Chosen, Not Predestined
Ephesians 1:4 says, "...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..."
"He predestined us to adoption..."(v.5)
"we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose..." (v. 11)
When I read those verses as a teen, I accused God of manipulating us like puppets because He is God and decides who can go to heaven and who cannot. I blamed God unfairly for allowing sin to happen so people are therefore doomed. As I grew older and continued to serve God, my question about His preferential treatment of some sinners lingered.
Fast forward to 2019, many years later. One evening my eye caught Psalm 4:3, which says, "But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him." The verse fastened itself on my heart and mind, and I felt very protected and close to Him
Yet, that hint of 'chosen' and 'predestined' followed and haunted my mind...until this morning in church, when suddenly and wonderfully in an unexpected instant God revealed to my spirit the answer I've sought most of my life.
Because He knows all things unconstrained by time, and is present in the past, present and future as "I am," God sees the completion of my life and that of every person born. He knows the end result of my existence: how I will respond to Him during my entire lifetime and whether I will earnestly and whole-heartedly follow Him in obedience and love. He already knows my heart's entire devotion to Him, and so He has already chosen me because what He sees is pleasing to Him.
His choosing of me does not mean that He in any way affects how I serve Him until the day I leave this world. My free will is fully operational in response to what Jesus said in John 1:9, where He enlightens every man who comes into the world. In other words, no one is without a witness from God that He exists and is available to be sought and known.
I am in control of how I live and how I respond to Him. In no way am I a puppet being manipulated by God. The free will endowed by God on every soul born into this world can choose or reject the light God gives them.
The more we opt to walk in the light already given to us, the more light we receive. Thus, we mature and are clothed more and more with Christ's image and likeness. That was God's purpose for creating us in the first place. He chooses those who are wedded to His heart when He sees down the corridor of time.
This whole concept was summarized by Jesus when He said, "Many are called, but few are chosen." John Calvin built an entire theology called Calvinism around that statement, which is essentially called 'predestination.'
Calvin interpreted that statement to mean that the Gospel is only for people whom God has decided shall be saved and go to heaven. God knows who those individuals are, but we do not. Therefore, we are commissioned to preach the Gospel to every person; those who hear and obey are the ones predestined by God to be saved. The rest will be lost, not by their own choice but by God's exclusion.
That is what I used to think, too, when I was young and a new believer. How could God condemn so many souls to hell and let so few into heaven? What an awful 'crime' I imputed to God, who says of Himself that He is love and is just!
In His Word, God says He calls many to come to Him, but only a few do that. He calls them 'chosen,' because He already knows which of the 'called' will come to Him and be godly believers: those He chooses for Himself even before they come into their obedience and faithfulness to Him.
When God found Gideon beating out wheat in a winepress to remain hidden from the Midianites, He said, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Gideon was not a warrior; he was afraid to face the enemy! But God called Gideon as He saw him years down Gideon's lifetime. Gideon stepped up and into the job God had for him to do AFTER God saw that Gideon would do it and succeed. But God did not cause him to do it.
And that's what He showed me today. That because He already knows who really love Him for His own sake alone, He chooses them as His own even before they have chosen Him. By that He doesn't mean He chooses them to be saved, while choosing others to be lost. He chooses them after they are saved and have lived an intimate life with Him, because He knows the end before the beginning.
So, God does not single out people to be saved and others to be lost. They truly make that choice for themselves, but the ones who choose Him are already taken by Him to be His own. Because He chooses us before we are up and running, it seems that we are particularly blessed as we walk with Him ever and ever closer in relationship...and we are! It is not something to be understood intellectually in completeness, but it is true, nonetheless!
The fact that I am chosen does not make the walk into God any easier. The way has been difficult and singular. I had to choose to go against my own will to follow Him into the death to self. It was not an easy death and demanded all there was and is of me.
Yet, in looking back on each step of the journey thus far, I could take each step only because of God's grace given freely to me. The Holy Spirit whispered what the next step could be if I took it, and then He gave me the spiritual ability to do so. But I had to supply the determination, obedience and will to follow Him at all cost!
There is not one shred of credit I can take for any 'success' I have had in doing the will of God and finding Him in all His fullness. God really is my all in all, because He gave me my faculties, gave me my will with which I could choose Him or not, and then called me to Himself with ears He provided so I could hear His voice and obey Him.
Yet, God knows that with my free will I chose to give myself back to Him, so that my love for Him is truly volitional, not coerced. It is that choice God seeks: that He is loved for Himself, not for any gift or blessing He gives. That makes His heart rejoice; it is that love for Him by His creature that He demonstrates to the powers in the heavenlies that look on Him with hate and utter disdain. I am, we are, His reality and that is why the devil hates Him and us so much.
Written October 5, 2019