1 Peter 2: 4
1 Corinthians 1: 27-29
John 15: 16
Psalm 78: 67-72
I would like to say a word, dear brethren, as to what God has chosen. Firstly, I trust that everyone in this room right down to the youngest here has made the right choice for themselves in relation to having, by faith, Christ as Saviour, an absolutely crucial matter and decision that anyone can make, and which everyone must make, and which has eternal consequences. What God has chosen has affected my heart, because God operates on completely different principles from natural men. Indeed, it is interesting to look at scripture and see how awry men have gone in terms of their decisions. Now if you look at a man like Abraham, he was a man of faith, the father of the faithful indeed, but he made a wrong choice as to Ishmael. He said, “Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!”, Gen 17: 18. He had to be corrected as to that. That showed that the natural came before what was spiritual just at that point in Abraham’s history. Ishmael had to be cast out, Gen 21: 10. He was superseded by Isaac, typically the heavenly Man, and every other man in our view, dear brethren, as our brother has been saying, is to be completely eclipsed by the glory, blessedness, moral worth and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Samuel went a bit awry as well. There were quite a number of brothers before David came along and Samuel looked on the outward appearance, but Jehovah has to say, ‘No, that is not whom I have chosen’, 1 Sam 16: 7-10. These persons, Abraham and Samuel, came into alignment with God’s choosing, and it is fine to be like those who align themselves with the divine view.
Peter in his writing here, what does he say? He speaks of men and he speaks of Christ being cast away as worthless by them, but he then says, “but with God chosen”. Dear brethren, what a blessed choice God has made in establishing that Man for His eternal pleasure and glory, “but with God chosen”. You might say, 'Why does scripture say that?'. Could God have made any other choice? No, but it is in contrast with what men have done with Jesus. God has chosen Him. He is precious, He is precious to God, and I ask, 'Is Christ precious to every one of us?'. The Spirit would make Christ precious to every true believer. One who was cast away - He was cast away by men. The Lord Jesus, that blessed Saviour of ours, was cast away as worthless by men. He could not fit into any part of man’s society. It was impossible for the Lord Jesus to fit into any part of man’s society or to fit into man’s thinking. Cast away as a Man here, cast away as He went on that road to the cross. How the Lord Jesus felt that. Indeed, when He came in, He could say, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven roosting-places; but the Son of man has not where he may lay his head”, Matt 8: 20. He was cast away by men, dear brethren, but with God He was chosen. What a contrast to what I am naturally as away from God, but when we align ourselves with what God’s thoughts are as to Christ, what enrichment these thoughts are for our souls. It says, “To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God ...” - that is the contrast between man according to nature and God’s thoughts. His thoughts are higher and greater than our thoughts. Let us be in sympathy with the thoughts of God in relation to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I just leave that, a very simple impression, with you.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing, I suppose, to some who needed a lot of help and a lot of adjustment, and they had set themselves up really according to men after the flesh. And that is why Paul writes to them as to the cross, and he speaks to them as to the crucifixion and as to coming amongst them “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling”, 1 Cor 2: 3. How Paul felt the position that the Corinthians had set themselves up in. What is the answer to that? The answer to that really is in what Paul says here about God choosing the foolish things. He did not choose the things that were attractive to the Corinthians. They would set men in high places. They looked upon men in all their greatness and what they had achieved, and that is what marked Corinth at that particular time. They were eating and drinking to themselves. They were establishing things according to their own credentials and according to their own principles and according to their own rights and according to their own thoughts. Dear brethren, that will never do. God has established things, He “has chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may put to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world, that he may put to shame the strong things; and the ignoble things of the world, and the despised, has God chosen”. In their eyes Christ was foolish and He was weak. He was One who was ignoble, One who was shameful, but in the eyes of those who are enlightened, enlightened by faith, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, Christ is precious. Paul, I think, was seeking to bring that in, what was the complete antithesis to man’s thinking. That is how God thinks, “so that no flesh should boast before God”. So, as we have already had tonight, it is the ending of the flesh. What God is promoting is what is of Christ in the saints, and what the Spirit is promoting is what is of Christ in the saints. So something was arrived at in the Corinthians as a result of Paul's ministry, and you can see that in his writing at the very end. How precious that last verse of 2 Corinthians is, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all”, 2 Cor 13: 14. There was something established, we might say a bridgehead established in the affections of the Corinthian saints that Paul could link on with.
Well in John 15, just to be simple as to these things, this is a wonderful verse. It says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you”. Naturally we would not choose divine things. We would not choose Christ according to the flesh, for it says in another passage that He has “no beauty that we should desire him”, Isa 53: 2. There is nothing there that would attract us naturally, but the Spirit induced thoughts and feelings that would make Christ attractive to us. But the Lord Jesus says here, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you”. He is saying this to the disciples of course, but I was just thinking how it would affect us and apply to us, “and have set you that ye should go and that ye should bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide”. I was just thinking of this as we are freshly affected by the greatness of divine thoughts. In Ephesians it says that God “has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation”, Eph 1: 4. I sometimes wonder if the greatness of that has entered into my soul. On the one side we have the responsibility that we all have as believers to answer to what comes to us. On the other side we have the greatness of God’s thoughts that “he has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation”, and as we come in attraction to Christ we come to realise that, yes, God has made the right choice. How wonderful that is, “chosen us in him before the world’s foundation”. Let each one of us see to it, therefore, that as we realise the greatness of what God’s thoughts are for us in choosing us before the foundation of the world - that is counsel - that we might go and that we might bear fruit to God. As our brother here often reminds us, there is no stability on the side of responsibility, only on the side of divine purpose. God's purpose is stable because it is linked with that blessed Man in the place that He has in the presence of God.
Well simply in Psalm 78, we touched on this where we were on Lord’s Day. God has rejected certain things. “And he rejected the tent of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim”. We may have chosen Joseph and Ephraim, but He “chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved … And he chose David his servant”. God’s choice was based on moral principles, the moral worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ drew out the affections of the Father towards that blessed Man. In His life here, everything that was in Christ drew out the Father’s affections and, as we have noticed in 1 Samuel, really Jehovah’s affections were drawn out and we can see in Christ, the true David, how divine affections were centred in that blessed One. So He “chose David his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds”. Well, we are often reminded of that secret history, how that really prepared David for his great exploits, and you can think of that in relation to Christ Himself, what a secret history He had with God, a secret history that no-one knew about. We do not read about it, but how precious it must have been, a Man who lived here, but His relations were always with His Father in heaven; so it was a heavenly testimony that was rendered here by Christ. And here, just to touch on this, “And he rejected the tent of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, But chose the tribe of Judah”. Our Lord came out of the tribe of Judah. He sprang out of the tribe of Judah, Heb 7: 14. How great Christ is! How great is that Man who will fill our affections eternally! May He fill our affections, the Man of God’s choice, “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father”, John 1: 18. How precious that place is! May He draw out our affections freely and in a fresh way tonight, that glorious Man who will fill our affections and our hearts eternally. May the Lord bless the word.
17 November 2007