“Mysteries are forced upon us by the facts of God’s Word; we are not inventing them ourselves. Since His written revelation teaches concepts that appear to be mutually exclusive, we must realize that with God both truths are friends, not enemies. In God’s higher rationality, things that we think must be either-or can in reality be both-and. Thus, when the biblical facts warrant them, we can embrace incomprehensibles in the Bible and relate them to the omniscience and omnipotence of God.” – Kenneth Boa
Romans 11:33-34, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?”
The following points I believe are clearly made in Scripture, and none of these truths should be denied in our interpretation of God’s election and predestination.
We have free will.
II Peter 2:12 mentions two things that distinguish animals from us: they are unreasoning and creatures of instinct.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Moses told the Israelites that the choice was theirs whether they would love and obey God and thereby live long and prosper in the promised land, or turn away and rebel against God and thereby perish.
Joshua 24:15 Joshua told the next generation of Israelites that the choice was theirs to serve the LORD who brought them out of Egypt or to serve other gods.
Sinners are commanded over and over to repent (Ez 18:30-32; Matt 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 17:30). Every call to repent is a call to choose. The faithful are exhorted over and over to resist temptation and remain faithful (Prov 1:10; Gal 6:9; II Thess 2:15; I Pt 5:12; Rev 2:10). Every call to faithfulness is a call to choose.
God holds us responsible for our motives (Prov 16:2; 24:12; I Cor 13:3), thoughts (Mark 7:21-23), words (Matt 12:36) and deeds (Rom 2:6-11; II Cor 5:10).
Whether we are saved or not depends on our choices.
Those who choose not to believe in and seek the Creator are without excuse (Rom 1:20-21). But those who seek Him will be rewarded(Heb 11:6) and will find Him (Matt 7:7; Acts 17:26-27). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matt 5:6).
God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34-35; Rom 2:11).
God does not wish for any to perish, but for all to repent and be saved (Is 48:18; Ez 18:23, 30-32; 33:11; I Tim 2:4; II Pt 3:9). If any are not saved, it is their own choice.
God foreknew every person that would ever exist, the way every person would be and every choice each would make.
He is a God who declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done (Is 46:10).
God foreknew Israel would go after other gods once He settled them into the land of Canaan (Deut 31:16-18).
God knew what David would say before a word was on his tongue (Ps 139:4). He knew every day of David’s life before David was born (Ps 139:16)
God knew that Judas would betray Jesus (Matt 26:20-25; Jn 6:64), that the disciples would fall away, be scattered like sheep without a shepherd when Jesus was taken from them (26:31-32) and that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed that night (26:33-34).
This quality of God is evidenced repeatedly in Bible prophecy in which the Lord, centuries in advance, would depict explicitly what was to happen.
God foreknew every individual who would become saved. Revelation 13:7-8 and 17:8 says the names in the book of life were written from the foundation of the world.
It’s difficult for us to see how God could foreknow everything when human beings are free to choose as they will. But this is what the Bible appears to say about God.
Also difficult for us to understand is how God, if He foreknows everything, can be grieved by our sin and even at times in a sense feel regret over making or exalting people (Genesis 6:5-6; I Sam 15:11; Is 63:10; Eph 4:30). Yet the Bible says that such is the case. Though God knew Israel would be unfaithful (Deut 31:16), it angered Him (Deut 31:17) and He felt like a betrayed husband when it happened (Hosea 1-3).
Based on His foreknowledge of every person, God righteously and impartially chose before the foundation of the world who would become disciples of Jesus and be conformed to His image and have eternal life, and who would not and perish.
“Those whom God foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29).
Christians are those “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” (I Pt 1:1-2).
We know that not everybody hears the call of gospel before they die. But God sees to it that all of His chosen ones are called (Rom 8:30). The Lord told Paul to stay longer in Corinth and keep on preaching, explaining, “for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9). The Thessalonian Christians were chosen by God from the beginning for salvation, so God made sure to call them through the gospel (II Thess 2:13-14).
God also allows deluding influences to deter those who do not love Him and the truth (those not chosen) from believing and obeying the truth of salvation. II Thess 2:10-12 speaks of God allowing a deluding influence on people so that they will believe what is false and not be saved, because they are people who love wickedness more than the truth. Deut 13:1-3 speaks of God allowing false prophets to come in among His people to test them to see whether or not they love the LORD their God with all their heart and soul. So God sees to it that the only ones who will persevere in faith and obedience to the truth unto ultimate salvation are those who love Him and the truth.
There are those who are appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48) and there are those appointed to be disobedient to their doom (I Pt 2:8). But it’s not an unconditional appointment. It is an appointment conditional on what God foreknew about people’s hearts.
We are choosing now whether or not God chose us from the beginning (II Pt 1:10).
This does not mean that once any person is “saved” through obedience to the gospel they cannot possibly be lost.
The Bible clearly teaches the possibility of falling away and losing one’s salvation. It’s seen in the parables and illustrations of Jesus (Matt 18:23-35; 5:13; 25:1-13; Jn 15:6). It’s seen in many NT passages that use the word “if” (I Jn 1:7; Gal 6:9; Heb 3:14; I Cor 15:1-2; Col 1:22-23). It’s seen in warnings in the NT about falling away (Heb 3:12; 10:26-31; I Cor 10:12; 6:9-10). It’s seen in examples of people who fell from grace (Gal 5:4; I Tim 1:19-20; II Pt 2:20-22).
God will treat a person as saved while that person trusts and obeys; God will give them the help of His Spirit, answer their prayers, incorporate them into the church family, gift them for ministry, give them special protection from Satan and so forth. But when they rebel He will no longer be blessing them in those ways, as happened in the case of king Saul (I Sam 16:14; 28:15-18) and king Joash (II Chron 24:2, 17-25) and Israel (Is 63:9-14; I Cor 10:1-12).
It seems to me that those who fall away are not considered in Scripture to be among those that God has chosen. II Pt 1:10 tells Christians to make certain about His calling and choosing of you. It appears if they fall away then that means they weren’t one of the chosen.
That God has already chosen who will be saved in no way relieves us of the responsibility of doing all we can to influence as many as we can to be saved.
Jesus commanded us to (Matt 28:18-20).
When a decree calling for the extermination of all the Jews had been issued during the reign of king Ahasuerus, king of Persia, the good Jewish man Mordecai was confident that God was going to save His chosen nation from this threat. Yet notice what Mordecai said to his cousin, queen Esther, who was in a position to do something that could perhaps save the Jews (Esther 4:14), “if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Mordecai understood that God’s decision to save certain people does not eliminate our responsibility to do what we can for their salvation and we just may be who God is planning to use to save them.
Should put us in awe of God.
Should assure us that good and honest hearts will not miss out on God’s salvation.
Should help us better understand what we are reading in Scripture.
Should help us lead those who believe false doctrines related to God’s election to better understanding.
Should give us greater assurance of our salvation if God has called us through the gospel and worked in our lives to make us much more like Christ than we used to be. Those are good signs that God has chosen us for salvation and will complete the work that He began in us (Phil 1:6).
– James Williams