Thursday, April 21, 2016

Can a Man Resist God Almighty?

Now that, on the surface, seems like an easy question to answer. God's Word has been published lo these many years. The Judaeo-Christian value system has been proclaimed all over. Why, the very creation cries out about who God is and how He ought to be feared! But men resist these messages every day, every minute! Surely men resist God! This is how man exercises his "free will." All men turn away from God, by nature. There is none righteous, no not one! We are all corrupt, depraved. We established that in point one. So let's move on to the next point. Whoa! Not so fast, not so fast. All we are talking about so far is justice. God as law-giver and Judge. Man as law-breaker and condemned. Man has resisted God's law. But there is another process going on at the same time as justice, in the world. It is grace. Can a man resist grace? God knew from before the beginning which way man was going to go. He knew that man was incapable of fellowshipping with Him, if He did not receive supernatural assistance. All men were given the chance to believe, to obey. All men refused. But case not closed. Grace was operating in that pre-world era too. When God was doing all His deciding and planning. And grace said that some would be saved. Grace said, did it not, that God's Son would die for that group? You say, why just that group? Why can't all come to know Him? They have all decided against Him, and are worthy of what they will receive. But grace is a different world, based on His own purposes and desires, not yours or mine. And when that grace enters a man's heart, He is overwhelmed. He cannot kick against the goad any longer. His will yields to this powerful Lover from Heaven. It is irresistible. Yes, I have just given the classic Calvinist position. But is there not strong Scriptural support? John 6:44. "No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless the Father Who sent Me draws him... " How does He draw? Through the Gospel, you say? But many are "called" by the Gospel, and many refuse it, because the Gospel message is external only. It cannot penetrate the hard heart of man unless there is a "drawing" that comes from the Father. Internally. These Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking, were prime examples of hardness. And Jesus allowed it to be so. He even told His disciples that the Pharisees could not understand parables because it was not "given" to them to do so. It had been "given" to the disciples (Matthew 13:10-17). Why? I have no idea. Nor does anyone, that I know of. We're talking grace here. Amazing grace. Made all the more amazing because not founded on our normal expectations. Jesus prayed all night, and the next morning He chose 12 disciples. Why those 12? I don't know. They seem like ordinary men to me. Oh, we call them saints now, and so they are, but look at them before Jesus. Fishermen. Tax collectors. You know the list. Not random choosing, but surely choosing known only to God. None of them refused the call of God. Why you? Why me? No clue. But I do remember the time when the Gospel was so clear to me that there was no way I could have refused it! Irresistible. The words came from outside, from the preacher, from the Bible. The "drawing", the tears, the clear invitation, from within. The same theme is earlier n John 6: "All that the Father 'gives' to Me will come to Me. And Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out!" Just as all those chosen disciples came to Jesus, chosen disciples of all ages still come to Jesus. They can't help it. They don't want to help it. From the foundation of the world, a group of believers has been assigned to Jesus. They will come to Him. Some in tears, some groaning, some jumping for joy, some with serious professions of faith, but they will come. They will come. And they will not be cast out. (More of that concept in the last point.) I made mention of "kicking against the goad" above. That's from the conversion story of Saul of Tarsus. Saul was dead set against Jesus. One doesn't get more venomous in his attacks against Christians. He was so very sure that his place in life was to annihilate the Christian name and witness. Then Jesus came. Quietly at first, it seems. A little nudge here and there. Viewing the victorious death of the first martyr, Stephen, surely helped. The shepherd's stick began to cause greater and greater pain. What's happening to me, Saul must have thought? Why am I losing my enthusiasm for this? Why the doubts and fears about Moses and the law and the Pharisaic way of life? Then Jesus came big time. You know the story from there. And you now recall the words Jesus spoke: "It is hard for you to kick against the goad." That's the idea. The goad. The stick used by shepherds to push their sheep into the right place when the sheep are going the wrong way. God's grace is entering in. Human habit does try to keep it out at first. But eventually, the love and power of Jesus are so real that the "victim" lays flat waiting only for orders. Christ conquers the human heart. Human hearts touched by the Father want to be conquered in this way. They yield. Not because they are being given to the Son by the Father in that moment, but because they were given to Him before the foundation of the world. The preaching of the Gospel was merely the means by which God did what He intended to do for eons. Consider. Saul was not seeking for Jesus. Jesus had been trying to get through to him. Saul was not trying to feel something. Saul was on a mission to oppose this Jesus. What an unlikely candidate! The story makes no sense in the light of many of our evangelistic efforts. And know this. Trying to reach other "Saul's" in our own day will not work, though God has called a few. The point is that God calls Who He wills. Trying to explain the why and wherefore only leads to confusion. Targeting this group or that because of their "likeliness" to convert is fruitless. Many persecutors of Christians continue their persecution and kill believers quite successfully. Many "Peter's" go on fishing for fish and care not at all for your Jesus. There are no rules when it comes to the grace of God. Our job is to preach the Gospel, and let God do the drawing. He will. Remember the text, "You has He made alive, who were dead... " When God's life overshadows a person, death itself cannot resist His will. Saul was essentially dead. And in a moment He was claimed by Jesus. New life entered. Saul had nothing to do with it. But wait a minute, you say. What about the rich young ruler? He truly wanted Jesus, and Jesus put a roadblock in front of Him. He "came to Jesus" but Jesus cast Him out. Wait a minute. Jesus was not calling this man first. This man, as you say, came to Jesus. And though Jesus loved Him, and ultimately does not want to reject any man, He knew that this man had already used His free will like all other men, to choose against God, though he seemed so righteous outwardly. This man had another god, and worshiped that god fervently. There was no room in his heart of hearts for the message of Jesus. Jesus did not create this man's problem, but merely exposed it. The man knew Jesus had spoken the truth, and went away in sorrow. Pursuing God by keeping the law won't do it. God's heart is placed within the man who will truly find God. When Jesus calls a man, that man knows from the inside that he is being called to give all. Zacchaeus was a rich man also. He was merely a man in the crowd, trying to see the miracle worker. He wasn't planning to confront Jesus. But Jesus knew this was one that had been given to Him. He called him out of the tree where he was watching Jesus, then invited Himself to his home. Salvation came to that house that day. Why Zacchaeus and not the rich young ruler? The heart of the former was invaded by God, the heart of the latter was not. Notice again that, in the Gospels, whomever Jesus calls, comes? That's the clue we need to see. Only those that the Father calls, will come, even now. God calls whom He wills, and whom He wills, He hardens. This is difficult to say, but I stand with Paul in saying it, as awful as it sounds to our ears. What must we conclude? No man truly wants God unless God has first dealt with His heart. This is what caused the disciples to question, "Who then can be saved?" and "Are there many who will be saved?" Indeed the number is a lot smaller than we have imagined. This bothers you, amazes you, surprises you? Think Noah. One family out of how many in that world? Noah found "grace" (there it is again!) in the eyes of the Lord. Noah. Eight people out of the world. Think Joshua and Caleb out of all Israel, permitted to enter the Promised Land out of that original group. Joshua and Caleb had hearts for God. Can you see now how they got those hearts? Paul quotes Hosea (in Romans 9:25-26) as saying that one day He (God) is going to call those who were not His people, His people. It's that simple. There are many surprises still in store from the grace of God. But as we make our rounds in the preaching of the Gospel, God will suddenly speak within people's hearts, and they will know, "I'm one of His. I truly want to follow this Jesus." And Jesus will save them on the spot. We are not the Savior of the world He is. He will do it. He will change the stubborn heart as we put His truth out there where it can be reached. Article Source:

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