Certainly there are many examples where God’s decision are not based on our decisions
1 Corinthians 1:21:
“…in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” — In other words, it was solely the decision of God that the world through earthly wisdom would never be able to know God. In addition, it was solely God’s decision to save man using the God-ordained method of preaching the Gospel.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” — In other words, the sons of God (or any person for that matter) were not born because of man’s decision but God’s decision.
but is this the case for every decision God makes? In regards to God’s foreknowledge, Dr. Henry Morris, founder of the modern day creationist movement states in his New Defenders Study Bible Commentary for Romans 8:29 that:
God “foreknew” that Israel would be His people (Romans 11:2), yet He later chose them by His own will. It clearly suggests planning ahead of time, not just knowing ahead of time. Nothing takes God by surprise; His decisions are not determined by our decisions. Yet in every case where God’s planning and predestining are involved (e.g., Acts 2:23), it is also true those who acted according to His foreknowledge carried out those acts of their own volition. He promises that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Yet He also says that “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
Even if we were to stipulate (contrary to scripture) that knowing ahead of time also meant planning ahead of time, does this necessitate that our decision to believe was really God’s decision?
I agree that “those who acted according to [God’s] foreknowledge carried out those acts of their own volition” but why must we assert that knowing ahead of time (foreknowledge) also means planning ahead of time? Did not God (fore)know our decision before he planned (predestined us to be conformed to Christ) in Romans 8:29? Is it not the foreknowledge of God (regarding our obedience) that determines which persons are elected?
This means God must have known something ahead of time about these people that he’s going to elect. But what would God have to know? If He’s just favoring one person over another (solely according to the good pleasure of his will), then he doesn’t have to (fore)know anything. The following verses clear up the matter:
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” — Notice the chronology, it is not listed this way arbitrarily.
1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
It is abundantly clear that foreknowledge precedes fore-planning, predestination, or any other action that occurred before the creation of man on behalf of man.
Unfortunately, this line of thinking is also popular among Calvinists as they also suggest that man’s choices are irrelevant to God and His sovereignty especially in the area of Soteriology. To be sure, there are dozens of examples in scripture where God explicitly suggests that His decision is based on a decision that we have made, I have listed a couple below:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-11
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
… for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.
It is necessary to address one particular objection that is raised whenever anyone claims that God reacts based on our obedience to his belief mandate in verses like John3:16 and Acts 16:30. The skeptics refrain goes something like this: If God grants salvation based upon a human response (i.e. obedience to the Gospel) doesn’t this constitute works upon which someone may boast? The confusion that this question arises from lies in a misunderstanding of the efficacy of a non-God-ordained propitiation. In other words, we are saved because we believe in the solution (the Gospel) and everything that is implied by belief in that solution (belief in all biblical propositions). Our obedience to the Gospel, although required, is not ‘works’ because it not a valid or alternate solution and thus could never supplant the true solution. In fact, there is no alternate solution; this is why belief in the Gospel (Christ) is the only way to eternal life. So, although you could boast that you have believed and others did not, your boasting would have no merit, sort of like one American boasting to another American that he has the right of freedom, when all along he never died for the freedom (some brave soldier did) and the American to whom he is boasting can attain to the same freedom by simply believing in the reality that he too is free.