The topic of whether God chooses you or you choose God recently became the table conversation for my family. This is not one of those easy, “scripture says A, so I believe A.” It is an unfortunate “scripture says A and B, and now I don’t know how to function.”
I have always loved how clearly the Bible reads, even to those without seminary education. Yes, there are definitely sections calling for a deeper dive before understanding, but overall God speaks plainly on who He is and on what believers are called to do.
So when originally faced with the question of ‘Did God call you to salvation, or did you come to Christ on your own,’ I was naively presuming the Bible would direct me plainly on this as well. There are two major systems of theology devoted to each, surely one has to be right!
Calvinism proposes only the elect, or people specifically chosen by the Lord, will be saved. There are various texts, especially in the New Testament, directing to this view. For example:
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his willEphesians 1:4-5
Woah. Chosen before the world was formed? It should be pretty clear I was not around to make a choice at that point. However!
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
You have the faith? God has the grace. This scripture better supports the Arminian theology of man having some ability to choose salvation.
I took scripture from two different books to show a little variety, but if you hunt for key words like elect, chosen, or salvation, you will find seemingly opposing statements like the above paired together. Romans is a fantastic example.
At this point, you are most likely in one of two camps:
- You already subscribe to one of these theologies and are waiting for me to agree with you.
- This is the first you are really giving this some thought, and frankly, it’s a little upsetting.
I have poured through God’s word. I have read diligently through God’s promises and covenants to those like Abraham and David, tracing the connection to the original chosen. I have dived into the Gospels and Romans, looking closely for key phrases and the context in which they were used.
After this, I have decided it’s both.
God’s holy sovereignty is such He can and does choose people for His will. However, God has also called for action. His grace is for those who obediently act in faith, confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, and then living out a renewed life reflecting such faith and grace. God’s sovereignty is also such He controls our ability to have a choice.
This is as best I can do to explain something I have a very, VERY simple grasp on. I understand it as far as He needs me to.
Truthfully? It does not change what I should do. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how clearly God speaks on who He is and what believers are called to do.
I am to love the Lord with all my heart. I am to love my neighbor as myself.
These great commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) summarize The Ten. They also are the driving force behind evangelizing, serving, and fellowship. They neatly compact how I am to approach my marriage, parenthood, my work, my hobbies.
I may not understand all the why or the how behind what the Lord does, but I know who He is. Creator. Lord of Hosts. Protector. Savior. Redeemer. One Most High. None are like Him. Holy, Holy is He. He is the Good Shepherd, and I am so thankful and blessed to be of the flock.