Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CHOOSING THE ONE WHO CHOOSES”

John 15.16

This morning I want to bring a message about our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In Colossians 1.18, the Apostle Paul writes, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” That being so, I propose to show Jesus Christ’s preeminence in but one aspect of His glorious salvation of undeserving sinners. In Romans 11.33, the Apostle Paul remarks that God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out. God is too vast a being for any of us to fully comprehend, and His wisdom and holy purpose is beyond our grasp. Therefore, it must be an article of our faith to embrace as a personal conviction that God’s motives are always right and God’s actions are always correct.

With this in mind, I would like you to turn to the gospel according to John, chapter fifteen. When you have found John 15.9, please stand for the reading of God’s Word, you reading silently while I read aloud:

9      As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

10     If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

11     These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

12     This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

13     Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

14     Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

15     Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

16     Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

17     These things I command you, that ye love one another.

This passage follows the very familiar discourse in which the Lord Jesus Christ likens Himself to a vine and believers to branches that bear fruit and which are in need of pruning. However, what is often lost sight of in the midst of this chapter that deals with the believer’s relationship with Christ that is so much like the vine’s with the branches, and the love that is so prominent and indispensable to the Christian life, is how it originated. The words our Lord uttered were spoken after He had left the upper room, after Judas Iscariot had left the Lord and His other disciples to betray the Savior, perhaps while they were walking eastward from the upper room toward the Garden of Gethsemane. The topic of my Lord’s discourse is love. We see here the Father’s love for Him, His love for His disciples, and the command for disciples to love each other, the supremacy of sacrificial love, and the elevation of His beloved disciples to the status of friends, closing in verse 17 with a restatement of His command that His disciples love one another.

There can be no doubt among honest readers that His discourse is steeped in love, is concerned with those who love, shows some of the responsibilities of love, and shows the context in which one’s status is changed from servant of Christ to friend of Christ because of love. It is in this context that we find John 15.16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” In first-century Palestine, it was common for disciples to attach themselves to a particular rabbi, not vice versa.[1] In all likelihood, Saul of Tarsus in this way became a student of Gamaliel.[2] However, the Savior emphatically states that such was not the case with them: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

I want you to contemplate the implications of this statement, set as we have observed in the context of love, in a message I have titled “Choosing The One Who Chooses.” The message is very simple, with only two main points:

First, JESUS CHOOSES HIS DISCIPLES

First, notice the timing of His choosing. Three years earlier, at the beginning of His earthly ministry which commenced when He was baptized by John the Baptist at the south end of the Jordan River, the Lord Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness for forty days. When He returned from His wilderness temptations, He was pointed out by John the Baptist to Andrew and John, who then recruited their brothers, John chapter one. Then, sometime later, when Christ returned to Galilee for the first time since the beginning of His public ministry and went to Capernaum. Those He had called to be His first disciples He called again, Matthew 4.19. The third calling of these first disciples of the Lord is found in Luke chapter 5. However, these three events in the lives of the earliest of Christ’s disciples are not the records of Jesus choosing them. They are the historical records of Him informing them they have been chosen to follow Him, the times when He communicated to them His decision that they were to be His disciples. What is crucial to us this morning is the timing of Christ’s decision for those men, or for anyone for that matter, to be His disciple. He clearly stated that He does the choosing. When does He do the choosing? Perhaps we can best answer this question by searching out when God makes His choice. Ephesians 1.4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Second Thessalonians 2.13: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Second Timothy 1.9: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Since Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,”[3] and since He also said, “I do always those things that please him,”[4] and since believers are “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,”[5] which takes place in eternity past, it is inconceivable that the time of Christ’s choosing does not coincide with God the Father’s choosing. Thus, while Christ’s choice is made known during the course of the chosen one’s lifetime, the time Christ actually chooses him is eternity past.

Next, notice the basis of His choosing. If Christ’s choosing took place in eternity past, on what basis must His choice have been made? It could not possibly have been made based on your good works or any kind of merit, since it was long before you ever existed. This is consistent with what the Bible teaches about salvation being by grace through faith and not of works lest any man should boast, Ephesians 2.8-9. Let us not forget Isaiah 64.6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Our best deeds are nasty in God’s sight, and are therefore incapable of meriting salvation. Therefore, while the Lord Jesus Christ must have reasons for His choices, since He is not arbitrary or capricious, His reasons for choosing whom He chooses are unknown to us except for the certainty that the reasons do not lie in us. Thus, since salvation is by grace, and since the choices Jesus made took place in eternity past, there can be no possible argument that anyone whose sins are forgiven in any way deserves so wonderful a gift from God as Jesus Christ for a Savior. The timing of Christ’s choosing is eternity past. The basis of Christ’s choosing is purely a matter of God’s grace, His completely unmerited favor.

Third, notice the necessity of His choosing. I do not suggest here that Jesus Christ has to save anyone, since that would be a contradiction of salvation by grace. Jesus fulfills no obligation by saving sinners. What I am asserting is that if Jesus Christ chooses to graciously save any sinners, He of necessity must choose whom He will save. Why so? There are two powerful reasons I wish to present to you why Jesus must choose who to save if He chooses to save: First, Jesus Christ has to choose because no unaffected sinner will choose Jesus Christ himself. Romans 3.10-12 pretty much sums up the matter,

10     As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11     There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12     They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

with Isaiah’s prediction from centuries earlier fulfilled in each unaffected sinner’s life, Isaiah 53.3: “He [Jesus] is despised and rejected of men.” The second reason why Jesus Christ has to choose is every sinful man’s inability. What can a sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins do? Dead in trespasses and sins is how the lost are described in Ephesians 2.1. Moreover, in Romans 5.6, the Apostle Paul writes, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Clearly, unsaved men are spiritually impotent. So many other passages reinforce what we have seen here, that even if sinful man would choose Christ, he could not for his spiritual deadness and impotency. To sum then, a sinner would not choose Christ if he could, and he could not choose Christ if he would. Therefore, for anyone to be saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus had to do the choosing in eternity past.

HOWEVER, THE DISCOVERY OF WHO JESUS CHOSE IS WHO CHOOSES JESUS

I am not playing word games here. I am pointing out that God has revealed to no one who Jesus Christ chose before time began, but Christ’s selections are revealed by their eventual response to the gospel message. Using picturesque language in which those Christ has chosen are described as sheep, Jesus speaks to this matter in John 10.27-28:

27     My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28     And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Only those chosen before time are designated sheep by the Savior. However, it is only when they respond to the gospel, identified in this passage as His voice, that eternal life is given and public knowledge that they are Christ’s sheep in established. Allow me to elaborate how this takes place:

First, by means of God’s Word. No sinner becomes a believer in Jesus Christ, no sinner’s sins are forgiven, there is no possible way a lost man can come to faith in Jesus, apart from the ministry of God’s Word. This is irrefutably established in the epistle by James, the first of the New Testament books to be written, in James 1.18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” Thus, for the new birth to occur, for the sinner to turn from his sins and turn to Christ in faith believing, the Word of God has to somehow be involved. There is no salvation without some exposure to the sinner of some portion of God’s Word.

Next, by means of gospel preaching. Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to every creature, Mark 16.15. The sinner who properly responds to the presentation of the gospel by means of preaching will be saved. Such is both declared and recorded in the New Testament. In First Corinthians 1.17-18, we catch a glimpse of the importance of the means of spreading the gospel by preaching:

17     For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

18     For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

In Second Timothy 4.1-4, Paul’s exhorts young Timothy in light of the importance and place of gospel preaching in God’s plan:

1      I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2      Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3      For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4      And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Third, by means of the Spirit’s wooing and regenerating. Though the Lord Jesus Christ announced that He chooses, and though it is clear that He paid the price on Calvary’s cross and is thereby the only savior of sinful men’s souls, He pointed out two indispensable roles the Holy Spirit plays in the salvation of every sinner. It was to Nicodemus that Jesus spoke of the Spirit’s role in the new birth, in John 3.3-8:

3      Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4      Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

5      Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6      That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7      Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8      The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

It was to His disciples that He spoke of the Spirit’s work of wooing sinners, in John 16.7-11, showing sinners their need of Christ:

7      Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

8      And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9      Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10     Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11     Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Thus, the supernatural ministry of persuading a sinner that he needs the salvation that only Jesus provides, as well as the miracle of the new birth that gives life to the spiritual dead when the sinner places his faith in Christ, is the indispensable work of the Holy Spirit. The sinner must look to Jesus and only Jesus as the Object of saving faith, but nothing happens without the cooperative involvement of the blessed Holy Spirit.

Finally, by means of the convert’s faith in Jesus. When the man of God preaches the Word of God and lifts up the Son of God in the gospel message, the Spirit of God applies the Word of God to the sinner’s heart. Some of those who hear respond in faith believing by coming to Christ, by trusting Him, by embracing Him as the sufficient savior of their souls. This happens when God gives the gift of faith to the sinner as he hears God’s Word. Romans 10.17 declares, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Of those sinners who hear God’s Word preached, those who were chosen “in Christ Jesus before the world began” will eventually come to Christ, be born again by the Spirit of God, thereby showing that they are Christ’s sheep now given eternal life. How wonderful it is when God brings together the Word of God, by means of the preaching of the Gospel, the person of the blessed Holy Spirit, and faith in Jesus Christ as the only savior of sinful men’s souls, to bring about the salvation of that person Jesus chose before the foundation of the world. It is all done in love and the result is a sinner now saved who will forever be a trophy of God’s grace through Jesus Christ in love.

There seem to always be those who cry out in protest, “What you say violates man’s free will.” However, not only have I never met a believer who protested that he was saved from his sins against his will, I have never heard of such a person. I am sure someone will dredge up some illustration of a person who tries to commit suicide by drowning himself who objects to being rescued by some Good Samaritan or by a lifeguard. However, such does not apply to salvation, since sinners are already dead in their trespasses and sins.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ is sovereign God, the Second Person of the triune Godhead, who chose unworthy sinners to receive His gracious salvation and benefit from His precious shed blood eons before any sinner ever actually existed. Had He not made such choices, not a single sinner would ever have turned from his sins to Christ. Therefore, let no one protest by crying out, “Unfair!” The word to use instead is grace, or perhaps mercy. What the unsaved say is of no significance to me. What the believer says is of little significance to me. However, what the Word of God says should be decisive to each of us. In God’s Word, Jesus Christ said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

If you are one of the elect, Jesus has chosen you. If you are not one of the elect, Jesus has not chosen you. However, the only way anyone will ever know on this side of eternity if he was chosen by Jesus Christ is when he chooses Jesus Christ by responding to the gospel message and turning from his sins to Jesus Christ in faith believing. I urge you to choose Jesus Christ today.



[1] G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary On The New Testament Use Of The Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), page 493.

[2] Acts 22.3

[3] John 10.30

[4] John 8.29

[5] First Peter 1.2



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org