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Question: I read in John 6:44 that no one can find the true God unless God calls him. But I thought we were free moral agents, able to choose for ourselves, so this "calling" makes it seem as if we have no choice. Please explain.
Answer: First, we must understand that God will eventually offer salvation to everyone who has ever lived, each in his own time, as it pleases Him (Romans 9:15; 1 Timothy 2:3–5). It is His will that all would receive eternal life and that no one would perish (John 3:16–17, 2 Peter 3:9). Yet many do not realize that God is not calling everyone now. Were He trying to save all mankind at this time, we would have to call His effort a colossal failure. But if God were truly trying to save the whole world now, He would succeed! Did God not intend salvation for the countless millions who have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ? Of course He did! Scripture tells us (cf. Revelation 20) of a future time when all will hear the true Gospel and receive God’s calling. Yet some are called as "firstfruits" (James 1:18) who are given the chance to respond to the Gospel even in this evil age.
From the day Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan rather than obey the instructions of their Creator (Genesis 3), God has allowed humanity to experiment, unsuccessfully, with every conceivable solution to the world’s problems. The Bible and secular history amply demonstrate man’s abysmal failure at ruling his environment and himself. God is letting us learn, by trial and error, that doing things our way will not bring us the lasting joy, success and fulfillment we all desire. Yet in the midst of this sin-sick world, God does call some now to serve Him. Ultimately, all will be called to become members of God’s family (Matthew 25:34; Hebrews 2:9–11). God attracts or "draws" those whom He is calling to the body of Christ which is His Church (1 Corinthians 1:2; 12:13). He brings us to repentance (2 Timothy 2:25–26).
Once we have been called and placed in the Church that Christ built (Matthew 16:18), through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are still free moral agents. We are still at liberty to disobey the divine will—but the penalty for stubbornly continuing to break God’s law will eventually bring stern and certain punishment. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Those who have been called now to repentance and given the Spirit of God have a greater responsibility to "mortify the deeds of the flesh" and overcome sin through the power of that Holy Spirit (Colossians 3:5–10).
God has always called some in every age to be witnesses against the evils and sins of this world (Deuteronomy 8:19–20). Isaiah 59 eloquently testifies to God’s attitude regarding mankind’s ways of living. Even now, God is calling some to have a part in His final warning to this dying and disobedient world. You have come into contact with the Work God is doing through His Church today; if you sincerely seek the truth of God, and wish to learn more about His plan for your place in God’s Kingdom, please keep reading the materials we publish. Ask God to show you what you should do and what part He wants you to play. If God is calling you now, you are being blessed with the opportunity to be part of the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5–6), and to serve God, reigning with Jesus Christ in the soon-coming Millenium. What an awesome calling!