God Is Sovereign, Grace Is Sufficient
The foreknowledge of God is tightly linked to His sovereignty and the sufficiency of His grace for salvation. The key to understanding foreknowledge is first found in the word know. The term foreknowledge is not found in the Old Testament, but know is found in many places, including Exodus 33:17; Deuteronomy 9:24; Jeremiah 1:5; Hosea 8:4 and Amos 3:2. Know in these references means “to regard with favor; have affection or love.” In the New Testament, know is similarly used (Matt. 7:23; John 10:14; 1 Cor. 8:3; 2 Tim. 2:19) and is all about relationship. God’s foreknowledge is also about relationship, specifically His relationship to those who are His. It is never used in connection with events or actions, but always in connection with persons. God foreknows people. He certainly also knows their actions—past, present and future—but the word foreknowledge is always used to describe relationship, not events or actions (Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; Rom. 11:2 and 1 Pet. 1:2).
God speaks of foreknowledge of people, not of action. This is important because a wrong understanding of foreknowledge leads to wrong theology that says that God foreknows that some will choose Him (an event or action), and since God “foreknows” this He therefore chooses them first. Not only is this a wrong use of the word, but also it ignores our utter sinfulness and inability to seek God (Rom. 3) and denigrates His sovereignty. It makes Him out to be a God who reacts to men’s choices. It also gives us a fraction of the credit for choosing because something inherent in us caused us to choose Him. Taking a fraction of the credit makes grace not quite sufficient. This is clearly not biblical (Eph. 2:8-9).
It is also important because of the cause and effect of salvation. What is the root cause of a sinner being saved? Romans 8:28 reveals to us it is dependent upon what God purposes. His sovereign will, His choosing, whom He elects determines whom He foreknows. A wrong understanding of foreknowledge says that God foreknowing my choice is the cause of His choosing me. The correct understanding is that God’s election is the cause, believing is the effect.
If you are a believer—if your spouse, your children or your neighbors are believers—it is because God chose you or them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). He chose you not because he foresaw that you would believe but because it pleased Him to choose you. You can take no credit for the salvation of yourself or anyone around you, including your children, closest friends or relatives or even your spouse. All the glory and praise belongs to Him alone. God is sovereign, and grace is sufficient (Rom. 11:5).
Sources: A.W. Pink’s, Attributes of God; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology; James White, Alpha & Omega Ministries