Election before Time?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Apr 9, 2011.

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  1. Van

    Van
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    Due to length, this Opening Post is presented in two posts, Part One below, and Part Two in the next post.

    Reformed Theology makes two assertions concerning their doctrine of Election before Time, first that God chose a particular number of foreseen individuals before creation to be the recipients of His salvation, and two, God chose the foreseen individuals because it pleased Him to do so, but not because of any foreseen characteristic or belief of the selected individuals.

    These assertions are false teachings. But what are the actual teachings concerning election found in the Bible?

    First, Election is a sound doctrine, and so the argument that the Bible does not teach election is also a false teaching. However, to support or refute the Reformed Theology premise of Unconditional Election unto Salvation before time, passages that address God’s election of groups or individuals for other purposes are not best evidence.

    Second, an Election taught in scripture is the Old Covenant election of Israel, a corporate election, and while this election is a valid teaching, it is not the only election taught in scripture.

    And the third misconstrued view of election is that God elected foreseen individuals based on their foreseen faith.

    This also misses the mark, but it does not miss the mark because God Almighty is unwilling to enter into covenants with men. God tells us what He desires, and tells us the consequence if we obey or if we disobey. This does not make God’s plans and actions the result of our actions, but rather God’s actions toward us no matter if we obey or disobey are consistent with God’s purpose and plan. He sets before us a choice between life and death, and exhorts us to choose life. No, the premise misses the mark because God chooses us individually after we have lived without mercy, after we have lived not as a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9-10), so God’s individual election is based on accepting our existing faith (Romans 4:4-5), not foreseen faith.

    Before we delve into the biblical support for the Reformed doctrine of Unconditional Election before time, let’s pause and identify the scriptural references to Election doctrine of all kinds. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word (transliterated) “bahiyr” appears 13 times. Here are the references:

    2 Samuel 21:6 uses the term to identify King Saul as God’s “chosen one.” This election is of an individual but not unto salvation in accordance with the New Covenant.

    1 Chronicles 16:13 uses the term to identify the seeds or descendants of Jacob as His “chosen ones.” This election is the corporate election of the Old Covenant and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Psalm 89:3 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Old Covenant and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Psalm 105:6 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Old Covenant and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Psalm 105:43 uses the term to identify the corporate election of those He brought out of Egypt, “His chosen ones.”

    Psalm 106:5 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel, and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Psalm 106:23 uses the term to identify Moses as God’s “chosen one,” and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 42:1 uses the term to identify God’s Servant, and according to Matthew 12:15-21 is a reference to Christ Jesus.

    Isaiah 43:20 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel, and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 45:4 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel, and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 65:9 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel, and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 65:15 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel, and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    Isaiah 65:22 uses the term to identify the corporate election of the Nation of Israel and not our individual election in accordance with the New Covenant.

    In summary, the Old Testament Election’s provide illustrations of God choosing individuals according to His purpose and choosing the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as His chosen nation. But most important, Isaiah 42:1 refers to Christ as God’s chosen One, and thus refers to His election before time.

    However election in accordance with the New Covenant is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, so lets look at some of these verses.

    Psalm 65:4 says some are blessed because they are chosen by God to be brought near to God, and to dwell in God’s courts. This certainly mirrors the idea of being spiritually placed “in Christ” and thus receiving the blessings of being “in Christ” which include spiritually being in God’s heavenly places (courts) and being made alive together with Christ (brought near).

    Jeremiah 31:31 says God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. These “houses’ are made up of individuals who believe in God and believe in God’s promises, and so the New Covenant is with individual believers. Paul teaches in Galatians chapter 3 that even Gentile believers that belong to Christ become “in Christ” children of the promise .

    Turning now to the New Testament, the Greek words (transliterated) “ekleklos” and “ekloge” appear a total of 30 times and are translated “chosen,” “elect” or “election.”

    Matthew 22:14 uses the term to identify that while many are called or invited, few are “chosen.” The idea is that while some might be willing to come to Christ based on hearing the invite, not everyone is “chosen” because not everyone’s heart fully trusts in Christ.

    Matthew 24:22 uses the term to identify that the tribulation of end times will be cut short for the sake of those chosen by God who are alive at the time.

    Matthew 24:24 uses the term to identify during end times, false Christs and false prophets will show great signs and wonders sufficient to deceive even the “elect” living at the time, if possible.

    Matthew 24:31 uses the term to identify that at Christ’s second coming, His angels will gather the “elect” from wherever they are. Thus the “elect” of the New Covenant belong to Christ.

    Mark 13:20, 22 and 27 mirror the Matthew 24 usages.

    Luke 18:7 uses the term to identify that God will give justice to His “elect” who cry to Him day and night. The idea here is that after we are in Christ, Christ intercedes for us, and thus we can confidently approach the throne of grace.

    Luke 23:35 uses the term to identify that Jesus is the “Chosen One” of God, the Christ.

    Acts 9:15 uses the term to identify that Paul was God’s “chosen” instrument to bear His name before Gentiles, Kings, and the sons of Israel.

    End of Part One
     
  2. Van

    Van
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    Part Two, Election before Time?

    Part Two

    Romans 8:33 uses the term to identify that the “elect” are “in Christ” and therefore holy and blameless, so that no charge can be brought because we are justified by God Almighty.

    Romans 11:5 uses the term to identify that a remnant has come to be according to God’s gracious choice, indicating that the choice that produced the remnant occurred in the present.

    Romans 11:7 uses the term to identify that while the blood descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the Jews) were seeking to obtain the fulfillment of the promises of God, only those whose heart was committed to God were chosen and the rest hardened.

    Romans 16:13 uses the term to identify that Rufus was a choice man in the Lord, signifying not only that Rufus had been chosen and placed spiritually in the Lord, but also he was a faithful and diligent servant, thus a choice servant.

    Colossians 3:12 uses the term to identify that the Colossians had been chosen of God, and therefore as someone predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, they should put on a heart of compassion, humility and patience.

    1 Thessalonians 1:4 uses the term to identify that Paul knows that God chose them, because He personally witnessed their conversion. This verse is directly applicable to God’s election of individuals to salvation in accordance with the New Covenant.

    1 Timothy 5:21 uses the term to identify that angels affiliated with Christ, the Chosen One, are referred to as chosen angels.

    2 Timothy 2:10 uses the term to identify that Paul endures all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it, eternal glory. The idea here is that Paul plants and waters, enduring all sorts of hardships, for the sake of those whose faith, nurtured by Paul, God accepts and credits as righteousness for the purpose of salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus.

    Titus 1:1 uses the term to identify that Paul is a bondservant of Christ because his ministry is for the faith of those chosen by God.

    1 Peter 1:1 uses the term to identify that the people living at the time had been chosen by God according to His foreknown plan by means of being set apart by the Holy Spirit, after having believed in Christ, who is called Truth.

    1 Peter 1:20 uses the term to identify that Jesus was chosen as the Christ before the foundation of the world, and therefore God has known this from before the foundation of the world.

    1 Peter 2:4 uses the term to identify that Jesus is choice and precious in the sight of God. Paul’s description of Rufus mirrors this usage by Peter concerning Christ.

    1 Peter 2:9 uses the term to identify that we were once not a chosen people, and therefore we once lived without mercy, but now we are God’s chosen people, and we have obtained mercy.

    2 John 1:1uses the term to identify that either a particular lady, or figuratively the local church being addressed was chosen by God.

    2 John 1:13 uses the term to identify that either another lady with John or figuratively the local church with which John was fellowshipping at the time of writing

    Revelation 17:14 uses the term to identify that those gathered by Christ at His second coming are the called and chosen and faithful, clearly indicating born again believers were first invited, then chosen based on responding to the invitation, then faithful serve our Lord, demonstrating our faith by our works.

    Now, having provided snippets of the passages that address God’s election according to the New Covenant, lets revisit the Reformed Theology false premises, (1) that God elected before the foundation of the world, a particular group of foreseen individuals, and (2) God chose the foreseen individuals because it pleased Him to do so, and not because of any foreseen characteristic or belief of the selected individuals.

    Because of limited time, lets just review some of the supposed support for these false teachings. Firstly does Psalm 65:4 address when God chooses individuals and causes them to be united with Him? No. Does Jeremiah 1:5 say when Jeremiah was chosen? Yes, before God formed him in the womb. Does this point toward before conception or simply during the 9-month period of going from an unformed but fertilized human egg, to a full term baby ready to be born? Because of the parallel construction of Jeremiah 1:5, with the second clause pointing to the period of development, the period of development is the most sound exegetical position. Thus this verse does not support individual election before the foundation of the world.

    Next does Acts 13:48 say that God foreordained His chosen ones to believe the gospel? Nope. It says that when the Gentiles heard that the promise of salvation was for them and not just for the Jews, they rejoiced and accepted Paul’s presentation of the gospel, and submitted to his direction, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Thus the phrase appointed to eternal life refers to the Gentiles agreeing to the conditions laid out by Paul, and thus they were appointed to eternal life. Compare with the contrasting verse, Acts 13:46. Note that the Jews were not appointed because they rejected the gospel, but the Gentiles were appointed because they accepted the conditions laid out for eternal life, and therefore they believed in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Next does Ephesians 1:4-5 say that God chose us as foreseen individuals before the foundation of the world? Nope. It says that among the spiritual blessings given to us who are “in Christ” is the grace granted us “in Christ” that comes from the Word being chosen as the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world. Thus, when we are spiritually “in Christ” we share in His election. Therefore “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” because the redeemed were chosen corporately as a consequence of Christ being chosen as Redeemer.

    And finally does 2 Thessalonians 2:13 support the idea that we were chosen individually before the foundation of the world? Nope, it says we were chosen from the beginning, and therefore even if the “beginning” has the creation week in view, rather than the inauguration of the New Covenant, which is what the “beginning” actually refers to, it still nullifies the idea we were chosen individually before the foundation of the world or before the beginning, or from all eternity.

    Were the names written in the Lamb’s book of life written in simultaneously with God decreeing His chosen ones before the foundation of the world? Nope, Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 say names were not entered (implying the names of the chosen were entered) from the foundation of the world which refers to the period starting with the creation week of Genesis 1, and extending to the end of the ages of Revelation 20.

    In summary, the very passages used to support election of foreseen individuals before the foundation of the world, either do not address the timing, or are equivocal, such that an alternate understanding of the passages is equally as logical, or in the case of the last three, actually demonstrate that the premise is invalid.

    Turning now to the second false premise, that God chose the foreseen individuals because it pleased Him to do so, but not because of any foreseen characteristic or belief of the selected individuals, lets review the supposed supporting passages.

    Does Romans 9:10-13 support being chosen before the foundation of the world, or being chosen as less than fully formed children existing in Rebekah’s womb? The most sound inference is that they were chosen as existent pre-born children, see verse 10. Were they chosen according to the New Covenant for salvation? Nope. The fallacy of trying to support the Reformed Theology premise of Unconditional Election before time with this passage is the fallacy of proving “A” (chosen without regard to their characteristics or beliefs) and then asserting “B” has been proven (that God chooses those He puts spiritually “in Christ” also without regard to their faith or love of God.) Also note that God’s choosing of Jacob for one purpose, and His choosing of Esau for another purpose demonstrates that it is satisfying God’s purpose that dictates His choice according to His pleasure, and so if God desires to have mercy on those who love Him, “God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.”

    Thus we are chosen by God, and we do not elect ourselves to eternal glory. We obtain mercy according to God’s gracious choice, and not by our will or works, Romans 9:16. But God can have mercy on whom He has mercy including those who believe in His Son with all their heart.

    And so, at the end of the day, the biblical support offered for the two false premises of Reformed Theology, actually demonstrate both premises are invalid.
     
  3. jbh28

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    Ephesians 1:4

    "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."

    We are the objects of the the choosing and it was done before the foundation of the world.

    nuff said...
     
  4. Van

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    Note the deep study and careful thought process. No effort to actually address the passage as presented.

    Next does Ephesians 1:4-5 say that God chose us as foreseen individuals before the foundation of the world? Nope. It says that among the spiritual blessings given to us who are “in Christ” is the grace granted us “in Christ” that comes from the Word being chosen as the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world. Thus, when we are spiritually “in Christ” we share in His election. Therefore “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” because the redeemed were chosen corporately as a consequence of Christ being chosen as Redeemer.

    The view that He chose us "individually" is precluded because He chose us individually while we were alive, such as in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, James 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-30.
     
  5. Skandelon

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    Van,

    I agree that the foreseen faith view and corporate view alone do not suffice. However, the corporate view cannot be dismissed out of hand, nor can the understanding that God does choose individuals for particular tasks. There are many passages used by Calvinists as proof text which clearly do relate either to corporate election and/or the election of individuals to a specific task (i.e. Paul to apostleship).

    Now, I also agree that individuals make up nations, so there is an element of individual election being discussed. But it seems to me an easier way to explain this is just to say that God has predetermined for believers to be conformed to Christ's image, but it never says that God has predetermined for certain lost people to believe. You wrote:

    Who has lived without mercy? At this time in history the Gentiles had. That is the group He is now showing mercy while He hardened most of Israel. This is why the corporate aspect can't be dismissed. Gentiles as a group were being shown mercy (grafted into the vine, invited into covenant, brought into the church etc), while Israel was being cut off, hardened, blinded temporarily.
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    Thanks Skandelon for making a sound and biblically based observation, one that we can explore in a search for truth!

    Lets look at 1 Peter 2:9-10. First we note that Peter is quoting or paraphrasing an Old Testament scripture, probably Deuteronomy 10:15. Which refers to an Old Covenant corporate election. But as was pointed out in 1 Peter 1:1-2, Peter uses Old Testament allusions to illustrate New Covenant reality. Are we called out of darkness corporately or individually? I believe individually. And was his audience restricted to Gentiles who once were not a people? I think not. Notice in verse 7 Peter is defining the "you" as those who believe, rather than only Gentiles who believe.

    Now in verse 10, the "for once you were not a people" certainly seems to refer to Gentiles because believing Jews had been corporately chosen. However when we consider the timing, once you were not a people, and had not received mercy, but now you are the people of God and have received mercy, it is hard not to apply this individually to those in the audience. Notice in verse 11 Peter goes back to addressing those chosen aliens, not Gentiles, but anyone whose citizenship is in the kingdom.
     
  7. Skandelon

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    I believe both are seen in scripture, which was my only point of contention with what you appeared to be saying.

    God has corporately called them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one..." speaking of us the Gentiles corporately. But when I heard the appeal of the Gospel to be reconciled to God, He was calling me individually. Make sense?

    Verse 7 says, "7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, "

    Which is a great parallel to Romans 9:30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone."

    Now, please understand, I'm not saying that Paul (or Peter in this case) is intentionally leaving out believing Jews. It is just that Paul, being an apostle to the Gentiles and writing to predominately Gentiles congregations would be sure to highlight the nature of their election as a people of God and affirm the fact this was God's plan all along...from before the foundation of the world. So, it is their individual faith in God that should validate the fact that God indeed has elected them corporately as a people. So, I'm saying, it is "both and" not "either or."

    I hope that makes sense. I really don't think we have much disagreement, but just a point of clarity so as not to dismiss the corporate aspects of scripture in regard to election.
     
  8. Allan

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    Election was before God created the world.. No election is done 'in time'. Salvation is done 'in time'.
     
  9. Brother Jeremy Slone

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    Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth)
    Showing the election established before and the calling is what separates the one from the other. 2Timothy 1:8 ...God; :9 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. Was this not done in the mind of God, what he purposed to do in time given us in Christ before we were or even creation ever made, The very purpose he came in a body of flesh. In Revelation 13:8 does it not support this when the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is mentioned showing God predeterminate counsel.
    But lets look at Faith. Why is it some of Adams generation believe and others do not. What did some inherit from Adam or Grandparents or parents that caused them to believe or of their own faculity of mind from their flesh we have. I will tell what settled it in my mind when I struggled with these things. Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, We believe by the working of his might power.... The same power that raised Christ from the dead. We know that we are saved by grace and that through faith. Is it not the very Grace that brings us through faith. It is of Faith that it might be of Grace. It is Grace for Grace. Its was God's Grace that brought us through faith and through faith we get more Grace.

    Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Did he not accomplish our purgeing when he rose from the dead and went to the Father and sat down as our High Priest?
    We are justified by Faith and we have this Faith by the working of his power that raised his dead body from the dead. This is why he rose on the third day for or justification.

    We have a salvation and are saved in the mind of God who purposed to save his elect in Christ who is the bride of Christ, The body of Christ that every individual makes up this body.
    Isaiah 46:10 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:

    We have a salvation and are saved in Christ who died in our place and was our legal substitute.
    Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins
    Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

    We have a salvation and are Saved in time by the Holy Spirit. Every thing the Father purposed the Son accomplished and the Holy Spirit applies in time. John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    This is how I see it and am fully persuaded and rejoice that the Lord had mercy on me for Christ's sake and can glory in nothing but Jesus Christ.
     
  10. jbh28

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    The passage doesn't say that the Lamb of God was chosen before the foundation of the world, but us. And you have been shown your major error with the other passages, so there is no need for me to address them. James doesn't say he chose those when they were rich.....eisegesis on your part
     
  11. Van

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    What passage are you talking about? You deny Christ is the Chosen One? How many verses will you rewrite to support that absurdity? Christ is not the Lamb of God? How many verses will you rewrite to support that absurdity. You are redeemed with precious blood, the blood of Christ, for He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.

    Folks, Christ was chosen to be the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world. When God chose Him, He chose us in Him, corporately as those His Redeemer would redeem.

    James 2:5 does say God chose the poor to this world, rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom, which He promised to those who love Him. Our individual election where God puts us into Christ, into the corporately elected body of Christ, occurs when God credits our faith as righteousness and spiritually places us in Christ - as described in 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

    Calvinist claim scripture does not say what scripture says. But it is there for anyone to read.
     
    #11 Van, Apr 9, 2011
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  12. jbh28

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    Did I say that? Please quote where I said that.
    Did I say that? Please quote where I said that.
    Of course. Never said anything contrary to that.
    What I said is that Ephesians 1 says that we were chosen before the foundation of the world. Nothing is mentioned about when Christ was chosen as the Lamb of God.
    Of course because God's election isn't based on what we do or who we are. It's unconditional.
    Already proven wrong, so no need to keep saying it over and over and over again.
     
  13. webdog

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    I'll have to disagree with the first part. There is no "before" the creation of "before". It's like a person existing before they were conceived. I think much of that language to be anthropomorphic as there is no before or after with an omnipresent God.
     
  14. jbh28

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    You mean like eternal? In our perspective it's "before" but in God's eyes it has always been.
     
  15. Van

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    Hi Skandelon, scripture says we are the called, chosen and faithful. I believe we were called individually out to darkness and transferred into His marvelous light, with the word "transferred" indicating the sanctifying work of the Spirit, 1 Peter 1:1-2, becoming one of the chosen, and then spiritually in Christ we undergo the circumcision of Christ and arise in Christ an new creation, created for good works with our faith protected, keeping us for our inheritance reserved, hence, we are faithful because our faith is protected. 1 Peter 1:3-5.
     
  16. webdog

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    Christ is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Clearly this is not to be taken literally as we have historic evidence this happened roughly 2k years ago. In the same manner this is figurative, so is being chosen in Him prior to faith in Him.
     
    #16 webdog, Apr 9, 2011
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  17. jbh28

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    Christ was chosen before the foundation of the world. We were chosen before the foundation of the world. We were saved in time. Christ was slain in time.
     
  18. Van

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    Hi Webdog, the translation that reads, slain before the foundation of the world is very suspect. The Greek is difficult and therefore the modern translations render it differently. But this is how the NASB reads: Rev. 13:8 - And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, every one whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

    Take careful note it does not say "before the foundation of the world." The Greek word is "apo" and means out of, from, etc, never "before." Second note that this translation does not put the Lord's death before the foundation of the world, but simply says it had occurred when John wrote this late in the 1st century.

    If we assume at the same time "names were not written" other names were written, then we have support for the names of those whose names are in the Lambs book of life were entered from the foundation of the world, which covers the time span from the creation week to the end of th age, supporting on going salvation and names being entered at salvation and not before.
     
  19. webdog

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    Sort of. I believe God exists in all points of time simultaneously as time is merely a measurement. This must be true to be truly omnipresent. The part we may never understand is how God chooses to deal with His creation within time. One of the things I find lacking, in fact the main thing in both calvinism and arminianism are the doctrines assume a specific linear order is needed. One looks down the corridors of time to see who will be saved and the other chooses who will be saved prior to being saved. Both are lacking and truly stuff God into a box labeled "time as understood by man".
     
    #19 webdog, Apr 9, 2011
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  20. jbh28

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    I think we get that because that's how the Bible gives it to us. Ephesians says "before the foundations of the world" and that comes across as linear. If one wants to say that it has always been(eternal), then I would agree.
     
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