A couple of days ago when writing an earlier article, the idea of who chose who, came to my mind. The questions basically is this: Does a Christian choose God, or does God choose the Christian?
This thought and question came back to me today as I was studying and it became came quite clear to me that God chooses us, not we, Him. I am no theologian, but the words of Colossians 2:13-14 just call out to me very loudly:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.”
If we are dead in our sin, I ask myself, how can we call out and accept anything? This of course speaks to today, just as it speaks of the times 1,950 years ago when Paul first wrote the words to Church of Colosse.
Perhaps a clearer understanding of the sovereign grace of God is found in the Old Testament, in Psalm 14:2-3 where we read:
“Jehovah looked down from Heaven on the sons of men, to see if there were any who understood and sought God. All have gone aside, together they are filthy; there is none who does good, no, not one.”
Psalm 14:2-3 describes the quandary of a loving God and Father for His prodigal children. ALL have gone astray and there is no one good left. Oh how He must have tormented what to do next. God then finishes His soliloquy in Psalm 14:4-7 asking rhetorically:
“Have all the workers of iniquity not known, eating up My people as they eat bread? They have not called on Jehovah.
There they were in great fear; for God is in the generation of the righteous.
You have shamed the counsel of the poor, because Jehovah is his refuge.
Who will bring the salvation of Israel out of Zion? When Jehovah brings back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”
This was not the first time, however, that God was upset by the condition of His people. Back in Genesis 6:1-9 we can read of just how upset God can be:
“And it happened, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and when daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were good. And they took wives for themselves from all whom they chose.
And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, in his erring; he is flesh. Yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.
There were giants in the earth in those days. And also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore to them, they were mighty men who existed of old, men of renown.
And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And Jehovah repented that He had made man on the earth, and He was angry to His heart.
And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air. For I repent that I have made them.But Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah.
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.”
From God’s perspective, evil was now ruling the world and only Noah was found to be free of the DNA which had polluted all other men in the world. Not only that, but Noah, the only maw with fully human DNA, walked with God – in other words, He worshiped God. This situation so effected God that He “repented” of making mankind and was so “angry to His heart” that he considered destroying all of mankind and laying the earth bare of all living things. Fortunately, God relented, and relented because of Noah and his faithfulness.
It seems that Born-again Christians typically only see one aspect of God as they call out loudly “God is love.” But God is capable of far more emotions than just love, as this passage amply demonstrates. God got angry, and the earth narrowly escaped annihilation, by the faithfulness of just one man.
But between Genesis 6:1-9 and Psalm 14:2-3 much changed, yet much remained the same as far as mankind were concerned, for this time, “there is none who does good, no, not one.”
This time, however, God did not consider eradicating all life on earth and starting again, but instead, decided to send His own only begotten Son to be a propitiatory sacrifice for us, that we might be saved and have the opportunity of eternal life with Him. Despite His people rejecting Him time and time again across countless generations and in all circumstances, God the Father, reached our for His prodigal sons, by offering His Son as a sacrifice on a cross at Calvary.
It is not and it was not by our choice, that we became Christians and children of the Living God, for it has always been His plan. This is made crystal clear in Ephesians 2:1-10 and Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” version of the Bible captures the meaning and intent very well:
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
Other verses in the New Testament, spoken by the very mouth of the one who was send by God the Father, point to the same conclusion; that God chose us:
Matthew 18:11 & Luke 19:10“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Luke 4:18“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed.”
Luke4:43“And He said to them, I must proclaim the gospel, the Kingdom of God, to other cities, because I was sent on this mission.”
Luke10:16“The one hearing you hears Me, and he who despises you despises Me; he who rejects you also rejects Him who sent Me.”
Pastor Yousef Dakwar from New Covenant Church Haifa, Israel also confirms openly that all, repeat, ALL the Arabs converts in his church in Mount Carmel had met Jesus in a vision. Jesus had reached out to them, because the Christians were not reaching out to them. No single member of his church would say that they made a decision for Jesus – but that Jesus made a decision for them.
My personal testimony also points to the same. In my case, the Holy Spirit came to me twice, asking me to come back to the Lord. I rejected Him the first time, but the second time He succeeded, such that even today, it is hard to speak the story without choking.
I just pray that all Christians can some to a clear understanding that it is all about Jesus and not about us.