Bible Question:

I have just read your response to the question about limited atonement. Are you saying that unless God has specifically chosen us, we ultimately do not have a choice as to whether we will accept Christ or not - God has actually made that choice already and Jesus really only died for those people? Are not the elect the people who have chosen Jesus as their personal savior? What if God never chose me to be one of the elect although I believe in my heart that He raised Jesus from the dead and I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. The Bible says that if I do this I will be saved. Am I therefore not part of the elect, or am I just wasting my time?

Bible Answer:

It would be good to start by reviewing two past questions and answers which discuss predestination: “If you are not chosen then does it really matter when you die?“, and “Does a man choose salvation, and does God choose a man to be saved?Limited and Unlimited Atonement are related ideas. Predestination is where we must start, and then we can come to Limited and Unlimited Atonement.

Predestination & The Atonement

Predestination is clearly taught in scripture (see above links). God decided who be would become a Christian before He created us. He chose us! But scripture also teaches that we choose. Scripture teaches that God decided and we also decided. We both decide. How can both be true? Only God has that answer. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 does not include “all” of the world.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NASB) 1 Timothy 2:3-4

But then how do we handle John 6:37?

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out . . . No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day . . . And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (NASB) John 6:37, 44, 65

These two appear to be in conflict. The truth is, we do not understand some things in scripture such as God being a Trinity, the virgin birth, God becoming a man, Jesus living His life as the God-man, how both the Holy Spirit and a human write scripture, or how “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you,” for example. Yet, we believe these truths. But when we come to this predestination and limited/unlimited atonement, we really struggle. Why?

Our Struggle

We struggle because scripture teaches both! We also struggle because we want the right to make the decision. Most of us believe we made the decision to “accept” Jesus. Yet, scripture teaches that salvation is by believing. We are not saved by saying a prayer. If we believe we are saved. It is not a set of words.

Conclusion:

We choose and God has already chosen. God warns us to believe in Jesus. He commands us to believe.

TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME . . . they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (NASB) Hebrews 3:15, 19

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (NASB) 1 John 3:23

This implies we have a decision to make and Romans 10:13 says, “WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” To provide balance, we should also ask ourselves, “How significant is my role?”

Dr. Harry Ironside told about a man who gave his testimony, telling how God had sought him and found him, how God had loved him, called him, saved him, delivered him, cleaned him up, and healed him. It was a tremendous testimony to the glory of God. After the meeting, one Christian took him aside and said, “You know, I appreciate all that you said about what God did for you, but you did not mention anything about your part in it. Salvation is really part us and part God, and you should have mentioned something about your part.” “Oh, the man replied, “I apologize. I am sorry. I really should have mentioned that my part was running away, and God’s part was running after me until I found Him.”

Suggested Links:

Does the Bible teach that Christ died for everyone or just the elect?
If you are not chosen, then does it really matter when you die?