Weekly Devotional 11-7-22 / Heaven, by Election or Choice
On Wednesday August 22, 2018, Grace Thru Faith posted the following. “I am currently involved in a Christian chat room whereby debating and fellowship occur. One of the debates that comes up frequently is whether man has free will when it comes to choosing our Lord. Many feel that it is predetermined and those that will be saved are the ‘elected.’ I know the Lord is all knowing and knows who will come to him and who will not. But I am having an exceedingly difficult time thinking that the Lord has predetermined who will be saved and who will not. I truly believe that the Lord is love and He would not create some simply for them to go to hell. Can you clear this up for me? Do we have free will or is there predestination? Thank you.”
In reply, GTF answered, “This question can be put to rest with a careful reading of the best-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16) The word ‘whosoever’ means that anyone who chooses to, can believe and be saved. Romans 10:13 also tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There are several other verses I could cite but you get the idea. Salvation is the gift of God offered freely to all who will receive and accept it.
In Matt. 7:7-8 the Lord said, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.’ He was talking about our salvation. It really sounds like it is our decision, doesn’t it? To deny this, you must put words in the Lord’s mouth that He never spoke- GTF. (Grace Thru Faith is a publication began by Jack Kelly who is now with the Lord).
We at Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man agree with GTF’s understanding of Predestination or a matter of choice wholeheartedly but will add that even though God has predestinated certain ones to salvation, He has not closed the door to anyone. Man’s choice is involved. As an example of this I draw your attention to Ephesians 1:1-12; “1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him. 11In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
Paul declared that he, Timothy, Titus, and others who had accompanied him, had been chosen from the foundation of the world. So had Abraham, Joseph, David, Mary-the mother of Jesus, and John the Baptist. Was their choosing to follow God forced upon them or did they choose to do so? They were not forced but chose to follow Him. An example of this is found in Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John 3:1-21. In this passage Jesus declared the Holy Spirit moves among men birthing some to newness of spiritual life. This birthing was not abstract. That is, it was not dissociated with looking to God’s provision. God provided, but those being regenerated had to look.
Even though Paul and his fellows were chosen for service before the foundation of the world, it does not mean that they had to believe God and commit to Him. (The why of their decision just is not explained). As we read on in Paul’s opening dialogue in his letter to the Ephesians we gain more of an understanding. From 1:13 we read, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Paul and his fellows being chosen before the foundation of the world was not disassociated with their believing. And so, it is with all persons, God has sent His spirit in to the world to convince and convict them of sin and has given them an inward intuition of their need of God’s grace.” (Also see John 1:1-5; Romans 1: 18-22).
In truth, all persons are endowed with a will by which they can believe or disbelieve, but because of sin many have chosen not to believe. Consider John 3:14-21. “14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
If you are a believer, praise God, but if you are one who is not a believer, it is because you have denied the knowable truth. Search God out and you will find Him.
Heaven, by Election or Choice, Part Two
It is clear from the response we received from some of our readers that God’s predestination of some to heaven (to salvation), and not all, is greatly misunderstood. These persons and others see predestination as being two sided. That if God has predestined some to salvation it then carries that He has predestined others to Hell or to be lost. This assumption is incorrect as the free will of man is involved. Predestination does not mean that man has no say in his salvation or his destination of heaven or hell. Even such persons as Paul had a choice even though he was chosen. He had been chosen or predestined before God created the world (see Ephesians 1:4-6), but chosen or predestined does not mean that he had no choice in answering God’s call. This is true of all those who come to salvation. God’s efficacious call is active, but so is man’s will.
However, God does something in those He has predestined that He does not do in others. God has given a general call to all of humanity, excluding none. But He gives a specific call to those who choose Him. Does this mean that God is unfair? No. The general call is sufficient to its desired end which is the salvation of the hearer. Many do hear, answer that call, and are saved (awarded salvation-heaven), but just because the general call is sufficient does not mean that the desired end is met (2nd Peter 3:9). Not all persons who hear the call answer positively. They reject the message that is in the call. Jesus in dialogue with Nicodemus gives the reason for this; “19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
This rejection is the rejection of the message that is in the general call, but for Jesus to be glorified in His sacrifice God by an efficacious call assures that there would be some who would answer positively. Continuing with Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, we read; “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:21). Note that the act, the deed of believing and committing, were and are sourced in God. Believing is one thing but committing to it is another. In the believing and committing we see both God’s election and man’s will. God’s message was and is overwhelming (efficacious in nature) and by free will man commits to the message. What a wonder!
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man