At a summer retreat this year I got into a discussion about how God knew us before we were born, and that he picked out those who would be Christians before they were born. But that doesn’t make sense to me because if God loved the world so much, why would he pick out only a select few to be Christians, and does that mean that those he didn’t pick aren’t ever going to get the chance to be Christians and go to heaven?
Thanks for your question. Many people have the same confusion over this matter, but it is really very clear when you look at the Scriptures.
First, God knows everything ahead of time – including who will respond to Him, and who will not. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: HIS UNDERSTANDING IS INFINITE” (Holy Bible, Psalm 147:5). We call this “foreknowledge.” “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Holy Bible, Romans 8:29). That verse is simply saying, “Those people that He knew ahead of time would respond to Him and be saved, those people He predestinated to be conformed to His image – to be like Christ.” That means it is God’s plan that those who are truly born again show the evidence of it in their lives. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold; all things are become new” (Holy Bible, II Corinthians 5:17).
Second, what about the passage that talks about Pharaoh? “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Holy Bible, Romans 9:17). Does this mean that Pharaoh never had a chance to be saved? Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he could not have gotten saved, even if he had wanted to do so? “And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou DO ALL THESE WONDERS BEFORE PHARAOH, which I have put in thine hand: BUT I WILL HARDEN HIS HEART, that he shall not let the people go” (Holy Bible, Exodus 4:21). Look at those verses carefully. Why did God raise up Pharaoh (Romans 9:17)? To show His POWER against him as a testimony to be declared throughout the whole earth. What about (Exodus 9:17)? Moses was to do WONDERS before Pharaoh, which would then harden his heart.
God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but how? BY SHOWING HIS MIGHTY POWER BEFORE A MIGHTY KING. It is like this, if you were known to be very tough and strong, and someone came up to you and challenged you to armwrestle, what would you do? You would wrestle with him to defend your reputation. And you would really have to be whipped to ever quit trying to get the best of your new challenger. Even so it was with Pharaoh. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by showing Pharaoh His mighty power. That stirred up Pharaoh to resist Him, because Pharaoh thought that he himself was the greatest. Notice that even when Pharaoh was whipped and asked for mercy; once it was over, he immediately went back to resisting. It is no different than sporting events where one person is beaten solidly, but the next day is talking to the media about how he is going to beat his opponent the next time. Pharaoh could have submitted himself to God at any time, but he chose not to do so because of his own pride.
God knows ahead of time who will submit to Him and repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. He wants all people to be saved, and they can be saved, if they will just repent and believe. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME” (Holy Bible, John 12:32). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE” (Holy Bible, II Peter 3:9). “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; WHO WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Holy Bible, I Timothy 2:3,4).
I have a question for you now. Are you taking this message out to others? Do not let scoffers tell you that certain people cannot be saved. Read the King James Bible, and keep serving the Lord.