Several years ago, at the Midwest Founders Conference in St. Joseph, MO(St. Louis area), one of the speakers there said this, “We choose Him because He first chose us,” going along with 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” And, for a little over two years now, I have pondered this statement.
Now, in June of 2014, I really have figured it out. You see, when I first heard the speaker say “We choose Him because He first chose us,” I knew it was true, because God is a sovereign God, however, I still had a difficult time wrapping my head around it. I know God chooses us, because we are unable to choose Him(Romans 3), however, I have never been able to wrap my head around the “We choose Him…” part of the statement.(If you’re wondering, I do not remember who said it, just that it was at the Midwest Founders Conference in February 2012 in St. Joseph, MO).
I recently finished reading a book on my Kindle written my renowned theologian, pastor, speaker, R. C. Sproul, entitled “Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow”(Reformation Trust Publishing, 2nd. Ed. 2008, Lake Mary, FL). In it, he wrote heavily on Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well from John 4:
John 4:1–26 (ESV)
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Now, upon reading this, there is one particular verse that R.C. Sproul truly focused on in his chapter about worship. John 4:23 reads, ““But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” Sproul writes this about John 4:23 in his book, “With these words, Jesus announced that God was actually seeking worshipers. We usually think about people seeking God, but here Jesus spoke about God seeking people. And what was God searching for? Jesus said He was seeking true worshipers.”(ch.3, I don’t know the page number as it’s on my kindle). While we cannot seek God, God seeks true worshipers, He wants those who are to worship Him to do it in Spirit and in Truth. R.C. Sproul continues to expound on how one worships in Spirit and Truth, being that they worship God with all that they have and do it in God’s truth, His Word, how God explains how to do it. He even reminds us what happened to people who tried to add to the God’s methodology: death(see Leviticus 10:1-3).
Now, what point am I getting at? What I have always known and what the speaker said are the same thing, just looking at it from a slightly different perspective. He says “We choose Hime because he first chose us”(emphasis added) and I have always believed that we respond to Him when it becomes apparent that God had chosen us before the beginning of time(Ephesians 1:4).
Now, I know that some people will read this and disagree with me about the thought that we choose Him, or respond to Him, because He first chose us. Well, that’s the way it is. That’s the way the Bible says it is. We don’t just love because He first loved us(1 John 4:19), but, we choose God because He first chose us. Why do I believe that? Well, these two passages will explain it:
Romans 3:10–18 (ESV)
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
See there in verse 11? “…no one understands; no one seeks for God.”(Romans 3:11). Don’t think that was just Paul rattling off his feelings on theology and doctrine when writing to the Church in Rome. He was quoting the Old Testament, Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3. And also this:
Ephesians 1:3–14 (ESV)
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
See there? Predestination(WHAT A DIRTY WORD?!!?!?!?!?!?!) Ok, not really a dirty word. If it’s in the Bible, how can it really be a dirty word? This word has started many arguments, some of which I have been a part of. However, it’s there. And it says that “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him….”(Ephesians 1:4). We cannot choose Him on our own. If we indeed are choosing Him, it’s not on our own. It’s because He first chose us and we are responding to His choice of us. And, when we have to respond to Him, we shouldn’t try to resist, but, instead, be eternally grateful for his mercy and grace in choosing us. He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to. In fact, it would have been perfectly fair and just if He were to let us all go to hell. Remember that next time you get frustrated at God.
Soli Deo Gloria
*Edit* I mistakenly put the wrong title of the book. It is “Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow” and not “Five Things Every Christian Needs to Know”. My apologies for the mistake.