Chosen Before the Foundation of the World
In order to enter the kingdom of God, a man must be born again. John 3:3. It is not possible to born oneself, God must do it. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18 AV) Those who are born again, have been chosen by God before the world was even created. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Ephesians 1:4-5.
Those chosen by God for salvation have done nothing to merit that salvation. We were not good, we were simply chosen, because God decided according to his own purpose to choose us. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11 AV) Jesus made clear to his disciples that they did not choose him, he chose them. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16.
Indeed, God states that he knew and loved and ordained Jeremiah to be a prophet before he was even conceived. That is certainly foreknowledge by God, but it is more than foreknowledge, it is God predestinating Jeremiah to be a prophet.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5.
Consider the example of Paul. How did God choose him and save him? Did he use gentle persuasion? No, he knocked him to the ground changed his heart and then commenced giving Paul commands as to what he must do. Notice what Paul said immediately after being knocked to the ground. “Lord what wilt thou have me do.” In a split second, Paul went from a persecutor of the church to a member of the church, all according to the will of God, who chose him and changed his heart.
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:3-6 AV)
How did he select his apostles? He commanded them to follow him, and they dropped what they were doing and followed him. Keep in mind that at that time Jesus was a total stranger to these men, yet they immediately obeyed his command to follow him, without hesitation or question. That is the supernatural power of God at work.
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22 AV)
Some may ask: “doesn’t man have a free will to choose to believe or not believe in Jesus?” The answer is that man has a will, but it is not free. Man is enslaved by sin and death. Sinful man wishes to rule in his own life, his every impulse is in rebellion against God. Indeed, man cannot freely believe in God. God must transform man by the rebirth wrought by the Holy Spirit.
The reality is that man’s will is enslaved to sin. Man will not serve God nor seek God, because man is spiritually dead. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:10-11 AV)
Jesus came to set us free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36 AV) He gives his elect a new spiritual birth and they are set free from sin and death to serve the Lord. By his grace we are spiritually born again. Once born again, our old flesh driven existence comes to an end, and we are led by the spirit, which up to that time was dead, but now is alive. A Christian becomes a new creation, set free from sin to serve the living God.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:6-11 AV)
A Christian is justified by God. God does the choosing, not man. James 1:18. God does not love us because we first loved him. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 AV) It is an act of his Grace toward us that frees us from the bondage of sin. Once we are freed from the bondage of sin we can bear the fruit of righteousness. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22 AV) See also, Romans 5:16-19; 7:1-8:17. However, it is all a work of God, by his grace. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24 AV)
Chapter 6 of John makes clear that salvation is all of God. God “giveth” eternal life to his chosen through faith in his son, Jesus.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:32-35 AV)
Jack Graham is typical of many Arminian pastors. Jack Graham (no relation to Billy Graham) is the pastor of the mega-church, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Graham pejoratively describes the irresistible grace of God as forceful and coercive, as though God graciously transforming man for salvation is a bad thing:
Some teach that God's grace is irresistible. In other words, that you have no choice in the matter of whether you receive Christ or reject Christ. That once the grace of God appears to you it attacks you, and forces you and coerces you to believe. You couldn't say ‘No,’ if you wanted to. Because God's grace is irresistible.
Jack Graham engages in the usual sophistry of Arminian pastors; he mischaracterizes God’s grace by ascribing to God a despotic character. Graham believes the myth that man has a free will. He believes that man can thwart the will of God. Graham disregards the very theme of the bible that man’s will is enslaved to sin as a result of the fall. Because Graham does not believe what God has said in the bible about man, he thinks that God’s gracious gift of eternal life is a despotic act. Graham states: “God does not impose His will upon us. Lest God would be a despot a dictator. God has given us in Christ the opportunity and the awesome responsibility to either reject the gospel or receive the gospel.”
Jack Graham thinks that God is a despot for changing our sinful rebellious character to believe in Jesus, an act that would otherwise be impossible but for God’s intervention. Graham hates the true gospel of grace and blasphemes God for his act of mercy in saving his elect. Graham prefers his graceless god who offers a mythical opportunity at salvation.
It is impossible for man to actually obtain salvation under Graham’s theology, because his theology has a mythical prevenient grace that is supposed to free the will of all men, who then must exercise their mythical free will to choose to believe (or not) in an impotent Jesus. The Jesus that Graham preaches does not exist. Graham’s Jesus is a false Jesus, and his gospel is a false gospel. If a man believes that his faith is generated from his own free will, which does not in fact exist, and he exercises that faith to believe in an impotent Jesus, who does not in fact exist, that would mean that he has a salvation that does not in fact exist. Paul warned about just such a false gospel and false Jesus. 1 Corinthians 11:4.
For more information on this topic, go to www.antigospel.com or contact Edward Hendrie at edwardhendrie [at] gmail [dot] com.