Did God chose us, or did we chose God?
This topic has been hotly debated in the church for hundreds of years, so I thought I would clear it up in this short blog.
Obviously I am kidding, but I did want to give my thoughts on this subject.
I’m talking about predestination or divine election.
Here are some of the words of the apostle Paul on predestination.
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NKJV).
Know this: Before the world was made, before sin came in, God chose you in Christ to be with Him though all eternity. Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16 NKJV).
The first question that comes to mind upon hearing a statement like that is, “Why? Why would God choose me? What goodness or merit did God see in me that He would choose me as His child?”
I hope you’re not too disappointed in my answer: There was absolutely no merit or goodness that caused God to choose you. You and I are sinners. We have both crossed God’s line and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). It is clear that in spite of our best intentions and the high opinion we may hold of ourselves, God’s choosing had nothing to do with our merit.
Imagine what you would do if you knew what would happen ahead of time.
You would make very different decisions. Some would go to the race track and bet on horses and make a boatload of money. Question: Would they pick losers or winners? Winners, of course. Yet God chose us! This is a mind-boggling thought.
Why did He choose us?’
I suppose for the same reason He chose Israel.To them He said, “The LORD did not set His heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the LORD loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8 NLT).
“The Lord loves you.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
You might say, “But I don’t understand that!”
Join the club. But why do we have to understand it? Just rejoice in it!
It’s been said, “Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!”
The next question that comes to mind for many is, “How?
How did God choose us? What was the basis for His choice?” I don’t have an answer to that. Some believe it was an “irresistible grace” that you had no power to rebel from. It was a done deal with or without your consent.
Some would even believe in double-predestination. They assert, “Some are chosen for heaven. Some are chosen for hell!” They also would teach something called “limited atonement.” In other words, Jesus died for the elect or “chosen ones” only and you have absolutely nothing to say about your eternal destination. I have a problem with both of those views. For Scripture is clear in pointing out that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).
Romans 5:6–8 tells us, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NKJV).
No, whether we like it or not, the Bible teaches both predestination and free will.
When C.H. Spurgeon was asked to reconcile these truths—God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility— he said, “I never try to reconcile friends—they are both in the Bible.”
Think of it like this:
You were rushing down that freeway of life, just “going with the flow,” yet empty, unsatisfied, frustrated, and alone, when you noticed an off-ramp up ahead leading to a building with a large door. On the outside of that door were the words “Whosoever will, let him come” (Revelation 22:17). You had met people who had taken this off-ramp and raved about the difference it had made in their lives. You thought about how much you would like to take it and find this peace they spoke of. But you were afraid. After all, the “flow of traffic” was still on that big freeway you were on.
But then again, you were getting awfully tired of the grind and the crowds. So you took that off-ramp and went up to that door and were ready to open it when you thought, “What if I’m not one of the elect? This would be a waste of time.” So you turn away. But you keep seeing that sign, day in and day out: “Whosoever will, let him come and drink the water of life freely.”
Finally, one day you reason, “What do I have to lose? I’m going for it.” So you pull off and get out of your car and walk over to that door and open it and walk in. And to your total surprise, on the other side of the door are the words, “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.”*
You may ask, “You mean to say that God chose me before I was even born?” Yes, He did.
Again, to quote Spurgeon who humorously wrote, “It’s a good thing God chose before I was born. If He had waited until after, He would have changed His mind!”
The great evangelist D.L. Moody said, “The ‘whosoever wills’ are the elect. The ‘whosoever won’t’ are the non-elect.” I do not believe that God predestines certain people to be saved, and others to be dammed. Scripture teaches, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
It’s been said, “God wants every man to be saved. The devil wants every man to be damned. Man has the casting vote.”
You want to find out if you are one of the “chosen ones,” one of the elect? Walk through that doorway of God’s forgiveness and you will prove you are.
Some would say, “We can’t preach the gospel to people and offer them forgiveness. Nor can we really say ‘God loves you,’ because we might give false assurance to the non-elect.”
Again, to quote D.L. Moody, “Lord, save the elect, and then elect some more!”
It is clear in Scripture we are commanded to preach the gospel. I am the first to acknowledge that salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44 NKJV). We have nothing whatsoever to do with that.
But as in most things, there is God’s part and there is our part. Our part is to appeal to people. Colossians 1:28, “We proclaim Christ, warning everyone we meet and teaching everyone we can, all that we know about him. . .”
It’s our responsibility to reach as many as we can. 1 Corinthians 3:7–9, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (NIV).
Paul was preaching to some Gentiles and a number of them believed: “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 NKJV).
The Bible is filled with the call of God to man to respond to the Good News!
• John 11:26 – “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
• Romans 10:13.”Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
• Revelation 22:17 – “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
So, instead of trying to figure out how God chose us, let’s rejoice that He did.
And let’s let other people know, without hesitation, that God Loves them!
*This illustration is an adaptation of one that the great Bible expositor H.A.Ironside used in his commentary on the book of Ephesians.