There are Christians who believe many things that don’t make sense to me. I’m trying to understand why they believe what they do. Did they come to believe it through study? I am sure they would make this claim. Have they been indoctrinated to believe it, through teaching from birth what they believe is true? Did they meet someone that convinced them this is true? Did God truly speak to them and convince them this is true?
There are many things Christians believe that come from the understanding of a single source, a single church, a single man, a single chapter, or even a single verse of the bible. Jesus is the only source that brings truth to the teachings of man. Going to a source other than the Word of God for truth is a mistake. I don’t know what God’s judgement will be on those who believe doctrine about the Word of God over understanding the Word of God on their own, but I’m certain Jesus will have questions for them.
I will no longer condemn anyone for what they do and believe. As much harm as some acts cause, and lasting pain that comes from them, I believe Jesus taught us that condemnation of others for their sins is wrong and a serious offense to God. Condemnation is taking on a role of God in spiritual judgement, and we do it without his knowledge, understanding, and exposure to all of the facts. We are not equipped to handle such a responsibility, and therefore doing it is both wrong and against the direct teachings of Jesus.
However, Jesus does teach us to discern between true and false, right and wrong. He teaches us to correct our brother or sister. He teaches us to bring evidence before them, bring a witness, bring your entire church to try to win them over and convince them to change. The church is the entire body of Christ, every single person who believes he is the Son of God, our Savior, and our Lord. Every family has a black sheep or two, but it is important to embrace them too. They may not listen to us, they may not adjust course when provided evidence; we may have to go on with only hope they eventually come around. Don’t abandon people who do not believe as you do, just accept there is nothing more that a man or woman can do to change them and that God is the only one who can convince them. Don’t forget that the Apostle Paul had to be convinced by Jesus before he would change, and if he can change, anyone can.
There is a belief in certain doctrines that we are dead because of sin. God alone chooses who to save and nothing man can do can change that. No amount of pleas, no amount of searching for him will make him choose to save you. God does what he does completely by himself and is not influenced by anything mankind says or does. Once God chooses someone, they are unable to resist his spirit and are forever changed.
I’m not sure how this idea ever came to be. If God wanted to change us to make us follow him, we would all be in his kingdom right now, or in a more likely scenario, none of us would exist. Adam and Eve would have been made in a way where they simply couldn’t resist God, and therefore they never would have sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wouldn’t have driven them from Eden.
Let me list for you all of the things that are in the bible that never would have needed to happen if God wanted to change people instead of wanting people to love him and listen to him on their own.
- Sin would not exist. (Genesis 3)
- If God was willing to change you by making you believe in him and do his will, he would have just changed Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit.
- Adam and Eve would not have needed to populate the Earth. (Genesis 4)
- God could have just populated the Earth with the people he wanted to make.
- Cain would not have killed Abel. (Genesis 4)
- Surely the first family would have been chosen to be provided his spirit and saved before all who came later.
- There wouldn’t have needed to be a Great Flood. (Genesis 7:11)
- Why destroy the people of the Earth if he was willing and capable of just changing their hearts?
- Ishmael would have never been born. (Genesis 16:15)
- Abraham would not have been able to lose faith in God and would not have decided to have a child with Hagar.
- If God doesn’t save us because of our pleas to him, he wouldn’t have answered the cries of Ishmael. (Genesis 21:17)
- Ishmael wouldn’t have needed to cry out for help, Ishmael would have either died or lived because it was God’s will.
- God would not have needed to test Abraham’s obedience asking him to sacrifice Isaac. (Genesis 22:1)
- Abraham wouldn’t have died. (Genesis 25:1)
- Why would God allow Abraham to die? Abraham proved he would kill his own son just because God asked for it. He was asked to sacrifice something he cherished so much because of his difficulty bearing children with Sarah, yet he willingly walked to the spot God sent him to sacrifice Isaac. God had to stop him. How would Abraham not be chosen by God to have this spirit that would change him completely without his being willing? Why would he then take that man from the Earth when he could continue to teach others?
Let me adjust the initial scope of this list. I am not even through Genesis, and we have eight things that never should have been needed if God didn’t care about what mankind does or what mankind thinks.
I believe God could very easily make all of us do exactly what he wants us to do, but why so often did he allow us to go against his wishes? Why did he allow mankind to sin at all? Why does the bible list the many times mans prayers were answered? Why would God establish a channel of communication between us and him if what we said did not matter?
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
The Lord regretted ever making humans? His heart was deeply troubled?
Why would God be troubled about the things men do if what we do does not matter to him? Why does he allow us to do it? Why did he destroy all of man instead of changing their hearts?
The only answer for all of these questions is that God wants us to choose him. It is not that God wants to choose us. If God intended to make men and women what he wanted them to be then all men and women would be exactly that from the beginning. He wanted us to choose him, and that is why Adam and Eve were presented their test with the serpent. It is why God tested Abraham. It is why God destroyed everyone but Noah and his family. Everything became only evil and he did not want to change an evil heart by force so he started over with the only righteous man on Earth.
The reason King David committed adultery by coveting the wife of his neighbor and eventually having that neighbor killed is because he chose to go against God. He was punished for it, but God forgave him because he realized his mistake.
2 Samuel 12:13-14
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
King Solomon turned against God after being provided discernment and wisdom no other man has or will ever have.
1 Kings 11: 9-13
9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
Why would God send us Jesus? Why would he come down to show us how to be and how to live? If nothing we do matters, why would Jesus be needed and why would he tell us to do good to our neighbor and to love them and each other? Why would he say that we have a choice to believe in him and those who do will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Why would Jesus tell us how to pray when he taught the Lord’s Prayer if the spirit would change a man? Why would he need to perform miracles when he could simply change our heart and make us not sin? Why would Jesus tell you to be perfect (Matthew 5:43-48) if he will make you so?
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Here Jesus tells us to ask, look, and knock at the door. He promises that God will hear us, God will provide, and God will let you in if you show up at his door.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Saul killed and imprisoned many Christians and Jesus did not change his heart, but rather showed him he was wrong. If Jesus changes you, there would be no story of Saul being blinded by Jesus for three days.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Jesus sent Ananias to show Saul and fill him with the holy spirit, but if God did not need man to have this done, Saul simply would have been converted. There would be no need for Saul to be blind and for Ananias to heal him. He would not have needed to be baptized by another man.
Jesus shows us what he does so that we may choose him. He wants us to ask, and he will provide. We are saved because we truly believe in him and want to change. We show that we truly believe in him by actually changing. We show that we truly accept him as Lord and Savior by how we treat others and the example we lead for the world.
The belief that only a chosen few are saved and God makes that choice without any regard to the actions and hearts of men and women is not supported biblically. I challenge anyone who believes this to show me otherwise, as I have shown in this post biblical support against it.
I honestly could go on forever about why forcing us to do anything or forcing a change in us is against the nature of every story in the bible, but there would be no point. I hope this helps someone realize that this idea is not from God but from Man. If it does, I hope they seek out answers from Jesus on where to go next with their faith.