And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. 29 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.30 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 8:28-30)
This passage, probably more than any other as far as I am concerned, epitomizes the free choice/predestination dialogue. I am neither a theologian nor the son of a theologian but here are my thoughts for what they are worth.
Does the Bible say that we have freedom to choose to believe in God or not? Yes! Note verse 28: “…for those who love God…” Love involves choice. I choose every day whether or not I will love God. I choose every day whether or not I will love my wife. I choose every day whether or not I will love my kids. No one is making me love. I love by my own freedom of choice. The Bible absolutely affirms freedom of choice. I choose to love God and place my faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross – therefore, I am saved from condemnation and damnation.
Does the Bible say that we are predestined by God to be saved? In other words, did He choose me to believe? Yes! Note verse 29: “…those whom He foreknew He also predestined…” I am one of God’s chosen ones. It was His choice that I be saved. He chose me before the beginning of creation to reign with Him in eternity. The Bible absolutely affirms predestination. His choice, not mine!
But are not these two affirmations saying two different things? How can they both be true? I’ll say two things about this:
1) If we were able to explain everything about God and our faith then we would not have a great and awe-inspiring God. We must leave room for mystery and trust that one day God will make that which is unclear to be incredibly clear.
2) The best explanation for this for my puny mind goes like this. From man’s perspective we have complete freedom of choice. From God’s perspective He is the One who does the choosing. Imagine yourself preparing to enter Heaven’s Gate. There is a sign over the gate that says, “Everyone who believes in the Lord shall be saved!” (Our choice) After you enter you turn around and notice a sign on the other side of the gate that says, “Chosen before the creation of the world.” (God’s choice) It all depends on your perspective – from this side of heaven or the other side.
You will hear lots of arguments these days about this subject. I choose to say what I believe the Bible says – both are true, even if I can’t completely understand how.