A Paradox of Salvation: God Chose Us AND We Chose Him

What is a Paradox?

A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true.

The Bible has paradoxes in it due to the fact that our understanding is limited. Remember, Christ often explained spiritual truths that were difficult to understand by tying them to physical things that His followers did understand (like a fig tree or a grape vine).

Since God is unlimited in understanding and unfathomable by us mortals, it is only logical to expect that things will appear to us to be paradoxes (seemingly self-contradictory but nevertheless true).

What Are the Paradoxes We Will Discuss?

1) God Chose Us and We Chose Him

2) Our Salvation is Free and It is Very Costly

3) Jesus is 100% God and 100% Man

God Chose Us 

Elect — a person or group chosen by God for special favor and for the rendering of special service to Him. (Nelson’s New Ill. Bible Dic.)

Election — the gracious and free act of God by which He calls those who become part of His kingdom and special beneficiaries of His love and blessings. . . .

Throughout the history of redemption, election has characterized God’s saving activity. (Nelson’s New Ill. Bible Dic.)

God . . . chooses on the basis of his sovereign will (Harper’s Bible Dictionary)

1 Peter 1:1-2 (NKJV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ


Call = a summons to bear the name of Christian (the New Bible Dic.)

God’s call of individuals to Salvation, made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross (Nelson’s New Ill. Bible Dic.)

1 Corinthians 1:9 (NKJV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Galatians 1:6 (NKJV) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

Galatians 1:15–16 (NKJV) 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,

Ephesians 1:4–5 (NKJV) 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will

Predestination - appointing a situation for a person . . . in advance (J.I. Packer)

Ephesians 1:11–12 (NKJV) 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

So, there you have it. God chose people to salvation. So, does that mean that people have no choice, or at least, no real choice to salvation? Is this grace irresistible?

Now, I would like to show you several verses that speak to an equal truth: that God’s choosing of us by no means limits our choosing of Him. Both are equally true though seemingly contradictory.

We Chose Him

Romans 10:12-13 (KJV) 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Mark 1:14–15 (NKJV) 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

John 3:16-17 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Romans 1:16 (KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Galatians 3:26 (NKJV)  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

1 Thess. 1:8-10 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

I like how Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary addresses the tension between God’s choice and man’s choice:

(The book describes predestination as) the biblical teaching that declares the sovereignty of God over human beings in such a way that the freedom of the human will is also preserved.

Two major concepts are involved in the biblical meaning of predestination. First, God, who is all-powerful in the universe, has foreknown and predestined the course of human history and the lives of individuals. If He were not in complete control of human events, He would not be sovereign and, thus, would not be God.

Second, God’s predestination of human events does not eliminate human choice. A thorough understanding of how God can maintain His sovereignty and still allow human freedom seems to be reserved for His infinite mind alone. Great minds have struggled with this problem for centuries.

Two views of predestination are prominent today. One view, known as Calvinism, holds that God offers irresistible grace to those whom he elects to save. The other view, known as Arminianism, insists that God’s grace is the source of redemption but that it can be resisted by people through free choice. In Calvinism, God chooses the believer; in Arminianism, the believer chooses God.

Calvinism sees God’s choice as pre-eminent to the point that man cannot resist God’s grace (i.e., he doesn’t really have a choice – God gives him the faith to believe, God makes him believe).

Arminianism sees man’s choice as so important that it explains away God’s choice as God looking down the corridors of time, seeing who would believe and then choosing them based on that knowledge. By so doing, they minimize God’s choice in order to maximize man’s.

Unfortunately, Calvinism emphasizes God’s choice to the detriment of man’s

And Arminianism emphasizes the believer’s choice at the detriment of God’s choice

- To argue the one position is to ignore, explain away or minimize the other

I believe that both are equally true. That here we have a paradox of salvation (an idea that is presented that seems contradictory but is true nonetheless)

-- Has God chosen or elected individuals to salvation?

 Yes He has! 

-- And has the individual the ability to either choose salvation in Jesus Christ or to reject Him? 

 Yes, indeed we do! 

 And each and every day people either accept or reject of their own free-will

The Bible teaches both. One cannot emphasize one to the detriment of the other. Both are equally true even though our minds have trouble grasping this truth.

As the New Ill. Bible Dictionary has stated, A thorough understanding of how God can maintain His sovereignty and still allow human freedom seems to be reserved for His infinite mind alone.

In other words, we can’t grasp it. We take it by faith that though we cannot adequately explain it without doing damage to God’s sovereignty or to man’s freedom to choose that it is true – something only the mind of God can adequately explain

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

Ephesians 3 repeatedly refers to salvation as a mystery . . . Paul describes the love of God which surpasses our ability to know . . . and talks about the One who is able to do above what we can comprehend/think

Isn’t God amazing, that He can make the way of salvation so simple, a child can understand it and come to Him by faith?

-- Yet --

So deep, profound and mysterious that we can never completely understand how God can choose us in the ways described in the Bible and yet we also choose Him freely

My wife told me of a professor that she had explaining it this way:  
When you approach "the pearly gates," imagine looking up at a sign above stating, "whosoever will may come."  Then, as you pass through and enter Heaven, you look back and see the back of the sign.  It states, "chosen from before the foundation of the world."  

We do indeed have a great salvation, don't we?

If you aren't sure that if you died today that you would be in Heaven, check out this link from our friends at Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ).

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Popular posts from this blog

Large Christian Family Suffers Losses due to Arkansas Tornado

My Thoughts on Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns

Billy Graham: Biographies, articles of note, Billy Graham library and his memorial service