Divine election and man’s responsibility are two lines running close together but never touching until in eternity they converge in the throne of God.
I recall quoting Spurgeon in another writing - - Divine election and man’s responsibility are two lines running close together but never touching until in eternity they converge in the throne of God. We know (Ephesians 1:4) that believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and therefore (1 Thessalonians 1:4) we know of our election. Does that mean that unbelievers have been elected/predetermined to be lost? That erroneous and dangerous assumption hindered missionary work for several years. (can’t you see Satan’s purpose?) Think about that devilish thought in the light of just a few of the grace-filled verses in the living Word of God.
Pharaoh (Exodus 9:34) hardened his heart many times before grace ran out for him and then (Exodus 11:10) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Isaiah 1:18 – Come now let us reason together.
Ezekiel 18:32 – God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but calls them to turn and live.
John 7:37 – Anyone who is thirsty come.
John 3:16 -- God so loved that whosever. .
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance.
Matthew 11:28 – Come all who are weary. .
Acts 16:31 – Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
Acts 1:8 – Jesus said we would be His witnesses. Why, if being saved or lost was already predetermined?
Matthew 28:19 – Go into all the world. Why if eternal destiny is already predestined?
Was Judas predetermined and predestined to be damned? To me, the very thought is blasphemy.
Let’s leave here for a few minutes and visit the maternity ward in a local hospital. As we enter the nursery where we see 6 cribs holding precious adorable new-born babies. Now can you imagine the same God Who said (Psalms 127:3) children are a gift from the Lord, now looking over 6 cribs and electing two for salvation and predestining the other four to be lost? What horrible foolishness is such an idea.
So how come you and I are elect, written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and citizens of heaven?
Take a long, deep look at (1 Peter 1:2) elect according to the ‘predetermination’ - - NO! - -according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God. Our omniscient God knows the end from the beginning. He knew the free-will choice each one of us would make and He planned and prepared accordingly.
Looking at Peter and Judas gives us a classic case of Spurgeon’s mystery and the majesty and the terror of free will. Jesus knew the path greedy ambition would map out for Judas, the path of his own choices. Jesus who knew the choices Peter would make, even that choice he gladly made which led to his agonizing martyrdom.
Look at one more Scripture (John 17). It is about midnight or later and Jesus is still preparing His disciples for what lies just ahead. The Cedron Valley is between the temple and Gethsemane so He was possibly leaning against the temple where the torches were lit all night. Jesus prayed the most marvelous prayer ever uttered - - between Him and His Father - - and we can listen. He prayed first for Himself (John 17:1-5) and Vs. 5 tells us that Jesus was homesick. Then He prays (John 17:6-19) for His 11 disciples. He ends up His prayer (John 17:20-26) by praying for all those who WOULD (not MUST) believe and that included you and me. Isn’t that a wonderful thought. Then (John 18:1) He and His disciples went over the Cedron brook in the Cedron Valley. Very likely that brook would be red with the blood of thousands of lambs which had been slain for the Passover. The blood would run down from the altar, through an aqueduct and then into the brook.
What was Jesus thinking right then? What thoughts were whirling in the mind of our precious Saviour? We know now and He knew then that the next torches He would see would not be the ones on the temple.
He could have turned back BUT He crossed over the brook. Shortly before Jesus crosses the brook – on His way to Gethsemane and Calvary to shed His own Blood as God’s true and only Passover Lamb – knowing what was ahead for Him, He took time to pray for you and for me. Let’s stop – right here – right now by the brook Cedron and take time to worship Him.
I’m not quite sure why I sensed the pressure to write on this subject. I know that it certainly doesn’t explain everything and (Deuteronomy 29:29) the secret things still belong to God. Maybe it is to encourage us to keep on praying and to buy up the opportunities to tell others about Jesus because the invitation of John 3:16 is linked to the assignment of Matthew 28:19.
For our daily lives the foreknowledge of God is our comfort and joy. We don’t even know what may happen during this very day - - unexpected interruptions - - circumstances abruptly changed - - our lives turned upside down. But the Lord knew all about it before we even got up this morning. So if we just commit it to Him and let Him handle it, as we continually do that we not only enjoy the relief, but we also find that stress and frustration are strangers.
The peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7) will guard your heart and mind.
In Gethsemane Jesus prayed – Father, if it be possible let this cup pass but Thy will not Mine. The answer came from His Father - - it is My will that you drink this full cup of suffering. When the mob came to look for Jesus and arrest Him they probably expected to meet with some opposition while Jesus tried to hide or run. But to their stunned amazement Jesus went forward to meet them BECAUSE of His Father’s answer in Gethsemane. He suffered the agony of Gethsemane and their hell-fired torture and brutality. I learned just recently that when a Roman soldier seized a prisoner, they would grab his wrist, twist his arm back until his knuckles touched a spot between his shoulder blades and then brought his boot down heavily on the person’s instep. But the worst is still to come. For myself I cannot begin to grasp or enter into the anguish of the mind and broken heart of Jesus. God’s holiness demanded that He turn His back and abandon Jesus. Blinding, merciless holiness. God knew that Jesus had never sinned but He had been made sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) for us and Thou art of purer eyes (Habakkuk 1:13) than to behold evil. God could never look upon His beloved Son again UNTIL Jesus had paid the full staggering price for mercy.
Calvary is the utmost revelation of God’s holiness.
Oh God – take me deeper in understanding and prostrate my heart with gratitude for the Atonement. Give me greater awe and reverential fear before Thy holiness.
If we take a little time to consider where personal choices led these 3 men - -
Abraham (2 Chronicles 20:7) the friend of God.
Moses (Exodus 33:11) the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.
David (1 Samuel 13:14) a man after God’s own heart.
Doesn’t it fill our hearts with longing for more and more of Jesus?
Well I cross over the brook to the place of death to my flesh, the place where I take up my cross daily of self-denial? The way that leads over the brook is the way that leads to a cross - - a cross which means the death of everything in me that was never in Jesus.