Do we choose God or does God choose us, or is it both?

I believe that God chooses us. I believe that we choose God. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?

Ephesians 1 clearly states that God chooses us:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves…11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will

And many others communicate that same truth (Rom 8:29-30,33-34, 10:20; Prov 16:9; John 6:37,44,65,17:6,9,13:18,15:19; 2 Thess 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3; Eph 2:3-10; Rom 11:2-7,29; 1 Thess 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Luke 10:22; Mat 11:27; Mat 24:22,24,31; Col 3:12, Jude 1; Mark 13:27; 1 Thess 1:4; Rev 17:14; Titus 1:1; 3:3-7).

Additionally, it is true that we are born spiritually dead and at enmity with God and that satan blinds us (Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 1:18; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:1).  There are probably many more passages that support these assertions.

I do believe in election/predestination, because it is in the Bible.  The following verse has been particularly informative in understanding how the process works:

Romans 8:29-30 – For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

It seems to say that God knows ahead of time who’s going to believe and those are the ones He predestines (this depends on God having what is referred to as the “middle knowledge” – He knows not only the actual future, but all possible futures).  However, this predestination is from God’s viewpoint.  But from man’s viewpoint, since God said the He does not desire anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance and “whosoever will may come”, we should be aware that the “offer” is out to everyone – from our point of view, there should be no predestination.  From man’s point of view, everyone needs to make a choice.  And we are all responsible for our choice.

Romans 2:14-15 says something very interesting about the unconverted/unregenerate:

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,  since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

So according to this passage, the unconverted/unregenerate know they are doing wrong…  If that is true of the Gentiles, then it is certainly true of the disciples.  They had no excuse from a human point of view for not believing and/or listening to what Jesus told them about what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  In addition, no one has any excuse for not believing there is a God (Rom 1:20).

We choose God and that we’re responsible for our choice or lack thereof.  And it is true that God uses other humans and their persuasion and apologetics to open people’s eyes.  Here are some scriptures that I’d like you to consider that cause me to believe that we can choose God:

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Amos 5:4 This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live”

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”

Acts 17:27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Acts 14:1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.

Acts 18:4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks

James 4:8,10  Come near to God and He will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded….Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.

Proverbs 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.

Ps 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.

And even though the TULIP acronym (from the 5 point Calvinist) teaches Irresistible Grace, consider Luke 13:34:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

And from John 12:

37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

I think Dr. Norman Geisler provides a great treatment of this topic in this great series of videos explaining why he is not a 5 point Calvinist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9n_NUoslp0&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

This is 9 videos of around 7-8 minutes each which will “auto-play” in sequence.  The video and audio are out of sync, but the audio is clear.  He makes his point from Scripture with humor and humility, acknowledging that this is an “intramural” debate, with born-again, true believers on both sides of the issue.

Here an analogy I thought of. God is like an employer who offers an unconditional job offer. The potential employee didn’t even apply for the job, but once he finds out about the offer that has been extended to him, he can choose to accept or reject the offer. No matter how attractive the offer looks and how much the potential employees are persuaded by others, many choose to reject the offer.

I do not claim to understand this topic fully and certainly will not in this lifetime. The Bible teaches that both are true – God grants repentance and faith, but man is responsible for choosing to repent and believe (Mk 1:15).

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