Calvinism is the teaching that God sovereignly chooses those whom he wanted to be saved, and those who were destined to die in a state of eternal punishment. If predestined to be saved, once saved, he was always saved. If destined to be lost, no matter how strongly he desired to serve God, he would inevitably die in a lost condition. Calvinism suggests that we have no choice, God sovereignly determines our fate.
I think of the sign on a politician’s desk: “My decision is maybe – and that’s final!”
The fact is that, as humans, we get to choose! Think of the frequent calls in Scripture for us to choose God. If God had already predestined us for heaven or Hell, why so many passages calling on us to choose?
Moses, in his dying moments, begged Israel to choose rightly. Note that this is a life or death situation, “life or death, blessing or curse.” “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life,” he begged them, “that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Early Restoration Leader “Raccoon” John Smith once halted a sermon when he heard himself declare that those who believed the gospel would be saved, and those who did not would be lost. It occurred to him that if his audience was already destined to be one thing or the other, he was wasting his words. His sense of integrity prevented him from continuing this line of reasoning. “Something is wrong,” he declared to the startled audience, “I am in the dark. We are all in the dark. But how to lead you to the light, or to find the way myself, before God, I know not.” Then he simply sat down before his startled listeners!
Our right (and responsibility) to choose is a consistent biblical theme. Please take the trouble to read these verses that speak of people choosing badly: Proverbs 3:31; 1:28,29; James 4:4; Genesis 13:11,12; Isaiah 65:12; Judges 10:14.
But we are capable of choosing well, too: Hebrews 11:25; Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 8:10; Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:173; Luke 10:42. Scripture rings this truth out as clearly as a bell.
But choose we must! As Joshua gathered the clans of Israel, he called on them to “choose this day” whom “they would serve” (Joshua 24:14,15). Israel had a plethora of options to choose from: Many choices are loud and gaudy. Others are seductive and alluring, but God had given them the ability, and the right to choose. If they chose to serve God, it would be an act of sincerity, and not coerced. Making such a choice was urgent: Joshua was at the end of his life. He must speak now. It was urgent that they choose. Joshua forced the issue: “Choose this day.”
Joshua had already chosen: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” You cannot lead others where you are not convinced you should go. Joshua would, if necessary, go alone. If Israel that day chose not to serve God, Joshua will serve the Lord anyway.
We will have to make decisions, unpopular often, alone if needed. Joshua had already demonstrated leadership in his family. His influence had already ensured that his house was already serving the Lord. I reckon that because of Joshua’s great courage, many chose that day to serve the Lord.