Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
The “I will” of God is repeated five times in the call of Abram, the man God chose to be the one through whom the nations would be blessed. Why this man? Because he was God’s choice! Is there any doubt, as God made those promises to Abram, that Abram would go as he was asked? He could have said to him “You will go…” and the end would have been the same.
- I will show you where to go.
- Your descendents will become a great nation.
- I will bless you.
- I will make your name great.
- You will be a blessing.
- I will bless those who bless you.
- I will curse those who dishonor you.
- Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
How much of this depended on Abram’s choices? Evidently not much. He took God at his word and this 75-year-old man took his wife and his nephew, and all their earthly goods, and set out on a journey without a clue where they were going. All Abram knew at this point was that God had promised. God’s promise is quite enough for people of faith. What God promises He brings to fruition.
This Bible story and the point by point fulfillment of every facet of God’s I will’s to Abram raises a profound question. Has God chosen me?
Even the question makes most of my friends quite nervous. No question I can think of polarizes Christians like God’s choice vs man’s free will. I was once there myself. My feet were firmly planted on the free will side and the God’s choice side was almost classified as my enemy. And then, over the course of a couple of decades I found myself shifting to the other side and just as I was setting my feet in concrete there…, I realized there is a third choice, a better way. Both are true! The Bible teaches both views so I can’t take a side, I must take God’s side, and since the Bible is His revelation to us, my assignment is to believe the Bible, even when it is uncomfortable.
The Bible says God chooses.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Who are those who love God? They are those called according to His purpose. Then there is the next few verses.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
What do we say about this? What should we say about it? God is for us, who then can be against us?
What about these passages?
Romans 11:4-8 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
2 Timothy 1:8,9 “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-30 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written,“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
Acts 13:47.48 “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'” And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
These are but a few of scores and scores of verses in the Bible that address the question of God’s choice. Is man responsible? Of course he is. Can a man reject Christ and the gospel? He can, and many do. Does a person have free will? He does, it is one way we are made in God’s image.
So, as of today, I find myself in an odd position. I am not a good Calvinist. I disagree with much of what 5 pointers teach. And, I am not a good Armenian either, because they lean too heavily upon man’s will in my view.
What am I then. I am a 65-year-old who has studied the Bible for about 50 of those years. I have concluded that I do not have the luxury of cherry picking what parts of the Bible I will believe and accept as God’s truth to me. My place is to believe all of it the best I can with my limited understanding. So I choose to not pick a side, other than God’s.
I am certain of this. God’s purpose is far greater than mine. In fact, I have no purpose except for His. It is His purposes that gives my life purpose, advises my faith, and gives me blessed assurance that I am loved by God. I have nothing about which I can boast. I will boast only in the Lord Jesus Christ the crucified, risen, and coming Lamb of God who has made me His own.