Occassionally when I've been teaching, or just in casual conversation, the topic of election comes up. No, not the type of election we'll be having in November. I'm referring to God electing the people to be saved. Some people look at this concept and say its not fair. After all, if God sat down at the beginning of time and chose who would be saved and who would be "destined" for Hell, then we all live our lives with our destiny pre-determined and no way to change it no matter what we do during our lives. Some people claim that God simply foresees how we will exercise our free will before we do it, and makes His choice based upon His foreknowledge. But many Christians find this concept equally unacceptable.
I have often explained my personal view that both of the above alternatives start with the same flawed starting assumption. Both of them try to analyze God in human terms. We live a linear existence, so we try to understand God linearly as well. But God exists outside time. He created time. So He is not confined to time. We live linearly. God does not. I have often used the example of a tapestry. The tapestry represents every moment in time laid out before God. God looks down at that tapestry and equally "sees" all moments in time simultaneously. He can still interact; pull a string here, tie one on there. So he can see all times, and also act on any one of them.
The punchline is that God neither decides "beforehand" what our destiny will be, nor does he "foresee" our "future" actions and base His decision on them. He just sees our lives (and whether or not we have faith in Christ) in His reality and bases His election upon that. He sees all people over all times right in front of Him, just as someone can see the entire tapestry all at once. This is why there is no difference between a sin we committed 20 years ago and one we committed yesterday. We may think that the 20 year old sin is so far removed that we should be given "credit" for improving our behavior for so long. But in reality, that 20 year old sin has the same presence to God as our recent behavior. We cannot escape our sin.
I am currently working my way through Norman Geisler's 4 volume "Systematic Theology" and I came across a paragraph where he explained the same concept as I have been trying to explain, but doing so in a far better way. So I wanted to share Dr. Geisler's words with the rest of you.
"...as an eternal Being God does not really fore-know anything. He is eternal and, as such, He simply knows in one eternal Now everything there is to know. God sees all time - past, present, and future - from His lofty perch of eternity; whereas human beings looking through the tunnel vision of time can only see the present."
Geisler, Norman. Systematic Theology: Volume 1, p. 583 (2002)
This is just another example in which humans try to define God in human terms. Yes, we are made in the image of God. But there are many instances in which we must be cognizant of the differences between the finite and the infinite, and avoid trying to bring God down to our level, making Him into a finite being. Always try to be aware that God is far more that we are. God bless.