One of the most tragic teachings in Christianity is that God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost. It matters little how we live, this teaching declares, for in the end God will save only those whom he chooses. If the doctrine of Calvinism seems skewed and unjust, that’s because it is. There are a multitude of ways to counter it, but one of the best ways is to remind ourselves that God has made us free moral agents, people with the power to choose. We can choose to serve God, or choose not to; God has given us that ability.
Toward the end of his distinguished career Moses called on his people to choose: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Similarly Joshua called on Israel to “Choose for yourselves this day” to “serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Lady Wisdom warns that there will come a day when she is unresponsive to our plea because we “hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord” (Proverbs 1:28,29). “Solomon adds that it is better to “get wisdom than gold,” and to “choose understanding” rather than silver” (Proverbs 16:16). “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.”
The Lord himself agrees, suggesting that “if anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether Jesus’ teaching was from God or man (John 7:17). James, in his starkly direct manner declares: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Moses, we are told, “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (Hebrews 11:25). Martha, Jesus declared, had chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42).
If Calvinism was a true biblical teaching, it would render the preaching of sermons, and the hearing of sermons an empty activity. Why would either bother, if God has already decided their eternal fate? The theme of human choice is a major theme of Scripture. It’s so strong you could only miss it willfully. And this theme rings out one great truth, that the God we serve is just and fair, and gives us the opportunity to choose to serve him.