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Passage: John 16-18

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, Yujin wrote,

Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me (John 16:30-32).

It is somewhat humorous to see how the disciples proclaim their devotion to Jesus. As often as they do, Jesus bats it down. Here they declare, "We believe," to which Jesus questions, "Do you now believe?" Then He proceeds to predict that they would all scatter and leave Him alone.

A similar event happened earlier with Peter, who declared that he would even die for Jesus. But Jesus responded to him by predicting that Peter would deny even knowing Jesus three times that very night (cf. John 13:38). 

The disciples thought they knew the inner working of their own hearts. So they confidently declared their faith and devotion to Jesus. Yet, they were shown to be totally wrong. They did not know their own hearts. They were quick to disown Jesus to save their own skins. 

Friends, what makes you so sure of your own faith. I again confront those that adamantly hold to a conviction that they chose Jesus as an act of their own free will. You may be as self-deceived as these disciples were in their confident declarations of faith in Jesus. When will you understand that you did not choose Him, but He chose you. And it is not your faith that sustains you but the faith He has given you and continues to uphold in you. The soil that produces a harvest has been first fertilized by the Lord. Those who hear so as to believe have been given their ears to hear. 

Yes, in a sense, you chose Jesus. There was an act of belief. But understand that the choice was not "free" and the act was not voluntary. A miracle had to occur before you could believe. Your eyes had to be regenerated so that you could see the glory of God in the face of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 3:3). Your mind had to be opened so that you could understand and accept the Gospel as truth and not folly (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14; Luke 24:45). As Jesus declared, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them" (John 6:65). The reason that God had to initiate, sustain and perfect salvation - all of it - for us is because we were spiritually dead and ruled by Satan (cf. Ephesians 2:1-2). Apart from the Spirit regenerating us, we had nothing within us to desire God in any way (cf. Romans 3:10-18).

Friends, sometimes in our Christian walk we begin to imagine that we can now be righteous of ourselves. The bankrupt reasoning that caused the Jews to stumble over the necessity of a God-given faith in salvation (cf. Romans 10:1-3) can creep again into our minds to make us imagine that we can sustain our faith by the strength and freedom of our wills. But we must understand that every aspect of the faith that saves, whether we speak of justifying faith, sanctifying faith, or glorifying faith, is from God (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). He is the one who began salvation in us, and He is the one who who will complete it (cf. Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

This does not mean that we do not try to be holy but that we recognize that we can never be holy so as to somehow "earn" our salvation at any point in our walk with God. Our boast from beginning to end must be in the LORD, and our confidence only and completely in Him. Thus, we are never initiating faith and obedience and always responding to His enabling grace. As Paul also wrote for us:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).

Passage: John 16-18

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013 (Last Updated on 4/17/2023), Yujin wrote,

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17). 

Today, I happened to hear a message by a pastor of a Reformed Baptist church in Zambia, Africa. He spoke at the Strange Fire Conference led by Dr. John MacArthur. I appreciate that the whole conference is offered for free for anyone to listen to it (Listen here). 

This pastor, Conrad Mbewe, spoke of the harmful influence of the charismatic movement in Africa, and how it is marginalizing and destroying biblical authority, as well as replacing the true Gospel with a social gospel. Normally, Christians should celebrate church growth, but he insists that the kind of church growth led by the charismatic movement in Africa is very bad news for biblical Christianity on the continent. 

I encourage you to listen to his message here, which is entitled "The African Import of Charismatic Chaos"

Passage: John 16-18

On Saturday, December 15, 2012, Fernando wrote,

John 16
23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

What a remarkable statement.

He is speaking to his disciples, that when they see him again, after the resurrection, they will ask nothing of him, and they didn't.  Aside from our message being already verified by God's signs, I think part of the reason we don't see dynamic prayers answered is we may not be abiding as well as we should.

22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me.

We will receive anything if we are in him and him in us. The first part seems great but the condition is a 2 variable problem. Your will must match God's will. If we are concerned about fixing the flesh (health, attitudes, finances, politics, etc) now, I don't think we will find God in agreement. First we are called to seek the kingdom then to seek and develop disciples.

When Jesus walked he did the same. When he encountered someone he would say "this person did not sin, or, this person is ill, or, this event occurred so that God may be glorified and you may believe." Some things are set up to bring people down so they can be brought up to a higher station – a quick fix in the now will likely not work. Healing and peace may not be what God is calling for; it may be to refine someone.

My Daughter may die tomorrow and it may be the will of God to do that so someone in her life will grow mightier for God - why is this hard to accept from an all loving father who sent his only begotten son to die for a world that hated him, only to be reconciled into immortal judges over angels and the damned?

I speculate, that if we have perfected spiritual maturity that we could endure such events without crumbling. He told them after his resurrection that:
23 In that day you will ask nothing of me.

They would be in joy.

To consider further the "you in me and I in you" and "in my name," he revealed that:
24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name

They healed people and cast out demons! Isn't this a sign of asking in his name?! I think there is more to this. Even those who were not with Jesus cast out demons:
Matthew 12:27
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
Matthew 7:22-23
22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
Mark 9:39
39 "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,

Whether these who make claims actually do cast out demons or “cast Christian spells” or not, is beside the point. I mention them because sometimes stories like these cloud my view of God's purposes. There are those who were casting demons out in the name of Jesus, as did the disciples, but until 'now' they have "asked nothing" in Jesus’s name.

So what is he trying to say? Mark 9:39 puts side by side someone not with Jesus, doing miracles in Jesus's name (by the authority of Jesus - not theirs) and their ability to say something poor about Jesus. It is not that they will be believers as we see in Matthew 7:22-23, but rather they will have no credibility to say bad things.

(How can you campaign the greatness of a political figure then trash talk all that you once praised; you tarnish your credibility before you tarnish their reputation.)

God's agenda is to bring people to himself. Once there you need nothing else, only a relationship and the fulfillment that is uncorruptable. When the relationship is all you seek, the joy is full and needs fade. Rophi (the healer), Elohim (creator), adonai (lord) all he is known for is known to you and that should settle everything for us.

So I think another way to read verses 23 through 24 is:

In that day when you see the resurrection. You will be satisfied needing nothing more. If you find you are in need, ask of what God wants, namely you in him, and your joy will be made full.

You are called to be richly satisfied in him, perhaps once we have first completed seeking the kingdom of God we can see a tree wither at our command.

Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'

Passage: John 16-18

On Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Yujin wrote,

They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (John 16:2)

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come (John 16:12-13).

A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home (John 16:32).

Friends, I posed a question yesterday which I ask again today? Who is Jesus talking to in John 16? Is it not His eleven disciples again? In the first and last verse above, Jesus says that those He is addressing will be put "out of the synagogue" and "will be scattered, each to your own home." Does He mean all believers here? Do you know where your nearest synagogue is? Do you feel like your scattering, running to your home, on account of Jesus? Of course not!

When we can so easily recognize that these verses do not apply to us, how is it that we so quickly apply the other verses in this chapter to ourselves as if they were spoken directly to us? I chose the middle passage above (John 16:12-13) because it speaks of the giving of the Spirit, who will "guide you into all the truth." He will also "tell you what is to come." Is this a promise for every Christian? Isn't this also spoken only to the eleven disciples? I know that in the past I too have immediately applied this to all believers today without a second thought. Many and perhaps most preachers still do it.

But now I realize that this is not right. As I argued before, proper interpretation requires us to first ask, "Who is the audience?", and to ascertain by context whether the teaching or command is universal or particular, eternal or limited, in scope.

I have suggested in times past that there is a danger even in some Bible study groups. When people sit around a table, reading the Bible together, and the leader begins the discussion with the question, "What does this passage mean to you?", this presents a problem. Instead of trying to first understand what is written, even the who, what, when, where, and why it was written, the discussion question immediately sets the stage for potential error. Rather than first trying to discern what a passage means objectively, the question leads the people to give not only their subjective opinions but also causes them to derive their meanings from their experience rather than the context. 

When people interpret the Bible in this subjective way, God, the divine Author, is not honored. Every cult began this way, because they chose to depart from the objective reading of God's Word and chose to read into the text whatever they felt or experienced. Prosperity theologians are guilty of this. Neo-charismatics are guilty of this as well. Many Christians are guilty of this as well, but since they are not the leaders of movements, they have not done as much harm to the Name of God and the cause of Christ. 

Friends, I encourage you to be discerning as you read the Bible. Read it as you would any non-fiction work of history. Ask the same questions: Who, what, where, when, and why. Try to understand the immediate and larger contexts. Try to discern whether a given instruction or command was designed just for the immediate audience addressed or for a wider application, and whether it was written for that particular time in history or for later times as well. Because people do not ask these basic questions, the Christian community finds itself steeped in all kinds of  doctrinal error and misguided practices.

May the Lord forgive us for being so cavalier with His Word. May He forgive me for my part in misleading others in times past because of my ignorance and inexperience with His Word. 

Passage: John 16-18

On Thursday, February 23, 2012, Bill wrote,

Jesus tells the disciples the 'counselor' will come to them after his death.

(John 16:5-11)

5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."

The counselor or advocate is the part of God that most are least familiar. God is called a triune God - three persons (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) that are distinct, yet remain one. The Holy Spirit was God's gift to Christians - the Holy Spirit dwells within all Christians. The amazing transformation from the old testament when no one could approach God except Israels high priest and only once a year, to where God now dwells within us. The separation of God from Israel was due to their sin, as God will not tolerate any sin. When Jesus died as payment for our sins (past, present and future) we were all sanctified - made holy, thus we could be with God and He with us.

Jesus says that only when he 'goes away' will the Counselor (Holy Spirit) come. The Holy Spirit's arrival is a testimony of Jesus truth - Jesus died that God may be with us (literally dwell within Christians). Jesus says that the arrival of the Holy Spirit, following his death, is a conviction of those who chose not to believe. Gods arrival as the Holy Spirit both condemns non believers and restores believers. Jesus says the world will be convicted in righteousness - this seems to imply that Christ death was because of Gods righteousness that had to pay for the worlds sins. And he says the world is convicted in judgment because their sin condemned Christ on the cross.

Jesus wants the disciples to know that the gift of the Holy Spirit was a conviction of all of us. Despite our guilt God has planned redemption through Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Passage: John 16-18

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, Aaron wrote,

Just my thoughts in relation to the 2nd question and your response. I truly understand what you are saying and wanted to share a few anecdotes about such.

First is the day that I was saved and accepted Jesus as my Savior.  I can recall it vividly, like it was yesterday, even though it was nearly 30 years ago.  There was a light in my heart, and overwhelming sense of emotion, power, strength, and desire.  That power is what drew me to pray with the minister, profess my faith, and accept Jesus.  After reading your explanation this week of God actually calling people to him versus people simply accepting Jesus, it made perfect sense (as does your explanation below).  If God hadn’t filled my heart with this power, would I have accepted Jesus?  Would I have known I should?  I am certain that I wouldn’t.  I might have simply called it heartburn or something.  But evidently the time was right for God to enter my life, and when he called, I answered the call.  Therefore, I can see that there would be some people who do not understand or answer God’s call and would struggle with it for their entire lifetimes and not ever know what that power is.  I also have gained a better understanding among those who do not believe and why they may never believe.

But reflecting on that power that entered my heart, that light, there is one word that describes this feeling I had, though I didn’t truly know what it was at the time.  Only later did I find out what this word was.  Today, I know that power as love.  I feel that love on a daily basis when I think of my wife.  I feel that love when I reflect on God’s words and your teachings.  I try to walk in my life as a vessel of that love/light and let it shine as a beacon to others.  I know I succeed when people notice how I “light up” when I mention my wife and family.  While I seldom openly share my testimony (unless specifically asked, which no one has), I do let people know that I try to be guided by faith.

The 2nd story I wanted to share is about my son and his journey to Christ.  As a member of the RA’s, he made a confession to our minister outside of church that he thought he was ready to accept Jesus.  However, in talking with him and us, the minister said something to the affect of "I think he’s just 'accepting' because he knows he should, rather than honestly and openly feeling God/Jesus."  I didn’t totally understand the differentiation at the time, but I knew what the minister meant.  Another 18 months or so passed with our son asking questions now and again to clarify things about Jesus and God (as most children do), but we didn’t hear much talk about it anymore.  Then, in 2009, a couple of weeks before Easter, we were attending the morning service.  And during the time of the service when we pray for those who need it and those, who are looking for Jesus, go forward, my son was next to us praying, when he hopped up and almost RAN to the front of the church to meet with the minister.  They had a good conversation and the short hymn that we normally sing was extended by a couple of versus as they chatted.  The minister then talked to the congregation about him and his single-minded determinatioin (that started with his march to the front of the church) and how strongly God was calling him.  The minister could see it in his face, eyes, and spirit, as could anyone that day, that God’s will would not be stopped or pushed aside.  He was baptized 2 weeks later on Easter Sunday, the day before I accepted a new job that would cause us to move.  God knew that we would struggle to find a church in our new home, and he knew that our son was ready and called to him.  I get choked up thinking about how our son KNEW he was being called, the same way I knew (though I was younger and more timid at the time).

In my adult life, there have been a few times I have felt God and His love.  It’s filled my heart and filled me with clarity of purpose and direction (as well as that same determination displayed by my son).  It is impossible to turn the heart to Jesus once it has been hardened by God.  And when a heart turns to Jesus, it is not because of man, but by God’s will.  I didn’t accept Jesus because of the minister the way Haydon didn’t accept Jesus because of our minister.  While both ministers were important to help us understanding the love filling us and what our next steps were, God is the one that did the work.

Passage: John 16-18

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 (Last Updated on 11/20/2013), Yujin wrote,

Friends, the topic of election has stirred some discussion among our members. I am thrilled. They have brought some probing questions, which causes me to rejoice, because they are seeking the truth in God's Word. I send these to you because I believe they may be instructive for you. Here are the two questions. I will present the questions just as they were asked, and then give my answers after them:

The first question:

I am so glad you wrote on "election".  I continue to struggle with this concept and pray you can answer my questions.  Throughout scripture, God has chosen......He chose the Jews, He chose the disciples, and He chose the prophets of the Old Testament. But beyond that I believe scripture confirms that salvation is open to all.  2 Peter 3:9...."The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. "  The Old Testament if filled with writings of God being filled with anguish over the evil done by people and the desire for the lost to come to Him.  Hence my dilemma.. The Word says that none shall come to the Father except He draw them which seems like a contradiction of 2 Peter 3:9 where God desires all to come to Him. If that's his desire, then why not draw everyone to Him?  I hope I'm making sense.  Can you please shed some light on this?  Thanks in advance for your response.

My response:

I'm so glad for your interest. And your question is a significant one, which I'm sure many others wrestle with as well. The Scripture seems to indicate that God desires "all" to be saved, so why would He not choose everyone for salvation? Before looking at the particular passage (and I will add others) in question, let me first address the question with a question.

If God truly desires all to be saved, whether you believe in election or not, why are all not saved? There are really only two answers. God cannot do it or God chooses not to do it. There is hardly a person that would argue that God cannot save. Usually, people argue something like, 'God chooses not to do it because He does not want to violate a person's free will.' This is the answer that those who reject election give. There is no biblical basis for this answer. If you believe in election, there is another answer. Man's salvation is not the chief purpose of God. In other words, there is a higher purpose, namely His glory.

Can you imagine that God wanted Jesus to die, and not just die, but die by the shameful and aweful method of crucifixion? Not at all. But when His disciples draw their swords to defend Him against the soldiers that have come to seize Him, what does Jesus say?

But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Matthew 26:52-54).

Jesus could have defended Himself, but He does not. The reason He gives is not that He wants to uphold man's free will. No. It is because God has prophesied this, and He wants to honor God's Word. In the parallel passage in John 18:11, Jesus says, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” Jesus came to glorify God and to fulfill His Word. So He also prayed in the Garden, "Not my will but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

When we stop seeing ourselves as the center of God's universe, then we can understand. Many persist in having a too-high view of themselves. Therefore, they argue that man's salvation is the main message of the Bible. It is not. The main message of the Bible is the glory of God. And the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (1 Peter 4:11). Hollywood argues that man's free will is the only inviolable thing, which even God cannot violate. That's not a truth from God or the Bible but from Morgan Freeman in "Bruce Almighty." Recently, the most famous opinion news host, Bill O'Reilly, even said the same. In their world view, even though God desires all to be saved, He does not want, or to some He cannot, violate human free will.

But the Scriptures are clear that God is glorified not only by life but also by death: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Romans 8:36). God is glorified in the condemnation of the wicked as well as the salvation of the righteous (Romans 9:17, 22-23). The Scriptures even say that God was pleased to harm Christ: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief" (Isaiah 53:10). It is likely not so much that God was happy to harm Jesus but rather God was pleased that His greater glory was being achieved. And this is what Jesus also purposed. Consider what Jesus says to His disciples just before His death:

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again (John 12:27-28).

There are numerous other Scriptures that teach that the end all things is the glory of God. Hopefully, this small selection will convince you that while God is not happy that people perish in their sins, He will allow it for the sake of His greater glory. But you may wonder, 'Why? Isn't God more glorified if everyone is saved?" No. The best way that I can explain it is to say that a cool drink of water is never so good as if you have known extreme thirst in the desert. Light is most appreciated when it dispels the darkness. It is when righteousness or God's mercy is set in contrast to wickedness and wrath that they are most appreciated and so God is most glorified. This is the meaning of Romans 9:22-24,

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Now, let us consider the verse that troubled you, namely 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

What is the context of this verse? Peter is comforting believers by answering the taunt of scoffers, who say, "Why hasn't your Christ come yet? Nothing has changed or will ever change." (2 Peter 3:4). Peter reminds the believers that the people of Noah's day were saying the same things before God brought the flood and destroyed all of them. Likewise, Peter says that God will bring a sudden judgment by fire, and the delay is because He "is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

Now, consider that Peter does not write, "He is longsuffering toward them (namely, the unbelieving scoffers mentioned in verse 3)." What purpose would it be to speak of God's patience "toward us" (or even "toward you" in some translations, which would refer to the believers Peter is writing to) if God's intent is for the salvation of others, namely, the unbelievers? It would make no sense. Why would God be patient toward believers when He is waiting for unbelievers to come to faith?

However, if we understand that God's "longsuffering toward us" is so that no one that God has predestined for life should perish, then it makes perfect sense. God did not bring the flood until Noah and his family finished building the ark, took two animals of every kind into it, and He sealed it safely shut. God had already decreed who would be saved from the flood, but it took some time to secure all of them. Likewise, from before the foundation of the world God has decreed those who would be saved, but in Peter's day they had not all yet "come to repentance." If God brought the final judgment in Peter's day, where would you and I be today? We are among God's elect, written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8; and the NASB version of Revelation 13:8). This also explains passages like Romans 11:25, "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number (or "fullness") of the Gentiles has come in." This passage suggests that God has a definite number of Gentiles in mind who would be saved. Consider also, Acts 13:48, where we read that after Paul's preaching, "when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed."

Now, recognize where the confusion lies.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

When you read 2 Peter 3:9, you immediately concluded that "any" meant every single person rather than any of the elect. You also assumed "all" meant every single person rather than all who were appointed for eternal life. In the process, you probably completely overlooked the significance of the "us" in the expression "longsuffering toward us." Even if this expression was not there to guide our interpretation, we would still be able to interpret it correctly by the context, as well as the testimony of so many other Scriptures that teach God's sovereign election in salvation.

Many who reject election make these kinds of mistakes in interpretation. Let me throw in another example. In the famous passage, John 3:16, we read, "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son..." Many read this verse "God loved the world so much;" however, the Greek word translated "so" is most often translated not as an intensive, "so much," but as a "directive," namely, "in this way." Thus, the likely meaning of "so" in John 3:16 is this: "God in this way loved the world..." In what way? "that He gave His only-begotten Son." Now, would you have known this without studying Greek? Probably not immediately, unless you look it up in an Interlinear Bible or a Greek-English Lexicon. Now, there is a possibility that both senses may have been intended by John. However, I point out the alternative way, which is the main way, because it is often completely neglected. The effect has been that too much has been made of God's love for the world rather than the expression of that love, namely, God's only-begotten Son. When people make too much of the former, they argue things like, 'Since God loved the whole world so much, how could He just choose some for salvation.' Thus, they make the same argument for John 3:16 as they try to make for 2 Peter 3:9. Our answer would be the same. I hope this helps.

The second question:

Yujin, as I reflect upon your sharing I come to the crossroads of how this does affect my witness.  What is difficult to understand is even more difficult to share, evangelically.  I think about the conversation with an unbeliever that as I share who Jesus is to me and how I came to accept him as my Lord and savior, I realize that the fact that he first chose me can be difficult to accept and understand by a non-believer.  Herein potentially lies the end of the conversation as I can not fully know if God has chose the person I am talking to.  In fact as you have clearly stated unless God has first chosen this person, their choice of choosing to accept Jesus has already been determined.  Bottom line: sharing the gospel is what God wants us to do but the choice has already been made and we are simply the glorifying catalyst in those cases where God has already predestined salvation. 

Therefore do you believe it is possible for an unbeliever whether or not they understand the ramifications that they may not be chosen by God to earnestly and wholeheartedly desire to chose Jesus and God not predestine it?  Or is this like the statement all squares are polygons, where the prior is a subset of the latter - with squares being those saved and polygons being God's sovereignty?

My response:

It is not possible for an unbeliever to choose God apart from a prior work of God. As Jesus said in the passage with the Rich Young Man, "It is impossible for man..." And Paul argues very strongly in Romans 3 that unbelievers would not only not choose God, but they would go away from God. If you consider the speed of sin's corruption following Adam, so that God had to destroy the entire population of people in Noah's day, we can understand man's depravity is intimately connected with our very humanity. We are all born sinners and worthy of condemnation.
As for trying to communicate this to unbelievers, they will likely not understand, for if they don't understand the Gospel, how could they understand the truth of God's election? Consider Jesus with the unbelieving Jews. He told them directly that they do not believe because God had not chosen them. He simply and boldly proclaimed the message, and frankly, often made it even "hard" for people to believe. Perhaps by this He demonstrated further that it was not by human persuasion that people are saved but by the power of God.

Passage: John 16-18

On Monday, November 22, 2010 (Last Updated on 11/20/2013), Yujin wrote,

In John 17, Jesus' prays His most detailed and lengthy prayer to the Father. Have you considered how much this prayer was God-ward, even in how often He refers to believers as those God has "given to Him" (Seven times, cf. John 17:2, 6, 7, 9, 24). This reminds us of Jesus' earlier teaching that we did not choose Him, but He chose us (cf. John 15:16) and even earlier that none of us could come to Christ for salvation except that we were drawn to Him by God (cf. John 6:44). To consider that we were set apart for salvation by God is to be absolutely humbled before Him. And to recognize that only those that God has chosen will be saved is to be free from anxiety and presumption -- from anxiety because we can trust that God has already chosen those that will be saved and our living faith assures us that we are in that number; and from presumption because we will not confuse witness for power, for our witness is obedience, whereas it is God's power that saves.

11/21/2011 addition: It is interesting to reflect upon comments that I made exactly a year ago today. While I'm open to change my views, after another year of study in God's Word, I am only more confirmed in certain convictions, like the one expressed in this comment. I mentioned last year the repetition of the significant phrase "given to Him." Repetition usually suggests importance. And a seven-fold repetition may imply chief importance. Today, I would like to specifically look at the use of the expression in John 17:2-3,

... as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus prays to the Father regarding the work God gave Him to do. I want you to see something. Notice that Jesus refers to His God-given authority over "all flesh" (NKJV, although NIV overlooks the unique Greek word and simply translates "all people"). This expression includes everyone, or all humanity, as opposed to an expression like "all people," which might be interpreted as "all kinds of people" or as "people from every race." So, we are talking about all without exception (which includes every single person) rather than simply all without distinction (which may only include representatives from every race).

After undertstanding this universal reference, we then read that Jesus would give eternal life to "as many as You have given Him." In other words, God has chosen only a select group out of all of humanity for eterrnal life. This is the most direct and plain reading of the text.

When we read further, we understand that Jesus' reference to eternal life here includes the idea of knowing God and Jesus: "they they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Therefore, we can surmise that only those that God has chosen and given to Jesus may know God and Jesus in such a way that they may obtain eternal life.

Furthermore, we know that Jesus is speaking of more than just the Eleven, which He will reference later, because He says here, "as many as You have given Him." He would not use this ambiguously large expression if He only had His select disciples in mind. Also, the "as many as You have given Him" is in contrast to "the men you have given Me out of the world" in John 17:6, where He begins to focus on the Eleven (i.e. the Twelve disciples minus Judas Iscariot, see John 17:12). Finally, in John 17:20 we read that Jesus has other believers in mind beyond the disciples: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word..."

Now we can see a clear outline of Jesus' prayer. In John 17:1-5 Jesus prays for every believer. In John 17:6-19, His focus is on the Eleven. Then in John 17:20-23, His focus is on those who believe on account of the preaching of the Eleven. Finally in John 17:24-26 Jesus prays a final blessing for the Eleven that unites them to the blessing pronounced upon those that would believe on account of their witness (compare the blessings of John 17:20-23 with John 17:24-26).

Those that continue to hold on to the idea of "free will" in salvation must come to terms with passages like this, which clearly teach that people only know Jesus because God has first given them to Jesus. Just like Rob Bell, who rejects a literal hell because he cannot fathom a God who would eternally punish anyone, those that reject the sovereign choice of God in salvation probably do so because they cannot fathom a God who would only choose some and not others. But believers believe in a literal hell and the sovereign choice of God in salvation not because they are palatable to our sensibilities, and not because of a wishful but skewed conception of the character of God, but because the Bible teaches it.

Let me reiterate the importance of this view. It is not simply an academic exercise. It impacts your view of God and man. It impacts the motivation and expecation of your witness. It will also either guide or misguide your perspective on the numerous calamities throughout the world in our modern times.

Friends, in view of this, think deeply and search diligently in the Scriptures.

Passage: John 16-18

On Saturday, November 20, 2010 (Last Updated on 11/20/2013), Fernando wrote,

God does let us know that we will continue to face hardships, but we can have his peace in those hardships.  I was listening to a CD my mother gave me. The CD spoke, in different terms, this peace.  We will experience pain, disappointment, and hardship, but if we experience these in light of Christ, there will be joy in our spirit while our body and soul may ache.

Joy because it reinforces and requires us to recall God's sovereignty.  God said there would be hardships, so when they come I have a reason for hope - He said all things will pass. When I am in a time requiring endurance, I can take the attitude James 1 leads us to, it is a time for growth, "So let it grow!" My troubles are not moments of my life that I am failing, or am wasting, or am just suffering; I am free from those ideas.  I am enduring these things to grow, I am a witness that what God has said about these moments are true, I am by not giving up on The Way bringing glory to God; We can have this peace that God offers!