Romans 9:10b (ESV) "... when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Let me explain this important message, even though I was tempted to skip it! It requires some serious thought about whether God is just or unjust. Calvin saw him as just with injustice. Arminius saw God has merciful. Ironically, the man who taught grace saw God as one who was lacking in grace!
I often think that the use of the word election was used on purpose to see who could overlook self-doctrine in favor of love. Otherwise, it would seem, that God's way of choosing who goes to heaven is divine cruelty. Since God "so loved the world" (John 3:16), and world means everyone, then cruelty and love are oxymorons. God cannot contradict himself. There must be more to election than just randomly selecting people to live eternally, and allowing others to live infernally!
The answer to the seemingly injustice of election is foreknowledge. Not only does God have free will to do as he may, but since mankind was created in the image of God, we also have free will.
Peter wrote about election in the following letter:
1 Peter 1:1 (ESV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.Peter spoke to the elected exiles, those Christians who had been dispersed to various places. Peter spells out that those exiles had been sanctified of the Spirit, and had been obedient to Jesus Christ by responding to his blood atonement. They were Christians because of their obedience, not in doing things, but by believing in Jesus's atonement,. Peter went on to say that further grace be multiplied, insinuating that salvation is by grace.
Salvation of the exiled Christians was known to God all along according to the foreknowledge of God. Which came first: the elect or God's knowledge. Obviously, with foreknowledge, God knew in advance who would obey the call of his Holy Spirit. Obedience is the exercise of free will. Election is in spite of free will, so it seems. Why not both? I believe that foreknowledge is the answer to that. God knew before you were ever born how you would respond to his election. That response is obedience.
John 6:44 ( ESV) "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."You can see here that the Father draws people toward him. It remains unclear from this passage if all are called or just a few.
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV) "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure,"It would appear from this passage that God calls those who are diligent; those who he knows will be obedient. He used his foreknowledge for that election. God doesn't elect those who he knows will not obey. Grace is a gift, but the one thing that Christians must do, is respond to God's call. God provides the faith to do that, but the elected person must have the work of faith. That work is obedience to God's call.
When God hardens hearts, he doesn't make the person's heart hard; with his foreknowledge, he knows who will respond in disobedience. He knew that Pharaoh would. He knew thousands of years ago that the Jewish people would. He knew that they would obey in the things of the hands, but not the greatest command: to love God with all their being, and love others as themselves.
God chose Judas to betray Jesus. He didn't make Judas heart unrighteous, but knew who to choose for the dirty deed because Judas's heart was wrong. Likewise, Jesus chose Saul because in spite of his evil works, his heart was malleable. God knew that thousands of years before, and Saul was ordained for the apostleship because God knew that his heart could be circumcised. Immediately, he saw again after he was blinded, and obeyed. God knew he would. God didn't pick Saul by chance. It was part of his original plan back there in the Garden of Eden!
What is your destiny? You can do something about it. God knows whether you will choose rightly or not. You don't, assuming you have not already. Choose wisely my friend because God knows how you will choose. It is his will that you obey his call. The only thing that is keeping you from obedience is you.