Deuteronomy 30:19 Choose Life and Joshua 24:15 Choose you this day whom ye will serve.
Christians who continue to promote and teach the false theology of “I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel.” ignore or pass over without thinking about the clear Scriptures that tell us that the new birth is “not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” in John 1:12-13 and that the purpose of God according to election is “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” in Romans 9:16
God is the Potter and we are but the clay. Out of the same lump He makes vessels of mercy which He afore prepared unto glory, and He also makes the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Romans 9:7-24.
It never seems to dawn on those who teach “the free will of man” to take to heart the solid biblical teaching that “There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God. There are ALL gone out of the way, there are together become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12.
We are all born spiritually DEAD and are by nature “haters of God” (Romans 1:30) and the children of wrath. We deserve nothing but the righteous judgment and wrath of a sin hating God.
Yet in spite of the clear testimony of God to the fact that “the flesh profiteth nothing” and “without Me ye can do NOTHING” (John 6:63 and 15:5), the vain pride of man insists that the critical deciding factor in his salvation was his “own free will”.
The “free will” Christian will grasp on to anything he thinks he can find in the Scriptures to try to prop up the religion of his free will fantasy.
Two of the most common Scriptures the free willers latch onto to try to “prove” that the natural man is free to choose his fate are Deuteronomy 30:19 “therefore choose life” and the one in Joshua 24:15 where the children of Israel are exhorted to “choose you this day whom ye will serve.”
The purpose of this article is to examine more closely the context of these two passages of Scripture to see to whom these exhortations were directed and if they lend any support to the belief so common today of “I chose of my own free will to believe.”
We need to look at the CONTEXT of both these verses and see to whom God is speaking. In both cases God’s word is directed toward those who are already His chosen people.
In the book of Deuteronomy God tells them that when they go into the promised land they are not to mingle with the pagan nations that surround them nor to intermarry with them but they were to “destroy their altars, break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”
Why? “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God; the LORD thy God hath CHOSEN THEE to be A SPECIAL PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF, ABOVE ALL PEOPLE that are upon the face of the earth....the Lord loved you...and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen” Deuteronomy 7:1-8.
These were already God’s people by sovereign election and redeeming love and it is to THESE people of the family of God that Moses speaks when he tells them “choose life”. But let’s look further at the context. Moses is NOT talking about eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. This is not a gospel message at all.
These redeemed people are about to enter the promised land and he tells them to love the Lord their God and to cleave unto Him and not to turn aside to the idols of the pagan nations around them.
In this context he tells them: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, THAT THOU MAYEST LIVE and multiply; and the LORD thy God will bless thee IN THE LAND whither thou goest to possess it. BUT if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them: I denounce unto you this day, that YE SHALL SURELY PERISH, AND THAT YE SHALL NOT PROLONG YOUR DAYS UPON THE LAND...I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH, blessing and cursing; THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE that both thou and thy seed shall LIVE; That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; THAT THOU MAYEST DWELL IN THE LAND which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Clearly the context is speaking about PHYSICAL LIFE and blessing in the land God had given them. It is NOT addressed to non-believers and it has nothing to do with “everlasting life” or the forgiveness of sins.
Even when the children of Israel went into the land and eventually disobeyed God and turned to idols, as He knew they would, they were STILL HIS CHILDREN. See Deuteronomy 32:6 and 19 “Is not He thy Father that hath BOUGHT thee?...And when the Lord saw it (their provoking Him to jealously with strange gods), He abhorred them, because of the provoking of HIS SONS AND OF HIS DAUGHTERS.”
Even in disobedience, they were still His children, but He would send the punishments of death, the sword and famine to chastise them and drive them out of the promised land. THIS is the context of “choose life that thou mayest live”.
We see the same context in Joshua 24:15 where Joshua says “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Again, we need to ask ourselves, to whom is Joshua speaking? And once again we see that it is to those who already ARE God’s redeemed people.
In Joshua chapter 24 he rehearses the history of God’s redeeming grace by taking “your father Abraham”, even when he was an idolater, and multiplying his seed. He then brought them out of Egypt, and He blessed them and delivered them out of the hand of the enemy. God then gave them the promised land and drove out the heathen nations before them.
It is then THESE people that Joshua exhorts: “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and PUT AWAY THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YE WILL SERVE; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.”
Notice what follows - “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; For the LORD OUR GOD, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage... therefore WILL WE ALSO SERVE THE LORD; FOR HE IS OUR GOD.”
These are already God’s people. Thus “choose you this day whom ye will serve” has NOTHING to do with “I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel”. It DOES have to do with our walk with the Lord and whether or not those who are already His people will obey Him or not.
Free will theology is a false doctrine and it ALWAYS creates numerous contradictions within the Scriptures. Once God opens a persons eyes to see the obvious truths of His electing grace, the Bible begins to make a lot more sense and all the pieces begin to fall into place. God ALONE is exalted and receives ALL the praise and man is humbled in the dust where we belong.
Some I know who, when presented with the doctrines of God's electing grace unto salvation of a particular people, have humorously told me - "Well, Will, I am not a Calvinist and God has predestined me to believe that I chose of my own free will to believe in Christ." Another lady wondered why all the great theologians don't hold a big conference and decide which is true - free will or God's election. She said that both cannot be true, so "How come they can't figure it out?"
I believe that one of the main purposes of God is to humble us before Him and to break the natural pride of man. After all, it was the pride of Lucifer that moved him to exalt himself with his 5 "I will"s in Isaiah 14 where he said "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne, I will sit..., I will ascend..., I will be like the most High."
I believe God hides many of these doctrines of His electing grace so that in that coming day when we stand before Him and know even as we have been known, there will be many who finally realize just how wrong they were in so many things they taught and believed and they will be humbled by the fact that they have fought against the truth of God's revealed word. Every mouth will be stopped and man's vain pride will forever be destroyed and brought to nothing.
Notes from the Internet
“The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory” - Isaiah 23:9
"And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day." Isaiah 2:17
“I am the LORD; that is my name: and My glory will I not give to another...” - Isaiah 42:8
“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, What makest Thou?” - Isaiah 45:9
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