Choice is one of the greatest joys that we have. We can choose our clothes. We can choose our cars. We revel in these choices. We love making them. However the Bible doesn’t allow us to choose God. We are sinners and slaves to sin. (John 8:34) Since the will of man is not spiritually free but is a slave to sin and the devil and since he can will and do no good whatsoever, man cannot save himself by his will. Since the will of man cannot desire what is good and right, how can it possibly choose Christ?
The sinful man cannot choose Christ. That is very clearly taught in the gospel according to John. In John 6:44 we read, “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jesus teaches us that man cannot come to him unless God draws him. There is no “free will” in man that enables him to go to Christ. It takes a power outside of him, the power of God’s grace. Without that, no one goes to Christ for salvation. Jesus says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…” (John 15:16).
We can’t say that we are saved by our will and our choice. We may not say that we are saved because we made a decision for Christ or accepted Him. It is true that the Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12). But this does not mean that we receive Him by the power of our own wills. The very opposite is true as is indicated in the next verse. We read, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Notice the apostle says that we are born “not of the will of man.” The new birth, regeneration, does not come about because man chooses Christ with his enslaved will.
Salvation is of God because it is based upon God’s will. James says, “Of his (God’s)own will begat he us with the word of truth…” (James 1:18). The source of salvation, the determining factor in salvation, is God’s will. No one is born again unless God so wills it. When a man trusts in Christ it is because God has first chosen him. We read in Acts 13:48, “…and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” God’s eternal decree of election is the ultimate source of faith. Faith is not man’s work, but the gift of God which He gives in regeneration. Jesus is called the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebr. 12:2) because no man has faith unless it is given to him by God through the working of the Spirit of Christ. The Scriptures teach us that God’s people “believe according to the working of his (God’s)mighty power.” (Eph. 1:19). The apostle Paul says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith is not of us. It is not our work. It is God’s gracious gift.
The joy in this is that since salvation is God’s gift, we can truly rely on it. It is not changed by our feelings, or our determination. It is of God. Therefore we rejoice that God has chosen us and given us salvation. We can choose our clothes, or cars, or friends, but God has chosen us. Rejoice.