Paul makes the point in Romans chapter 9 that God chose Jacob rather than Esau even before they were born and before they had done anything good or bad. According to Paul, He did this specifically to show that His saving of Jacob had nothing to do with anything Jacob or Esau did and was wholly because it was God’s good purpose to do so.
Why did the Lord choose us to be His people? Is it because of something we did, something He did, or maybe a little bit of both? Today, Barry Cooper shows that the Bible’s answer to this question is abundantly clear.
It began one day in late 1991, when a student worker called Tony invited me to meet him for coffee one afternoon in his study at St. Ebbe’s Church in Oxford. To be honest, I didn’t really see the point. Even after we’d met, I still wasn’t sure I saw the point. Pretty much all we did was look at a short Bible passage together. He threw out some questions to make sure I understood what I was reading, asked me how he could be praying for me, and that was it. Then we’d doggedly repeat the process a week or so later. Poor man, I thought to myself. He’s obviously lonely.
By the time we reached Easter 1992, I realized when I sat down in Tony’s overstuffed armchair that I wasn’t doing it for his benefit. I had been introduced to Jesus Christ.
There’s much more I could say, but the question I want to focus on is this: Why did all this happen? Why did God choose to write my name in His book of life? Was it because of something I did, or because of something He did, or perhaps a bit of both?
The answer to this is tied up in the biblical idea of predestination, the fact that God determines everything in advance, including who will be saved. Historically, it’s been a very big deal, and Martin Luther even called it “the heart of the church.”
You see the concept of predestination across both the Old and New Testaments. Listen, for example, to Ephesians chapter 1:
“In love [God] predestined us for adoption. . . . 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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
In other words, God predetermines, or pre-destines, those He will adopt into His family, to know and enjoy Him forever.