Dothan; God KNOWS he will obey.
It’s easy to see how God can accomplish his plan without violating man’s free will.
God did the same thing when it came to the death of Jesus. He knew the Jews would kill Jesus. He knew that Judas would betray him, ect. He didn’t make Judas betray Him, Jesus simply picked Judas out because He knew he would betray Him.
There are other scriptures that put predestination and foreknowledge together:
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father 1 Peter 1:2
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29
One area where people get caught up in is the area of salvation. Do we choose God or does God choose us? If God chooses us does that mean others are damned and can do nothing about it?
God clearly chooses us. Jesus said,
You did not choose Me, but I chose you (Jn 15:16)
Does that mean the rest of the world is damned with no hope whatsoever? Clearly not, for Paul says, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13). If he didn’t mean that then why did he say it?
This is where God shows His mercy and His kindness like never before. This also is where God shows His extreme intelligence, as well.
God’s word says that He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. God’s will is that none should perish, but He knows that many will not heed His voice and will follow their own ways. So even before the world begins, He sets His plan in motion to save those that He can. He looks down through the ages of time and chooses all those who He knows will listen to Him. He puts his plan into motion to save those elect. Look what Paul says:
Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2 Tim 2:10
GLORY TO GOD! DO YOU SEE THIS THE WAY I DO???
Can you see that if God had never instituted the election of the saints that much fewer would ever be saved? Can you see that the election of the saints is God’s method of ‘seeking and saving those that are lost?’ Can you see that God’s predestination of the saints is His master plan to save as many people as possible???
But here’s the kicker: It’s all based off of foreknowledge. This can get a bit confusing, so bear with me. This means that God is not making things happen through brute force, but that He is making things happen by working with what He KNOWS will happen. That’s very important to understand, because that means we still have a very important part to play in all this. And yes God knows what we will do, but He also knows what we will not do.
Am I confusing you yet?
Look at this example: Imagine that you choose to come to Java Jax today. And what if some how I know ahead of time that you are going to come to Java Jax? And what if I plan to dump coffee on your head when you get here?
Does the fact that I knew what you were going to do and planned accordingly mean that I made you do it? No. Its the same thing with God. We are responsible to do what God commands us to do. And what we do or don’t do can still affect the eternal outcome of those around us. Is that hard to understand? That’s why Paul said that he endured for the elect that they might be saved. He still knew that he had to do his part.
So God has planned what He is going to do with what He knows you are going to do. So what are you going to do?
That’s between you and God. So do something great for God and for the salvation of the elect.