Sunday Morning Bible Study
October 29, 1995
Jesus had just done an incredible thing, feeding a huge multitude, at least five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.
And He did it all with five small loaves, and two small fish.
The next day, Jesus had showed up over in Capernaum, 5 miles away, having gotten their on foot, walking on the water.
He got into a discussion with the people about how they weren't seeking Him because they were seeking after God, but only because He had fed them.
Then He told them:
»John 6:35-AV And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
:36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
Jesus has just made the statement that whoever comes to Him and believes in Him will never hunger nor thirst.
And Jesus had already confronted them on the fact that they were not coming to Him for the purpose of believing in Him, but only to get a free lunch.
»John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Keep this statement in mind, it will come to play in a few verses.
These people have seen Jesus, but they are not believing in Him.
:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me
There's a progression here:
The Father is in the process of continually giving people to Jesus. (present tense)
Everyone that the Father is giving to Jesus will indeed sometime in the future come to Him. (future indicative)
He doesn't say "All that the Father gives to me might someday come to me" (subjunctive)
And everyone that is currently, now in the process of coming to Jesus (present tense), Jesus isn't going to turn around and at some point in time give the boot to. (aorist tense, aorist carries the idea of a point in time, and not necessarily past tense)
»NAS: "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
This is what we might call the doctrine, or teaching of election, or predestination.
First, we have to preface any further remarks with knowing that this is one of those issues that I'm not sure we can totally comprehend with our finite minds.
God is so much bigger and smarter than we are.
»Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Does this mean that God picked me out before I picked Him?
»Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
When did all this happen?
»Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
It didn't happen when you chose Him.
He chose you and predestined you before He even created the world.
Does all this seem a little unfair?
This is where the questions get a little dangerous.
»Romans 9:14-24 AV What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
He is God, and as God, He has the right to do whatever He wants.
Man no longer has a free will.
Now that I've just made it perfectly clear that God does all the choosing ...
What about man's free will? Doesn't man have a choice in the matter?
This is where it gets difficult.
On one hand, no, you don't have a choice.
On the other hand, yes, you do have a choice.
There are still the "whosoevers" in Scripture:
»Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God uses the foolishness of preaching as part of the mechanism of saving people.
»1Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
»Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
And the Bible still says:
»Rom. 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
It's hard for us to reconcile these two thoughts.
How could God choose us before we chose Him, yet to us it still is a matter of free will?
Don't get too stressed about it.
As we approach the gates of heaven, we'll see a big sign over the gates, "Come, whosoever will".
But as we pass through the gates, and look back at the backside of the sign, we'll read, "Predestined before the foundations of the world".
From our earthly perspective, our focus needs to be on the responsibility of man to respond to God's invitation.
We don't know who is and who isn't predestined.
We'll never know until we get to heaven.
If I don't like the way somebody acts, I can assume they must not be one of "the chosen".
The correct understanding about election is not supposed to make you judgmental about others, as if you had the ability to discern whether or not they were predestined to be saved.
Jesus might be able to get away at hinting at this with these people, but keep in mind who He is, He's the Savior. He KNOWS who has been chosen.
There are plenty of people who many would consider the least likely people to get saved, who get saved.
There are plenty of people who seem like great "candidates" for salvation, who never receive Jesus.
"Election" isn't something that we as humans can understand in a person's life before they choose Jesus.
It's only understood after the fact, after they respond to Jesus through their human will.
Be glad you're chosen.
The correct understanding about election is supposed to thrill your heart when you realize that God actually picked you out, to save you.
Remember what it was like in grade school when they picked teams for softball?
Have you ever known what it was like not to be picked? Or to be picked last?
Have you ever known what it was like to be picked first?
God has chosen you.
»1 Peter 1:1-5 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Saving people is God's work.
It's God's work to save people, not mine.
Understanding God's work in salvation, that it's His from the start, can help free us up as we share the Lord with people.
It's not up to us to "save" them.
It's not up to us to "convince" them.
It's only up to us to share the truth with them.
What happens after that is between God and that person.
Am I predestined?
If you want to know whether or not you're predestined to accept Jesus, then accept Him, and you'll know.
If you accept Him, you've been chosen.
If you don't, it doesn't mean you haven't been chosen.
:37 and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
"in no wise" - certainly not, never ever
I think that there are times when we feel like we could never be someone that Jesus would accept.
The whole point here is that you wouldn't be coming to Jesus unless God had been working in your life.
And if God is tugging on your heart, it's proof that He loves you and has already chosen you.
It's a misconception to think that we have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.
The truth is that without Jesus, we are powerless to ever produce anything in our lives that is pleasing to God.
»Joh. 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If we don't first learn to come to Jesus in faith, by trusting Him, we can never please Him.
»Heb.11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God has seen our hopeless, helpless, sinful condition, and He's already taken care of our sin by allowing Jesus to die on the cross in our place.
»Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
If you come to Jesus, He will never, ever turn you away.
:38 ... not to do my own will ...
This is one reason why Jesus does not "cast out" anyone who comes to Him.
That's not to say that Jesus doesn't love those that come to Him.
But that one of the reasons why He accepts us is because He is being obedient to the Father.
The Father has given people to Jesus, and Jesus doesn't turn away the ones the Father has sent.
Sometimes we must learn to accept one another out of obedience.
It's too common for us to think that there has to be some kind of feelings we have to have in order to accept one another.
We say stuff like, "Oh, our personalities just clash."
But sometimes we need to do it whether we feel like it or not.
Our personalities might clash, but that's no reason for us to stop pursuing our goal, to love people.
»1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
I'm not saying that we have to be best friends with everybody.
Even Jesus had a select, few, best friends (Peter, James, and John).
But we shouldn't allow friction and dislike to be between us either.
Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, The Hiding Place:
It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there -- the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
We need to learn to love one another and accept one another because it is God's will for us.