Misunderstandings: It has to be given to us

Aunt Ger had grown old and could no longer be alone in her house. She therefore had chosen to live in lodgings at a farm, for elsewhere a farmers wife cannot easily feel at home. She was a really old woman and probably would not live much longer. 
Nephew Hans visited her and tried to speak about the grace of God, in the hour of death the only sure and reliable foundation.
Suddenly a voice was heard from the kitchen, of which the door stood halfway opened. The farmers wife, preparing some coffee, had heard every word and said "but it has to be given to you". 
Shortly after that she entered and put down the cups with coffee. Thereupon Hans said: you remarked in the kitchen, that it has to be given to us. So it is, was the answer. 
Well, said Hans, I believe you are right, and he took his Bible and read the gospel of John, chapter 4:14: "But whosoever drinketh of the water, that I shall give him shall never thirst". So it has to be given to us indeed. 
Correct, answered the woman. 
But now it is getting more difficult, Hans said, for in the Revelation, 22:17 I read: "Let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". 
Now both passages are the Word of God, but what is true? Does it have to be given to us, or should we take it.? 
The farmers wife kept silent and so did aunt Ger, but in her wrinkled old face the eyes pierced vividly and attentively. 
It is not as difficult as it seems to be, Hans said. The one is as true as the other. You put the cups on the table. If you had not given it to me, I would not have had anything to drink. But then, if I would not take it, I will not get a drop of drink either. You see, it has to be given, but I have to take it. 
Then he took a cup and drank the coffee. 
You 'll understand, he said, that I would not have taken it, if I had doubted, whether you had destined it for me. 
Many people, who know very well that it has to be given us, doubt whether God is willing to give them salvation and therefore do not take it, whereas the Lord says "whosoever will, let him take". 
Obviously the question is not at all whether God is willing to give, but whether we are willing to take, what God is offering. If you will, you may take, says Revelation 22.17, and call upon the Lord to save you. 

No, it will not happen, that someone gets lost and can say to the Lord: You did not want me to be saved. It will be the reverse, an eternal self-reproach: I did not want.

But o, if the Lord does not draw.

That is not a remark without foundation. It is based on a passage in the Bible. It is only a pity that people usually think to know exactly what the Bible says and therefore do not look for the passage and its exact contents. Often very well known verses of Scripture are not at all well known and understood. For the devil that is grist for his mill, for he is a master in cheating piously, with thoughts and words that seem to be biblical, but are not biblical at all when wrongly interpreted or taken out of its context. 
What passage is at stake in this case? 
The words of the Lord Jesus in John 6:44. It reads: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him". 
We do well to read the next verse as well: "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me". Thus the question who will come to the Lord, has two answers
1 anyone that is drawn by the Father. 
2 Anyone who has heard and learned of the Father. 
So it is by speaking and teaching that the Father is drawing a sinner to the Lord. He uses Word and Spirit. However not all, who hear are obedient and willing to come. Several resist. 

Do not think, that men cannot resist the Holy Ghost. The expression "the irresistible working of the Spirit" is not correct, for in Acts 7:51 Stephen has said: "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers, so ye" (Acts 7:15). He did not say that to irreligious people, but to the highest spiritual leaders in Israel. 

Perhaps you are religious too, orthodox in teaching and well at home in the Bible. Did you perhaps resist the Holy Ghost by accusing God of not having drawn you till now? That was not the truth, was it? 
The Lord did draw you, like a grandmother squatting to lure a baby into her outspread arms. He has shown you Himself, come down in Jesus Christ, his arms spread out on the cross, in order you would come to Him. 
Why listen to the old deceiver, who whispers: Do not believe, that it is for you; God is not that good and you know you have to be drawn first. 
Did you read in John 12:32 what the Lord has said: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". The Father points to the Saviour, lifted up from the earth in order to draw us. See Him there, suffering under the wrath of God because of our sins, praying for his enemies. 
How can you refuse to come to Him or doubt the willingness of God to receive you? Do you need more proof of Gods love for lost sinners than the gift of his Son in such a terrible suffering in our behalf? 
Do no longer cheat yourself and do not hide behind what God should do, in order to refrain from the thing you should do yourself, viz. bow down for Him who suffered and died for you and allow Him to take you into his eternal love.

An apathetic lump of clay at the mercy of the potter.

Did you ever see a potter, working on the wheels? In the old days potters were indispensable. We have to do our utmost to find one, but formerly all earthenware was made by them. We still use much earthenware, but prior to the use of enamelled pans and the discovery of aluminium much more of it was used. My mother remembered, that my grandmother (about the beginning of last age) used to prepare several dishes in earthenware. 

With a potters work not much can go wrong. If something goes wrong, he simply presses his clay together in order to start with it again and make something better. He is master of his material and able to do with it, what he judges best. 
In the Bible we meet the potter as a type to make clear certain teaching. In the epistle to the Romans chapter 9:21 says: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" 

Many consider those words in Romans 9 (with similar passages) as a confirmation of the thought, that God decides whether someone will be saved or not, doing with men as a potter with the clay and deciding sovereignly who will be a vessel unto honour and who unto dishonour. 

Now in that chapter Paul treated the question, whether God could cast Israel away, whereas Scripture contains blessed promises for them; and reverse, whether God could offer salvation to the nations who were far away from God and surely had no promises and privileges like Israel. 
Paul new the Bible very well and was aware of what had been written in Jeremiah 18:1-11. The prophet had to go to the house of the potter and there he saw that the man handled the clay according to his will. If a vessel was not according to his wishes, he pressed the clay together and made another vessel out of it. 
God had used that to illustrate what He intended to do with Judah and Jerusalem 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 
2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 
3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. 
11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. 
Did God try to make clear to Jeremiah, that his decisions were unchangeable? No, certainly not, On the contrary. God made clear, that He could not be bound to his first intentions whenever He judged it necessary to act otherwise. 
If God would bring evil over Judah, they could not, referring to his promises, say that God acted unrighteous. 
God is sovereign, in his wrath as well as in his mercy. The image or type of the potter was not meant to show, that a lump of clay, once a failure as a pot, is doomed to be a failure forever. On the contrary, it shows, that a useless pot will not unavoidably always be a useless thing, because the potter has the power and the right to remake it and create a good piece of work out of the same lump. 
So Paul did not use that image in Romans 9 in order to make clear, that God according to his will has destined one for salvation and the other for perdition. Rather the reverse. 
He made clear, that God was not obliged to bless Israel if the people persevered in impenitentness and had full right to bring that people under his judgment; and he made clear that God had full right to show mercy to the heathen, if they turned to Him. 
The image of the potter and the clay in Romans 9 does not confirm that Gods ways are unchanging and does not speak about an unchangeable eternal decree of God, but of the right of God to act contrary to his original intentions. The image does not speak of Gods eternal decree, but of Gods way in time. 

The passage in Jeremiah 18, speaking of the potter and the clay, tells us, that turning to the Lord will lead to blessing and that turning away from God will lead to perdition. But that is the well known testimony of the whole Bible. Romans 9 shows, that God in his temporary rejection of Israel did not act different from what He had said in his Word and could not be accused of unrighteousness if He showed mercy to the heathen. 

That is the subject in Romans 9. It is NOT a chapter, that treats election of an individual. 
On the one side Israel is in view, on the other side the heathen, not individual but as a body. Moreover the subject is not election of one body and the rejection of the other, but Gods right to have mercy when and on whom He will. He had compassion on the heathen that believed, but hardened Israel that refused to believe. God had hardened Pharaoh who refused to believe and obey, though the Lord had spoken very clear to him by wonders and signs. Would God be obliged to apply another standard for Israel if they refused to turn to the Lord, though they had seen not only wonders and signs, but even the Lord in their midst. Could God be accused of injustice if He hardened them as He had done with Pharaoh? Certainly not. 

Election for salvation is not a subject in Romans 9 although many think it is. 

I repeat with emphasis that election is not the subject of the chapter, even not in the often cited words: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Jacob, the youngest, who had not the birthright, is here a type of the heathen, who had no rights. Esau, the firstborn, who originally had all rights, is the type of Israel, Gods firstborn son according to Exodus 4:22, who, like Esau, had scorned Gods blessing in the rejection of Jesus Christ. 

God chooses them that have no right, like Jacob, but believingly desire Gods blessing through Jesus, the Saviour. 
You have no rights, have you? Well, Gods mercy is for people like you and me, who did not live in a way, that we could claim a right to mercy and who are sinners, like Jacob
On those who do not pretend to have any right like the Jews, but are longing for blessing of God, He chooses to have mercy, though they are no Jews, but heathen. Jeremiah 18 had it made clear already.

What God is willing and what God is not willing.

In 1 Timothy 2:4 we read what God is willing. 
In 2 Peter 3:9 we read what God is not willing. 
The remarkable thing is, that both verses, sounding as opposite to each other, say the same thing. 

God will have all men to be saved. 
God is not willing that any should perish. 

Such words deserve to be read again. Do we know quite sure what they tell us? Is there no mistake? 
No, we made no mistake. Gods eternal word, of which no letter will fall, assures us, that God will have all men to be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4 God our Saviour will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not willing, that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance

Therefore, if we doubt whether we did read correctly, Peter assures us, that GOD IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH. 

All men! 
It could not have been meant more general and broad. All men, that is without any exception. 
Nobody can say, that God had him not in view. When God says "all men", He means all human beings indeed, you, me and everyone. 

The same is true for ANY. 
God is not willing that any should perish. You have your own name, your own history, your own personality and they say, that no two people are the same. But if nobody knows anything about you, you still are someone at any rate. And 2 Peter 3 says, that God is not willing that any should perish. That sentence includes you as certain as you are someone. 

So God does not want you to perish. You cannot contradict it, unless you are so audacious to contradict Gods Word. You should then realise that contradicting Gods Word is a method of the devil. 

In addition Peter says that God is willing that ALL should come to repentance, and it cannot be denied, that "all" includes you. 
What a words of God! 

God will have you to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. God is not willing that you should perish, but that you should come to repentance. 

Such are Gods thoughts about you and such are his Words about you, words that are reliable and fast. 
Very serious words too. God will have you to be saved, and God is not willing that you should perish. 
We read it again: God will have you to be saved, and God is not willing that you should perish. 
Do you realise the force and significance of those words? They cannot be doubted nor misunderstood. Perhaps you doubted a long time whether God would have you to be saved. Here you have the answer from the holy Scripture: God will. 

We cannot doubt that God has a strong desire to save, for: God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Would God have brought his beloved Son in the unspeakable sufferings on the cross, if He had not had in mind to save us, or to save a handful only? Of course not. And again we read, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. Whosoever, you, me and all men without exception. And that becomes still stronger by what the Lord has said in John 66:40: This is the will of Him that sent me, that EVERYONE that seeth the Son and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life.
Not only will everyone that believes on the Son, have everlasting life, it is also the clearly expressed will of God. 
If that is the truth, how then can so many go to perdition? 
Because they resist the will of God and the work of his Holy Spirit. Stephan has said it to the members of the Jewish council (Acts 7:51): You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost as your fathers. 
Serious words indeed. 
Perhaps the same could be said to you. 
Did you ever think of Matthew 23:37, where we read: 
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. 

What ought to be your answer? 
To bow down for Him, who is willing to save you and therefore suffered and died on Golgotha. Receive Him (John 1:12) and do no longer disappoint his love and come.

Elected or rejected?

That question is very well suited to make one dejected. For many it is the greatest problem, whereas others became indifferent and say that one cannot do anything for his salvation - even the faith is a gift of God - and what can one do if God is not willing to give that gift? They consequently think that it is useless to worry. If you are elected, God will arrest you and that 's it. 
It is a general conviction that there is an election to salvation and an election to perdition. But in the Bible that, an election to perdition, cannot be found. It may seem to be a logical thought, that there is such an election if there is election to salvation, nevertheless the Bible does not speak of such an election. 

The Bible is speaking of election indeed. The question is, whether she is speaking of election in the way most people understand it. 
The general view is, seen the verses we considered, totally illogical. If God is willing to save all men, why then does He restrict his choice? The cause cannot be, that God is looking for the better ones. Such a thought is fully contrary to Scripture, in which we find, that God is calling sinners to repentance and not the righteous. And how can the above cited words of the Lord in Matthew 23:37 be explained: how often would I have gathered thy children, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, AND YE WOULD NOT, If they could not be willing because they had not been elected? And why was the Lord astonished at their unbelief, if nobody can believe, if He does not give faith (Marcus 6:6)? 

Those questions are usually dismissed with the answer "the Lord is sovereign". 
That is fully true. 
It is however no answer to the question "if God will have all men to be saved, and has elected some to salvation and others to perdition, what then does it mean that He will have all men to be saved and is not willing that any should perish?" It is unsatisfying and the question remains. 

The two following propositions can never be reconciled and exclude each other:

  1. God is not willing that any should perish and will have all men to be saved.
  2. God gives faith exclusively to them He has elected and refuses to give it to them He has destined for perdition.

God is the God of truth, his word is the word of truth, The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and it is the truth, that makes us free (John 8:32). 
Have I in spite of that to accept, that God is asking us to recognize teaching, that is illogical, does not hold water, and has all marks of untruth? Would God, who created men in his image, ask that we lay aside our common sense and understanding, and accept, that God is WILLING al men to be saved, but refuses to give all men the necessary faith? Does Scripture teach that? 
No. The Bible does not teach it. 
Where is it said, that faith is a gift of God? 
People say, that we find it in Ephesians: "For by grace are ye saved, by faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works" (chapter 2:8, 9). 
However, the word "that" in this sentence does not refer to "faith", can grammaticaly not refer to it. It refers to "being saved by grace through faith". And that is a gift of God indeed, and not of works, what verse 9 says. 

Where then comes faith from? 
Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. 
Here we should keep in mind: 
1 As Stephan said, we can resist the work of God through his Spirit. 
2 Faith is no good work that God can reward and is no quality which marks him as someone of a better kind, the kind with faith. 
Salvation is not "because of" faith, but "through" faith. Faith recognizes not to have any merit, even not the merit of believing, and therefore stretches the hands out to the Redeemer in order to obtain salvation which is not based on any merit of ourselves. What could be the merit of stretching out ones hand for help? 

It is not true, that God demands faith, but refuses to give it to those, He has not elected. The reverse is true: God is knocking at the heart and conscience of stiff-necked and disobedient people by his word, in order they will open their heart for Him. He induces them to it by his word and Spirit. That word therefore will judge them if they persist in unbelief and disobedience. 
The devil is very wicked and cunning. In the beginning he fooled men by telling that God begrudged them the best fruit, and now he is fooling them by telling that God is not willing to give them faith. He was a liar then, he is a liar now. 

Election before the foundation of the world. 

What does the Word of God say about it? 
Ephesians 1:3 is the only passage in the Bible where we find it. 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; 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. 

Here two things attract attention: 
1 Being chosen has similarity with being blessed. 
2 We are chosen "in Christ", just like we have been blessed "in Christ". 

That is calling for explanation. 
1 Verse 3 said we have been blessed in heavenly places. We are however still on earth. How is that? Well, we are so fully one with Christ, that if He has been raised, we have been raised WITH HIM (Ephesians 2:5); if He is sitting in heaven, God has made us sit together there IN HIM (2:6), and if He has been blessed there, we have been blessed there IN HIM. 
Similarly (according as He hath chosen us) we have been elected before the foundation of the world IN HIM. True, we were not yet born then, but we are IN HIM, one with Him. Christ is Gods Elected one (Isaiah 42:1, 1 Peter 2:4 and 6). And before the foundation of the world God has seen us, who believe, IN HIM. Electing Him as the corn of wheat that would fall into the ground (John 12:24), God chose at the same time the grain that would be the fruit of the chosen corn of wheat, the fruit of his sufferings and his death. God has seen them IN HIM. Election of the corn included election of its fruit. They are one. 

2 Election in Christ does not mean that we are elected unto Christ. "In Christ" does not mention the purpose of the election, but the way we have been elected. The purpose is mentioned after the "that" in verse 4, to be holy and without blame before God in love. "In Christ" tells us, how God did see us in eternity. He saw us one with Christ, the fruit of his work and in Him, his beloved Son, we are elected as well. 
It means that election has to do with foreknowledge: "Whom He did FOREKNOW, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29); and 
"Elect according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:2). 

(Election is not a subject for unbelievers. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ and no teaching about election. It will be incomprehensible for them and will embarrass them. 
Faith in Jesus Christ is the way to salvation for them and for anyone. So preach Him.)