Today’s essay explores the notion that if Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul had been Arminians, how would their testimonies sound? Using today’s vernacular, let’s see how it reads when these eminent Christians say they “chose God” of their own free will.
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The Sovereign call of Jeremiah to speak YHWH’s words becomes:
Jeremiah asking Jesus into His heart and making a career decision,
“When I was a youth, one night I couldn’t sleep. I walked around for a while outside, unfamiliar with this restless feeling. I felt young and inept at whatever I tried my hand. I remember clearly, it was the third of Tishrei, a cool September morning. I was at Sabbath at the synagogue. I was overcome with Avital’s lyre playing of the ninth repetition of “Just As I Am.” It all came together in my heart. I made a decision to walk the aisle toward the rabbi, and I knelt down and sincerely asked Messiah into my heart. Rabbi told me I was saved. Afer that, I decided I wanted to be a Prophet of God because I knew that God had a great plan for my life. When I came forward the priest had told me that. I became a prophet even though I was young and didn’t know how to speak. It was a God thing for sure. I’m so happy that day I walked the aisle and decided for the Savior.”
The powerful testimony of Christian Terrorist Paul on the road to Damascus becomes:
Paul meekly being led in praying the Sinner’s Prayer and choosing to change his whole life around-
Paul explained, “I was exceeding my peers in Law, at that time I was breathing out threats and fire against the Christians. I was at the peak of my career. I had the esteem of my colleagues, and I was young enough to have the world in front of me. Yet something lacked. Then one day while I was walking along the road to Damascus on an official Pharisaical mission to jail and execute followers of The Way, I felt a restlessness. Is this all there is, I wondered? Just being the best at everything and killing blasphemers, nice as that was? I spoke about it with the men who were walking with me, but most of them didn’t understand, except for one fellow traveler. He explained that I needed to decide to follow Jesus and that I should use my free will to choose Him. Of course! That was the answer. He led me in the sinner’s prayer. I’ve been saved ever since. You should decide for Jesus too, everyone should. I don’t know why they don’t. That I did is what makes me a great example of Christian self-decisional regeneration. Not to boast, though. Grace and peace to you.”
John the Baptist’s call as the last Old Testament Prophet, foreordained and empowered since the womb, becomes a lifestyle choice-
John the Baptist shares his testimony about accepting Jesus
“I didn’t get along with my parents, they were very aged and they just didn’t understand me or my generation. I felt so lonely, like I didn’t fit in with any of my friends. I went to live in the desert to try and find myself, and figure it all out. One day as I was roasting some locusts over the fire and sewing a new camel hair outfit, I realized suddenly that what I needed was Messiah. What I lacked was that I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior! I decided to give my heart to Jesus. I also decided to stay in the desert. It’s a relationship, not a religion, so who needs church? I have peace about that.”
Don’t those Arminian testimonies sound ridiculous? We do not decide for Jesus. He decided long before the world was ever made or we were ever born. Now here is how it really happened, with the addition of the verses about God’s call to Jesus to become His Son.
The Call of Jeremiah-
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
John the Baptist-
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall never take wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15).
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”. (Psalm 2:7)
And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), (Isaiah 49:5).
I am not familiar with this author but I thought his explanation of the biblical truth of God’s sovereign choice of His elect was the clearest and most succinct I’ve read in a while.
Why is it important to understand that election is unconditional and individual? If we believe, as Arminians propose, that election is the result of God looking ahead via His omniscient foreknowledge to see who will choose Him and persevere in Him, we make God’s choice of particular people contingent upon their choice/faith in Him. This makes election a reward or an obligation that is given in response to foreseen faith. This is not the gospel of grace. Election in this view is not God independently choosing us; rather, we are choosing Him and He is merely ratifying the choice by calling “elect” those who have chosen Him. Again, this makes man, not God, sovereign in election, and dishonors God by diminishing His sovereignty.
Such a view also leaves a pocket for pride in the human heart. Since the choice to believe is supposedly made by the sinner independently, the one who chooses to believe and respond positively to the gospel offer has proven himself more “worthy” of salvation, with all its attendant blessings, than the one who rejects the gospel. Of course, such an exalted view of man is unjustified by Scripture.
We do not choose Jesus. If we did, we could – and would – boast. No, He chooses us. All the glory rightly belongs to Him.