God choosing


George M. Ophoff (1953)

What may be meant by a supreme, in distinction from bound choice?

Let us illustrate. The matter is simple enough. A merchant is in need of an able clerk. He advertises, and shortly two men, “A” and “B” apply. The merchant fixes his gaze first upon the one and then upon the other; and the thought rises in his soul, “A” strongly appeals to me. Him will I select, providing he possesses the necessary fitness. A brief interview, however, convinces him that the fit man is not “A” but “B.” “B” therefore is taken and “A” dismissed. A bound choice; bound because shaped and influenced by a circumstance (the fitness of the applicants) which the merchant did not create, but before which he is compelled to bow and take cognizance of, a circumstance, therefore, that constitutes the factor that determined the choice.

On the other hand, if the merchant, capable of making of a man what he wills, could choose without considering what the applicants within themselves are, his choice, determined solely by factors within himself, would be free and sovereign. From the very nature of things, however, man’s choice is always bound. He cannot move mountains; hence he chooses the path that leads him past them. He decides to cross the ocean in a ship because the opposite shore can be reached in no other way. His choice to go his way alone is shaped by the refusal of the friend to set out in company with him. Forsooth, the field in which man’s will can operate is exceedingly small.

However, as the choice, selection, of a God who made heaven and earth, moves mountains, dries up seas, creates evil, turns men’s hearts, is the source of anything of goodness in man — this choice, elective love, of God is supreme. Nowhere is this more plainly taught than in the ninth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Attend to the argument of the verses ten to fourteen: “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

This passage asserts, mark you, that God loved Jacob before he had done any good, so that the supreme cause of the divine choice as it devolved upon the younger child was not the good works, which he, as a historical phenomenon, performed; but the will, the good pleasure, of the Almighty God. And this is the same as saying that He chose Jacob with a view to creating in him life, goodness, and power. For, not of works but of Him that calleth, that the purpose of God according to election might stand. Forsooth, God’s choice is supreme. The sole factor that determines it, is found within Him. He has mercy upon whom He will.

Deny the sovereignty of the divine choice, say that a sinner of himself believes, can believe if he but will, and cannot be made to believe, if he will not; and you brush aside with one sweep the entire mass of testimony of Scripture that God is God, and set man on a throne left vacant by a dethroned God. For if the spiritual Israel, as to its hallowed energies and power (its faith, hope, love, and good works) is not of God, is not the creation of His almighty will; He is not Israel’s Maker, exalted and almighty Father, King and Saviour.

To say, therefore, that there is something of goodness in man that is not of God, not the creation of His will—some power, however infinitesimal, to appropriate the Christ and the blessings of the kingdom, to take hold of the life-line thrown out, some power to utter a single faint cry for mercy—is to strip Him of His infinite might, yea of all His glories, and draw Him down to the level of the creature to be trodden under foot of man.

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” [Daniel 4:35]


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