Chosen…or not?

Our church had a ‘Mission Emphasis Sunday’ in which we were encouraged to partner with World Vision in a program called Chosen. People would sign up to sponsor one or more children, and to send monthly donations. Pictures of the sponsors would be sent to a certain country, and the children are encouraged to choose a picture representing whom they wish for their sponsor. Sponsors are probably delighted to be chosen by their child or children.

The word ‘chosen’ might elicit sad memories for some people. Perhaps as a child one wasn’t chosen for a baseball team, or as a teen was not chosen for the cheerleading squad. During job-hunting years, time after time, some may have made it as far as an interview, but then not chosen for the job.

In the context of our spiritual lives, “Many are called (invited) but few are chosen” says Matthew 22:14. Some people think this means some are predestined to be saved and others are not. I believe this is a misunderstanding. (Predestined means to decree or determine beforehand.) God does not decide or determine who will believe in him. Since the beginning, when He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose to obey or not, He has given humans the freedom to choose whom they will obey and worship. From childhood, we are taught John 3:16 which declares “whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.”

“The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible” lists only four places in the Bible where the word, predestinate or predestined appears.

Romans 8:29-30 (NIV) says “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.” God knew from the beginning of time whether I would believe in him and choose to obey him. He foreknew it, but he didn’t determine it. It was my choice. Then, since he knew I would become a Christian, he determined to adopt me, work in me to resemble Jesus, call me into his service, cleanse me from sin (justify) and eventually let me share his glory in heaven.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV) sounds a little more like predestination, except that Paul is writing to those who are already believers, who have already made their free choice: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blamess in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”This does not mean that He didn’t choose others. It just means the others didn’t respond in faith. If one was chosen for a baseball team, that doesn’t mean he is forced to play on that team. He could say “No thanks” and leave. Or he could choose to accept that invitation.

In the Old Testament, we read that God had chosen the Hebrews and brought them out of Egypt. Yet, not all of them reached the promised land because they did not keep his decrees and commands. in other words, they did not choose to obey him.

Later we read of King Solomon in prayer about governing “the people you have chosen, a great people too numerous to count or number” (I Kings 3:8). Yet this great and prosperous kingdom later fell to the enemy and were sent into exile for seventy years because of their disobedience.

Jesus chose twelve men to be his disciples, but one of them was lost. Did Jesus really choose Judas? He did, but he still gave him freedom of choice.  Judas chose his own way instead of Jesus’ way. We see in John 13:26-30 where  Jesus is giving him one last chance to change his mind about betraying him, but Judas chose, instead, to go out into the darkness of the devil’s will. If he had changed his mind, deciding to believe in Jesus, Jesus still would have been arrested and gone to the cross. But Judas could have been saved.

Ephesians 1:11-13: Here Paul continues talking to Christians who have already decided to follow the Lord: “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, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

Being omniscient, Jesus knew way back then which people would respond to him in faith. He decided to choose those of us who do so, to “make us holy and without blame.” By his death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for those of us who believe in him to be adopted by his Father, God Almighty.

Christ has chosen (invited) every human being since Adam and Eve to belong to him. Peter, Jesus’ close disciple, said the Lord doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). But God will not violate the freedom of choice which he has given every human being. Someone might say, “Well, if God gives me a sign big enough to convince me that he is real, then maybe I will believe.” What greater sign could he give than that he created you? and that He died and rose again?”

God chose each one of us for a glorious future in heaven with him. But if we refuse the invitation, it won’t do us any good. We will perish without him. Even if one isn’t sure he believes, isn’t it better to accept the invitation—even if he should later find it false—than to refuse a chance at forgiveness and peace and the joy of being adopted as God’s own children?

God has chosen you. Don’t refuse the grace of God!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.