God chose us for a purpose. At the judgment, he will evaluate whether we have made good use of our time on earth to fulfill that purpose. In this life we prepare for the kingdom to come. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The kingdom involves a king (a ruler) and subjects (people who willingly obey the ruler). Jesus is the king, and we are to learn to follow his will in every area of life. In training us to follow him in this present kingdom, the Holy Spirit is preparing us to rule in Jesus’ coming kingdom. We, among the saved, are chosen to participate in this program. Will we endure the rigors of the training and stand before God victorious over sin, self, and the Devil? The present and coming judgment will determine this.
Jesus gave us several examples of servants who gave an account to their master (who had returned to them after a long absence). To those who had remained faithful, the master gave them greater responsibilities, and to those who had neglected their responsibilities while the master was gone, he removed all privileges (Matthew 24:45-51, 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27). While our Master, Jesus, is gone, we will be growing in our faithfulness in our responsibilities, or be irresponsible. Which route do you think will result in a favorable judgment?
Yet in Romans 8:29-30, Paul writes about those who were called and glorified, as though it were a foregone conclusion. Also, in Ephesians 1:4-5 we are told that we were chosen from before earth’s beginning to appear before God in love.
Do these passages of judgment and being chosen contradict each other? No, for Romans chapter eight is describing the Christian who is led by the Spirit, not by the flesh. Those who live for the kingdom are doing so while living by faith in God’s word. Otherwise we are living for ourselves and this world. Walking in the flesh results in wretchedness (Romans 7:24), death (Romans 8:6, 13), destruction (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), and disqualification from the kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). God makes a difference between those who walk in the flesh and those who walk in faith. Both groups have been called to a life of privilege, but only one group has decided to take hold of it.
In Ephesians, we learn that we have been chosen that we may appear before God in love, but other chapters in the Bible teach us that this position before God is conditional. For instance, if we deny God before men, then King Jesus will deny us – before God and all the holy angels (Matthew 10:32-33)!
We have been chosen for a great privilege, but God will not force us to reign with Christ. He will not force us to suffer self-denial and self-discipline. Instead, he offers warnings and promises to encourage us to look beyond the pleasures of the flesh and this world to shoulder burdens for rewards in the life to come. Those who want the Lord to lead them will undergo these trials and will be trained up for the kingdom.
What Do You Think?
a. When a person is chosen to play for a professional baseball team, does that mean he’ll automatically become an MVP? When you were saved, does that mean you’ll automatically become all God wants you to be?
b. Do you think the idea of being chosen, and the reality that Christians will be judged, are contradictions? Why or why not? How do you put them together in harmony?