Chosen By God
Many years ago, before beginning a Bible study with a man I had just met, I asked him to read James's entire book every day for a week. "Don't spend time looking for anything but the author's attitude." When we got together later, I asked, "so what's his attitude." He replied, "Something has got this man really ticked off."
It is necessary to receive more from a passage than the definitions of words. It is crucial to find the writer's intent, the main point made, and even the person behind the writing. If you want to understand what has been written, it is always best to know the man.
In the following passage, God tells about choosing to use king Cyrus; observe how God refers to Himself.
"For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen One, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me, there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,
The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these." (Isaiah 45:1-7)
Some attempt to save God's reputation as if He can avoid responsibility for evil in the world. Hear this! Either God is all-powerful and in control of all things, or He is not God at all. God, by definition, is sovereign, which means in control and responsible. So when He makes the statement, found in verse six, "I am the LORD, and there is no other," that means He is the One exercising ultimate authority. It does not mean that men are not guilty of wrongdoing; they are. The main point, however, is that God cannot be overruled or set aside.
The use of the word "I" in the passages above is the telltale clue as to God's attitude. He is angry when men suggest that He is not sovereign. The evil in the world is allowed by His design. He is in control. He has a plan, and it is being carried out to the smallest detail.
Man is a sinner, and God is righteous. God punishes evil and does only good. God is holy and just and does not even think about wicked things. These and many more realities of God's perfect goodness do not change the fact that God is sovereign over everything. To think about God as though He were not sovereign to relieve Him of the responsibility of evil in the universe is to make Him less than God. He does not like this description. Hence the tone found in Isaiah 45 and many, many passages throughout the scriptures. Read Job thirty-eight to forty-one.
For some years, In my head, I believed that man was ultimately free, meaning man was endowed with freedom of the will. I say, I thought in my head but not in my heart. When push came to shove, I would eventually say, freedom is an illusion. There is an awareness deep down inside of every Christian that tells him that evil is in his heart. The redeemed knows that he would never choose to be saved if left alone and would never choose to know Jesus. Left to my self, I would go to hell and deserve every minute of it for all eternity. The reality of our lost condition is true of every member of Adam's race prior to salvation.
What usually takes place in discussions of this sort is two people throwing verses at one another. God gave each man the ability to reason and thereby come to the knowledge of the truth. God's word is truth. Therefore, God says in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD." If you are of a mind to disagree with my following statements, my dear reader, would you carefully consider my reasoning and argue against it.
Man is not born free but a slave. "Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." (John 8:34), "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17, 18)
The above verses explain the condition of people as slaves before salvation. The word slave used in the New Testament is unequivocally a person without rights, which means no ability to govern their own life choices. For this reason, when God spoke to Israel at the giving of the law, He said, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Exodus 20:2, 3)
The ability to keep God's law is not in man's genes. "The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7, 8) Man is hostile, unwilling, and unable to please God.
We need now to reason together. The most crucial thing any person can ever do, the most God-pleasing and glorifying, is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord. "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." (Romans 10:9) The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. (Matthew 12:34)
How does a man receive Jesus Christ as Lord and God, meaning his master, when he is in the flesh and hostile to God? Because he has "free will"? Really? What part of unwilling and unable to please God fits inside of free will? When some argue free will to get God off the hook for choosing to save those who otherwise could not and would not choose Him, it doesn't. Only God can save a man by changing his heart; once saved, a man is set free to choose Christ.
In the movie BREAKTHROUGH, a woman whose Life Choices turned her into a control freak is faced with circumstances she cannot control. She looks at her pastor with her son in a life-and-death situation and says, "I can't control this, can I?" With a sorrowful look on his face, he motions to her with his head, no!
No person living or who has ever lived or ever will live can control where they spend eternity. If you don't believe that's true, do you think you are more significant than God? If you believe God is Almighty and not you, won't you trust Christ for your salvation now?
Jesus, therefore, was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32)
"If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)
Even the activity of faith is the work of God. Don't try to comprehend it, it is enough to understand; believe it, and trust Him.