9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

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… Isaiah 46:9-10

Open theism is the belief that God does not fully know the future because he has given man the freedom to choose. One website gave the following definition: Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future.

Tim Challies, has an excellent blog post addressing this topic, and in it he covers the key points of open theism. Tim writes the following.

Open theism is characterized in several ways:

  1. God’s greatest attribute is love. God’s love so overshadows His other characteristics that He could never allow or condone evil or suffering to befall mankind.
  2. Man has libertarian free will. Man’s will has not been so effected by the Fall that he is unable to make a choice to follow God. God respects man’s freedom of choice and would not infringe upon it.
  3. God does not have exhaustive knowledge of the future. Indeed, He cannot know certain future events because the future exists only as possibility. God is unable to see what depends on the choices of free will agents simply because this future does not yet exist, so it unknowable. In this way open theists attempt to reconcile this doctrine with God’s ominiscience.
  4. God takes risks. Because God cannot know the future, He takes risks in many ways – creating people, giving them gifts and abilities, and so on. Where possibilities exist, so does risk.
  5. God learns. Because God does not know the future exhaustively, He learns, just as we do.
  6. God is reactive. Because He is learning, God is constantly reacting to the decisions we make.
  7. God makes mistakes. Because He is learning and reacting, always dealing with limited information, God can and does make errors in judgment which later require re-evaluation.
  8. God can change His mind. When God realizes He has made an error in judgment or that things did not unfold as He supposed, He can change His mind.

The most important thing to note is that God knows the future only as it is not dependent on human, free-will decisions. God does not know what any free-will agents (ie humans) will do, because those decisions do not yet exist and God cannot know what does not exist. God decided, in Creation, that He would limit Himself in this way in order to give complete freedom to human beings. Therefore, God does not know or control the future – He learns from our decisions and constantly adapts as necessary. He often needs to change His mind or re-evaluate His options as the future unfolds. (end of excerpt from the excellent article by Tim Challies)

Contrary to open theism, the Bible cites many references in which God declared future events long before they happened and the outcome of those events because of the choices made by individuals long before those individuals were born.

Multiple biblical prophecies testify that God is indeed knowledgeable beforehand of the choices individuals will make. If God knows in advance want any one person will chose, then he knows in advance what all people will choose, because he knows the hearts of all men. ~ Acts 1:24. 

Consider for a moment the Biblical record of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, which was foretold hundreds of years before Judas was born.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ John 13:16-18

In John 17, Jesus praying regarding his disciples says the following:

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. ~ John 17:12

The son of perdition is a reference to Judas, and Jesus says he was lost so that the scripture might be fulfilled. This speaks clearly of God’s foreknowledge regarding Judas before he was born.

In John 6:64 we are told that Jesus knew from the beginning who it was who would betray him.

In Acts 1:16, the apostle Peter says, Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Peter goes on to cite a text from Psalms in verse 20.

The apostle Peter wasn’t an open theists, because he believed the Holy Spirit had spoken through David, hundreds of years prior, regarding Judas.

There are many examples all throughout scripture of God’s foreknowledge of people and the choices they would make. John the Baptist is another example. Both Isaiah and Malachi foretold of John the Baptist.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. ~ Isaiah 40:3

Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). ~ John 1:22-23

In Matthew 11, Jesus declared that John the Baptist was the coming of Elijah referred to by the prophet Malachi.

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. ~ John 11:7-10

All throughout the Bible we see over and over again, that God knows the future and he knows what people are going to do.

The very fact that God told us in advance about John the Baptist, Judas, those who would put Jesus to death, the beast, and false prophet along with many others testifies to the truth that God is all knowing.

God knew that many innocent children would be slaughtered by Herod when Jesus was a young child (Matthew 2:16-18), and God knew the disciples would be scattered when Jesus was arrested for it was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Jesus had made the following statment to his disciples: “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  ~ Mark 14:27-28

In response Peter boasted “Even though they all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29). Jesus then said the following to Peter:  “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” ~ Mark 14:30

Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny him three times before the rooster would crow twice the next morning, even though Peter was determined that he would never do such a thing.

But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. ~ Mark 14:31

Yet Jesus’s words came to pass, for after Peter had denied Jesus for the third time, the rooster crowed the second time just as Jesus had predicted.

And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. ~ Mark 14:72

Jesus’s foreknowledge that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed twice the next morning, testifies to the truth that God knows the choices we will make before we ever make them. Peter swore he would never deny Jesus, but he did, just as Jesus said he would.

The list goes on and on of things which the Bible testifies that God knew, in his foreknowledge, regarding people, choices, and events.

When God appeared to Abraham, he knew that Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in the land of Egypt (Genesis 15:13) even though Abraham was childless at the time.

God knew that Israel would choose to go after other gods and be exiled from the land of Israel, yet he still gave them the opportunities to repent by sending them the prophets.

Before Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to call them to repentance. However, God knew they would not listen to Jeremiah.

Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. ~ Jeremiah 7:27

How would God know that Judah would not listen to Jeremiah if he did not know what choices people would make?

Also in Acts 22:18-21, Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul and told him to get out of Jerusalem because the Jews there would not receive his testimony concerning Jesus.

How would Jesus know this if he didn’t know what choices people would make?

In much the same way as Calvinism asserts that God makes the choices for us, taking the truth of the foreknowledge of God beyond the boundaries of scripture. Open theism makes a similar error at the other end of the spectrum.

This is precisely why it is so important not to label people. Someone reading one of my teachings refuting Calvinism could easily make the assumption that I am an open theists, which I am not. And someone reading my refutation of Open Theism could conclude I am a Calvinist. I am not.

If we’d simply read the Bible and allow it to speak for itself, we would see that God does not force anyone to choose or reject him, nor is God’s foreknowledge limited by man’s freedom of choice.


The claim of open theism is that God does not know what choices we will make in the future, but the scriptures testify that God both knows the future and can discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The scriptures also testifies that God knows what choices people will make in the future as many prophecies in scripture reveal.

God can put the desire it into the heart of whomever he chooses to do his will.

For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. ~ Revelation 17:17

Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem… ~ Ezra 7:27

According to Ezra, God had put it into the heart of Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, to help the exiles rebuild the house of the Lord. God know ahead of time that he would do this, as is testified of in the book of Jeremiah, and if God knew he was going to do this, then God obviously knew the choice  King Artaxerxes would make regarding the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.

One only needs to allow the Bible to speak for itself and the theological legs on which open theism stand will collapse.   

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. ~ Proverbs 21:1


One video explaining open theism says, “there is a wide range of things that are not known by God, and cannot be known by God until they come about.” Yet Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, you know all things.” ~ John 21:17

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding outFor who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36


Open Theism claims that God doesn’t know all future events, that God can be surprised by man’s choices, and that God desires to learn and is thereby “taught” by our actions.

If is were true, sinful man becomes an instructor of the Creator, and that is sheer nonesense. Consider the following words of the aposlte Paul from Romans 11.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36

Now consider the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? ~ Isaiah 40:13-18

If open theism were true, God would cease to be God who knows our hearts and our thoughts, and this would undermine everything taught in scripture regarding God’s judgment on the ungodly.

Consider the following from Jeremiah.

Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of thier own thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. ~ Jeremiah 6:18

Notice that God is rendering to the people “the fruit” of their own thoughts. God knew their thoughts, hence God knew the choices they would make.

In his instructions to the Corinthinas regarding the gifts of the Spirit, Paul says that prophecy reveals the secrets of men’s hearts.

And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:25

That God knows the secrets of our hearts speaks to the fact that God knows what is in our hearts.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. ~ Hebrews 4:12-13

The Bible is very clear that God is not surprised by our choices, because God knows all things, including our thoughts. 

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. ~ 1 John 3:20

In the day of judgment, God is going to reveal the secrets of men’s hearts when he judges them by Christ Jesus. 

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. ~ Romans 2:16

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:5

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:14

Consider God’s words to the ungodly:

How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not seeHe that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. ~ Psalm 94:11

The scriptures repeatedly reveal that God knows what’s in mans hearts: For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. ~ Psalm 139:4

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. ~ 1 Chronicles 28:9

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? ~ Matthew 9:4

But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. ~ Luke 6:8

For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. ~ Isaiah 66:18

And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. ~1 Corinthians 3:20

But he (Jesus), knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. ~ Luke 11:17

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. ~ Proverbs 16:2

That God has given man a free will, does not in any why contradict that God is all knowing.


TIm Challies, whose article I cited above read by following the link below:



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  2. Pingback: Apologetics Thursday - michaelbattle on Open Theism - God is Open

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