God's Choices Can Be
- Individual or Group (Corporate)
- Conditional or Unconditional
- Resistible or Irresistible
- Pre-Creation, Pre-birth, Pre-Conversion, Post-Conversion
- To grant Salvation, Apostleship, Kingship, Adoption, Fruit, etc.
For example... some might say that God's choice of John the Baptist was:
5) for the purpose of introducing Jesus to mankind.
This position suggests that God chose an individual, John, to introduce Jesus rather than a group like the Pharisees. God's choice was unconditional because it was not based on John's goodness or any other trait. God's choice was irresistible because John had no choice in the matter. God's choice was pre-birth because God's choice was made before John was born. John was chosen to introduce Jesus to the world.
Here is a passage about John the Baptist:
"13 But the angel said to him, "Don't be afraid, Zacharias, because your request has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:13-17
If you review the above passage, you will see all five aspects of God's choice.
Individual, unconditional, irresistible, pre-birth and for the purpose of introducing the Lord Jesus to mankind.
In the next section I will list examples of God's choices from scripture. The last section will provide the actual scriptures for those examples with explanations.
Examples of God's Choices from Scripture
- Individual: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, 1 Samuel 16:1-13 (v12)
- Corporate (Choice of a Group): Ephesians 1:4 (in Him)
- Conditional: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 (v7), John 15:16 ("that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you" is conditioned on 15:7)
- Unconditional: Luke 1:13-17 (John the Baptist)
- Non-Exclusive: James 2:5
- Resistible: James 2:5, Isaiah 5:1-7 (v4), Exodus 9:34, 35
- Irresistible: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Exodus 14:4
- Pre-birth: Luke 1:13-17 (John the Baptist)
- Post-Conversion: Jonah 3:5-10 (Nineveh believed in v5. When God saw their repentance, He chose to not destroy Nineveh in v10.)
- Chosen to various ends and purposes:
To Receive the Kingdom: Luke 12:32
To Obedience: 1 Peter 1:2
To Good Works: Ephesians 2:10
To Bear Fruit: John 15:16
To be Holy and Blameless: Ephesians 1:4
To Salvation: 2 Thessalonians 2:13*
Priests: Revelation 1:6
Apostleship: Acts 1:2
Missionary: Acts 9:15
Witnesses: Acts 10:40, 41; 1 Peter 2:9
* Explained in the first example below.
Examples of God's Choices with Explanations:
- "But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which he called you through our Good News, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
Directly from these words we see that this choice of God is for the salvation which comes through hearing the Good News (the Gospel). This choice comes through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth (v 13). So, this choice takes place as individuals hear the truth, believe the truth and simultaneously receive the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the one who hears and believes.
As this choice takes place "through" belief in the truth, "the beginning" in verse thirteen refers to the moment of conversion, the beginning of a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), not the beginning of the creation of the world.
This is a choice by God of individuals, since the moment of belief takes place only in individuals.
So, individuals are chosen for salvation at the time of conversion, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth after hearing the Good News (the Gospel).
- "1 Yahweh said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided a king for myself among his sons." 2 Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me." Yahweh said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. 3 Call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. You shall anoint to me him whom I name to you." 4 Samuel did that which Yahweh spoke, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, "Do you come peaceably?" 5 He said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." He sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. 6 When they had come, he looked at Eliab, and said, "Surely Yahweh's anointed is before him." 7 But Yahweh said to Samuel, "Don't look on his face, or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for I don't see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart." 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, "Yahweh has not chosen this one, either." 9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. He said, "Yahweh has not chosen this one, either." 10 Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. Samuel said to Jesse, "Yahweh has not chosen these." 11 Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your children here?" He said, "There remains yet the youngest. Behold, he is keeping the sheep." Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and get him, for we will not sit down until he comes here." 12 He sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with a handsome face and good appearance. Yahweh said, "Arise! Anoint him, for this is he." 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the middle of his brothers. Then Yahweh's Spirit came mightily on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up and went to Ramah" (1 Samuel 16:1-13, especially v12).
God chose David, an individual, to be king. Verse 7 indicates that this choice was also a conditional choice. God chose David based on the condition of David's heart. The objective of this choice was not a choice to grant David salvation. The objective of this choice was to make David king over Israel (Verse 1). When God reveals a choice in scripture, we must ask... chosen for what? In this case, David was chosen to be king. The word "chose" does not indicate a choice for eternal life unless the passage says that it indicates eternal life.
Corporate (Choice of a Group):
- "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him" (Ephesians 1:4)
The phrase "us in Him" indicates a group rather than an individual. The group of people who are "in Him" is the object of the choice of God in Ephesians 1:4. Since a group was chosen rather than an individual, it is a corporate choice.
Instead of reading any particular theology into these words, please prayerfully consider the following grammatical examination to see what is actually in those words... and only what is in those words.
To illustrate, please prayerfully consider the following secular statement which parallels Ephesians 1:4 in grammatical structure:
"The mayor chose us in the police department before the first shot was fired, that we should be peace makers."
This statement does not mean that the mayor arbitrarily decided which individuals would be policeman. It doesn't even imply that the mayor knows any policemen. It just means:
1) the mayor chose a group to perform a task,
2) the task is in the future,
3) future members of the group "police department" will perform the task.
4) Members of the police department are not chosen arbitrarily but are chosen based on meeting various conditions.
Now I will show the two statements together. Note the similar grammatical structure of the two statements:
"The mayor chose
us in the police department
before the first shot was fired,
that we should be peace makers."
us in Him,
before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless."
So, Ephesians 1:4 means that before the foundation of the world, God made a choice that those who eventually come to be "in Him" by faith, would receive an imputed state of being "holy and blameless".
- "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).
Effective prayer is conditioned on remaining in Christ. It is also conditioned on Christ's words remaining in us. If the conditions are met, the reward is irresistible ("it will be done for you").
This conditional promise is a choice that God made. We see this as we read on from verse 7 through verse 16. Verse 16 reads:
- "You didn't choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you" (John 15:16).
So, God chose them that all their requests would be granted. But verse 7 told us that, effective prayer is conditioned on our remaining in Christ and on His words remaining in us. So, this is a choice made by God that is a conditional choice. If the condition is met, God's choice is irresistible. If they remained in Him and His words remained in them, verse seven said "it will be done for you".
This choice is not a choice resulting in eternal life. It did not say that God chose them to have eternal life. When scripture says that God made a choice, we must ask the question: Chose for what? The granting of eternal life is something that God has done by His choice, as revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:13. But this verse from John does not reveal a choice for eternal life or any condition for eternal life.
For an in depth study of what it means to remain in Christ see subchapter 4.11. Read the section titled, "The Sixth Condition: The Great Divide".
The scriptures at the top of the page from Luke 1:13-17 reveal an unconditional choice that God made regarding John the Baptist.
- "Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn't God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?" (James 2:5)
God chose those who poor to be rich in faith. But some who were wealthy were also rich in faith (Abraham and the Centurion for example, Genesis 13:1-2, Hebrews 11:17, Luke 7:9). So, the fact that God choses poor people to be rich in faith and inherit the Kingdom, doesn't mean that He only chooses poor people for that destiny. He also chooses those who are not poor to that same end. So, God's choices may be non-exclusive.
The context of the above passage from James is James 2:1-9. Believers were discriminating against poor people. James was telling them that those poor people were fellow believers who would inherit the Kingdom with them.