“You do not seem to emphasize the necessity of human choice in salvation,” someone writes. “Don’t you know that the Bible teaches that we must make a decision for Christ?”
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Indeed the Bible teaches that we “receive” Christ or “believe on” Christ (John 1:12; Acts 16:31). However, it also makes plain that God chose us long before we chose him (John 15:16; 17:1-3; 2 Thes. 2:13-14), and that he gave us the grace to choose him in return (Acts 16:14; 2 Cor. 4:4, 6). God loves us because of who he is in himself; not because he sees (in advance, or after the fact) anything loveable in us — whether our faith, our right decisions or our admirable deeds (2 Tim. 1:9). No person has ever gotten “one up” on God, because God always takes the initiative in creating relationship (Rom. 11:33-36).
No theological system packs all divine revelation into a tidy box, for God’s thoughts are higher than ours. The reality of divine kindness to sinners exceeds our mind’s ability to tuck neatly away with no loose ends. Wonderfully, we do not have to fully explain God’s grace in order to enjoy it — a fact itself indicative of divine grace — and we should deal graciously with one another as we struggle together to comprehend and to articulate God’s kindness which we enjoy in common with each other.
No responsible Christian — whether Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian — disagrees about the need for human “choice” and “decision.” The question is only whether, when the curtains of eternity are pulled back, even our right choices will be seen as the fruit of God’s empowering kindness and undeserved favor toward sinners. Since I believe that will be the case (Psalm 110:3; Rom. 9:16; Phil. 2:13), I happily affirm even now that our faith is God’s gift — a sign of his grace which stretches from eternity past to eternity future (Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thes. 1:10).