Session 17

God’s choice ... man’s choice

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Session 17 ... transcript

God’s choice ... man’s choice

God is sovereign. That means God does what He wants, when He wants, and He doesn't ask permission. He chooses.

This is a clear teaching in the Bible.

"The LORD has made everything for His own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Proverbs 16:4).

"God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires" (Romans 9:18).

If you have faith in Jesus, then we are told that it is because He chose you before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1:4). He predestined you to be adopted as His child ... (see Ephesians 1:5)

God wants you to learn this truth because He wants you to know that your salvation did not come about because of anything good that you ever did, or ever could do. Your salvation is because Jesus paid for your sin with the sacrifice of Himself. He did for you what you could never do for yourself. God wants us to know that we have nothing to boast about (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

The knowledge of salvation is supposed to make me humble. If I think that I am someone special because I carry the name of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit still has work to do in me.

If the Bible only spoke of God’s sovereign choice, then it would imply that we are puppets-on-a-string. It would imply that God is a tyrant ... merciful to some, but others never had a chance. But that is not the case. God is just.

The cross proclaims the love of God for all human beings (John 3:16). Jesus suffered to pay for the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:14, Romans 5:6, Titus 2:11, Hebrews 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:6).

God wants all people everywhere to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). He doesn't want anyone to perish. He wants everyone to turn to Him (2 Peter 3:9).

If the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is clear in the Bible, and it is, then this teaching ... that God desires everyone to be saved, is even clearer. There is more Scriptural support for this teaching that proclaims God’s love for all people.

God loves us. He took the penalty for our sin.

Almost the last words of the Bible proclaim: "Let whosoever will come and take the water of life, without cost" (Revelation 22:17). Anyone and everyone who wants to may accept God's gift of eternal life that is offered through faith in Jesus.

In these statements, God obligates Himself to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to respond.

God is God. And He has foreknowledge of who will respond. God knows the end from the beginning. He can see ahead (see Romans 8:29, Rmans 11:2, and Acts 2:23).

This brings us to the matter of man’s free-will. Man’s choice. Freewill means the capacity to choose a course of action.

If you choose, then you take responsbility for your actions. If something is forced on you ... against your will ... then it follows that you aren't responsible for the outcome.

Theologians have struggled with the tension between God’s choice and man’s free will.

Augustine wrote that original sin makes human moral behaviour nearly impossible. But Augustine also wrote that anyone can be saved if they wish. And, he wrote, God knows who will and who won’t.

Martin Luther went beyond this thinking. Martin Luther wrote that sin incapacitates. Original sin has apparently made us so totally depraved that our will is overwhelmed. That thinking reduces us to puppets. All that is left is God pulling the strings.

The person who believes this may feel that it magnifies God. They may believe they can refer to Scriptures that do speak of the sovereignty of God ... but, at the end of the day, they are taking all moral responsibility from man ... and, they are overlooking many Scriptures where God appeals to human choice.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave instructions to Adam and Eve: “Don’t eat from that tree”. Adam and Eve made a choice. They disobeyed God.

Before the flood, God said to Noah, “Build an ark”, so you and your family can shelter in it. Noah had a choice. He could have decided to not listen to God. But Noah acted in faith.

God said to Abraham: “Go. Leave this place” (see Genesis 12:1). Abraham obeyed. He went (see Genesis 12:4).

Abraham wasn’t so overwhelmed by sin that he couldn’t obey.

God said to Israel: “I set before you life and death. Choose life, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). You have the capacity to choose, and you bear the responsibility for the outcome.

Jesus said to the people of Israel: “If you hear My words and act on them, you will be wise” (see Matthew 7:24). You choose to respond. The outcome will depend on you.

And after the cross, Peter pleaded with the people of Israel: “Receive Jesus. Believe in Him. Be saved” (see Acts 2:38-40).

And to believers in Jesus, Scripture appeals: “Make every effort (you make the effort) to add to your faith goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance ... and love” (see 2 Peter 1:5-7). “Be eager to make your calling and election sure” (see 2 Peter 1:10).

To people before the giving of the Holy Spirit, and to people after the giving of the Holy Spirit, there is a theme throughout Scripture ... God is for you, not against you. God is holding out His hand to you.

God has made the way ... not any way ... not your idea of an appropriate way ... but the way ... through faith ... through faith in Jesus Christ.

Respond. Choose. And in choosing, you’ll be asking for God’s help.

Go now to the next session: “The consequences of bad doctrine”