Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino
Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.
Question #56 – How Can I Know If I Am One of God’s Chosen People?
The Bible clearly tells us that if you have faith in God you are one of God’s chosen people.
We do not work out such faith for ourselves, but rather such faith comes to us purely as a gift from God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that (that is that faith is) not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
I John 5:13 assures us that, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Tevye, the beloved dairyman in “Fiddler on the Roof” observed, when he dryly suggested that maybe, “for once (God could) choose someone else.”
From Tevye’s perspective, being the chosen people had a high price (persecutions, wanderings and broken dreams) while the benefit package remained illusive and ill defined.
Some have struggled with the concept of the Jews being God’s chosen people and question what makes the Jews think they are so special that God would choose them over all other people?
Such questions thinly disguise the resentment that has often boiled up into vehement anti-Semitism. That resentment provoked one to write, “How odd of God to choose the Jews, but not so odd as those who choose the Jewish God and hate the Jews.”
The oddness stems from a failure to realize that chosen-ness reflects more on the One who chooses than on those who are chosen. “When God chooses people, He asks us to be different from the rest of the world. The rest of the world has a problem with that.”
God’s choosing is meant to raise our awareness of His character, rather than to raise the status of those He has chosen.
In choosing the Jewish people, God demonstrated to us and to the entire world that he is a loving God who is faithful to keep all His promises.
Nevertheless, the Jewish people are not God’s only chosen ones. The Hebrew word for chosen is bachar, and the church of Jesus Christ is the chosen of God.
“For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus (and) with (it) eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10).
When God chooses people, He asks us to be different from the rest of the world. The rest of the world has a problem with that.“When God chooses people He charges them with a responsibility as well as a relationship.”
When we don’t do as they do, they feel judged and they view us as the source of it. Of course God is the Judge. He sets the standards. He determined the basis upon which the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be called out as the chosen people.
Likewise, God has determined the basis on which people can enter a relationship with Him today.
That is the basis of the new covenant and faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that sets us apart from the rest of the world.
Jesus clearly tells us in John 6:44 that we cannot come to Him (that is have faith in Him) on our own, but only if God, the Father, gives us that faith.
Let’s analyze what Jesus is saying here, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” “God has determined the basis on which people can enter a relationship with Him today. That is the basis of the new covenant and faith in Jesus Christ.”
“No man” is a universal negative. If Jesus said “All men” it would be a universal positive, but Jesus is clearly stating that absolutely no one can (that is no one has the ability) to come to Him.
Jesus is not saying that no one “may come” to Him, which would mean that no one has permission to come to Him, but that no one is able to come to Him, “unless” a necessary condition is met.
And the necessary condition is that one must be drawn (literally dragged) by the Father to Him.
There is a “theologically correct” scene in the movie “O God” where John Denver runs into a Synagogue and tells a Rabbi the he wants to “find God.”
The rabbi correctly informs him that, “You don’t find God; God finds you!”
Likewise we don’t choose God; God chooses us. When God chooses people He charges them with a responsibility as well as a relationship.
Part of that responsibility is to obey the commands that make us different from the world, and part of that responsibility is to invite the world into the Kingdom of God.
Let us rejoice then in the high and holy calling He has placed on us to whom He has given such faith and thus are His chosen people.
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