God does not predetermine whether anyone should go to heaven or hell. He wants all men to repent and to be saved. Those who go to hell do so out of their own choice. Yet God also sovereignly chooses His own children. The problem of reconciling man’s freewill with God’s sovereign election is faced only by those who try to explain these truths with their human reason. We are not to be Calvinists or Arminians in our theology, but Biblical. As someone has well put it, “The truth does not lie in one extreme nor in the other. Much less does it lie in the middle. The truth lies in both extremes held together” – however much our human reason may be unable to reconcile those extremes.
We cannot pigeonhole every verse in Scripture into neat, mutually-exclusive categories. We cannot explain Scripture as we explain mathematical problems either. The little cup of our human intelligence cannot hold the ocean of God’s wisdom. So we must humbly acknowledge that we cannot explain everything with our cleverness. God’s truths are hidden from the clever and intelligent and revealed to babes (Matt.11:25). A dog cannot explain what a man understands perfectly. Even so, no man can explain everything that God has written in the Scriptures. But we are called to believe it, even if we cannot explain it.
In the same way as people choose to go to heaven or hell, people become spiritual or carnal also as a result of their own choices.
Every day we make decisions concerning various matters. We make decisions in relation to how we are going to spend our money or our spare time, or how to speak to, or about someone, or how to write a particular letter, or how to react to another’s behaviour, or how much time to spend in studying the Word, or in prayer, or in serving the church etc., We also react in certain ways to the behaviour of people around us from morning till night. We may not be realising it, but we make at least a hundred decisions every day – and in each of those decisions we decide either to please ourselves or to please God.
Many of our actions are not the result of conscious decisions. But even then, we do them in one of these two ways – either seeking to please ourselves or to glorify God. Our unconscious actions are determined by the way we make our conscious decisions. Finally, it is the sum total of these decisions that determine whether we become spiritual or carnal.
Think of the millions of decisions that we have made ever since we were first converted. Those who have consciously and consistently chosen to deny their self-will many times each day and to do the will of God, have become spiritual. On the other hand, those who have rejoiced merely in the forgiveness of their sins, and who therefore chose to please themselves most of the time have remained carnal. Each person’s decisions have determined what he has finally become.
You are today as humble and as holy and as loving as you yourself have chosen to be, through the thousands of decisions that you have made in the various situations of life in past years.
Consider the spiritual state of two brothers (both converted to Christ on the same day), ten years after their conversion. One is now a mature brother with spiritual discernment, to whom God can commit much responsibility in the church. The other is still a child, without discernment, and needing to be fed and encouraged by others constantly.What is it that has made such a difference between the two? The answer is: The little decisions that they took during each day of the ten years of their Christian life.
If they continue on in the same way, in another 10 years, the difference between them will be even more pronounced. And in eternity, their differing degrees of glory will be as different as the light emitted by a 2000-watt bulb and a 5-watt bulb!! “One star differs from another star in glory” (1 Cor.15:41).
Don’t be weak-willed then. Exercise your will to please God at all times. If you determine to be faithful from now on, you will have no regrets in eternity, no matter how much you may have failed in your past life up until now.
You will find more than enough believers around you who have no interest in living such a disciplined, wholehearted life. Don’t judge them. Don’t be a Pharisee and despise them. Mind your own business and don’t be a busybody in their affairs. But be different. Let Jesus alone be your Example. Think often of the day when you will have to give an account of your life at the judgment- seat of Christ.
Determine today that you will become a true man/woman of God.