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Election

Dear Stephanie,*

I was so sorry to read in your last letter that Jake has decided he doesn’t want to call himself a Christian any more. I know how close the two of you used to be. Thank you for writing so honestly, and especially for sharing how this has impacted you personally. You wrote: “Jake was a much better Christian than me, so now that he’s given up I’m scared that I will as well.”

Stephanie, believe me, I feel your concern. My heart is so often drawn away from Jesus to other things – what if in the end one of them wins and I throw in the gospel? When I’ve asked myself that question, I’ve never found a more comforting answer than Jesus’ teaching on election in John 6:37-39. I wonder if I can share them with you:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

I love these words because they remind me that the doctrine of election isn’t for those who aren’t Christians. To put it bluntly, fight the temptation to ask yourself whether God has chosen Jake or not. It might be that he has never been born again and adopted into God’s family, or it might be that he has but is in a temporary period of rebellion. But either way, the promise of Jesus to him is the same: “whoever comes to me I will never drive away”. Our job isn’t to work out whether Jake is chosen or not. We have no way of knowing. Our job is to pray for him, and to urge him to come to Jesus. He will find Jesus’ arms are wide open. The pain he has caused his family, the dishonour he has brought on Jesus – none of that will cause Jesus to drive him away.

I love these words, too, because they remind me that the doctrine of election means my future depends on God’s will, not my strength. Sometime in eternity past the Father said to Jesus, “I am giving you Richard, and here’s what I want you to do with him: keep him until the last day. Don’t lose him. Don’t lose any of them. Keep him, and raise him up at the last day.” You don’t know Jake’s heart, but you know yours. If you are looking at Jesus and trusting him then God’s will is that you will keep going until the end, that you will be raised up on the last day. And he sent Jesus to make sure it will happen. Stephanie, you don’t need to be scared about the future. Neither do I. If we have come to Jesus, it is because the Father gave us to him with strict instructions to keep us safe.

Look to Jesus. Plead with Jake to do the same.

Richard

* I don’t know a Stephanie, but we all know this hypothetical scenario all to well.