THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS (Guest Post)

A beautiful post from two sisters in Christ, Karina Lam and Sella. It is so counter-intuitive to forgive someone who has done you wrong, and yet isn’t that what the Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost did for us? They forgave us while we were yet sinners and offered us eternal life if we repent. This is such a critical theological point that I wanted to reblog this for others to share.

Karina's Thought

“One behalf of the company and personally I apologize for what we have done to you. We know and totally realize that we have done disservice you not only materially but rather to morally. We will officially make a press conference to clarify our statement and we are ready to accept any legal consequences from you and your company.”

My dear readers, first of all I want to say thank you for your support and prayer of my problem that I have shared some time ago. I am grateful God not only strengthen me in facing the problem but amazingly He solved my problem. After quite long investigation process, the government finally could find no charge at all. All of the business processes that our company did clearly did not infringe the clauses of the law.The authorities that conduct an investigation didn’t find any indication I did bribe to the…

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Hymn of the day – Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken (John Newton)

Today we had several heavy rain showers (it is approaching winter here in Australia, so the weather is responding accordingly), which gave way to beautiful bright sun-lit skies. I came back from our local coffee shop admiring God’s handiwork, thinking that the somber blue-grey of the stormy sky was a colour that I’d seen someplace before.

A quick search of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings online revealed an echo of the colour and tone I was looking for in his work “The Church at Auvers” (pictured below from Wikipedia):

A few hours later, after a quick heated up lunch from left-overs, I gazed outside onto our back deck. Again the sunlight sparkled upon our rain-drenched garden and the phrase “glorious things of thee are spoken” came suddenly, and quietly, to mind.

I knew the hymn, which is one of my favourites, and have reproduced the lyrics below for your enjoyment and encouragement as well. Isn’t it lovely that the Lord blesses us with food for our souls on even the most downcast of days weather-wise?

As it is written:

“21 This I recall to my mind,
therefore have I hope.
22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

See, the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’ assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hov’ring,
See the cloud and fire appear,
For a glory and a cov’ring,
Showing that the Lord is near;
Thus deriving from our banner
Light by night and shade by day,
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which He gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God;
’Tis His love His people raises
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, His solemn praises
Each for a thank off’ring brings.

Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name;
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.

(By John Newton, 1779)

Shield of Faith

A wonderful rallying cry from Eliza, which will greatly encourage all brothers and sisters in Christ: “Faith, that God given faith resting solely and securely upon the Word of God which reveals to us our wonderful Savior with Whom we have glorious fellowship and daily intimate interaction, is therefore our able shield against the attacks of the enemy who assaults us with his fiery darts of unbelief and condemnation. Brothers and sisters take up your shield of faith with which you can extinguish all of the fiery darts of the enemy of our souls. To God be the glory! Amen!”

I hope this article blesses you as much as it did me.

Read, receive, believe – in Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God

Lately I have been impressed by the Holy Spirit of Truth to witness to my family. Some background on this. I’ve always been a sincere follower of Jesus Christ, though my walk has been far from consistent over the years. During one of my walks, and due to this inconsistency, my family did not believe that I was speaking the truth when I witnessed their need to be saved by Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God. Instead they called the mental health services, who then followed up with me like bulldogs – to my great consternation – for the next few weeks. I have had issues ever since trying to prove that my faith is genuine to close family members.

Interestingly, I have read that sometimes the last people saved Christians witness to is indeed close family members. I wonder why this is so. Why do we feel it is easier and perhaps less burdensome to open our hearts to strangers, risking ridicule and rejection, than to stand in the gap for unsaved souls we share genetics and a long history with (see Ezekiel 13:5 and 22:30)? Surely it should be easiest for us to reach out to people we have loved since childhood as we are more likely to know the paths to their hearts? Yet so often we fail to do so, and I have been guilty myself of shrinking back when faced with God’s clear edict to “teach all nations” (Matthew 8:19), beginning with my family.

In the last week or so I have been impressed by God to overcome my reluctance to reach out to family with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve responded by sending each household a King James bible, with a Chick gospel tract inserted neatly where Psalm 119 (extolling the virtues of the Word of God as our basis for faith) is located. I’ve also made an effort to extend myself in becoming more a part of my family’s lives on an ongoing basis, which I previously neglected to do as many of them live quite far away. I have yet to develop the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 5:9) that God calls us to exhibit but I hope that when I do my family might one day see Christ in me and be encouraged.

Yesterday, however, I struck an issue. I could not for the life of me remember my aunt’s home address and when I searched the White Pages online, I found her phone number was not listed. Then, to my astonishment and delight, a wonderful thing happened. Her street name and number were quite clearly and authoritatively impressed upon my mind…when I checked later with my sister, I found that what I had been given spiritually was utterly true and correct. This gave me incredible encouragement to keep going with my commitment to witness to my aunt and her friend, as I’d previously felt a strange, fleshly reluctance to do so. It was clear that God was 100% behind my efforts to spread the gospel to all my family members, particularly my aunt’s household.

The above was the first little miracle and “assistance from above” that I received yesterday. More was to follow. After I mailed out bibles to three separate family households I spent some time in our front garden, painstakingly pulling up weeds. As I did so, the following three words were impressed on my mind concerning bringing people to faith: read, receive, believe. When I pondered these words in my heart over the next day or so, I found – again, to my delight and wonder – that they dovetailed neatly with three phrases God gave me when writing the article “Fighting demons with God’s love” on this site (see https://aeon01.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/fighting-demons-with-gods-love/). The two categories of words formed an interesting spiritual pattern which I will explain here for your edification.

1. Read – the Word of God…which is true (fits with “God is true”).
2. Receive – the Spirit of Truth…which is given in love (fits with “God is love”).
3. Believe – in Jesus of Nazareth…who is the Son of God (fits with “God is faith”).

I hope the above encourages you in your faith walk with the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. It certainly did me, as, like all Christians, I have moments of doubt and discouragement. May we all come to the realization today that we are true children of God, that we are really saved and going to heaven, where we will see God and those we have loved (and witnessed to) on earth.

God bless you.
Naomi

The Nicene Creed

Today I learned from one of my fellow pilgrims (https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/25404729/posts/998593306) that the Word of God (the Bible) has made the top 10 list of banned books in America.

This is a sad indication that we are truly in the last days.

In light of the above I revisited the core tenet of my faith (in the Word of God, and God Himself as He exists in three eternal Persons), the Nicene Creed. Here then for your edification is the text. It should be known by heart by all true Christians as it is so beautiful and comforting:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Naomi

How to Witness to a Jewish Person (and other things Christians screw up royally)

A very funny and touching post from my Jewish sister in Christ, Melissa Presser.

I wanted to share tips on Gentiles witnessing to Jewish people as this seems to be a neglected outreach in many churches today.

God bless you for reading, enjoy. 🙂

Please help me pray for Peter Kassig

Peter Kassig is currently being held as a hostage by ISIS (Islamic state).

He converted to Islam during his imprisonment yet he was recently shown in the execution video of aid worker Alan Henning. From all reports ISIS are planning to murder Peter some time in the near future.

Peter is a gentle soul, a self described “hopeless romantic and idealist” who desperately needs to find Jesus before his life is taken. Peter has found comfort in Islam, so he is a man of faith, but he has faith in the wrong God. Please help me pray for him to be shown God’s true character, love and mercy in the person of Jesus Christ.

In 2012 Peter founded a humanitarian aid group called SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), so he is also a person with a strong social conscience. The non-governmental organisation, based in Gaziantep, Turkey, but not currently functional, provided food and medical supplies for refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

Please help me pray for Peter’s life to be spared and for his salvation. His soul is hanging in the balance.

Please also help me pray for Peter’s captors, that they would receive repentance unto life as well and be saved.

Thank you for listening and helping with this need.

Together we can petition the Lord for mercy for all concerned.

Update from 06/10/2014:
I was heartened to see several prayer sites for Peter and other ISIS captives have sprung up on Facebook. Many caring Christians are praying for his salvation and release, along with that of other captives.

Peter’s parents have released a letter he has written in captivity. In the letter, Peter wrote: “I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all….I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through…If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need…In terms of my faith, I pray every day and I am not angry about my situation in that sense.” The letter – which the parents received on 2 June – ends with the words: “I love you.”

Please keep Peter in prayer, that he would be given the gospel message by caring believers and that he would believe in Christ due to God’s grace. God can work miracles and hears our prayers, He is good and merciful and desires that all men should be saved. Please also keep Peter’s captors in prayer, the members of ISIS. They are desperately lost and in need of salvation too. They are our enemies now for the sake of the gospel and humanity but Christ instructed us to pray for our enemies, to bless them, and to do the very best we can for them for their highest good (which is spiritual). Matthew 5:43-48 says it all.

I have received much support and encouragement from fellow disciples of Christ at National Prayer Bank and the Acts 12 Movement blog, and I would like to thank them now for their faith and compassion. Here are their sites:
http://nationalprayerbank.com/
http://acts12movement.com/2014/10/05/new-prayer-request-5/

I pray that soon we will have good news concerning Peter (or Abdul-Rahman, as he prefers to be known as since his conversion to Islam) and his captors.

Update from 10/10/2014:
I’ve recently been reading an inspiring book on the work Christ is doing in the Middle East currently, to draw people to faith in Him. It’s called “Breakthrough” by Tom Doyle. In the book, Tom mentions that church congregations in the Middle East are particularly strong now because they are experiencing intense persecution. Acts of God and miracles are witnessed frequently by believers in response to prayer in the Middle East. So tonight the Lord moved me to contact several Messianic Jewish congregations (Hasdey Yeshua, Tents of Mercy, Harvest of Asher, Beit Hayeshua and Rachel Netanel) to enlist their compassion and spiritual strength in petitioning the Lord for mercy for Abdul-Rahman, other captives, and the members of ISIS.

I tried also to contact Palestinian believers but could not find any listed online (though I know they exist and are just as fervent in their faith and prayer as Messianic congregations). Perhaps I don’t know the key words to search for. If anyone can enlighten me here please feel free to comment below.

Please keep Abdul-Rahman (Peter Kassig), the other captives, and their captors in your thoughts and prayers. It saddened me recently to see that the most fervent prayer response for them seems to be from the Muslim community who, although well-intentioned, worship a God who is false and cannot save souls.

Update from 29/10/2014:
It has been 26 days since Alan Henning’s execution video became public, and Abdul-Rahman was threatened to be the next victim. However, new videos put out by ISIS (see http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/isis-shifts-their-social-media-patterns/381988/) give no information on his status. The other beheading videos were all released about two weeks apart. A number of calls have been made to spare Abdul’s life — he is an aid worker and devout Muslim. Even Abu Omar Aqidi, a high ranking official in the al-Qaeda sect Jabhat al-Nusra, has called for his release. ISIS is known for its well-organized social media activity, yet it seems to be slowly changing patterns, which to the eyes of faith is evidence of God’s great mercy.

Please continue for the Lord Jesus’ spirit to continue working in the hearts and minds of ISIS, their captives and the people ISIS are warring against, so that as many people as possible come to Christ and are saved.

Update from 17/11/2014:
Last night I checked my phone and saw updates from a Facebook prayer site for Peter Kassig. They stated some very sad news, he has apparently been executed by ISIS. A friend said the lack of a propaganda statement in Peter’s death video suggested he had defied his captors. Michael Downey, a close friend from Beirut said: “I think he refused. He was a man of principle and wouldn’t give into intimidation from thugs. He never took the easy route.”

Kindly keep Peter Kassig’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to everyone who prayed for this request.

How to overcome the world

1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Spirit of Truth quietly brought three Holy Scripture passages to mind this morning. There is great hope in adversity, though I understand from my own experience that maintaining this hope can be a challenge. If you are a believer in Christ, and you are suffering, this should give you great encouragement because you have been counted worthy to suffer for His sake:

Hebrews 2:10
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Revelation 2:11
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:11, given above, is said by the Lord in the context of the Church of Smyrna, who is instructed by Him to: “…fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

So we are to endure until the end of our lives, no matter what, and only then will we be saved spiritually.

Other Holy Scripture verses on overcoming the world:

1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:17
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Revelation 3:5
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Revelation 3:12
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 3:21
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 21:7
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Now for some essays on this site giving hope and encouragement during adversity:

1. Songs in the Night
2. The Joy of the Lord Jesus

Finally, remember these next passages, as they will give you great hope. God will help you carry your cross daily if you continue trusting in Him:

Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Chosen by God: a look at the doctrine of pre-destination in the light of God’s Word

This helpful and encouraging article was taken from the “Journal of Biblical Accuracy” website: http://www.jba.gr/chosen-by-God.htm

The question of predestination vs. free will is a long standing one in the body of Christ. There are many that say that God has already chosen those that would be saved and it is those and nobody else that will be saved. Subsequently and according to this view whether somebody will be saved or not it is not so much a question of somebody else speaking the Word to him and him subsequently believing this Word. Though he definitely needs to do this, he can essentially do it only because God has “predestined” him for this, has “chosen” him. Had God not “predestined” him, had God not “chosen” him – in the meaning of chosen him over somebody else that was not chosen – then he would not be saved. It is thus ultimately up to God who is going to be saved and whom He, as per this view, has “predestined”, pre-choose to be saved. Those that God has chosen to save will be saved but those whom He has not chosen (which actually then means: those He has rejected for salvation) will not be saved. This is definitely a very convenient doctrine as it shifts the responsibility of salvation to God, meaning that He, as per this view”, has already chosen those that will be saved. So if you don’t feel like speaking the Word to others … not much of a problem. God knew it, and did not arrange for somebody that was to be saved to come your way. After all whoever is to be saved will be saved no matter what… it is all up to God. It is my personal opinion that as much as convenient this doctrine may be, it is also a very wrong and dangerous doctrine. I also believe that it is this doctrine that is responsible, at least partially, for the passivity of many people concerning speaking the Word: people do not really feel responsible for speaking the gospel as ultimately, and according to this view, whoever is to be saved will be saved. I strongly disagree with this position. I believe that according to the Bible, God gave His Son for ALL men, which then means His choice for salvation is: everybody. In turn this means that the view that God chose to save some, over some others cannot be correct.

Salvation: God’s choice for everybody.

To see what is the desire of God concerning salvation let’s start with I Timothy 2:4. There we read:

1 Timothy 2:4
“God our Savior .. who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Whom does God want to be saved? What is His will about salvation? What is that that He wants, desires? As the passage tells us, He desires, wills all men to be saved! “All men” means ALL. He did not choose some people over some others and then gave His Son for them only. Instead He gave His Son for all people, for everybody on the face of this earth and He desires that everybody on the face of this earth is saved! This is His declared will, desire, want, choice. Here is what verses 5 and 6 of the same epistle tell us:

1 Timothy 2:5-6
“For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.”

For how many did Jesus Christ gave himself as a ransom? Not for some but for ALL, brother and sister. Jesus Christ paid the price for everybody and He did it with the purpose that everybody can taste salvation. If He then did this, wouldn’t be entirely contradictory to say that God has actually chosen only some of these all for whom He gave His Son, which then essentially means that He did not choose (i.e. therefore rejected) the remaining? Imagine that you went to a prison and you loved all the prisoners so much that you paid the highest possible price – for God that price was His Son – to make them free. How many would you want to see free? I guess ALL. Now imagine that some chose to stay in the prison. What would you feel? Wouldn’t you be very sorrowful and sad about this? You paid the highest price for them! You want them out! I would be very sad if they choose to stay in and so I believe is God. He gave His Son, He paid the highest possible price for everybody and guess what: He wants everybody to take advantage of what He made available. He wants everybody to be free “from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

Here is what the famous John 3:16 passage, which is so frequently being quoted, tells us:

John 3:16-18
“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that THE WORLD through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

God loved the WORLD (using our example with the prisoners: He loved ALL the prisoners, not just some) and for the whole world, for EVERYBODY, He gave His Son. Why? “SO THAT THE WORLD THROUGH HIM MIGHT BE SAVED.” When God gave His Son He was not targeting at just a part of the world but at the whole world! He did not want to free some prisoners but ALL the prisoners. Salvation is God’s choice for everybody, because it was for everybody that He paid the respective price. There is no man on the face of the earth for whom God has made a choice that he is lost.

What does the Word mean when it speaks about chosen ones?

To be chosen means that somebody chose you i.e. you are his choice. As we read in the past pages it is the declared will of God that all men be saved and for this purpose God paid with the life of His Son. Now if God wants all men to be saved, this means that it is God’s choice for all men to be saved. In turn, if this is God’s choice, God’s will for everybody what then does this make everybody in regards to salvation? CHOSEN. In other words when the Word of God refers to us as elect and chosen, in no way it means chosen in relation to some others that allegedly are not chosen. ALL are chosen for salvation, as this is the choice, what God wills, for every man (though obviously not all will take up His offer). Instead what the Word means by calling us chosen is chosen for salvation. Salvation is God’s choice, His will, for every man and therefore, in regards to salvation, all men are chosen by Him. However not all will accept this offer and the result is that they will be lost. But they are not lost because God did not choose them for salvation but because they chose to reject what was God’s choice for them. In the same way, we too we were not saved because God chose us over some others that were allegedly not chosen. Instead we were saved because we chose to accept what was the choice of God for us and every man. Salvation is a question of believing. It is a question of people choosing God and not a question of God choosing them. As far as God is concerned, there is no question: He chose ALL men for salvation and to this end He gave His Son. See again these passages from the Scripture:

Acts 10:43
“whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Romans 9:33, 10:11
“whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.“

I John 5:1
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

John 11:26
“whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”

John 3:16
“whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 12:46-48
“whoever believes on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

See all these “whoever” in these passages. WHOEVER, regardless of who he is – that’s what “whoever” means – is going to be saved or not to be saved based on whether he believed or not. If he will believe he will get saved, as it is God’s choice, God’s will for him. But if he chooses not to believe then he will not be saved. This in no way is God’s choice, God’s will for him, but it will happen based on the choice this man made. It is as simple as that.

To summarize: there are two kind of choosing. One kind of choosing refers to choosing one person over another person. In other words: I chose you instead of another person. In that sense, and according to the doctrine of election, God chose us and rejected others. He predestined for salvation us, the Christians, but not the others. The others were not chosen, according to this view. Can this view be correct? No, because, as per the other passages of the Scripture that we read, God desires, it is His choice, that everybody gets saved and for exactly that purpose i.e. the salvation of everybody He gave His Son. Therefore the choosing and predestination that are mentioned in Ephesians 1:3-7 – “he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself..” – do not have the meaning of us being chosen over some others that are allegedly not chosen, but of us being chosen for salvation. The same choice – salvation – God made for everybody else too, when He gave His Son. Like the prisoners of our example: everybody was chosen to experience freedom. Am I justified therefore to speak to those ex-prisoners that took up my offer and say “you are chosen for freedom”, “I have predestined you for this” “You are my choice”? Yes I am absolutely justified to do this. However, given that this is also my choice for those that are still in the prison, when I say “chosen” I by no means mean that these are chosen over the others that rejected my offer. For them also it is my choice that they are free. God indeed has chosen us but He has not chosen us OVER some others. God does not pick and choose those that would be saved. If He would do this He would be a respecter of persons and He is NOT:

Acts 10:34
“God is not a respecter of persons.”

Instead God will be found by everybody that seeks Him. In fact, He is searching for people that seek Him so that He reveals Himself to them:

Psalms 14:2
“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”

and Deuteronomy 4:29
“If .. you shall seek the LORD your God, you shall find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

When somebody seeks God, when he invites Him to reveal Himself to him and he real means it, God will, 100%, show up. He is the one that will draw him to Him. But this is not what God will do only for that person. It is instead something that He does for all that call on Him. God looks for people that seek Him and those that seek Him with all their heart will find Him. This is not something that happens sometimes for some people. Instead it is a LAW, dictated by God’s Word. When somebody invites God from his heart, God will 100% show up and draw him to Himself. It is in this sense that we need to understand the record of the gospel of John that says:

John 6:44
“No one come to me unless the Father that send me draws him.”

Many people take this passage and say “you see, it is all up to God. If God wants, He will draw that person to Him. If He does not want him, He will not draw him”. To interpret this passage in such a way makes God a respecter of persons and ignores that Jesus died for ALL, so that ALL might be saved. God does not pick and choose who to draw to Himself. Instead He will show up for everybody that seeks Him. It is a spiritual law that He dictated it. On that we will also say more in the next section.

Salvation: God’s responsibilities and our responsibilities.

God indeed has a role to play in salvation, the most important role. But we have our own responsibilities and God given roles too. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 is very clear about our role in the reconciliation of men to God. As we read there:

“And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given TO US the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then WE are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

By giving His Son, God reconciled the world to himself. In other words the door to God is now open. Using again the example with the prisoners, the doors of the prison are all open! But the prisoners are blind. They cannot see it. They are blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), the devil, so that they do not see the salvation that is available for them. Thus somebody needs to tell the people: “The door to God is now open! Please be reconciled to God. Because he has made sin for us the one who knew no sin so that we will be made the righteousness of God in Him!” This, the telling, the introduction of the people to the Lord, is the ministry of reconciliation. And who has this ministry? The answer is very simple: WE. It is our responsibility to tell the people. It is us that are ambassadors for Christ. If you want something from a foreign country you have to call the embassy of that country, the representatives, the “ambassadors” of that country. For God the ambassadors are US. God opened the doors of the prison, He opened the door to Him. He reconciled the world to Himself by giving His Son. Now we, the once prisoners, the once blinded, we need to say to those that are still prisoners and still blinded “come to God, the door is open!”

More clarity on responsibilities is given in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6. As we read there:

“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

See the turn. God has a role, the most important role to play. The role of giving the increase. But somebody has to throw the seed and somebody has to water. And this somebody is not God. It is us! It is the ministers, and this does not mean the clergy, but us, who have the ministry of reconciliation. The text does not say: “God planted, God watered, God gave the increase” There were people involved that had to do what God had called them to do. People that said “here is God, reconcile to Him” and as that person approached God, God met Him, drew him to Himself. There were also people, like Apollos, that watered the seed sown in the hearts of the people, opening the Word of God and sharing its truths with them. See also this “through whom” that I have marked in bold letters (“through whom you believed”). The means through whom these people believed were Paul and Apollos. They played their God given role – the role of the intermediate, the minister of reconciliation, the ambassador for Christ, the role of planting and watering. But imagine we say “here is God” and God does not show up. Then would that person meet Him? As much as he might want it, he would not meet Him. But God does do the drawing, does show up, does do His role. When therefore John says that nobody will come to the Father if the Father does not draw him to Himself it is absolutely true: if God does not show up, if God does not give the increase, you and I can plant and water as much as we want but nothing will happen. But God does show up, does do the drawing, does give the increase. The question is will we do our role, the ministry of reconciliation that is committed unto us, the planting and the watering, the “go into ALL the world and preach the gospel to EVERY creature” (Mark 16:15)? These are not acts of God but roles committed to us.

Conclusion.

To sum it up dear brother: the doctrine that God has chosen some people to save over some others that He allegedly has not chosen is a very convenient but also very false doctrine. God’s choice, will, is that everybody gets saved and comes to the knowledge of the truth. If this is God’s choice for everybody what is then everybody? Chosen! Now whether he will really get saved or not depends on whether he will believe. If he will believe he will be saved. However, if he will not believe, he will not be saved. Does God have a role to play in this? Yes, the most important one: After a person invites God in his heart to reveal Himself to him, God will show up and draw him to Himself. This is the drawing of the Father Jesus is speaking about. Whoever had God revealed to him knows what I’m speaking about. This revelation of God is not something that He decides precariously to do, but something that He is obliged to do and will do based on His Word. Whoever seeks Him from His heart will find Him says the Word. God will show up, 100%, when somebody really seeks Him.

Now turning to us, God has given to US the ministry of reconciliation, the ministry of sowing the Word and watering. He does the increase (the drawing to Him) but the sowing and watering, the introduction of the people to the Lord, the ministry of reconciliation is given to us. The doctrine according to which God has chosen only certain human beings for salvation, which then implies that He has chosen some others for sending them to hell is a very false doctrine and has put people into sleep as they believe God will save whoever He wants. This is not true. We have responsibilities brothers and sisters and speaking the Word, looking for opportunities to spread the Gospel, is something that is on us to do. Speak the Word, tell the prisoners “get out of the prison”. Whether they will get out or not it is their responsibility. But it is our responsibility to tell them. It is our responsibility to show them the Father. As far as the Father is concerned, He wants them with all His heart! He paid for them the same price He paid for us and He waits for them with the same open arms He waited for us.

Anastasios Kioulachoglou