After 38 years of continued paralyzing sickness, the man lying among the large number of the sick by the side of the Bethseda pool, found the Savior Lord asking him, “Do you want to get well?” Out of all the other sick people there, why was he chosen by the Son of God? In like manner why did He choose you or me for neither of us have any righteousness of our own? He not only chooses us but also teaches us His ways, His Word and then empowers us to live that and set an example for others. On the ‘Day of Judgement’ also shall we be spared the ordeal or we will also face the ‘Righteous Judge’?
What is our status as believers? – We have been especially blessed by the Lord to be ‘children of God’ and in addition we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). And the indwelling Holy Spirit fills us with God’s love and power to face unbelief, persecution, hostilities and a powerful, dangerous and dominant adversary. As Jehovah Nissi, He is our Banner that unites us to Him to lead us on the victory march, in a victory procession, celebrating the defeat of Satan. But the devil, though defeated, is still active and we still face persecution.
Still many reasons to rejoice – Despite all the trouble that we face daily, we have many reasons to rejoice.
1. Our faith is not the reason for being chosen but has resulted from that – Lord Jesus clarified this, “You did not choose Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). This choosing is about a deeper search by the One who ‘searches the hearts’, since Judas Iscariot was also chosen with the others, yet he betrayed the Master. Since creation everything belongs to God the Father and He gives whoever He chooses to His Son for Lord Jesus confirms this, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me” and also “Yours they were and You gave them to Me” (John 6:37 & 17:6). After receiving the Word “they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Eternal life received by us is a gift of God and we musty rejoice for He has done it.
2. Basis of choosing not in us but in God’s grace – Moses declared that the basis of Israel being chosen by God was not because of their numerical superiority or any other such quality that they had but “because the LORD loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). Jacob was chosen over Esau, “though they were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s good purpose to choose might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls” (Romans 9:11-12).
3. Our faith and obedience is because of God’s choice – The All-knowing God knew each one of us even before we were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). The Gospel was given to us “not only in Word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” because He has chosen us (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6).
4. No charge against us by the accuser can stick – “If God is for us who can be against us? God did not spare His Son but gave Him up for us all…. Who shall bring any charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies, who is to condemn?” (Romans 8:31-34).
5. Our faith is designed to bring humility in us – Apostle Paul compares our state before we received the Word – “you were not wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Since there is nothing in us to make us deserving of the blessings of God, we are required to humbly submit to His authority.
6. Being chosen means all are equal – God’s choice is not restricted to any one region, nation or a special class but from “all nations of the world” to make all believers into a ‘chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation’. In this there is no exclusion because of and personal deficiency and all as children of God are equal before Him.
7. Being chosen means being destined for everlasting praise of God – “God chase us and predestined us to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Our responsibility is to praise and glorify His mighty name and through this we receive the joy of admiring Him while God gets the glory of exaltation from His children.
8. Being chosen means God will use all necessary means to bring us to eternal glory – Apostle Paul expressed his love for the Church that “he endured everything for the sake of the chosen ones, that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). Through the parable of the lost sheep Lord Jesus assures us that He will come looking for one that has gone astray to ensure that none is lost and thus gets deprived of eternal presence before God.
9. God shapes history for His chosen ones – Joshua was given the promise of not being left alone or abandoned and he could, in the authority and power of God, stop the sun and moon from moving till his forces defeated the enemy (Joshua 10:13). To ensure lesser suffering for God’s elect, during the time of great tribulation, “for the sake of the chosen ones those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:22).
10. God will gather us to Himself when He comes to judge the people – Lord Jesus was rejected by His own but the “stone the builders rejected came to be the corner-stone” (Matthew 21:42). And then “will not God give justice to His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night” (Luke 18:7).
All believers by virtue of God’s choice fall in a special category of people blessed by God and this unique distinction is the cause of rejoicing for us.
Responsibility of the chosen – Lord Jesus condensed the commands from ten to just two crystallizing their effect on man, his life and his relationship with God. The first is the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:5) to the love the LORD your God with the addition of loving Him with all your mind also, meaning all thoughts to be made God centric only. And the second is to love your neighbor as yourself or as the Lord has loved us – forgiving, forgetting and blessing. And then He has defined the neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan who takes pains to help an injured Jew ensuring his well being despite the Jews hatred for the Samaritans (Luke 10:25-37). Prophet Isaiah had declared the role of the Savior much before His arrival on the earth and all believers who are required to be like Him are also necessarily obligated to fulfill the task – to proclaim good news of the Gospel, bind up the brokenhearted et al (Isaiah 61:1-3).
All twelve disciples were called by the Lord Himself yet Judas Iscariot called ‘son of perdition’ sold off his Master for 30 pieces of silver while the others also deserted Him. Yet He prayed for the other eleven that their faith may not be lost. All believers are essentially get transformed through the daily process of transformation and bear fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). In addition to these character traits our faith must result in good deeds towards others for what is faith without that (James 2:17-18). The Savior Lord emphasized this further “I was hungry and you fed Me, thirsty and you gave a drink, stranger and you took Me in, naked and you clothed Me, sick and you visited Me, in prison and you came to Me”. In answer to their expected question, ‘When did we do this, Lord’ He answered “as much as you did to one of the least, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:35-40).
Scripture highlights the necessity of hospitality and empathy towards others, especially strangers, that ‘some people have welcomed angels into their households by so doing’ (Hebrews 13:2). The Great Commission in essence is love for the neighbors, those in need of relief from the forces of sin and darkness. The word disciple is translated from the Greek word ‘mathetes’ indicating thought accompanied by an endeavor for it for it involves a mental effort on the part of the teacher as well as the taught for the minds of unbelievers have been blinded by the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Will the chosen face judgement? – What is expected of the faithful by the Savior is defined by Apostle Paul, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Though all will be judged but “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Am I living under the control and guidance of God the Holy Spirit? Apostle John repeated proclaimed the love of Lord Jesus for him in his Gospel account but on seeing the same Lord Jesus in the role of the Judge, “fell down as dead” (Revelation 1:17). Letters to the seven churches are fearful truths prevalent in the Church worldwide and the Lord has warned that “everyone will give account for every empty word spoken by them” (Matthew 12:36).
We learn and focus on His love and mercy but what about His judgement; saved by His blood and sins forgiven but what about te consequences of sin? Lord Jesus has taught that the Father will cut off every branch of mine that bears no fruit whereas pruning is of the fruit bearing branches to make them more productive (John 15:2). In the letter to the Church of the Laodiceans Lord Jesus warned them of their casualness – you are neither hot nor cold – and that He will spit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15-16). Imagine being discarded by the Righteous Judge of the universe. Apostle Paul cautions about continuation in our sinful living for the Lord will forgive in His grace (Romans 6:1). Sanctification is the continuous process of repentance and forgiveness that transforms a believers into the image and likeness of the Son of God through the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. In like manner the lack of good deeds in faith also amounts to neglect.
Judgement of believers probably will not be penal but to assess the rewards or praise they deserve for their works through evaluation of faithfulness and service. Judgement will not provide the entry pass but provide status or authority within God’s kingdom, an entry into the joy of our Lord. The parable of the servants being given the ‘talents of gold’ given by the master while proceeding on a voyage illustrates this. The two servants who had doubled their holding of five and two talents were both ruler over many things and ‘entry into the joy of their lord. On the other hand the third servant who had only one talent and who had buried the same in the earth for safekeeping was deprived of that and “cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30). The judgement of the Lord is very real and scary and one may be forced to remain away from Him.
Today Lord Jesus is our Advocate, Intercessor and High Priest in heaven but the day of His coming as judge is not far. The Son of God will then sit on His throne to judge His people and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God(Hebrews 10:30-31). He has already cautioned that on that day many will say, Lord, in Your name we did many things but the answer will be “I never knew you, depart from Me” (Matthew 7:21-23). Every believer is tasked to do the ‘will of the Father and the Son under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit’ – nothing less will do.
How will the believers be judged? – Apostle John witnessed and recorded the scene of judgement clearly – “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the ‘Book of Life’, and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12). The sins and shortcomings of believers will be revealed as forgiven sins whose guilt has been totally covered by the blood of the Lamb. Then He will declare – by this your life bears witness to the grace of My Father, the worth of My blood, and the fruit of My Spirit. These bear witness that your life is eternal. And according to these you will have your rewards. Enter into the everlasting joy of your Master. And the angel will call out to the waiting ‘next’ declaring the end of judgement for me and you.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” and a child is disciplined by the Father not castigated. All believers will appear before the throne of the Son of God to give account for the blessings received through the shedding of His blood and its effect on their lives. If He sees a life of utter disgrace and ungratefulness, who knows what will be the Righteous Judge do. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”!!