God, before the foundation of the world, chose to save certain particular individuals on the basis of Christ’s death on the cross (Eph 1:3). He did this knowing that those saved would be dead in their sins and unworthy of this gift of divine grace (Eph 2:3-5). He made this sovereign choice unconditionally meaning that it was not conditional on something we could or would do or be. Rather, He chose to save these people to the praise and glory of His name in spite of their sinful condition. A student of the Bible can see God’s sovereign choice to save throughout scripture extending all the way back to Noah and Abraham through His choice of Israel and into the New Testament where He chose Paul to preach to the Gentiles.
The question that is often asked is “Does man have free choice? What about free will?” For instance, I know that when I was 12 years old I prayed to receive Christ. From my perspective, this was my choice. I prayed, I trusted, and I repented. However, I read in scripture where God declares that He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 48:3). As we read in Romans 9:19, Paul anticipates the question “Who resists His will?” I have no way to explain it or understand it really other than to say that the word of God declares it to be true. I do read, though, something interesting in John 6.
In John 6:39, we read “This is the will of Him who sent Me (A), that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.(B)” In this verse, we are the objects. God gives the elect, those who believe, to the Son. We are passive in this verse. God is the one Who is active and is acting.
In John 6:40, Jesus says “For this is the will of My Father (A), that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (C)." In this verse, Christ does raise up the believers at the last day, but the believers are no longer passive. They are quite active actually. They believe, they behold, and they have eternal life.
Now, in math, when I learned to do word problems I learned that “is” means an equal sign needs to be stuck there when writing an equation. Therefore, when Jesus says “This IS the will of My Father (or Him who sent me)” He defines the words that follow that phrase. Now, both verses say “This is the will of God” (A) and have two different definitions of the word of God (B) and (C). From the transitive property in mathematics, we know that if A is equal to B and A is equal to C then B is equal to C. Therefore, since God’s will is revealed by His sovereign choice (vs 39) and God’s will is revealed by man’s belief (vs 40), God’s sovereignty and man’s profession of faith are both equal in effect in the act of salvation. How do I reconcile such profoundly incongruent statements? I don’t. I’m perfectly willing to accept the fact that while both are true they seem contradictory.