Do I have Free Choice or Am I Elected?

What follows is a dialogue I've been in with a Gathering attender. This month we've been doing a series about Hell.

Hit this link if you're curious about the interaction we've been having at our lunch venue:

Click here for mp3 audio of Gathering sessions on Hell

Next this Sunday we'll be hosting Gathering favorite, Pastor Walt Hooker of Bellevue Christian Center as he addresses the topic of predestination and hell. If God predestines those he'll save, does he also predestine those who will wind up in hell? A very troubling question. But a very dynamic and engaging speaker to tackle the topic. Come on out - CCC's student center at 12:30. Lunch for $5 (free for High School and College Students).

__

Pastor Perry,

Thank you for taking time to answer my question. Your response has been helpful. This concept of predestination is a tough one to grasp. I will take the scriptures you have given me and continue my journey.

I will be out of town this week end, I look forward to being in your class again.

God bless your work,

Jim

===================

On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 8:25 AM, Tim Perry <TimP@cccomaha.org> wrote:

Jim,

Thanks for attending Gathering this week and for filling out a card! On the back of your card, you mentioned that you’re curious about predestination. “Do I have free choice or am I elected?”

Great question! We’re going to deal with that in week four of the series. I can give you a few thoughts now though. Here are a few basic facts that we have to start with:

1. God has made us as beings that have a meaningful sense of choice in all aspects of life. If that were not true, God would not hold us accountable for our choices. If he is going to someday judge us for the decisions we make, this basic responsibility of using our will must be taken seriously!

2. The words Election and Predestination ARE in the Bible. Paul teaches us that God does make choices about who and how he saves people long before we are even born!

3. The biblical idea of election is never meant to short-circuit human responsibility toward God (that would be nothing more than Christian fatalism). Conclusion: YES, our choices are meaningful! It is an extremely serious thing to engage God’s offer of salvation with our God-given decision-making ability. Predestination in the end is a check on our pride. We’ll never be able to congratulate ourselves on picking God as if he had nothing to do with our choice. Without his initiative we are dead in sin.

The word "Free" in "Free-will" can be a bit problematic. Scripture gives us an answer to your question that is a little of both. Yes, we have a meaningful choice in responding to God AND yes, God does choose us in love. Somehow both are true at the same time.

Below are a few scriptures that reinforce that salvation is a work of God in a person’s life, but it is a work of God people are culpable for ignoring. Let me know if this has been helpful! Keep coming back to Gathering. Thanks for being there this week!

Tim

Scripture:

Romans 8:28-31 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 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. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

2 Peter 1:3-12 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.

Ephesians 1:11-14 11 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 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, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 2:1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.