Chosen by a Savior

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

I wasn’t the greatest athlete growing up. Therefore when it came time to play games with other kids such as basketball, I usually ended up on a team by default, not because I was chosen. I couldn’t blame the team captain, I wouldn’t choose me either. Would you want a kid on your basketball team who was uncoordinated and couldn’t score?

When I was in eighth grade, for the first time I was chosen. And I was shocked. Lined up against the wall, all of us kids waiting to be picked, a very athletic boy named Trey presided as one of the captains. “First pick goes to Trey”, said our gym coach. And Trey said, “I choose Charlie.”

I thought he had made a mistake. Trey knew what a disaster I was on the courts. But he picked me first! I didn’t understand his choice in picking me. To this day, it still baffles me to think about it. But as we played, Trey always encouraged me and told me what a good job I was doing. He inspired me to try harder, and be a better player because of the kindness he had shown me. Believe me, I did nothing to urge Trey into putting me on his team. The choice was strictly up to him and him alone. I don’t know why he choose to save me from the embarrassment of not being chosen. I just know that I was so grateful that he did. And because he chose me, he became a very good friend of mine for years to come.

One of the most unsettling topics among Christian circles is not salvation, but what that actually looks like. How are we saved? Are we free either to choose or reject Christ, or was it God that chose us? Do we choose Christ or does he choose us?  For a long time I struggled with both doctrines. Many take the doctrines of salvation and categorize them under the theology of Calvinism (Predestination), and Arminianism (Free Will). When I was first introduced to this world of doctrinal division regarding salvation, I felt urgent to pick a side. Through further prayer and study, I concluded that no mortal would ever uncover all of the mysteries of God, and that splitting hairs over how God saved people took our focus off the  main point of the Gospel….that God DOES save people. And I still believe that our main objective as believers in Christ is not to argue over doctrine, but to proclaim the Gospel to our communities and the nations.

However, I have realized that although the doctrines of salvation are not to be our focal point, they are important to study and even discuss amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. The sad reality is that when it comes to subjects such as predestination, many churches will plead the fifth instead of talking about them. Usually scripture pertaining to the doctrine of salvation are skimmed through quickly or ignored all together. Why is it that churches will say they are adamant about proclaiming Gods word, but seem to be silent on a topic that is clearly spoken of all throughout scripture? And if this topic does stir up such controversy and at times, division in the church, then why should we study it to begin with?

The answer is that we need to study salvation and predestination. God very plainly makes it clear that he wants his children to know him. To know God would be to study the characteristics of God, because it gives us a better picture of the magnitude of his love.  For the record, I do not consider myself a five point Calvinist. At the same time, I dont consider myself and Arminianist. I dont desire to be classified by a theological belief. Rather, I consider myself an adopted son of God, seeking to know every aspect of my Heavenly Father that has been made known through scripture.

So how does God save? By giving us free will or specifically choosing his children?  To get to the bottom of this debate, we first have to realize that we will never have all the answers, and that some secrets God has chosen to not reveal to us on this side of Heaven. But knowing this, be encouraged that God allows us to know some things as he has given us insights in scripture.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29.

Perhaps God chose to not reveal the inner most workings of how and why he saves people. How God actually works salvation is mysterious. However, the one thing God is clear on is that we as his disciples be active in telling others the good news of the gospel. When my dad taught me how to drive a car as a teenager, he made clear the rules of the highway and how to drive the car properly. My dad did not teach me how the engine worked with the transmission. He never explained the process of how gasoline actually made the car work. To this day, the mechanics behind how a car runs is still a mystery to me.

I dont know how the car runs, I just know it does.

So why didn’t my dad school me in Auto Mechanics 101 when I was learning to drive a car? Probably because his goal was for me to learn to drive the car and obey the basic road rules. Filling my head with such as mechanics would have been confusing to me, and ultimately detour me from concentrating on the main goal of safe driving. In the same way, God doesnt have to explain to us why and how he saves.

We dont have to know how God saves. We just know he does.

It would be like a person trying to explain himself to an insect. An insect will never understand a person, because the a bugs capacity for absorbing knowledge is so far below that of a human. Its the same with humanity and God. Our little three pound human brains will never be able to comprehend the secret things of God. We just know through scripture that he does. And his message to us throughout scripture is to go and proclaim that there is salvation in Jesus Christ to the world.

Although we will not see the picture in full until we enter into eternity, we can piece together that which God has given us through scripture. And that which he reveals to us in and through his word, I can assure you he does not mean for us to ignore or skip over. We may not like to think about God actually predestining people, but there is no denying that it is in the scriptures. It blows my mind how some churches will avoid this topic due to the fact that it makes their congregation uncomfortable. At the end of the day, we must decide who we are more concerned with serving…God or man.

First lets look at what God actually says about salvation. How does he phrase his explanation?

John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

This verses sheds a great deal of light on salvation. Lets say you decide to make an apple pie. So you go to the grocery store to buy some apples. You head over to the produce section and begin your selection of apples. You carefully choose the apples that you want to be part of your pie. Now, do the apples have any part in you choosing them? Are they running to you with an impressive resume of why they should be chosen. No, apples have nothing to do with the choice. The concept of choosing is fully up to the person making the decision.

In the same way, God tells us that he choose those who are to be his children, they did not choose him.

Have you ever heard this next verse…..

Romans 8:28  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”

Sure you have! We Christians love this verse! We quote it to everyone we know who may be going through hard times! We sew it onto the front of pillows! Its one of those rainy day, spiritual comfort food verses. We love the idea that all things work together for good. So much so, that we even quote this verse to non believers! But in doing this, we bend the word of God out of context and show our lack of biblical knowledge. You see, we love this verse, but more times than not, we skip over the very next verse because it just takes some of the warm and fuzzies away.

Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Contrary to Grandma’s croched pillow, all things dont work together for everyone. But only for those God predestined to be his!

Romans 8:30 “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. “

Jesus Christ is called our savior. Being called a savior implies that he saved us. Lets look at it this way. Suppose you loved to play with fire. You just didnt see the harm in it. Then one day, you realized how harmful playing with fire was. So much so that you decided to abandon you fire flirting ways and you joined the fire department. You join an organization committed to protecting people from fire. Now, did the fire department save you from a life pyromania? No, you made the choice to change and join the fire department. All they did was accept you as one of their own. You wouldnt boast that the fire department saved you. Instead, you would tell people that you made a decision to change your way of life which ultimately, saved your life. Your choice would have saved your life, not the fire department.

This story mirrors our relationship with Christ and brings salvation into a better understanding. What magnifies Christ being savior more? If we are in part responsible for abandoning our sinful life and choosing him? Or if in our sin, we are so depraved that God choose us and ripped us out of a life of sin, making himself and the gospel irresistible? If we made the decision to come to God, if it was of our doing, then what did Jesus save us from? Under the doctrine of free will, we save ourselves by choosing God! God didnt say “you choose me”. Yet this is such a common phrase in churches. When someone comes to Christ, you will often hear them say something like this….”I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior!” We accepted him?  How brash we are to proclaim that we had anything to do with our salvation! Christ says “You did not choose me, I CHOOSE YOU!!!!

So why is it even important that we recognize this? And further more, if you are a child of God, you may ask, why did he choose me? And if you meditate on this question, it should all come together. Tears of gratitude should come forth in the realization of how great God is! Out of the many who are not chosen, for some reason, he choose you. Think on that for a moment. Let it sink in. Now do you realize why it is so important to study predestination? Because in knowing this characteristic of God, it magnifies his love for his children. That we have done nothing to deserve his love, yet for some reason, he choose you and me as ones to be called sons of God. Under the doctrine of predestination, our hearts now explode with gratitude and praise, and we see what a savior he truly is by saving us from our sinful selves.

Have you had friends or family in your life that you’ve witnessed to countless times, maybe even brought to church? Yet they still are unaffected by the most basic message of the Gospel? If you are like me, you find yourself wondering how they can have no concern for their eternity, and how they can remain unmoved upon hearing that the God man, Jesus Christ, died in their place, for their sin. It would seem that regardless of how much we share Christ with some people, they may never get it. And if they never have their eyes opened to Jesus, according to the Bible, they were never chosen in the first place. Again, if you are one of his, doesnt that make your heart swell with worship!  Knowing that you were one of those chosen to have the scales removed from their eyes? Just like Saul’s conversion in the book of Acts.

“Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.” Acts 9:18.

The question many ask is, “Why would God choose some for Heaven and send some to Hell?” Firstly, God NEVER choose to send ANYONE to Hell. That is a decision we made by our disobedience to HIm. We broke his law. We sinned. We are all worthy of Hell by our own doing. We deserve no salvation. We fully deserve Hell….each and every one of us. We chose that fate, not God.

So why are some chosen while others are not? The truth is….I dont know. And frankly, no one has this answer, because we are not God. John MacAuthur when asked these questions regarding the doctrine of predestination answered, “I have the same questions, and Im not sure that there is an easy answer. But I am happy to concede that God can resolve things that I can’t.” MacAuthur went on to say that the best answer he could give to the questions of predestination was, “I feel your pain.”

However, we can be sure that God’s reasons will make perfect sense when we get to Heaven. And we will realize how righteous and holy and loving his ways are. Whatever his reasoning, it is based on a love that is so powerful we cannot even fathom.

Ephesians 3:19 says regarding Gods love, ” and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Gods love is a love the surpasses our capacity to understand its depths. His love for his children is so much greater than any love we will ever experience on this earth. It is beyond our understanding. But it is clear that the concept of predestination greatly defines Christ as our savior as opposed to us saving ourselves, which have never nor will ever happen apart from Christ.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

No one can boast, saying THEY have ACCEPTED Christ. No one can boast that THEY are somewhat responsible for their salvation. Salvation is a gift from God. You do not CHOOSE to be given a gift. Someone chooses you to give the gift. Christ accepted us.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

As followers of Christ, we are not to concern ourselves with deciphering and figuring out why God saves. Christ is our savior, and he did save us as his adopted children. Knowing that we have been freely give the gift of being chosen as an adopted son of God, we can now focus on the mission given to us by Jesus.

 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

Scripture refers to Christians as his adopted children. Think of a real adoption process. The child in question for adoption has no choice in the matter of adoption. They dont choose the parents. The parents choose the child. And the choose them to bring them into a family, just as God does with his adopted children. We are his chosen children, the ones he elected to saved, so it is Christ who gets total credit for salvation.

Titus 1:1: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of GOD’S ELECT and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” 

Romans 8:33“Who shall lay anything to the charge of GOD’S ELECT?  It is God that justifieth.” 

Matthew 24:22“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for THE ELECT’S sake those days shall be shortened.” 

So we know there is an elect for they are mentioned again and again in scripture.It is an indisputable Biblical fact that God has an elect people.  Personally, I’ve never known of anyone who denies that fact because too many scriptures speak of the elect.

I Peter 1:2“ELECT ACCORDING TO THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE FATHER.”

We have been freely given salvation. And we have the privilege of playing a part in Gods perfect plan in reaching his elect by being a tool to remove the scales from the eyes of the ones God has chosen in his perfect love.

Jesus clarified this in John 6:37. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
 
The Father only draws those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.Luke wrote in Acts 13:47-48“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.  And when the gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Jesus repeated what he said in John 6:44 again in verse 65 of the same chapter: “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” 

What do you think happened immediately after Jesus said it again?  Let’s read the next verse,  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).

Many will never open their eyes to the truth, even if it is right in front of their faces. Only those the Father chooses, which to be sure, is a mystery.  Some never accept, as those we mentioned whose hearts were represented by the wayside in the parable of the sewer and the seed. That was like the rich young ruler that Jesus met and called to follow Him, but first he had to deal with the idolatry in his heart called the love of and dependence upon money.

So when Jesus told him to sell what he had and give to the poor and come follow Him, the rich young ruler went away sad, rejecting both the calling of God and salvation. Matthew 19:21-26. When the disciples heard this and what Jesus said about the rich, they said, “Who then can be saved” speaking of which rich person or person with riches. But it is not that you have riches but whether or not the riches have you, which is idolatry, if riches or things or anything is more important to you than Christ. For then, that is your god, for it is more important to you than Him and His salvation.

So you still may be asking yourself, “What about free will?” What do you think? Do you think it is our decision and up to us to choose God?

made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:5.

This verse says that we are considered as dead men and women in our transgressions or sin. It is Christ who brings us into life. So what about free will? My answer is simply……dead people don’t make any decision.

If you don’t love God, you can’t choose him. If you don’t belong to God, your heart is not inclined toward God.

In the same way, Jesus says that a fig tree doesn’t bear apples. A fallen, sinfully depraved human being doesn’t choose God. Proverbs says that it is out of the heart, which is the wellspring of life, that the decisions are made. Jesus says that out of the heart, we choose lust and sin and deceit and death and folly. And if your heart is not regenerated, if God has not in Christ given you a new heart, then you cannot choose God.

Augustine says it this way, “God does not choose us because we believe, but that we may believe.”

Romans 5:10 says , “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

It’s not that we were friends of God, pursuing him. While we were enemies of God, opposed to him, God made us his friends. He gives us a new heart – a heart that desires Jesus.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.
What does a true follower of Christ look like? Who is it that can be saved?  It is one who stands firm in the faith, right until the very end. It is a person who have eyes that have been opened to the fact that NOTHING, be it material things, money, possession, even earthly family, is more important than Jesus Christ. And you esteem him in such high value because in your own election as his chosen child, you truly see how depraved you were in sin, and what a true savior Jesus really is. If we could only grasp in part the depths of his love for his children, devoting our lives to Him would look more like radical obedience instead of lukewarm committment. What an awesome God we serve in Christ!
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