Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

08/01/2018

Randall Caselman

 

Do We Have A Choice

 

 God created us free moral agents! That means we have a will, and with that, we have a choice. We set our own destiny by the choices we make daily. Scripture confirms this:

 

Joshua 24.15 –  "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

 

John 1.12 – "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

 

John 6.66-69 – "From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'"

 

 However, we need to understand that our choices have consequences. The entire Bible is about sin and its consequences. Adam and Eve chose and were cast from the Garden. Enoch chose to walk with God and was taken to Heaven. These choices set the stage for hundreds of good and bad choices recorded in Scripture. Familiar choices that had consequences.

 

 Choose Jesus! Today, our decisions will be wiser ones if we will keep in mind that "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. That there is no other name given under Heaven whereby we can be saved" (John 14.6 & Acts 4.12). The consequences of rejection of Jesus is the loss of one's salvation. And, once accepted, we can choose to leave the way, the truth, the life by: Refusing to follow Jesus (Matthew 16.24); refusing to conform to His image (Romans 8.29 & Colossians 3.10); refusing to have His mind, heart, attitude, disposition, and behavior (Philippians 2.5).

 

 Peter describes the consequences of not following Jesus as our way, truth, and life: "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them" (2 Peter 2.20-21). Demas, once counted among the saved, returned back to the world (2 Timothy 4.10). Choose Jesus! Choose to stay with Jesus.  

 

 Choose forgiveness in His Name. John tells us: "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 2.1, 1.9 & 1.7).

 

 Indeed, it is our choice to make: To acknowledge our sin, seek forgiveness in the name of Jesus, walk in the light of truth, while allowing that acknowledgement and walk to do its work. Well, what work is a result of such a choice? "The truth will set you free.” "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth"  (John 8.32 & 36)(John 17.17). Choose forgiveness!

 

 Choose freedom! The argument against our free choice is usually focused on a verse in Exodus chapter nine where Moses was insisting that Pharaoh let the Children of Israel go: "The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron..." (Exodus 9.12). God did not force Pharaoh. The word translated heart could be translated will or desire. The word translated hardened literally means to strengthen. This verse tells us that God allowed Pharaoh's desire and will to keep Israel in Egypt to be strengthened. There's vast a difference between God allowing Pharaoh's will to reign supreme and Him forcing Pharaoh to do something against his will. There's a similar verse in the New Testament that speaks of those are so set on evil that they refuse to hear the truth and be saved: "For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie" (2 Thessalonians 2.11). Amazing, our free moral agency means that God allows our will to override His will. We have a choice.

 

 Choose to choose. Yes, we have a choice, and yes our choices have consequences. God help us to have the faith of Joshua, choose today to serve God through His Son Jesus, and to embrace the consequences of such a choice. Amen?

 

—Randall Caselman