“Who Are You?”

By / Dec 23


Joy in Song

By / Dec 16


The Herald of the Lord

By / Dec 16


The Day of the Lord

By / Dec 9

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Joy in Prayer

By / Dec 2


Behold, Your King Comes

By / Dec 2


“…A Little Lower Than the Angels…”

By / Dec 13


Your Throne, Oh God, Is Forever

By / Dec 6


The All-Encompassing Gift

By / Jan 12

Introduction

We come to the conclusion of a four-part series on “Our Gifts in Christ.” We began with the gift of Christ himself, how everything we receive from God the Father is received through Christ. We looked at the gift of being specially chosen by God to receive these gifts. And then we considered the specific gift of salvation as described through adoption, redemption, and forgiveness. In conclusion, verses 9-10 present how far reaching the gifts in Christ are, or how all-encompassing the gift of Christ really is.

Text

Up to now, we have been thinking of our gifts as those given to each of us individually. The Christ gift is my gift that God has given me. God the Father has chosen me before the foundation of the world to receive the gift of salvation. I have been adopted, redeemed, and forgiven. All of this is true, but the apostle Paul is now taking us beyond ourselves to the big picture of what God the Father is leading everything to in Christ, God the Son.

9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

We need to back up just a phrase to “in all wisdom and insight,” in verse 8. The line of thought then is this: God has given us the wisdom and insight to know the mystery of his will. The mystery is not that of a riddle which we had to be given the cleverness to figure out. Rather, it is the plan, the purpose of God which he had not fully revealed until Jesus Christ came and fulfilled his atoning work, and even then, not until the Holy Spirit gave the understanding for the apostles and early church to discern what all was taking place in Christ.

What then is the mystery of God’s will? Verse 10 supplies the answer.

10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Here is an instance in which the explanation of the mystery is a mystery. What fullness of time? What things – everything that exists? What exactly is meant by “unite.” The Greek word is rare, only being used one other time in the New Testament in Romans 13:9 where the commandments of the law are said to be summed up in the command to love one’s neighbor. The word can also mean to gather together.

To get to an understanding of this mysterious explanation of the mystery of God, we are going to explore how the Scriptures move along this thought of uniting, as translating in our version. We will begin with the epistle of Ephesians.

Go down further in the chapter, beginning with verse 15:

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (1:19-23).

Paul has been celebrating with his readers the blessings of the salvation that they have in Christ. He is saying now to his fellow saints that his prayer for them is to really know what their hope in the future entails, how truly wondrous in riches is their inheritance. It encompasses more than being individually saved from condemnation, even more than getting to go to heaven when one dies. Christ’s work involves more than a rescue operation. He did not merely go into enemy territory, bring out prisoners, and then return to whatever he was doing before.

When God the Father raised Christ from the dead, he then lifted him up to and seated his Son at his right hand. That was not merely a show of affection, but a positioning of authority and power. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Here we see Christ’s greatness and power. But there is more. God the Father “put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things.” Christ is not only the greatest, he is ruler; he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is ruler over all things.

Neither the Father nor the Son were content with rescue; they determined that is was time to overthrow the rebellion of Satan and his legions altogether. The cross was the beginning of that overthrow. But it is not complete, as we well know through experience. The enemy is as active as ever with his legions. Where are the forces of Christ? Where is his army?

Now the wonder truly begins. God the Father gave Christ “as head over all things to the church” (v. 22), the church which is “his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (v. 23). This is a complex passage, to be sure, but I think one point that we can take away from it is that the church is Christ’s army. It is through the church that Christ wages battle against the enemy, at least the battle that involves this world.

This seems incredulous to us, if only because we look at ourselves and one another, and think, “Me – a warrior?” If we use ourselves as the starting point, we should scoff. But Paul is not spurring us on to look within ourselves at the power we possess; rather, his prayer is that we will have the eyes of faith to see the power of God at work in us through our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. What should we be seeing?

See what God has already done. Individually, we walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air (2:2); now we are actually walking in the good works that God prepared us to do (2:10). How did that happen? Because God “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). That is God’s power at work. We have changed and are changing.

But now go further. In Christ’s saving us he has caused the salvation act to include more than individual reconciliation with God; it is a reconciliation that brings together two divided groups of mankind. There are many divisions, of course, among the human race, but there is the one great divide when it comes to a relationship with God. There is the Jewish nation, and there is everybody else classified as the Gentiles. Paul is frank about the division. He tells the Ephesian Gentiles if 2:12 that as Gentiles they were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

He says of his Jewish kinsmen in Romans 9:4-5: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

What? Were we second-class citizens? Yes, we were, until Christ came.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (2:14-19).

There is now no division in our relationship to God – we who are in Christ are one. We are not a collection of saved individuals, some of whom are nearer to God than others; many of whom remain disconnected with one another. We are fellow citizens, fellow members of God’s household, fellow members of Christ’s one body.

Paul describes this inclusion, this reconciliation as the mystery of Christ that was imparted to him and which established his own ministry to the Gentiles. As he goes on to explain in chapter 3:

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

So for the early church, the great mystery to comprehend was that the church went beyond just including the Jewish covenant people, but involved a uniting, a gathering in, of Gentiles from all nations.

Is this then all that the mystery entails – that anyone – Jew or Gentile – who comes to Christ will be saved? No, there is more. God’s plans to not involve only human beings whom he has elected to be saved. His grand work of redemption is not limited to snatching his chosen people out of the world but of transforming the world itself. This is the God who “created all things” (3:9). The plan of our verse 10 is to unite “all things in Christ.” In verse 11, we are told that God works “all things according to the counsel of his will.” And verse 22 reminds us that God has placed “all things under Christ’s feet.”

So what does this mean? Does God intend to save all people? Are all things that have been evil going to be turned to good? It is an inviting thought. But the Scripture is not there. Scripture does not present a scene where all who are wicked – be they human or spirit – will be transformed and reconciled to God. Rather, they will be cast out, thrown into the lake of fire, shut out from the heavenly city gates.

There will be someday a restoration of all things in the sense of peace, harmony, and justice prevailing in God’s kingdom. But that restoration takes place, not because evil is transformed but because evil is banished along with all creatures who remain under its influence.

This restoration includes creation.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8:19-22).

What is creation looking forward to? The day of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1). Creation is looking to the same thing we are for ourselves in which our perishable bodies will be changed to imperishable bodies. Creation is looking to the end of decay, as our own bodies are. Death still infects creation, as it infects our bodies. But the day will come when death will be no more. The day will come when the former things have passed away and all things remaining will be united, things in heaven and on earth.

There will be a day in which there is no division between heaven and earth. There will be no longing for a heavenly home. This world will not be a place that we are passing through. This world will be a heavenly abode in that paradise will be restored.

And we will not believe in heaven by faith. There will be no contrast between the things that are seen and the things that are unseen, for everything will be seen. All things will be united. There will not be the things to be believed by faith and the things we can see clearly. We will see all things clearly. For all things – all of creation, all that is of the spiritual world, all that is a part of our existence – will be united, gathered together, summed up in Christ who is over all.

Listen to this glorious exposition in Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

This is the glorious future – a world described in Revelation when the bride is joined with her husband. On that day “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (21:4).

Yes, that is our hope, there lies the riches of our glorious inheritance. What then does this mean for us now. We long for such a day precisely because it is not the world we live in now. There seems to be no uniting or gathering in Christ. Divisions seem to be multiplying and the division between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world only growing further apart. The church seems to be a far cry from being a conquering army. The forces of evil seem to be far greater in number and power.

But what seems to be is not what truly is. Our glory is veiled, but our glory exists, nevertheless. What we see and believe by faith is nevertheless more real, more lasting than what we see with our eyes. But one thing we need to be doing is a better job of seeing with our eyes.

We see the church declining in number and influence, but that is only because we equate the church with the western church. Great strides are being made in Africa and Asia, enough so that the majority of the Christian church will soon be in what used to be considered unfertile land. As exasperated as we may feel with what is happening in our territory, be assured that the enemy is exasperated with the ground lost in land he once had sealed.

We see estrangement and division within families and personal relationships. Jesus warned us that such divisions would result in following him. But for all the division, everyone of us can attest to how Christ has united us or others we know with people who formerly were enemies. The gospel goes forth because so many former enemies have become reconciled in Christ. Its power has been displayed, not in the vanquishing of foes, but in the reconciling of foes to one another. It has been displayed in the power of forgiveness. We know that. We can attest to it, whether it is in being forgiven or possessing the will to forgive.

Reconciliation is happening. It has happened throughout the centuries as the church grew and dominated western culture. And even as the church’s influence seems to be declining, yet there is peace among the nations precisely because they have adapted Christian values. The post-modern, atheistic western society does not realize how much indebted it is to the principles of Scripture and of the gospel.

Do not let the clothing of the church’s meekness lead you to underestimate the power of God at work. We know through Scripture that God’s power is most shown in our weakness. We know that he delights in the salvation of those not considered wise or mighty by the world. We know  – that he has entrusted the gospel in jars of clay. Jesus taught us that the kingdom of God is like the seed planted in the soil and grows we know not how.

The world is not out of control. History is not a never-ending circle going nowhere. It is moving forward under the sovereign control of God, who has placed all things under Christ, who is our head. We are on the side of the Lord of Hosts who is subjecting evil forces according to his plan and time table. It will be in the fullness of time – when all has come about as God has determined – that what is now known by faith will be made reality to everyone – friend and foe of God, regenerate and unregenerate. The day will come will all will bow the knee before Jesus Christ – whether out of willing obedience or out of coercion. The day will come when evil will be doomed, not reconciled, but condemned and cast away. Then the world and the heavens will be united in glory and peace and joy.

There may be some of you who refuse to accept this prospect. Is that because you have thoroughly studied the scriptures and examined your own heart in light of God’s Word? Or is it because you have merely accepted what a society that has rejected God propounds and it seems the easiest thing to believe? You are here on the earth but a brief spell. We are speaking of what takes place for eternity. Is it not worth the effort to search out? Is there anything more important than what takes place forever? God is the God of all things, including you. Will you deny him? Ignore him? When the fullness of time arrives, you will not be able to do either. Why not now join with the choirs of angels and sing blessing to his name?



The Chosen Gift

By / Dec 22

Introduction

My wife and I enjoy receiving cards in the Christmas season. Some have annual newsletters. Some include pictures. Some just have a signature. But it doesn’t matter to us. It is nice to be thought of. A friend took the time to let us know that we are, indeed, friends.

The only time when a card loses its charm is when the names of the senders are merely printed.  Once we received a card that the giver wrote and printed nothing. The one advantage was that we could use the card to send to someone else. What was made clear was that we were little more than names on what must have been a long list.

Our passage is intended to assure us that the gift of Christ we received did not fall into our hands because our names happened to appear in a list. We received our gift because God the Father personally chose us to receive. We were, and still remain, very much in his mind.

Text

…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…

Last Sunday, we explored the wondrous gift of Christ himself and all the other gifts we receive through him. I hope that those of you who followed along the recital of gift after gift, blessing after blessing were indeed blessed as we counted the uncountable riches we have in Christ. But there may have been some of you who also doubted that such blessings really could be yours or secured for you. What if you were to lose them? What if you received only a portion? Because, if you were saved by chance; if you were saved by your own wit, how secure can your salvation and the blessings that accompany it really be?

Verses 4 and 5 tell us that we receive all these blessings in Christ because God chose us; he predestinated us to receive them. We were not pulled out of a lottery basket. The gift of salvation was not handed out indiscriminately and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Look at verse 4. God chose us in Christ, when? When he had time to observe us and measure our worthiness? He chose us before we were born; not just before we were born; before God had laid the foundation of the world. Before God created the world, he had chosen us to belong to him; he had chosen us to be holy and blameless before him. Yes, God had chosen us to be his holy people, and even the Fall, which brought in sin and death, has not succeeded in changing his original intention.

Because God chose us in Christ, he assured that Satan’s intent would be foiled, that the Fall itself would be turned into a means to all the more display his glory. Those whom God chose to be his would be made his through the work of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan’s intent was to rob God of his chosen people. That intent failed because his chosen people were chosen in God the Son.

Verse 5 fleshes this out further. God predestined us – predetermined, foreordained – to be adopted through Jesus Christ. It is true that Satan succeeded through the Fall in cutting all mankind off from the gracious covenant relationship with God. We were cast out of the Garden. We were barred from the Tree of Life. Far from being holy and blameless, we became guilty sinners. It appeared that Satan foiled God’s good purpose.

And yet, even as God pronounced judgment, he foretold how his good purpose would be fulfilled.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

There would be, literally, a seed of Eve, an offspring who would battle Satan and win victory. That offspring would be Jesus Christ, the Son of God made flesh. His victory would take place upon a cross. He would suffer his own wound, but he would also strike the decisive blow against the Enemy. He would bring us near to God by his blood. He would become our peace, reconciling us to God through the cross, thereby killing the hostility between us and God. The result is that instead of being enemies of God, we become his adopted children.

All of this would take place “according to the purpose of his will.” It would happen not according to God’s hope, but his good pleasure, another synonym to use with purpose. We have heard such expression in movies with kings. Someone will ask, “What is the pleasure of the king?” meaning what is the will of the king. And whatever the will is is what will take place.

These concepts of God choosing us, predestinating us, and then carrying out his will to make us his is conveyed throughout the first two chapters.

Verses 9 and 10 read: “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time.” God is making known his will, according to his own good pleasure. This purpose is carried out in Christ, according to the way God planned it to be. God is not rewriting his plan as he goes along. He is not winging it. He is not figuring it out as he goes along.

Verse 11 piles on the terms: “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” We have been predestined. We have been predestined according to the purpose, the good pleasure, of God. God is the one who works all things according to the counsel of his will. He works all things, not some or most things. He works all things according to the counsel of his own will.

Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,

          or what man shows him his counsel?

Whom did he consult,

          and who made him understand?

Who taught him the path of justice,

          and taught him knowledge,

          and showed him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)

Chapter 2 presents God carrying out his will. Verse 4 reads: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.

We were dead; we were not men and women dying who grabbed oxygen masks just in time. We were dead. But God made us alive together with Christ. He acted according the purpose of his will.

First, he sent his Son: “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4).

“When the fullness of time had come” – when time reached God’s timing – God sent forth his Son, as he had planned, to make redemption available. So then, did God merely plan the means of salvation and then leave it up to us to take hold of it? Was it the means of salvation that was predestinated? In other words, did God choose the type of people who would be saved – namely, any who would choose Christ – and then left the choice up to whomever might lay hold of it? Thus, as the beginning of verse 8 states, “by grace you have been saved through faith.” By grace – by God’s gracious work of sending Christ – we are saved when we by our own choice exercise faith.

This seems reasonable as one reads through Ephesians 1-3 and sees how much of it is speaking of the church, which is now made part of the covenant that exclusively belonged to the Jewish nation. The rest of chapter 2 and first half of chapter 3 address the mystery of God’s will to include Gentiles as partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. And, indeed, 3:11 uses the same language of God’s will is this regard: “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

But then, how do we come into the church? What makes us considered saved? It is the faith that we exercise as individuals. It is not the church that is saved, which then includes whatever individuals might happen to choose to believe. It is we individuals in 1:13 – “when [we] heard the word of truth, the gospel of [our] salvation, and believed in him” – who make up the church. The guarantee of an inheritance is made to us as individuals. The whole point of the doxology in chapter 1 is to give us individual assurance that we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. It is not the church that has been sealed, and we then are included individually as long as we maintain our policy premiums. We are sealed.

Verse 2:8 continues: “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The faith we exercise to receive our inheritance is God’s gift to us. It does not come out of our own works. There is nothing that we can point to in ourselves to explain where the faith comes from or even to explain why God should give us faith. No one may boast. We might then do good works once we are in Christ, but we find that even those works were prepared by God beforehand.

God has planned our salvation. He has chosen who will receive salvation. He has planned the means, according the purpose of his will. He has carried out his will toward us.

Lessons

So let us join with the apostle Paul in proclaiming “Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ.” But then that is what many of us who have been chosen are reluctant to do – blessing God because he has predestinated us. Something doesn’t quite seem right about it?

Why does this doctrine bother us so? For some the problem is what predestination implies about free will. How can we have free will if our salvation is predestined? For others the issue is one of fairness. How can it be fair for some to be predestined to be saved and others are left out? And then others simply point out that there are verses that specifically say God wants all persons to be saved. How can we make sense of them if predestination is true?

These are challenging questions and worth pursuing. But for this time, I want us to consider why it is that Scripture teaches us the doctrine. Besides this passage, there are two other significant ones that present the subject at length. As we read them, observe the reasons why the subject is brought up.

First is John 6:35-44:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out…  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘Ihave come down from heaven’?”  Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Here is Jesus giving an open invitation: “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” He then observes: “you have seen me and yet do not believe.” How then does he explain this lack of response? He has a tougher crowd than usual to convince? No, he states: “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” They will come, and when they come they will never be cast out. Members of the crowd grumble, Who do you think you are? Again, Jesus responds. Grumble all you want, but the reason you do not come to me in faith is that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (v. 44).

Why does Jesus respond this way? He seems to have two points to make. One is that, contrary to appearances, he has not failed to achieve his purpose – in this case to win over his audience. He has done his part – give the open invitation. God the Father will then carry out his own purpose in drawing those whom he has chosen to give to his Son. The other point is to assure the chosen, that those whom the Father has determined to give will indeed come and that they may be assured of their reception.

The other passage is Romans 9: 6-20:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,  and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.”  And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,  though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—  she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”  As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Paul also wishes to express that there is no failure on God’s part regarding salvation. “It is not as though the word of God has failed.” The promise of salvation is made in advance “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call” (v. 11).

He is assuring his readers that God has not failed but also that their own inclusion is not some glitch in the divine computer system. They are children of the promise, not children who slipped into a system designed for another people. Their reception of God’s compassion lay not in their “human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (16).

What does that mean for us? He has got us and he will not let go. God chose us before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to receive the gift of Christ, his Son. He gave us as gifts to his Son, and the Son shall lose no one whom the Father has given, and he shall raise us up on the last day.

He anticipates the same objections we have raised. His basic answer is, do not question our Creator. Neither he nor Jesus nor any other biblical writer takes effort to defend God. They simply explain what he is doing and give us assurance that God is just, that he is merciful, and that he will carry out whatever his will concerning us may be. Or to put it simply – let God be God.

Can you do that? You will acknowledge that as a created human being you have limited ability to understand the mind and ways of your infinite, eternal Creator. Surely you will admit that he can think and do things that you cannot think all the way through. Can you not let God be God?

But it doesn’t seem fair; it doesn’t seem to be loving! Look at the Cross. What do you see? The babe of Christmas is now the sacrificial lamb of Good Friday. Do you, a sinner, believe that you understand justice better than God? His Son hangs on a cross for your sins. Are you prepared, because you can’t figure out the fairness of his choosing to give you his Son, to then accuse him of injustice? You know your heart – how sinful it is. Are you really going to place yourself in the position of saying of God what is merciful and what is not? Of determining what is the act of love and what is not?

Can you not simply hold out your hands, receive the gift your Father has chosen to give you, and then give thanks, accepting that your Father really is the smartest Father in all the world and that he loves you more than anybody else, and that all you need to do is trust him to know and to do what is best. That is why he is telling you through his Word about all this choosing and predestinating. He is say, “My child, I’ve got you. I have never not had you. I have always known you, always chosen you to be mine, and I have worked everything out to make you mind. I will never let you go. Trust me.”

And then, if anyone is here who has never come to Christ, and you ask if that is because you are not chosen; then come now and answer the call of Jesus Christ, and test his promise that whoever should come to him, he will never cast out but raise you up on the last day.

You may think you are here by chance. Is it not likely that he has brought you into this sanctuary to hear this message at this time, so that you might come to Christ who calls you?