Chosen By God
The meaning of being "elect". God already knew the plans he had for you, yet gave you free will to choose Him. He chose you to accomplish His purposes.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Doin’ alright, today? Well I trust so. Yes of course I wait for you to answer, I know some of you do. (Laughs) And I suppose some days it’s just as well that I don’t hear what you say because you may have awakened to a day that is filled with stress and troubles and you say, “Oh Dr. Cook, you shouldn’t have asked.”
Alright. Whatever kind of a day it is beloved, He is there, our blessed Lord is there with you, for He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” So count on His presence, His abundant grace, His abiding peace, and His overflowing joy. And It’ll make today whatever kind of a day it seems to be, it will make today a joyous adventure with your Lord.
Well, with your permission I’m going to walk around a little while in, in 1 Peter. We’ve had some time in 1 Thessalonians and, and so I thought maybe it might be a good idea just to look at 1 Peter. I’ve referred to his writings now and again in seeking Biblical illustrations and applications of the truth that we had. But it’s been quite a while since I did 1 Peter on a daily basis — I think, a good many years. So let’s try that —that’s if, if you don’t mind.
Starts out signing his name Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ’, writing to the strangers scattered throughout, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.” Very wonderful opening benediction.
Couple of thoughts here. I in looking it up and, and just glancing at my Greek New Testament, I notice that the way it reads if you do it literally, is Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the called out, scattered among Pontus, Galatia, so on, and so on, and so on, and so on, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Elect the, Eclectois —that’s the, the word that is, that is translated ‘elect’ in verse 2. That comes as the fourth, fifth, fifth word in the beginning. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect scattered about, and so on.
The thought occurred to me as I was reading this and thinking about it, that being called according to the foreknowledge of God comes before the circumstances that may impinge upon your life and mine. Many people have said to me and in the course of my pastoral calls — I was in the pastorate 18 years, full-time. I know what it is to pastor a church, and to be with the dear people, and share their joys and sorrows. But many have said to me through the years, “You know, I was brought to Christ when such-and-such a thing happened.” Or, “I was forced to get to my knees and pray when I got into this and this kind of circumstance.”
That sounds familiar to this all because we’ve all said it or heard it. The fact is that when you get around to praying, God has already had His plans laid for you, and that at the moment that you are, as these people were scattered abroad throughout all these different places — and they were therefore strangers and pilgrims, they, they didn’t belong. At the moment that they folk were feeling as though they had been scattered abroad, they were already from the foundation of the world, God’s choice. Think about that, believer.
D. L. Moody was asked one time to explain the idea of predestination — God’s plans ahead of time, and the idea of man’s free will, which of course is a dilemma that theologians have pondered throughout the centuries. Well, he had a simple explanation. He said, “When I came to the door of the salvation, it said, ‘Whosoever will, may come.’ And so I said, ‘I will,’ and I went in. But when I turned around and looked at the door, on the other side — on the inside, it said, ‘Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.’” Chosen before the foundation of the world. And God, in His infinite wisdom, has combined man’s free will with His right as God to make His plans based on what He knows people will do.
You, in the midst of the circumstances that you are now experiencing, what is it with you, beloved? Are you having a rough time on the job? You’re God’s elect. Has illness struck your body and you, you’re weak, and you can’t do what you wish you could do, what you used to be able to do? You’re God’s chosen. He hasn’t forgotten you. You’re in His plans, today, as you are, where you are.
Are you in the midst of a domestic situation that seems absolutely insoluble — you don’t know what to do about the problems? You’re God’s chosen, you’re God’s anchor in the situation, you’re God’s representative in the situation. He picked you to represent Him even in impossible situations. What is it with you? I don’t know because I don’t live inside of your skin. But you know and God knows.
And I’m telling you that as you are, and where you are, and what you are, and what you’re experiencing this very minute has a dynamic relationship to God’s plans for you from all eternity. I don’t have to understand it. I can accept it, and I can accept Him as sovereign God. And I can go on living for His glory in the midst of circumstances that may seem impossible, but that are part of God’s divine provision. Isn’t that great?
Wrapped up in those few words is a good deal of human tragedy incidentally. “The strangers scattered throughout.” To get the background of that you have to go over to the Book of Acts. And it said that the people who were Christians were now being hunted down and scattered. Let me, let me get the, the exact, the exact… Yeah Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time — Acts 8:1, “There was a great persecution against the church at Jerusalem. And they were all scattered abroad.” See? “Then they which were scattered abroad.” verse 4, “went everywhere preaching the Word.” And so the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was spread into many different places. So this phrase ‘scattered’ is not simply a beautiful, rhetorical phrase. It represents the breaking up of homes, and families, and businesses, and careers, and hopes.
We have to get outta here. Think of what it would mean if tomorrow morning you said to the members of your family, “We have to leave, we have to leave before noon. Pick up a few clothes and the things you have to have; we have to leave everything else behind.” And so with, with just a few suitcases piled into the car, and the family, you got into the car and drove away to where you scarcely knew — you just had to leave because of the pressures that were mounting against you as a Christian. An unhappy kind of a situation, isn’t it?
And yet they rejoiced. It’s said they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. These people were so in love with the Lord Jesus that nothing seemed too much, even though they were scattered abroad. Well, I’ve said two things to you then: in the situation that you’re experiencing, you may feel sometimes like a stranger, like a misfit; you may feel as though things were impossible. But remember you’re God’s elect, called out, the ones that He especially wants for His own.
Now he said, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.” Let’s, let’s take those phrases one by one, do you want to? First of all, “Elect according to the foreknowledge.” I tend to oversimplify things as you may know. Sometimes that helps to get at the heart of the matter, although it was the despair of my faculty while I was president of the college. But here look, he says, “elect,” that means ‘chosen’, ‘called out’. Eclectois, ‘called out’, ‘chosen’. Now on what basis? On the basis of the fact, God chose you on the basis of the fact that He simply knew what you were going to do.
God is all-knowing. He’s omniscient – that’s the long word that means He knows everything, all the time, from eternity to eternity. And because He knows that, He also knows that you have the right to choose, so He gave you free will. But in giving you free will, He knew what you would do of your own volition. You’re free to do it but God knew what you would do.
Now lest you stumble at that kind of a dualism of thought, just, just walk into your own kitchen and, and see your little child or grandchild. Isn’t it true that you can generally anticipate what’s going to happen? You know, I can recall as a little boy looking up at, at Mary Armstrong— and we called her Aunt Molly. And, and, and, and my name for her was ‘Aunty’. And I can remember as a little child, looking up at her and say, “Aunty, how did you know that?” And she would smile and say, “I know.” (Laughs)
People who take care of you, your, you who are mothers and fathers, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas, and you’re very close to those small citizens, you get to know what’s going to happen next, don’t you? Of course, you do. And you, oh you oftentimes you anticipate it, oftentimes you anticipate it. As so simple a matter as pouring a glass of milk and putting it on the table within reach of those little chubby fingers, and you know that the next thing that’s going to happen is that milk is going to spill. And so what do you do? Your hand reaches out, ready to catch the glass even as it is in the act of being spilled. You’ve done that, haven’t you?
Now that’s what we call foreknowledge, on a very limited scale to be sure. But God has the right to make His plan based on the fact that He knows you so well. Because He knew you so well, He knew you would open your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. Or some of you who have yet to say ‘yes’ to Christ, God knows that one of these days you’re going to. He’s made His plans for you.
Or if you’re not a Christian, if you never really have opened your heart to Christ as Lord and Savior, do it, will you, today? Don’t wait any longer. You’re one of God’s special people. Open your heart and say, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart, forgive my sins, make me a child of God today.” Pray that prayer and trust Him to save you. He will, I assure you. He said, “He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” You come to Jesus, He’ll take you in. You’ll know what it is to be one of God’s chosen ones.
So elect, how? According to the foreknowledge of God. He knew ahead of time, from all eternity, what you were capable of. This is the wonder expressed by the psalmist in Psalm 139, “Lord thou hast possessed me and known me, and there’s not a word in my tongue but oh Lord, thou knowest it all together…” and so on. The psalmist was absolutely astounded at the fact that God knew all about him. Well He does, and you can trust Him with your whole life. Well we’ll get at this some more the next time we get together.
Dear Father, thank you for choosing us in Jesus. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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