(Because the topic of God’s love and election is complex, we will revisit this in a follow up post)
Imagine receiving an elegant, white shiny envelope, hand-delivered by courier. You flip the envelope over to read your name written to suggest this invitation is elite. You open the nicely sealed envelope and see the gold foil lining, and pull out the card which reads in gold gilded text, “By Invitation Only.” Reading the invitation’s event details, you are in awe—uncertain what you did or who thought so highly to invite you to such an elite event. The shocking fact is this: You didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Such is the invitation from God extended to us through Jesus when He died on the cross for you and me, so that we may be freed from the weight of sin and death and live freely and eternally with Him. God loves all and desires all would seek Him. Ultimately, many will not choose Him. God chooses those with willing ears and open hearts to receive Him for this invitation. God called me in my early childhood, drawing me to lay it all down for Him at age 12. I’ve been following Him since. So why doesn’t everyone hear this call?
In the simplest answer, some things are a mystery and left to God. This concept is complex for even the most mature believer in Christ to fully grasp. A person’s unbelief/rejection of Christ, unrepentant nature or hardened heart can certainly lead to this. British Christian theologian, J.I. Packer wrote an article, Election: God Chooses His Own that perhaps offers one of the clearest explanations of this concept that I’ve been able to understand. In the article, Packer begins:
“The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Romans 8:32).”
Romans 9:15-16, God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Fact is, God loves all and it is God who saves. God seeks the earth to and fro examining the hearts of those for who will follow Him. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). THIS is why Christians will forever, gratefully celebrate (sometimes with tears of joy as we remember our lives before and now) the goodness and love of God! But for His grace and mercy, “he saved a wretch like you and me.”
This very notion of God choosing who He wants to follow Him confuses some people. Isn’t the invitation open to everyone? Doesn’t God want to save everyone? What then is the Christian’s duty if God already knows who He will and won’t choose?
God knows people’s true hearts and intentions. We don’t. As Christians, we are asked to be a loving and willing vessel of His light and love to others. It is not for us to judge or question who is/who isn’t “savable.”
Our role as Christians (appropriately worded by my dear friend Rachel) is “we are laboring to harvest the elect.” This is a great way to view our calling as opposed to “working to save souls.” That’s the role of the Holy Spirit. Our role is to be willing to plant the seed and allow the Holy Spirit to draw those intended. Wow. Paints the picture a little differently, doesn’t it?
If He is drawing you, listen. Turn to Him. Answer His call. This invitation, for which I am grateful to have received and accepted and did not deserve, is given by His grace.