“Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16).
The question of predestination is one of the thorniest problems in our theology.
It is my opinion that we shall never be able to understand this mystery fully on earth. Eternity alone will make it plain to us. ‘While we are waiting here we shall have to be satisfied by simply believing and submitting to a wisdom that is higher than ours.
There are, however, certain sides of this question that we can see clearly because the Word of God explains them to us. There is much of wisdom and comfort for a Christian in what the Bible declares on this subject; he who is ignorant of these truths has a hidden treasure right at his door.
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The Scriptures declare that “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” These simple words teach us that salvation in Christ was arranged before anything was created. Before there was life on earth, or even the earth had been sent wheeling through space, we were chosen in Christ unto salvation. Need more be said on this point? It is a well-known truth; but alas, too few pay any attention to it.
It was to complete this election that Christ came to earth. He ascended to heaven for the same purpose, and sent the Spirit to call men to be saved. But so few heed the call of the Holy Spirit. If God had been like us He would have left it to us to initiate our own salvation; we should have had to knock at the door of grace and beg God to open for repentant sinners. Since He is not like us, it is He who seeks us first. It is He who knocks at our closed door and desires to enter our sinful heart. If we would pause to consider how gracious God is in dealing thus with us, we should understand a bit better these words of Christ, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”
Every Christian will most sincerely acknowledge that it is not to his own credit that he is a new creature; it is a marvelous work of the grace and the love of God who did not give up in the face of our opposition.
We are not only chosen in Christ unto salvation, but we ourselves are chosen. We have been taken out of a lost and sinful race and made members of a new race. Now we are not only created and redeemed by God, but we are born of God. We have been grafted into the living vine which is Christ. It is to such that Peter says, “Ye are a chosen generation.”
We have been given a new name because we are new creatures. We are the bride of Christ, the apple of His eye, His friends, His people, His sons and daughters, and may bear His name. To be chosen of God in this sense means that we have been separated from and taken out of one place and set in a new. This is the highest honor to which anyone can attain. If those who are terrified by the word “predestination” could see it in this light, they would have a rock instead of shifting sands on which to stand. It would bring comfort and joy to perplexed and panic-stricken people.
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A Christian’s life is filled with many difficulties, each of which involves a danger to his spiritual life. To be a child of God is an incomparable honor, and every Christian desires to live worthy of such an honor. When he considers how he ought to live, and how he really lives, he often becomes discouraged. Day after day, year in and year out he finds it necessary to sue for grace again and again. He looks for the fruits of faith in his life and finds that they are few; at times he is not certain that he is a Christian. It seems to him that he is growing indifferent, and Satan uses every opportunity to discourage him. All of this paves the way for doubt, and the Christian wonders whether he dares to approach God once more. All roads to God seem closed and every light extinguished.
What a comfort it should be at such times to hear again this truth, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Here is encouragement enough even for the most disheartened.
Do you suppose for a moment that He who chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, redeemed us by His own blood, and called us while we were yet sinners, would turn His back upon us now that we are in difficulty? That can never be. He knew beforehand what we were. He knew how much trouble He would have with us and how much grace we would need; He had taken all that into account before He called us. It was not we who asked to be saved, but He who asked to save us. It was not we who made ourselves His children; it was He who took us out of the pit of sin and shame and made us saints in Christ. He knew every fibre in our being before He chose us. Disheartened Christian: Do you suppose for a moment that He will fail you now?
Poor and helpless though you be, He will be your Savior and Father until you are safe and secure in heaven. What a marvel of His grace is here! He has not only saved us by grace, but will keep us by that same grace all through life. We are children of grace; grace is piled upon grace. His grace far exceeds our poverty. Is there no comfort for you in this? If you fail to find encouragement here, pray that the Lord will anoint your eyes to see, and you will never lose your faith and joy.
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A third aspect of this truth is that God has chosen us to be His servants.
When a disciple was to be chosen to fill the place of Judas the friends of Jesus prayed this simple prayer, “Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen.” (Acts 1: 24). They knew that God had made a choice, and now they prayed that they might find him too. It seems as though they made a mistake, for it is later written of Paul, “But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15).
Christian friend: God has also chosen you for a position in His Kingdom. Do you know that? Have you found your place?
Many Christians walk about aimlessly because they do not know where God wants them to be. Perhaps they have not even given a thought to the fact that God has a place ready for every one. There is a place in which God wishes you to be His fellow-worker.
It is to those in active service that the promise is given, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do.” Jesus declares that the prayer of a servant to his Master shall be answered. Let us remember, however, that this is not a prayer in selfish interests; it is a prayer that God will prosper His work through us.
May the Lord make us to be such servants.
Go, labor on; spend and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?
Go, labor on; ‘tis not for naught,
Thine earthly loss is heav’nly gain;
Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not;
The Master praises; what are men?
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