There are a number of paradoxical ideas in the bible, which have caused considerable head-scratching for Christians, for example, the idea that God is one God and three persons and that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine.
Throughout the Bible, there are a number of indications that God is fully in control of everything that happens, and that therefore, God chooses which of us will be Christians, and which of us will not.
At the same time, we also see a strong emphasis on the importance of our choices and that we will be held responsible for our actions.
So, which is true?
Since both ideas are clearly expressed, we must hold these two, apparently contradictory truths, in tension with each other. If we do not, we miss out on important implications that are vital to our faith.
In Exodus during the plagues, we sometimes read that Pharaoh hardened his heart e.g. Exodus 8:15,32 and sometimes we read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart e.g. Exodus 9:12,10:20.
In Job chapter 1, we are told that Satan has to ask permission of God to inflict suffering on Job.
In Matthew 10:29, we read “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father”.
In Romans 8:29-30, we read “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
For me, this is comforting, because, it tells me that if I am truly a Christian, there is nothing that can change that fact, and God will keep me spiritually safe, even though I get things wrong, so often and in so many ways.