What is the Doctrine of Election? Is Predestination & being Chosen Biblical? Watch Videos, Articles, Scriptures by: John MacArthur, Cross TVs Mark Kielar, Got Questions. Does God Elect & Choose certain people to be Saved?
From SO4J-TV: There are soo many MISUNDERSTANDINGS of the DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. The Doctrine of Election is indeed BIBLICAL. If one only looks at this topic at: FACE VALUE, MAN'S POINT OF VIEW & on HEAR-SAY you will certainly come to some: Wrong Conclusions, Assumptions, and Bad Doctrine. The Doctrine of Election is a PARADOX: We're ALL in trouble & ALL deserve Hell because of our own SIN (we send ourselves to HELL)— but God is Rich in His Mercy and decided to INTERVENE & save some (after showing Common Grace to all by not sending us all immediately to Hell after our first Sin). From John MacArthur: In the case of PHARAOH'S HARDENED-HEART (re: Moses) HE (the Lord) "WITHDREW (ie was passive) all the divine influences that ordinarily acted as a RESTRAINT to SIN & ALLOWED Pharaohs wicked Heart to pursue it's Sin unabated." Unless God in His Mercy through the Holy Spirit through His Word INTERVENES FIRST (John 6:44;6:65, John 10:14-15) we will be Eternally separated from Him in our Sin (Eph 1:1-14). Salvation is indeed a Gift of God (Eph 2:8-10)— God intervening (John 6:44, John 6:65) and GRANTING REPENTANCE & FAITH (2 Tim 2:23-26,Acts 5:30-31, Acts 11:17) to Sinners (Rom 5:8).
GO HERE FOR: CALVINISM VS ARMINIANISM COMPARISON CHART & VIDEOS
God is Sovereign Over All Things— even Election (Recap)- CrossTV.comThe SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD over His Creation in Salvation, is taken from the Bible— it is NOT based on MAN'S FEELINGS or OPINIONS. The DOCTRINE OF ELECTION— PREDESTINATION, comes from GOD Himself, and not JOHN CALVIN— as if its MAN that invented it. So either you EXCEPT the BIBLE, and SUBMIT to it, or you can REJECT GOD'S WORD. Remember it is GOD who inspired it, as well as the one who placed ELECTION— PREDESTINATION in there. HE is the one who has REVEALED this precious most GRACE-CENTERED teaching in the text.
Does God Predestine Men to Hell? (Double Predestination Explained Rightly) - Mark Kielar - CROSSTV.com
To WATCH many more Videos like this one on the "DOCTRINE OF ELECTION" look right below.
QUOTE on the DOCTRINE of ELECTION: "I'm so glad that God chose me before the foundation of the world, because He never would have chosen me after I was born!"
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Reformed Baptist Preacher from Britain (1834 - 1892)
QUOTE: "Reformed theology does not teach that God brings the elect “kicking and screaming, against their wills,” into His kingdom. It teaches that God so works in the hearts of the Elect as to make them willing and pleased to come to Christ. They come to Christ because they want to. They want to because God has created in their hearts a desire for Christ." —R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries
What is Predestination & Being Chosen? Videos, Audios, Article
By John MacArthur
The idea that God does what He wants, and that what He does is true and right because He does it, is foundational to the understanding of everything in Scripture, including the Doctrine of Election.
In the broad sense, election refers to the fact that God chooses (or elects) to do everything that He does in whatever way He best sees fit. When He acts, He does so only because He willfully and independently chooses to act. According to His own nature, predetermined plan, and good pleasure, He decides to do whatever He desires, without pressure or constraint from any outside influence.
The Bible makes this point repeatedly. In the very act of creation, God created precisely what He wanted to create in the way He wanted to create it (Gen. 1:31). And ever since the creation, He has sovereignly prescribed or permitted everything in human history, in order that He might accomplish the redemptive plan which He had previously designed (Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 46:10; Isaiah 55:11; Rom 9:17; Eph 3:8–11).
In the Old Testament, He chose a nation for Himself. Out of all the nations in the world, He selected Israel (Deut 7:6; 14:2; Psalm 105:43; Psalm 135:4). He chose them, not because they were better or more desirable than any other people, but simply because He decided to choose them. In the words of Richard Wolf, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” It may not have rhymed as well, but the same would have been true of any other people God might have selected. God chooses whomever He chooses, for reasons that are wholly His.
The nation of Israel was not the only recipient in Scripture of God’s electing choice. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is called Christ, “My Chosen One” (Luke 9:35). The holy angels also are “chosen angels” (1 Tim 5:21). And New Testament believers are those who were “chosen of God” (Col 3:12; 1 Cor 1:27; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Pet 1:1; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 5:13; Rev 17:14), meaning that the church is a community of those who were chosen, or “elect” (Eph 1:4).
When Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you” (John 15:16), He was underscoring this very truth. And the New Testament reiterates it in passage after passage. Acts 13:48 describes salvation in these words, “As many as have been appointed to eternal life believed.” Ephesians 1:4–6 notes that, God “chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds his readers that he knew God’s choice of them (1 Thess 1:4), and that he was thankful for them “because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation” (2 Thess 2:13). The Word of God is clear: believers are those whom God chose for salvation from before the beginning.
Even the foreknowledge to which Peter refers should not be confused with simple foresight as some would teach—contending that God, in eternity past, looked down the halls of history to see who would respond to His call and then elected the redeemed on the basis of their response. Such an explanation makes God’s decision subject to man’s decision, and gives man a level of sovereignty that belongs only to God. It makes God the One who is passively chosen, rather than the One who actively chooses. And it also misunderstands the way in which Peter uses the term “foreknowledge.” In 1 Peter 1:20 the apostle uses the verb form of that very word, prognosis in the Greek, to refer to Christ. In that case, the concept of “foreknowledge” certainly includes the idea of a deliberate choice. It is reasonable, then, to conclude that the same is true when Peter applies prognosis to believers in other places (1 Pet 1:2).
The Romans 9 also reiterates the elective purposes of God. There, in reference to His saving love for Jacob (and Jacob’s descendants) as opposed to Esau (and Esau’s lineage), God’s electing prerogative is clearly displayed. God chose Jacob over Esau, not on the basis of anything Jacob or Esau had done, but according to His own free and uninfluenced sovereign purpose. To those who might protest, “That is unfair!” Paul simply responds by asking, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” (Romans 9:20).
Many more Scriptures could be added to this survey. Yet as straightforward as the Word of God is, people continually have difficulty accepting the doctrine of election. The reason, again, is that they allow their preconceived notions of how God should act (based on a human definition of fairness) to override the truth of His sovereignty as laid out in the Scriptures.
Frankly, the only reason to believe in election is because it is found explicitly in God’s Word. No man and no committee of men originated this doctrine. It is like the doctrine of eternal punishment, in that it conflicts with the dictates of the carnal mind. It is repugnant to the sentiments of the unregenerate heart. And like the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the miraculous birth of our Savior, the truth of election, because it has been revealed by God, must be embraced with simple and unquestioning faith. If you have a Bible and you believe it, you have no other option but to accept what it teaches.
The Word of God presents God as the controller and disposer of all creatures (Dan 4:35; Isaiah 45:7; Lam 3:38), the Most High (Psalm 47:2; Psalm 83:18), the ruler of heaven and earth (Gen 14:19; Isaiah 37:16), the One against whom none can stand (2 Chron 20:6; Job 41:10; Isaiah 43:13). He is the Almighty who works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11; Isaiah 14:27; Rev 19:6), and the heavenly Potter who shapes men according to His own good pleasure (Rom. 9:18–22). In short, He is the decider and determiner of every man’s destiny, and the controller of every detail in each individual’s life (Prov 16:9; Prov 19:21; Prov 21:1; Exodus 3:21–22; Exodus 14:8; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 1:9; James 4:15)—which is really just another way of saying, “He is God.”
Answer: Romans 8:29-30 tells us, “For those God Foreknew he also Predestined to be Conformed to the likeness of his Son, that they might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he Predestined, he also called; those he Called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Ephesians 1:5 and 11 declare, “He Predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…In him we were also Chosen, having been Predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Many people have a strong hostility to the Doctrine of Predestination. However, Predestination is a biblical Doctrine. The key is understanding what Predestination means, biblically.
The words translated “Predestined” in the Scriptures referenced above are from the Greek word proorizo, which carries the meaning of “determine beforehand,” “ordain,” “to decide upon ahead of time.” So, Predestination is God determining certain things to occur ahead of time. What did God determine ahead of time? According to Romans 8:29-30, God predetermined that certain individuals would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified. Essentially, God predetermines that certain individuals will be saved. Numerous scriptures refer to believers in Christ being Chosen (Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:5-7, 28; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; 2 Peter 1:10). Predestination is the biblical Doctrine that God in His sovereignty chooses certain individuals to be saved.
The most common objection to the Doctrine of Predestination is that it is unfair. Why would God choose certain individuals and not others? The important thing to remember is that no one deserves to be saved. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and are all worthy of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). As a result, God would be perfectly just in allowing all of us to spend eternity in hell. However, God chooses to save some of us. He is not being unfair to those who are not Chosen, because they are receiving what they deserve. God’s choosing to be gracious to some is not unfair to the others. No one deserves anything from God; therefore, no one can object if he does not receive anything from God. An illustration would be a man randomly handing out money to five people in a crowd of twenty. Would the fifteen people who did not receive money be upset? Probably so. Do they have a right to be upset? No, they do not. Why? Because the man did not owe anyone money. He simply decided to be gracious to some.
If God is choosing who is saved, doesn’t that undermine our free will to chose and believe in Christ? The Bible says that we have the choice—all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). The Bible never describes God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turning away anyone who is seeking Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). Somehow, in the mystery of God, Predestination works hand-in-hand with a person being drawn by God (John 6:44) and believing unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true. Romans 11:33 proclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”
Answer: Unconditional Election is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the Predestination—or the Election—of people for salvation. It represents the second letter of the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. Other terms for the same Doctrine include “Unmerited Favor”, “Sovereign Election” or “Adopted by God.” All these terms are good names for this Doctrine because each reveals some aspect of the Doctrine of Election. However, more important than the term we use to describe the Doctrine is how accurately the Doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about Election and Predestination.
The debate over unconditional Election is not whether or not God elects or predestines people to salvation but upon what basis He elects them. Is that Election based upon foreknowledge that those individuals will have faith in Christ, or is it based upon God’s sovereign choice to save them? As the word unconditional implies, this view believes that God’s Election of people to salvation is done “with no conditions attached, either foreseen or otherwise.” God elects people to salvation by His own sovereign choice and not because of some future action they will perform or condition they will meet. Those who come to Christ become His children by His will, not by theirs. “They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children” (John 1:13 CEV).
God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were Chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have Chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have Chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).
There are many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of Election, and when one looks at all the Bible teaches about Election and Predestination it becomes obvious that God’s choice was not based on any foreseen act or response, but was based solely on God’s own good pleasure and sovereign will. Properly understood, God’s unconditional Election is one link in the unbreakable chain of salvation seen in Romans 8:28-29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” All those who are predestined will be saved (John 6:39; Romans 8:30) because they are the ones that God the Father gives to Jesus Christ (John 6:37) who will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39; John 17:2). They are Christ’s sheep (John 10:1-30) who hear His voice and for whom He died (John 10:15) in order to give them eternal life and make them secure forever in the hand of God (John 10:26-30).
There are several common misconceptions about unconditional Election. First it is important to understand that the Doctrine does not teach that God’s choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that the reason God elects someone to salvation is not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will. He makes the choice as to who will be saved for His own reasons, according to His own perfect will and for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). And while some object to the Doctrine of Election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God’s will and it pleases God; therefore it must be good and perfectly just.
Another misconception is that unconditional Election precludes and stifles evangelism, but the reality is just the opposite—it empowers and confirms it. When one correctly understands that God has not only elected certain individuals to salvation but also has ordained the means of salvation—the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 1:16; Romans 10:14-17)—it empowers the spreading of the Gospel message and the call to evangelism. We see this very thing in Paul’s writing to Timothy in the midst of deep persecution. “I endure all things for the sake of those who are Chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ…” (2 Timothy 2:10). A proper understanding of the Doctrine of Election encourages evangelism and guarantees its success. It overcomes the fear of failure when sharing the Gospel and empowers people to remain faithful to the message in times of great persecution. They know that the power lies in the Gospel message and in God’s sovereign Election and not in their own feeble presentation. A biblical understanding of Election helps one share the Gospel freely with all people, knowing that anyone of them could be Christ’s sheep whom He is calling into His fold (John 10:16). It is not up to us to determine if someone is elect or non-elect, and there is always a hope of salvation for anyone who will repent of their sins and believe in Christ. The Gospel message should be preached to all people in the knowledge that God will use it to draw His sheep to Himself.
Unconditional Election also does not mean that there will be people in heaven who do not want to be there, nor will there be people in hell who wanted to be saved but could not be because they were not elect. Unconditional Election properly recognizes that, apart from God’s supernatural work in the life of a sinner, men will always choose to reject God and rebel against Him (see the article on Total Depravity for more information on this subject). What unconditional Election does correctly recognize is that God intervenes in the lives of the elect and works in their lives through the Holy Spirit so that they willingly respond in faith to Him. Because they are “His sheep…they hear his voice and follow Him” (John 10:1-30). As for the non-elect, God is still gracious to them, but because of their sin they are not thankful for that grace, nor do they acknowledge Him as God (Romans 1:18-20). Consequently, they receive the just punishment due them. Those whom God elects are beneficiaries of His sovereign grace and mercy, and those whom He does not elect receive the justice they have earned. While the elect receive God’s perfect grace, the non-elect receive God’s perfect justice.
Those who argue against unconditional Election often use verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and John 3:16. How can we reconcile Election with a verse like I Timothy 2:4 that says that God “desires all me to be saved” or John 3:16 that says God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? The answer lies in correctly understanding the will of God and the love of God. God’s passive will needs to be understood in contrast to His decreed will (those things He foreordains to happen). The passive will of God includes the things He might desire in a sense but does not foreordain or bring to pass. Certainly if God is sovereign and all powerful, as the Bible declares Him to be, then He could bring about the salvation of all men if that was His decreed or pre-determined will. Reconciling this verse and others with the many that teach Election is an unconditional choice of God is no more difficult that recognizing that there are things God might desire but does not decree to happen. It could be said that God does not desire men to sin but as part of his predetermined plan He allows them to sin. So while there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and desires that all be saved, His pre-determined plan allows for the fact that some will go to hell.
In a similar way, concerning John 3:16 and God’s love, the difference lies in God’s general love for all creation and all humanity versus His specific love for His children, the elect. The difference is that God’s love for His elect is an intensive love that has Him actually doing something about their lost condition instead of simply sitting by wishing that they would in turn love Him, a picture so often conjured up by those who believe themselves to be in control of their own eternal destiny. In a generic sense, God desires all to be saved and He loves all of humanity, but that is completely different from the specific love He has for His elect and His desire and provision for their salvation.
When one examines what the Bible teaches about Election and Predestination, it becomes clear that the Doctrine of unconditional Election does accurately represent what the Bible teaches on this important subject. While this—or any of the other Doctrines of Grace—can stand on their own merit, their importance becomes even clearer when they are considered together systematically with all the Bible teaches about salvation. They essentially serve as building blocks with each one furnishing a necessary part of a biblical understanding of salvation. Total depravity defines man’s need for salvation and reveals his hopelessness when left to his own resources. It leaves man with the question “Who can be saved?” The answer lies in an understanding of unconditional Election—God’s sovereign choice to save people despite their depravity and based solely on His redeeming for Himself people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This He accomplishes by predestining them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5). A proper understanding of this Doctrine should not result in questioning the justice of God, but instead in marveling at His great mercy. The question we really should ask is not why God chooses only some to salvation but why He would choose any at all.
ANSWER: Certainly, since God knows everything, it would have been possible for God to base His predestination and election of individuals upon His foreknowledge of the future. In fact, that is the exact position that many Christians believe, as it is the Arminian view of predestination. The problem is that it really is not what the Bible teaches about predestination, election, and foreknowledge. In order to understand why the view that “God made His choice based on merely knowing the future” is not what the Bible teaches, let’s first consider a couple of verses that speak to the reason God elected or predestined people to salvation.
Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
According to this verse, the basis of our being predestined is not something that we do or will do, but is based solely on the will of God for His own pleasure.
As Romans 9:15-16 says, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”
Similarly, Romans 9:11 declares regarding Jacob and Esau, “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls.” Then again in Ephesians 1:11 we see that people are “chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” From these and many others passages, we see that Scripture consistently teaches that predestination or election is not based upon something that we do or will do. God predestined people based on His own sovereign will to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God predetermined or predestined this from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) based solely on His sovereign will and not because of anything that He knew the people would do.
But what about Romans 8:29 where it says that those “He foreknew, He also predestined”? Doesn’t that seem to say that predestination is based upon the foreknowledge of God? Of course, the answer is yes, it does teach that predestination is based on the foreknowledge of God. But what does the word foreknowledge mean? Does it mean “based upon God’s knowledge of the future,” meaning God simply looks down through the future and sees who will believe the gospel message and then predestines or elects them? If that were the case, it would contradict the verses above from Romans and Ephesians that make it very clear election is not based on anything man does or will do.
Fortunately, God does not leave us to wonder about this issue. In John 10:26, Jesus said, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The reason some people believe is that they belong to God. They were chosen for salvation, not based on the fact that they would one day believe, but because God chose them for “adoption as sons in Christ Jesus” before they ever existed. The reason one person believes and another person does not is that one person has been adopted by God and the other has not. The truth is that the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is not speaking of God's knowing the future. The word foreknowledge is never used in terms of knowing about future events, times or actions (God’s omniscience). What it does describe is a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God whereby God brings the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time.
The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between a man and a woman. In a similar sense, before God ever created the heavens and earth, and a long time before we were ever born, God knew His elect in a personal way and chose them to be His sheep, not because they would someday follow Him but in order to guarantee that they would follow Him. His knowing them and choosing them is the reason they follow Him, not the other way around. The issue really is not whether or not God knows who will believe, but why some believe and others do not. The answer to that is God chooses to have mercy on some and others He leaves in their sinful rebellion.
The following quote by John Murray is excellent in dealing with this issue:
"Even if it were granted that ‘foreknew’ means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true that God foresees faith; He foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith, which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil 1:29; 2 Peter 1:2). Hence His eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by His decree to generate this faith in those whom He foresees as believing."
ANSWER: Divine providence is the means by and through which God governs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. This includes the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human birth and destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.
The purpose, or goal, of divine providence is to accomplish the will of God. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than a depiction of God at work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power, nor do they work independently. The laws of nature are the rules and principles that God set in place to govern how things work.
The same goes for human choice. In a very real sense we are not free to choose or act apart from God’s will. Everything we do and everything we choose is in full accordance to God’s will—even our sinful choices (Genesis 50:20). The bottom line is that God controls our choices and actions (Genesis 45:5; Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 21:1), yet He does so in such a way that does not violate our responsibility as free moral agents, nor does it negate the reality of our choice.
The doctrine of divine providence can be succinctly summarized this way: “God in eternity past, in the counsel of His own will, ordained everything that will happen; yet in no sense is God the author of sin; nor is human responsibility removed.” The primary means by which God accomplishes His will is through secondary causes (e.g., laws of nature, human choice). In other words, God works indirectly through these secondary causes to accomplish His will.
God also sometimes works directly to accomplish His will. These works are what we would call miracles (i.e., supernatural events as opposed to natural). A miracle is God’s circumventing, for a short period of time, the natural order of things to accomplish His will and purpose. Two examples from the book of Acts should serve to highlight God directly and indirectly working to accomplish His will. In Acts 9 we see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. In a blinding flash of light and in a voice that only Saul/Paul heard, God changed his life forever. It was God’s will to use Paul to further accomplish His will, and God used direct means to convert Paul. Talk to anyone who converted to Christianity, and you will more than likely never hear a story quite like this. Most of us come to Christ through hearing a sermon preached or reading a book or the persistent witness of a friend or family member. In addition to that, there are usually life circumstances that prepare the way—loss of a job, loss of a family member, failed marriage, chemical addiction. Paul’s conversion was direct and supernatural.
In Acts 16:6-10, we see God accomplishing His will indirectly. This takes place during Paul’s second missionary journey. God wanted Paul and his company to go to Troas, but when Paul left Antioch of Pisidia, he wanted to go east into Asia. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak the word in Asia. Then they wanted to go west into Bythinia, but the Spirit of Christ prevented them, so they ended up going to Troas. This was written in retrospect, but at the time there were probably some logical explanations as to why they could not go into those two regions. However, after the fact, they realized that it was God directing them where He wanted them to go—that is providence. Proverbs 16:9 speaks to this: “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
On the other hand, there are those who will say that the concept of God directly or indirectly orchestrating all things destroys any possibility of free will. If God is in complete control, how can we be truly free in the decisions we make? In other words, for free will to be meaningful, there must be some things which are outside of God’s sovereign control—e.g., the contingency of human choice. Let us assume for the sake of argument that this is true. What then? If God is not in complete control of all contingencies, then how could He guarantee our salvation? Paul says in Philippians 1:6 that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” If God is not in control of all things, then this promise, and all other biblical promises, are invalid. We could not have complete security that the good work of salvation that was begun in us will be brought to completion.
Furthermore, if God is not in control of all things, then He is not sovereign, and if He is not sovereign, then He is not God. So, the price of maintaining contingencies outside of God’s control results in a God who is no God at all. And if our “free” will can supersede divine providence, then who ultimately is God? We are. That is, obviously, unacceptable to anyone with a Christian and biblical worldview. Divine providence does not destroy our freedom. Rather, divine providence is what enables us to properly use that freedom.