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Peter says that his Christian readers, and therefore all Christians, ‘have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God’ [1:2].

This word ‘foreknowledge’ (Greek – prognosis) has long been a point of discussion among Christian. To avoid getting put off by this debate, perhaps we should ask ‘where else is this word used in the New Testament?’ It is used in only one other place, also by Peter:

‘Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him ... This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you ... put him to death ...’ [Acts 2:22,23].

Here the concept of God’s ‘foreknowledge’ is something much stronger than saying ‘God knew in advance what would happen’. It is intimately connected with God’s ‘set purpose’. That purpose was that his eternal Son would one day become a human being and die as an atoning substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.

The related verb is ‘foreknew’ (Greek – proginosko). Peter uses this verb similarly to refer to the truth that Jesus Christ was foreordained to die:

‘He was chosen (translated ‘foreordained’ in the KJV) before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake’ [1Peter 1:20].

In describing Christians as ‘chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father’, Peter grounds the fact that we are Christians in God’s eternal purpose, the same as he grounds the saving death of Christ in God’s eternal purpose. In using the same word that he used to refer to the death of Christ, planned and determined from eternity, he is clearly saying something very strong and very immoveable.

Consider the force of these amazing truths from the New Testament:

Revelation 17:8 indicates that the names of true believers have been written in the Lamb’s book of life from the creation of the world.

Titus 1:2 refers to our hope of eternal life which God ‘promised before the beginning of time’.

Ephesians 1:4, as we saw in a previous meditation, says ‘He chose us in him (Christ) before the creation of the world’.

In 1Corinthians 2:7 Paul describes the Gospel as ‘God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began’.

And Jesus in Matthew 24:34 says ‘Come ... take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

But perhaps the most amazing, the most powerful is this:

2Timothy 1:9: ‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’

These verses tell us that a number of things were already in place before time began: our names in the Lamb’s book, our hope (= certainty) of eternal life, our being chosen by God, the gospel that results in our glory, membership of God’s kingdom, grace. They were already a reality, they were already all ours, in Christ, before time began.

Our minds tend to focus on a couple of man-centred difficulties that we see with this concept: (1) the question ‘where does our choice fit in all of this?’ and (2) the apparent unfairness involved. In making mountains out of these molehills we actually rob ourselves of the real ‘mountain’, a 'mountain' that is for us and not against us – the incredible, unsurpassable greatness of God’s purpose, God’s power and God’s grace.

If we gain nothing else from this concept that we ‘have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God’ let us at least grasp hold of this: that here God speaks to us of his eternal purpose, his almighty power, and his immeasurable grace. Because of that purpose, that power and that grace we stand before him, saved, accepted and welcomed, never again to be lost, rejected and excluded. Absolutely certain. Absolutely secure.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017