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Gregory Matthews

Foreknowledge vs. Failure

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Gregory Matthews
Gustave has raised the queston to how God can have foreknowledge and at the same time failure could exist.  In thinking through a response to his question, I have come up with the following response.  I do not claim that it is eitehr perfect or that it addresses all aspects of the question.  But, it is   my response today.
This is where I am:
  •  God does have perfect foreknowledge as to what will happen.
  • I do not believe that such foreknowledge mandates that we do not have free will.
  • The answer that one gives to this issue depends in part on the belief that one   has on the very nature of the salvation event.  Some believe that the act of salvation was simply a purchase, or payment of a price, for the redemption of humanity.  From this perspective, the possibility of a failure did not have to exist.  Jesus could live the sinless life, die on the cross and the redemption price had been paid and salvation had occurred.
  • A second perspective on salvation is that for salvation to occur Jesus must demonstrate by living a sinless life that Adam also could have lived a sinless life.  In this perspective, the life of Jesus must end in death.  [NOTE:  For simplicity, I am not stating a relatively minor variation of this perspective.]  This perspective, as I would understand it, requires that there be the possibility of failure or sin on the part of Jesus.  I follow this perspective.
  • I can agree that God cannot sin.  Period.
  • I do believe that Jesus in his human nature could have sinned.  So, in a sense I am stating the God risked it all in the incarnation.
  • I bring together the idea that God cannot sin with the idea that Jesus in his human nature could have sinned with the thinking that God's plan of salvation would have failed,  Christ would not have risen from the grave on that Sunday morning, the God nature of Jesus would have been placed in a state of eternal sleep, so to speak.  
  • As part of this, I see on that Sunday morning, God stating to the God nature in Jesus:  It is time to awake and begin activity again.
I do not say that the above answers all questions.  I am not a theologian.  I do not have all answers.  There is much as to the nature of God and salvation that I do not understand now and I do not expect to understand until I begin my eternal existence with God and can ask  him directly.  I have come to the place where I do not have to have answers to every question.

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The 1st two bullet points are accurate - God indeed "knows the end from the beginning" & that foreknowledge doesn't inhibit free will in any way.

I also agree with the 3rd bullet - it absolutely is all about how one believes in the reasons for Salvation. 

The 4th bullet is where I get off the bus - not because Jesus died but because for it to work it's required the possibility of something God said was impossible. 

5th bullet I agree with, God cannot sin, period.

6th bullet have to get off the bus again on this one because God became man w/out ceasing to be God = God the Son couldn't sin. Jesus / Christ was ONE Person with Two natures not two Persons with two natures. 

The remaining bullets I'll not comment on. 

I am in agreement that there is MUCH as to the nature of God and salvation I don't understand either. I'm with ya there. 



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The below texts affirm God's foreknowledge of Christ and eliminate the possibility that He could have sinned, fallen, failed, etc


Ephesians 1,10
to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out EVERYTHING in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory

2 Timothy 1,8
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the GOSPEL according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, WHICH WAS GIVEN US in Christ Jesus BEFORE the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

1st Peter 1,19
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled, Foreknown indeed BEFORE the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you, Who through him are faithful in God, who raised him up from the dead, and hath given him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God

These above texts have God claiming that those who WOULD BE SAVED - WOULD BE SAVED through Christ Jesus & that this was established before humans were created & that this was by the WILL OF WHOM who insured our salvation by giving it to us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 1st Peter 1,19 is explicit that the reason God did it this way was that our hope and faith of being saved lied not with man but with God. 

Isaiah 42,1
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

"He shall not fail"

2nd Chron 19,7
Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is NO iniquity with the Lord our God

Ephesians 1,9
he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he PURPOSED in Christ

The Father "purposed" ALL these things in Christ and Biblically that has a specific meaning.

Job 42,2
I know that you can do all things; NO purpose of yours can be thwarted

Psalm 33,11
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through ALL generations

Isaiah 14,24
The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying: Surely as I have thought, so shall it be: and as I have purposed

Isa 46:9
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Joseph was informed what was going to happen before it happened.

Matthew 1,20
the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he SHALL save his people from their sins


Simeon and Anna speaking under the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy said what was going to happen

Luke 2,25
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should NOT see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.


Jesus explained all of this to His Disciples in very clear terms.

Luke 24,22
Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, AND slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Matthew 16,21

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, AND suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, AND be killed, AND be raised again the third day.

Mark 8,31

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man MUST suffer many things, AND be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, AND scribes, AND be killed, AND after three days rise again

Mark 9,31
For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day

Luke 24,36
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These ARE the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that ALL things MUST be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day

And literally this is just the tip of the iceberg for Scriptures that say there was no possibility of Christ sinning, failing, loosing, etc.

To systematize all of this the Catechism says,

CCC #438
Jesus' messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, "for the name 'Christ' implies 'he who anointed', 'he who was anointed' and 'the very anointing with which he was anointed'. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'"35 His ETERNAL messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power", "that he might be revealed to Israel"36 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as "the Holy One of God".


Claiming that Christ "could have sinned" is no different than claiming that Christ could have been killed by a bear, eaten by a Lion, bitten by a poisonous snake and suffered death or perhaps drowned while attempting to walk on water. Non of these hypotheticals would have been possible. My point is that while Ellen White wrote a great deal about the possibility of Christ sinning and loosing His salvation the direct opposite is found in Scripture. Going back in History the only place one finds this teaching is from the mouth of Arius the Bishop. 




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As the text says, "let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it; FOR THERE IS NO INIQUITY WITH THE LORD OUR GOD".

That text could easily stand by itself - but it doesn't - there are over 100 affirmations of God saying God would not fail. 

Because salvation was a work planned and executed by God there was never any possibility of failure.


Allegedly, according to Daniel 2, 45, it was the great God that made known to the King what was going to happen in the future. Daniel, supposedly says in this Scripture, that the King's dream was CERTAIN to happen AND the interpretation was SURE. 

God said all this was SURE - what sort of person would it take to claim the outcome was not certain or sure? 



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