Many people say that it would be unjust for the Lord to choose some and not others, but is it? Is it unjust to command a person to repent when he has been “predestined” to be lost? Would it be impossible to repent? The answer is “yes and no.” Yes, it is true that men are unable to come to Yeshua as the Messiah without the Lord initiating it (John 6.65, 12.39). However, there are no external walls or constraints prohibiting men from putting their faith in Yeshua. The only “constraint” is the internal, sinful, stubborn and hard heart of man (Jer 17.9).
Man is morally unable to come to God because his own sinfulness and this is what prevents him from the will to do it. The Lord commands men to perform actions they just cannot do all the time. Keeping the Torah is something that man is hostile to (Rom 8.7-8). It is not hard (Deut 30.11-13) but the sinfulness of man and his heart is what makes us morally unable to obey it. If man cannot keep the Torah, why is it hard to believe he cannot obey the command to believe “the good news” either (Mark 1.15).
If the only ability lacking is a moral one, then men are still accountable. God does not “cause” otherwise good men to be blinded and hardened. All of us are sinners by nature and objects of God’s wrath (Eph 2.3). We are all dead in this life (Col 2.13). When the Lord “blinds” we voluntarily close our own eyes because we love to sin (Matt 13.15; John 12.40). Nobody is holy and good (Mark 10.18) and nobody deserves to be saved. The Lord has mercy on some, and hardens others (Rom 9.18).
Those he determines to be lost are turned over to their own wicked natures and desires (Psa 81.2; (Rom 1.24-26). He does not turn anyone away who seek him. The problem is that man on his own will not seek after God (Rom 3.11). In order to be saved, it takes a sovereign act of God. He is obligated to us for nothing, he does not “owe” anyone anything, including salvation. God doesn’t have to save anyone. We should be in awe of the fact that he has saved as many as he has. It is “his ball.”
The objection that it is unfair of him not to save everyone only makes sense if we assume God has to save everyone. It would have been more fair if God had chosen not to save anyone. He didn’t have to save anyone because he doesn’t owe us anything. Some will say that God can’t cause anyone to love him and that “forced” love is no love at all. But, don’t assume that because we can’t do that to others that God can’t do it, because he says he does (Deut 30.6). He can cause a man to fall in love with a certain woman (Judges 14.1-4). And if that is possible, he can also make us love him also. We “fall” in love and it is not like we chose who we fall in love with.
A man’s heart is in the hands of the Lord (Prov 21.1). God can increase our love (1 Thes 3.12) and directs our hearts into the love of God (2 Thes 3.5). If God had not caused us to love him, we probably wouldn’t have. Can a leopard change his spots (Jer 13.13) if a man’s heart is inclined to evil (Gen 8.21) and we were all enemies of God at one point (Rom 5.10)? Instead of questioning the Lord as to whether or not he is unjust, we should be thanking him.
Some will say that “election” shows partiality and God does not do that. However, God will judge each man fairly according to what he has done (Rom 2.1). Is it favoritism for God to save some, and by-pass others? The Lord does not save according to rich over the poor (James 2.5) because favoritism is wrong, but God still chooses some over others. We can’t define his impartiality in such a way as to rule out his free, sovereign choice.
We know that God has at least some levels of “partiality” in that he controls where we are born, in what financial condition we are born into, whether we are healthy or not and so on. God could have changed any of this. We don’t enter the world with equal benefits or advantages. The Scriptures give us no reason why he picked Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or any other biblical character except his unmerited love for them.
Paul discusses this concept on the fairness of election in Rom 9.13-15. For God to be unrighteous he would have to violate his honor and go against everything in his nature and character. His revealed character is to show mercy to whoever he wants. So, he is not unjust because he has acted exactly as he said he would.
If the Lord is impartial, we cannot say he is unable to make sovereign choices. He will judge us impartially “according to our works” but he has chosen some “unto good works” which he has ordained that we walk in (Eph 2.10). God has granted faith to his elect and ordains certain “good works (Hebrew “mitzvot” which means commandments) for them to perform.
Again, some will counter and say that “predestination, or election, makes prayer and evangelism pointless.” But, God commands us to do it. We are limited in our understanding and cannot even begin to comprehend his mysteries on how all of this fits together (1 Cor 4.16). Just because God chooses to “elect” some doesn’t mean they will be saved apart from prayer and proper teaching. He also predestines how they get saved, and through whom (look at the death of Yeshua in Acts 4.27-28). He ordains the steps necessary to achieve that goal (Rom 10.14-15).
If predestination is not true, then why pray to the Lord to save anyone. If “free will” is true, and the Lord is doing all he can to save people, then why should we even ask God to do more? Isn’t he already doing all he can? If it’s his will to save, then he is already doing all he can, so we shouldn’t pray about doing more. If the Lord can’t control man’s free will and make people come to Yeshua, why do we pray to him at all about it? Shouldn’t we direct our prayers to one who has the control to save himself, the person?
If, on the other hand, election is true, then we have every reason in the world to pray to the one who can do something about it. If the Lord has “unstoppable” power to save, then we should be motivated to pray to the Lord because he has all the control. If he can soften hearts, open eyes and make people willing to believe, then this should motivate us in prayer.
When we ask the Lord to save someone, aren’t we asking him to override the free will of that person? The only way we can consistently pray for God to save anyone is to admit that election is true. Believing in the election of God should inspire us (2 Tim 2.8-10; Acts 18.9-10).
In Part 4, we will begin to discuss the will of God and the concept of “the will of command and the will of decree.”