Predestination: First Chosen, First Loved
Admittedly, I did not choose God, until He chose me first. He loved me first, and I love him because of that. In that sense I was predestined by God, chosen, as one of His own. Furthermore, because of God's omniscience, and omnipotence, God both knows the future and is able to save me. In that, I am also predestined. Yet if one allows the doctrine of predestination to go beyond God choosing us all collectively and "willing" to save us all, and further fulfilling his foreknowledge by His power, your theology becomes one in which eternal damnation is for some a totally unavoidable Heavenly mandated fate.
Calvinists believe it so, that man has no choice in the matter and that those who are going to be saved will be saved because God predestined the chosen few. The rest will be lost forever because God decided it to be so in advance. They view belief, repentance, and even calling on God as human works and therefore can play no part in the Salvation of the soul.
However, this doctrine is flawed. If God is not willing that any should perish as the Bible says, then he is either incapable of fulfilling his will, or he is in contradiction to His own will when he selects only a chosen few. Worse yet, God gets the blame for the millions who will be spending an eternity in Hell. Finally if repentance and calling on the name of the Lord, are so unimportant, why doe s God talk so much about them. This version of God is far removed from the gracious Savior of the scriptures.
It is true that these acts do not save the soul. That is the God's work. But God says we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). In other words, without faith it is impossible to please God. However, God will not save a heart entranced by sin. It is important to remember that when God "willed" us to salvation, He did not remand us into His love, forcing us to be saved. God wants man’s will, not slavery. He wants us love him, not sin. Most of all he wants us to see the lost hopeless condition we are in and the eternal punishment that awaits us. When a man heeds the warnings of God and believes, he must repent of his sin, and call on God in faith that he can do what he has promised. Faith becomes the conduit for Gods power.
It is this surrender and crying to God that is the antithesis of works. It is in fact quite the opposite. Crying out to God is the admittance of the heart of its depravity and yielding itself to the almighty power of God for mercy and rescue. Like the men who were rowing the boat with Jonah on board, they finally abandoned their feeble attempts to save themselves, surrendered, and obeyed God’s direction. There are no human works in play as the heart responds to and calls on God for mercy.
All verses about election and predestination must be interpreted as a collective choosing and elective plan that is put before the entire human race. Subsequently, the elect “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). First loved and, in that love, offered a redemptive plan that will deliver a dead soul from its destiny of eternal punishment. This destiny was chosen by Adam (and subsequently us) who knew full well what he was doing when he accepted the fruit from his wife who was deceived.
Faith, Belief, and repentance are not works of the flesh, but responses of the heart that realizes its lost condition and its need for salvation. These are responses which all men are capable of, but are not necessarily willing. This conflict with the will of God and rejection of Christ causes us to continue in the state of condemnation imposed on us in Eden. God will not force nations, families, or individuals to accept him. Man has a free will. But when man's will is broken, and he calls on God, he lines up with God's will and is saved by grace through faith.
Because of God’s “whosoever” clause, we all must accept Christ or reject him, believe or disbelieve, and it is our response that either invites the grace of God to do its full work or rejects its power to save. If we reject him, we are already condemned and hence we will receive that condemnation, if we .die in that rejection. If we accept him, we receive the gift of grace paid for by the Blood of Christ which does save us. We are accountable. God cannot get the blame for a man going to Hell, and a man cannot get the credit when he goes to Heaven. No man will have excuse or be able to charge God for his condemnation.