Did Warren Wiersbe's comment from The Bible Exposition Commentary in my last post make you feel a little uncomfortable? He said, "So wise and powerful is our God that He can permit men and women to make personal choices and still accomplish His purposes in this world. When He isn't permitted to rule, He will overrule, but His will shall ultimately be done and His name glorified." If you are a control freak, as I was for most of my life, I know it made you uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable, it usually helps to know what to expect.
Well, then, what can we expect from God? If we read Ephesians 1:3-6 again it says that we can expect Him to bless us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus and to adopt us as His sons through Christ Jesus, because He chose us and predestined us. (The New International Version says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.")
The point is that He chose us first; we did not choose Him, which is a very good thing since we had no desire to come to Him until He put the desire in our hearts. OK, so who is the "us" that gets chosen?
That is a very good question. To get a better grasp of the "how and who" of being chosen by God works with our freedom to choose, think about our cruise on the grand Queen Elizabeth. The ship has a diverse load of passengers who are all traveling to the same destination regardless of their interest in doing so. The owner decided the location of the destination, the time to leave, and the route of the ship.
Fortunately for the passengers, the owner did even more. The owner hired the most trustworthy and the most professional captain to guide the ship to its destination. The captain is always responsible to the owner, but once the ship leaves the port, the captain has absolute authority and responsibility for everyone on the ship. He can perform weddings, throw someone in the brig, or interrupt a meal for an "abandon ship" drill. As long as the ship is at sea, all persons aboard must remain under the command and authority of the captain.
A custom on many ships was that a few passengers were invited to dine with the captain each evening. Notice that they were invited to dine with the captain. Most people considered this an honor, but I am sure that someone may have declined for one reason or another. In all likelihood, the reason given most often for declining the invitation was illness, even if that were not the true reason the guest chose not to attend. Perhaps the passenger did not have the proper clothes or was afraid of the captain or was too busy drinking in the bar or was too proud. The passenger was free to accept or decline the invitation.
The captain of our ship is Jesus. God has given Him absolute authority over everything He created. We may ignore Jesus' presence on the ship, or even deny that He is controlling it, but our opinion changes nothing. If He invites you to come to Him – and not everyone gets an invitation – you must still choose to accept the invitation. God puts in your heart the desire to abandon your rebellion and join Him. When Jesus died on the cross, He broke down the barriers between God's love and our rebellion by accepting the punishment we deserve. God does absolutely everything to call you to Himself except force you to accept.
My pastor has a saying I really like; he says, "Salvation is all of God and all of me." It is "all of God" because none of us can do one thing to save ourselves. God must do all the work so that salvation is possible and then invite us to participate, change our hearts to desire Him, and open our minds to understand His way. It is "all of me" because the one thing He will not do is take over my soul so that I must say "yes." I must surrender my will, my rebellion, and my insistence on having my own way; that part is totally up to me.
If you have received an invitation and answered "Yes," then you are adopted through Christ and have every spiritual blessing in Him.
If you received an invitation and responded with "No," then reconsider your answer. The invitation is still open.
If you have been "playing" church, but insist on having your own way, then do a reality check. Being a member of a church is not enough.
If you have never received an invitation, RUN - do not walk - to God and ask Him to open your blind eyes and to show you the way to salvation. In an unexplainable way, your desire to go to God is the invitation from God.
Here is one last question for today: How is your cruise going?