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The Chosen One

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05/17/2009 The Chosen One Knox 16 PC

670/746/209 Psalm 98 1 John 5:1-6 John 15:9-17

OOPS! A man once asked a theologian, “Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot to be his disciple?” The reply was insightful, “I do not know, but I have an even harder question: Why did Jesus choose me?”  
  UGH! In counselling young couples for marriage, I often raise this question right away. Why did you choose this person here over all others to marry? The answers are usually grounded in the fact that this other person makes me happy. To which I reply, what if this person does not make you happy at some point? It is an important question because many of these relationships fail when the one person doesn't make the other person happy.
I choose you among all people in the world to be my wife or to be my husband. But if you don't make me happy I'm gonna take a walk. This an example of how all relationships work in the way of the world.  
  One other aspect of the marriage covenant is the question of wives submitting to their husbands. In the days of the Bible there was a strong patriarchal hierarchy in the family system. Wives and children and slaves were all supposed to be submissive to husbands, parents and Masters.
The apostle now introduces a more difficult task for the husbands. Husbands, you are to love your wives just as Christ has loved the church, to the point that he laid down his life for the church. Are you ready to do this?  
  It is not easy being passed over when the sides are being chosen to play a game. How does it feel to be one of the very last people chosen to be a part of some particular team? How does it feel when you are chosen because there's nobody else to choose from?
The call to be chosen is imbedded within the reality of love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. Choosing the right person is not an easy task. Jesus makes this clear in chapter 15:19. If you belonged to the world, it would love you has its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If we are chosen in Jesus Christ, then, the world will hate us.  
  AHA! There was a boy who did not have much athletic ability. Every time he and his friends would play some game he was always the last to be chosen. One day two new fellows came to play with them and were allowed to be team captains because they were older. The first team captain chose the boy who had always been chosen last before. Why? Because they were brothers, and he loved his brother.
WHEE! So it is with God. He chose us not because of our abilities, but because he loves us. God knows, it is hard to accept rejection. There are risks in choosing another. Jesus says in John 6:70. Then Jesus replied, "have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" Jesus is referring to his choice of Judas, whom he knew would betray him.  
  It is clear that we cannot live up to the standards of what it means to be chosen. We see this year after year as more and more people leave the church. They give up on keeping this relationship. Our success in this relationship is grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ is the Chosen One. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Then Jesus picked up his cross in order to sacrifice his life that we may live.
Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Romans 5:7, 8. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  
  Jesus Christ does not look at our credentials. The Father does not look at our credentials. The Holy Spirit does not look at our credentials. The one factor is that Jesus Christ died for you and he died for me. We didn't have to become righteous to be found in Jesus Christ. But, Jesus Christ makes us righteous, and holy and acceptable in the eyes of God the Father.
You are my friends if you do what I command. We cannot do what Jesus Christ commands unless we live in his love. It's important to remain in that love by studying the word of God day by day. It is important to remain in that relationship by prayer each and every day. It involves surrendering our spirit to the Holy Spirit in order to have that communion with the Lord God.  
  This love is not a vague, sentimental feeling that comes and goes, but a tough reality that is always revealed in obedience. The Son shares in and shows forth His Father’s love by absolute obedience to all His commands, which takes Him now to the Cross. The disciples can only abide in the love of Jesus, then, if they keep His commandments. Love and obedience are two sides of the same reality.
A pastor who was sickly and unwell most of the time wrote a beloved hymn of comfort and trust. He pastored a seashore church in England among the rough sailors and uncultured villagers. And this made outsiders often wonder. But they loved him and he loved the work. However, health finally left him and the doctor advised him to retreat to sunny southern Europe, and he prepared to sail.  
  The last Sunday before leaving, although he had no strength to stand up and preach, yet he forced himself and preached among his weeping people. That evening, by the light of the evening sun, he wrote these words: Abide with me, Fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide; When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me! He sailed, but died abroad within that year.
This does not mean these disciples are called to a grim, cheerless existence. On the contrary, if they abide in the love of Jesus by obeying His commands, they will remain in His joy! Jesus’ joy will be in these people constantly, not sporadically (v. 11).  
  G. K. Chesterton called this joy “the gigantic secret of the Christian.” And when Malcolm Muggeridge, brilliant man of the world, first encountered Mother Teresa in Calcutta among her “destitute and dying,” he could not explain the “luminous quality” he saw in this little, plain woman. This turned out to be far more than a TV assignment for Malcolm Muggeridge, for eventually it was that joy which drew him to Christ, who always shares His joy with those who obey Him.
Joy is an unexpected gift growing out of our intimate relationship with this One we love and serve. While happiness, even though it is frantically sought as some kind of product that can be possessed, turns out to be a disappointing illusion. Happiness is like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that does not exist.  
  He has “chosen” these people to continue His mission (v. 16). The initiative is His, not theirs. He has appointed them, trained them, and prepared them to go and bear much fruit. The word “appointed” in verse 16 is the same verb Jesus uses when He speaks of “laying down His life.” It is His death then that will empower these disciples to carry out their work in His name.
It's something that we only begin to realise year by year, as we get older, that we learn more and more about how great is this love that God has for us. And to be confronted with that reality that God is love let heaven adore him and all his people.  
  He says, I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their Master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learn from my Father I have made known to you. This is full disclosure. God reveals who He in his Son Jesus Christ.
You are chosen in him before the foundations of the world. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  
  If the church is not bearing fruit we need to get back to first things. We need to come into a closer relationship with the living God. The apostle puts it so profoundly in his letter to the Ephesians 2:10 for we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
That is preceded by, for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. We are saved by faith alone through grace alone. But we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.  
  You and I have been created for a purpose. These earthen vessels are made in order to be filled with the Treasure which is the presence and the power of Jesus Christ. We cannot spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ unless we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
This is love: not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Our call is to receive that love because we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. And we love because he first loved us.  
  John says in his letters. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands and His commands are not burdensome. For, everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. When we believe that Jesus is the only Son of God we know that we are chosen in him, that he is who he says he is.  
  YEAH! It's not fair--God choosing some to go to heaven and not others! What are the alternatives? God could justly sentence all to hell, for all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). God is love. Could He not open heaven's door to everyone? But that would violate human freedom. God would be forcing on unrepentant sinners what they reject. No one can reconcile divine election and human freedom. Yet the Bible teaches both (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 10:10, 13). We must accept and live with the tension created by them. Imagine standing before a door over which is written, Whoever Will May Come! As you step by faith through that door, you look back. Over the inside of the door you read, Chosen Before the Foundation of the World. Free will spells hope for the sinner. Election offers assurance to the believer.
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