The Bible describes God as knowing all things from eternity.
“Known to God from eternity are all His works. Acts 15:18
Imagine that you have existed forever and there is nothing that you do not know. Would you create a race of beings that you knew ahead of time, would rebel against you and necessitate the death of your Son to save them?
Before God created the universe, He determined that Jesus would die for the sins of the world. Jesus is called; “The Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.”
(Jesus) the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. ~Revelation 13:8
This means that before God created us, He already knew that we would all be separated from Him by our sins. He sent His Son into the world to be the one method by which He could save us all.
Because the Lord knew what would happen in advance, He was aware of those who would believe His command to receive Jesus and be saved. Based upon this advanced knowledge, God “chose” these individuals and predestined them to eternal life.
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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. ~Romans 8:29-30
Some people have the idea that we have no say in whether or not we are saved; the entire process is up to God. Only those whom God has chosen will be saved. This view is called “Calvinism.” On the opposite side of this issue is the “Arminian” view of salvation that states that only man has the capacity to determine if he will be saved, God plays no part in that decision.
In reality, both of these views are a part of the true method, by which, God saves a person.
One: We have a responsibility to respond to God’s command to repent and believe in Jesus as our Savior.
Two: God is sovereign (supreme) over all the salvation of human beings.
In the plan of Salvation, and throughout the Bible, we see that both the actions of men and the sovereignty of God are observed in saving human beings for heaven.
A clear example of our accountability to God for our actions, while at the same time; the Lord is acting in His sovereignty to determine the outcome of any situation, is seen in the following verse from Acts 2:23
Jesus, 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
One: We see that Jesus was crucified according to the predetermined plan of God.
Two: The men who unjustly arrested Jesus, beat Him, and crucified Him, are also accountable to God for their actions.
Acts 2:23 shows us that it is not just God doing what He wants to do and we have no say in the matter; there is also a responsibility to every person in obeying what God has commanded: repent and believe in Jesus as our Savior.
We know that God did not simply choose those who would be saved and those who would be lost, apart from our own decision, because the Bible describes Jesus as dying for the sins of the whole world.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. ~1 John 2:2
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16
Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, this means that He died for every person. If God only chose certain people for salvation and the rest for condemnation, then the Bible would not state that Jesus died for the whole world. This is a very important principle and one that invalidates the idea that people do not have any choice in the matter of their salvation.
Where certain people become confused, is in the language of the book of Romans when God describes “predestined” as the determining factor for salvation. As we can see from other scriptures in the Bible, this does not mean that people have no choice. It simply means that God’s choice, to predestine someone and choose them for salvation, is based upon His advanced knowledge of all things.
God looked down through all the years of history and saw who would obey Him and believe in Jesus as the payment for their sins. He knew this before He created the first man. For this reason, the Lord can described those who He saves as “predestined” and “chosen.”
The Saved Were Always His
When Jesus was praying to the Father in John 17, He said that those who are really saved, “were always His.”
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” ~John 17:6
This means that the truly saved were known to God before anything was created. He knew who would believe and remain with Jesus, and be counted as the saved; He knew who would claim to believe, fall away, and prove they were never saved, and be counted amongst the lost.
How Salvation Works:
When Jesus died on the cross, He was bearing the sins of the whole world. When anyone believes in Jesus sacrifice for their sins, God accepts and qualifies them for heaven. This is true of those who came before Jesus made His sacrifice, as well as those who came after He completed His world of redemption. In the mind of God, the sacrifice of Jesus for us, was made before He created anything else. This is why no religion, church, or other method can save anyone. Only Jesus is qualified to be our Savior. This is because He is described by the Bible as the Creator of all that exists.
For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16
Jesus life has infinite value since He is the eternal God. Jesus is also described as sinless—throughout His entire life. There is no other person who has this limitless value, nor possesses a sinless life. These requirements are inexorable to save all human beings. For this reason, Jesus is the only one who can save us.
God Only Reveals Himself To The Saved
One day after Jesus had finished teaching the crowds of people by Parables, the disciples asked Him why He only spoke to the general population of people by these Parables, but to them who believed in Him, Jesus spoke clearly.
Jesus replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,
(Jesus quoting Jeremiah 5:21) For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, (Jesus quoting Isaiah 6:9-10).
‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ ~Matthew 13:11-15
The only prayer that God will hear from the unsaved is “Lord be merciful to me; save me God, I am a sinner.” The deep things of God; how the kingdom operates; what God does in the lives of the believer and in the world; what the events of the last days mean and how they will happen—these are only revealed to people who are in a relationship with God by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for their sins.
It is impossible for anyone who has not been born again by the Spirit of God, to understand anything past the scriptures that describe sin and salvation, through the love of God in giving the world Jesus to die for our sins.
A Person Must Be Born of the Spirit, To Understand The Things of the Spirit:
One of the leading Pharisees of Israel, a Doctor of the Law, came to Jesus one night to ask Him a few questions.
There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? ~John 3:1-12
At the moment any person decides they are sorry for their sins and has a sincere desire to cease practicing them and start trusting in Jesus for their salvation, God causes this person to be transformed in their spirit, to a new creation. All of the old things of the old life; every sin is forgiven; all guilt is gone; peace begins. This is when a person is born again.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~2 Corinthians 5:17
It is by the Spirit of God that He reveals Himself to those who have been born again a second time, by the Spirit. It is by the Spirit that God speaks to those who know and love Him. People in the world who do not believe in God, or that Jesus is the only Savior of the world, do not have the Spirit of God living in them. For this reason, they cannot know or receive anything from God. First a person must repent from their sins and sincerely want to follow Jesus and trust in Him for their entire life.
You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) ~Romans 8:9
God requires three things in order to reveal Himself to any person:
- Sincere desire to know Him.
- Believe He does exist.
God does not reveal Himself to people who don’t believe He exists:
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. ~Hebrews 11:6
See also: John 14:21, Matthew 13:11-12, John 3::3-21
The Basis of God’s Law
All of us understand the concept of law and justice. We feel the need for justice when someone commits an unjust act against us or a person whom we love. We know inherently when wrong has been committed, just a surely as we know that we must breath air. Without laws, evil men would ruin the lives of every other person. In order to institute justice; certain laws are instituted to govern the moral and ethical behavior of people. When these laws are broken; either willingly or by accident, there are penalties to be paid.
Judges are appointed to ensure that those who break these laws are punished, according to the law. No judge who ignores the law or allows someone who is guilty, to go free, would be seen as righteous. Justice must be carried out, the guilty must not be excused.
There are certain cases where mercy is merited and some persons who have committed unjust acts are set free. These are cases when the judge determines that mercy or leniency is needed.
The universe, as well as all mankind, is regulated by laws. The laws of Physics explains how the unversed operates. The laws of gravity describe how objects are moved about in the universe. In the same way; man has laws that determined what may be done and what may not. To origin of all laws is God, who determined the boundaries for every intelligent creature. When one-third of the angels rebelled against God, there was no plan of salvation to save these beings, they were all lost. Only man, as far as we know, has been given the opportunity to be redeemed.
The Law of God states that the soul that sins will die.
Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. Ezekiel 18:4
By virtue of the fact that God created us, He has the right to determine the laws which govern our lives. To this; we shall not sin. The “soul” that does sin, shall die. God requires perfection of human beings. He has no tolerance for sin, nor will He ignore it.
What are the laws of God:
Love God first
Don’t make images of God
Don’t misuse the name of God
Rest one day in seven
Honor your father an mother
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet what is not yours
There is not a single law here that is not good, right, and just. Some may object that they do not believe in God, so the first three are not applicable to them. It is interesting that God does not seek to prove His existence any place in the Bible. When something is obvious, it is pointless to try and prove that it is true. The first chapter of the book of Romans states that God has made His existence clear to the whole world—by the things that He has made:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~Romans 1:20-21
The existence of the universe, the existence of the earth, and the presence of man on the earth, is all the proof that every person needs to understand that God must exist. None of these things could have come into being by themselves. Despite the efforts of science to try and prove that the universe could exist by a naturalistic cause—apart from God, this has never been proven. No scientist knows how life began, how the universe came into being from nothing, or how the earth exists with such a finely tuned environment—perfectly suited for human beings. Every assertion for how life began and how the universe came into being, is all based on conjecture and theory, not facts. The chance that all that exists just happened to come into being by happenstance is categorically impossible.
The most loving and powerful thing that God has done for us, is the giving of choice to every person. It is the love of God that has determined that He will not force Himself upon anyone. God wants the same things that we want: relationships with people out of genuine love. No rational person wants to force someone to love them. When we receive love that comes from a genuine heart—this is the most meaningful and treasured experience of life. The Lord also wants to have relationship with people who genuinely love Him and want to spend eternity with Him.
It is during this time that we have here on earth that we are each making this choice; whether or not we want to be with our Creator. God will honor our choice and He will not overrule the desire of our heart.
God told Adam that from the moment he disobeyed His one law to not eat from the fruit that was in the middle of the garden; he would die. At the moment that Adam ate, the process of death began and was completed many years later. Every one of us today, dies, because our of our own sins.
Sickness, suffering, and death are not natural processes. We were created to live forever. It is because of sin that the world is in the condition that we see it today.
The purpose of the tree in the middle of the garden was to provide a method whereby Adam could choose whether or not he would believe God and do what He has said. By Adam’s choice, he was determining his eternal destiny.
Who Do You Want To Live With?
Imagine allowing someone to dwell in your house, who will not obey the laws of good conduct while living in your home with you. We choose people to associate with, based upon the kind of person’s that they are and the way that they choose to live their life. God has the same right. He chooses people to live with Him, who love and obey Him. He will not force anyone to live with Him, He allows each one of us our own choice.
We see this principle as it was established with Adam and it has continued to the present day. God allows people to decide if they want to be saved or not.
Why a Savior Was Necessary
The breaking of God’s law causes a separation between us and our Creator. God is Holy, this is to say; He is perfect in every regard. We were made “like Him,” in that we were also made perfect in our basic nature. When Adam sinned, He became a sinner. This term is used to describe a moral defect that has taken place in the heart of mankind. All those who came after Adam, inherited the defect of sin; a nature towards wrongful words and actions, because of a defect in our nature. We know that this is true because we see the evidence of this fact everyday, in people, all over the world.
Recently, a Muslim couple that were living in Redlands, California; who had a six month old daughter, good job, and otherwise perfect life; took assault riffles and killed 14 people and injured another 21 in San Bernardino, California. Many people have asked how a family that was living the “American Dream,” could do such a thing. The answer is simple: sin living in the hearts of every person, always makes the possibility that something like this, could take place. If we think that we are not capable of acts of violence or the murder of another individual, we do not really understand the basic depravity of the human condition. It was because we are all sinners that Jesus had to come into the world and die in order to redeem us.
There is none who does good, No, not one. ~Psalms 53:3
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” ~Romans 3:10-12
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ~Romans 3:23
We were made to live with, and in the presence of God. We were made to live in a perfect environment where no person ever becomes sick or dies. Sin; the capacity to do wrong, causes our bodies to retain the defect of sickness and death.
The question we might ask is: “If God knew that we would sin and be lost, why would He create us in the first place? All the suffering in the world is caused by the actions of people, why would God make us, knowing these things?”
The answer is, of course, He had a plan
Before Adam existed, Jesus offered His life in exchange for all of our lives. Because He is the eternal God, His life is of infinite value. Therefore, His life is sufficient to pay for the lives of all other persons. In order for Jesus to accomplish this, He would have to become one of us. He would have to come to earth as a human being, retaining the power of God within the body of a man. God by Himself, could not die for us. A man who is perfect and who had never sinned—with a value that is sufficient to pay the cost that is owed by every person, was needed.
All of this was accomplished by Jesus
When Jesus died, He was paying the debt of every person who will be born on the earth. In essence, everyone can be saved. In order for each person to appropriate salvations for themselves, they must willingly choose to accept what Jesus has done. It would be wrong for God to force any person to be saved. I have met many people who do not want to be saved. They do not want to go to heaven; they do not want to submit their life to God. Should God force these individuals to be saved because it is for their own good? No, He will not force anyone to be saved.
Some people will choose to receive Jesus offer of salvation, some will not.
Because God knows all things, He knew ahead of time, who would exercise their right of choice and be saved. To each one of these persons’ God predestined them to salvation. This means that He determined in advance of their birth that these persons would be saved, because He already knew that they would believe in Jesus. This does not remove the power of personal choice and it does not mean that we have no say in the matter.
All that predestination means, or describes, is that God knew who would be saved—in advance and He made His choices for who would be saved, based upon this knowledge.
This choice was based upon what He knew would happen, concerning each one of us: He saw who choose to believe, and who would not.
These persons who choose salvation for themselves, are described as “predestined.”
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. ~Romans 8:30
According to some people, we have nothing to say about this matter; God chooses who will be saved and who will be lost. Of course, this cannot be true. First, it is not logical. Second, this would be unjust. Third, forcing salvation upon anyone, is in direct conflict with everything else that we know about God.
We often see the will and responsibility of men, working together with the sovereignty and knowledge of God in the text of the Bible.
When Jesus came into the world as a man, God knew that evil men would condemn and crucify Him. He also had determined that Jesus would die for the sins of the world. We see this illustrated in the text of Acts 2:23:
Jesus, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you (the Pharisees) have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death. ~Acts 2:23
Here we see that men are held responsible for the death of Jesus, while at the same time God delivered Him—according to His determined purpose and knowledge—to be crucified. We see both the will of men and the sovereignty of God, operating together at the same time.
God is always sovereign above all the acts of men. He also holds each one of us responsible for our own actions. The Lord has commanded every person to repent of their sins (change their mind) and turn to Jesus for salvation. God will not make this choice for us and He will not use force on us. He does, however, hold us accountable for our decision. If we believe Him and do what He has said; express sincere sorrow for our sins and rely upon the death of Jesus for our sins, then we will be saved. By our free will in accepting Jesus death for us, we appropriate the power that comes from what Jesus did for us on the cross.
To accept that God would take such incredible steps to save the whole world, only to deprive us of our choice—whether or not we will be saved—is preposterous.
All Sins Are Forgiven
Because of the perfection of Jesus sacrifice that He made for the whole world, all sins are already forgiven. Every person—regardless of who they are or what they have done—can be saved. The decision is ours.
Although all sins are forgiven because of Jesus death and resurrection, God cannot credit this forgiveness to our account until we willingly ask Him for it. It takes very little on the part of any person, to be saved. Even the slightest movement in the direction of God can cause their salvation. The basic requirements that God has determined are as follows:
- One: A desire to be saved.
- Two: Humility and sorrow over the sins we have committed.
- Three: A belief in what God said; that Jesus death on the cross was sufficient to pay the debt we owed for our own sins.
- Four: To Ask Jesus to save us.
- Five: To turn from our former sins and seek to sin no more.
- Six: When we do sin, to confess these sins to the Lord and ask forgiveness.
- Seven: To continue to trust Jesus and stay close to Him for the rest of our life.
What About Babies, Children, And The Mentally Disabled?
The fact that Jesus death and resurrection has paid the debt of every person, means that those who do not have the capacity to understand what God requires for salvation; such as a child, a baby, or a person of diminished mental capacity; all their sins are covered by Jesus sacrifice. Salvation is based upon our knowledge of sin. Children and mentally insufficient persons do not understand sin and the need for salvation. In these matters, the grace and mercy of God covers these individuals and they are all saved.
It is at the age of twelve that a young Hebrew boy enters adulthood. Many believe that the age of accountability is twelve, when God holds an individual responsible for his action or inaction in receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. At twelve, a young boy or girl is no longer covered by the clause in the Law of God which protects them from judgment based on innocence or lack of knowledge. A baby or young adolescent may have the benefit of being covered exclusively by the Grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus for all sins, up until the age of twelve. No one knows this for certain, but it is postulated that this is the age of accountability for all human beings.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20
because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Romans 4:15
The principle of innocence is best understood when we consider a person who has a diminished mental capacity, or is completely incapable of understanding sin or the requirements of God to repent and receive Jesus Christ. What happens to those who die as infants or in the womb? What of those who are mentally retarded, mentally ill, or have no capability to understand the Gospel by their lack of mental ability?
Because the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross has paid for the sins of all people for all time, God can cover with His Grace, any of those who cannot, of their own, understand the gospel and be saved. It would be inconsistent for God to send a baby, a young child or a mentally incapacitated person to hell. God wants to save people, and He will save those who cannot act to save themselves—through confession and repentance, because they cannot understand sin and the need for salvation. In these cases, where there is no law, there is no transgression. The clause in Romans 3:20 states that when a person comes to the knowledge that he is a sinner, the law is then applied to him. The age of accountability may vary from person to person depending on their individual ability to understand the gospel. According to God’s word, all adults are aware that they are sinners and that God has required everyone to repent and receive Jesus as their Savior.
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse… Romans 1:19-20
How Much Knowledge Is Required For Salvation?
As we examine the moments of Jesus’ crucifixion, we remember that one of the thieves on a cross next to the Lord was also dying for his sins. He looked up at Jesus on the cross and said to Him, Lord, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
When we read the New Testament description of this event, we find that there were two thieves that were also condemned to die by crucifixion along with Jesus. They are placed on either side of the Lord. At first, it seems that both condemned men ridicule Jesus for also being crucified along with them. After one of these men witnesses the grace and the love with which Jesus endures His suffering, praying for those who placed Him on the Cross, this dying criminal has a change of heart. He cries out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” A subtle statement of salvation in the final moments of life from a man condemned to die. Though his confession is short and subdued, it is sufficient to move Jesus to pronounce him— forgiven and worthy of eternal life.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
This encounter by a repentant, dying, criminal, it is forever a testament to anyone who comes to the end of his life with the belief that it is too late for him to change his life. Anyone can come to God at any time and find salvation. This thief had so thoroughly destroyed his life that he was dying for his many sins. In a single declaration, Remember me, Jesus pronounces that he would be with Him, on that day, in paradise.
As Jesus will Himself die in just a short time, the Prophecies state that He will descend into the lower parts of the earth where Abraham’s Bosom, also called Paradise, is located.
This criminal was saved by Jesus with no altar call, no opportunity to be baptized in a particular style, no church membership, or speaking in tongues; only his sincere request of Jesus: Remember me. Immediately, and without hesitation, the Lord declared that today his sins are forgiven and he will be with Jesus in paradise.
Even the slightest movement towards Jesus in sincere repentance, will be enough for Him to grant a person forgiveness and eternal life.
Salvation Is In Our Hands.
When the book of Romans describes God knowing who would be saved in advance and Him choosing these persons for eternal life, it does not say that we have no choice. The entire point of the New Testament is to declare that we do have a choice. What we do with this choice will determined where we remain for eternity.
 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
 the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1John 1:7
 …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
 Jesus saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15
Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11
 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9
 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:6