Firstly admitting that this is a big topic that 40 minutes could never fully do justice to, Joel went on to affirm that as a church leadership we do hold to what is commonly called a Calvinist theology. This means that God does choose those He saves. Salvation belongs to Him, it’s not something we bring about ourselves, in fact, we didn’t even want to be saved or have anything to do with God by ourselves (Romans 3:11).
The Bible says we were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and dead people don’t have the power to choose God. We were God’s enemies, but God took the initiative and reconciled us back to Him, through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10). As Jesus Himself summarises; “No-one can come to me unless the Father draws Him” (John 6:44).
People who aren’t Christians may be nice and pleasant and “good” in one sense, but that is only because they are made in God’s image. In reality we’ve all turned our back on God and would rather live for ourselves than live for Him.
Joel was also quick to point out that you don’t necessarily have to agree with a Calvinist reading of Scripture to be a member in this church. The main thing is that God is God, God is the one who saves and Jesus should receive all our praise and worship.
Moving on to the second half of the question, there is a danger of “fatalism” with this position. If God is the one who ultimately determines who will be saved we could fool ourselves into thinking there is no need for us to witness for Jesus. However, this would be a mistake and most unbiblical. The fact is, the way that God saves people is through calling people. The way God calls people is through us! Not only are Christians chosen for salvation, but we’re chosen for mission too.
We must keep in mind that God “desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”, and we, in following Him, must do the same. This shouldn’t be a heavy duty but a privilege as it’s Good News we have to share with people!
Both in evangelism and in praying for others, God involves us for our benefit; so we can join in the enjoyment of seeing people come to know Him. The fact that God is Sovereign shouldn’t make us lazy or apathetic, quite the opposite! A fisherman who carries the promise of definitely catching fish will be much more motivated to fish and not give up, than one who has no guarantees. With God we have the guarantee that He is a God of love and He has “many in this city” who will come to Christ (Acts 18:9-11).