August 1, 2014
Finding or Being Found
By Skip Heitzig
A tour group was visiting the Grand Canyon. Three friends got off the bus and gave their impression of what they saw before them. One, an artist, said, "What a magnificent panorama to put on canvas!" The next, a pastor, said, "What a beautiful example of the majesty and creativity of God!" The third, a cowboy, said, "What a terrible place to lose a cow!" They were all correct from their individual perspective.
Some things in Scripture are just tough to understand. And one of the areas we have the greatest problem with is divine choice versus human choice. From the divine perspective, God chooses people. From the human perspective, people choose God. The Bible says both are true: God predestined people for salvation, yet we are called to make a decision. How can that be?
In John 1:35-51, Jesus called some of the first disciples. They made a conscious decision to follow Him, but at the same time, this story suggests that Jesus had been anticipating them all along. Which is it: Did they choose to follow Him, or had He chosen to have them follow Him? I'd say it's all a matter of perspective. Can't both be true?
From a divine standpoint, it's always the case that God chooses. People come to know Jesus Christ because God sought them, first and foremost. Jesus told the disciples, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16).
Notice a repeated phrase in John 1: "We have found the Messiah" in verse 41 and "We have found Him" in verse 45. And yet, verse 43 says, "Jesus…found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'" So the question is: Who really found whom? We often say, "I found Jesus," but isn't the truth that you were lost and He sought you out and found you?
It's the deep, theological mystery of election and predestination. Throughout Scripture, people are commanded to exercise a choice and respond by faith. But the same Bible teaches that we have already been selected by God and that our salvation began way before we were born. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). Paul said, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. 1:4-5).
You can't reconcile sovereign election and human decision in your finite mind. People have tried for centuries to unravel these mysteries; they've even fought over them. But it's sort of like a suspension bridge: the reason it stands is because opposing forces pull it taut. So you can either say, "I just don't understand that," or drive across.
Here's what I mean: we can argue over election, or we can enjoy it. God picked you. Let that sink in. Instead of struggling with election, just get over it and enjoy it. He picked you—how cool is that?
If you're struggling with the whole election thing, thinking, "Maybe I'm not among the chosen," I can prove to you that you are. Come and receive Christ as your Savior and Lord and you will discover that He chose you from the foundation of the earth. If you come to Him, you'll discover that He will in no way cast you out (see John 6:37).
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