October 21, 2010

To Live is Christ — Hand-picked and grafted in

Today’s devotional reading is from the same chapter as the past few days, John 15. In it, Jesus tells His disciples that they are like branches grafted into a vine (Himself) and as long as they abide in the vine, they will bear fruit and get their prayers answered. The verses for today emphasize that Jesus selected them; they did not graft themselves into Him.
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, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:16–17)
God chooses believers or believers choose God? The sovereignty of God to save souls vs. the free will of man to choose salvation has been debated for centuries. The only reason for such a debate is that humanly speaking, it seems one or the other has to be true. However, the Bible teaches that both are true.

Yes, God selects us. Jesus says so in these verses. However, we are not chess pieces on some cosmic board where God moves us about. He gives us volition so we can make choices. He tells us to choose to serve Him.

God cannot be partly sovereign — no more than a woman can be partly pregnant or a race partly won. He is either all powerful or not. Yet in His sovereign will, He determined that we have freedom to make decisions. We can make both wise and foolish choices, but because He is all powerful, He can use all the choices of those who love Him for our good (Romans 8:28-29).

These verses from John 15 are about salvation. I don’t understand why God chooses some and not others. My understanding of sin and human rebellion make me ask why He bothers to choose anyone! We all deserve eternal punishment. No one earns or merits being picked. Yet for His own glory, Jesus not only picks people for Himself, but appoints those He picks to go and bear fruit. He teaches us to abide in Him so we do this fruit-bearing in His strength and with His resources. That kind of fruit is so powerful that it lasts forever.

Besides the wonder of that, He also allows us to use His name to ask the Father for what we need, and the Father gives it to us. Consider how remarkable this is! God picks me? God sends me to do things for Him? God produces spiritual fruit in my life? God gives me all that I need?

These outstanding declarations from Jesus Christ are made even more outstanding by the choice He then expects from me — and this is indeed a choice — He tells me to love other Christians.

There are days when I don’t slow down long enough to let His Word hit me in the heart. This is not one of them. These are awesome thoughts that make me shake my head and bow my knee. I’m grateful to be chosen — and I am grateful for the privilege of being able to choose.

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