Believe:879. How far will you go to find the truth? He is among us.
Today, we're of course in the gospel of John once again. Believe:879. So would you turn to John chapter one, as we will finish out that chapter today. Let's pray together.
Lord, it's such a beautiful day and You are such a beautiful Savior. As we consider the stories in the New Testament, Jesus encountering those who became His followers on earth, and we consider what it is for us to follow You. As we pray before you with our Bibles open, so symbolic of the fact that our lives must be scrutinized by the truth of Scripture, as You reveal to us who You are as well as who we are. Lord, I pray that today, this first Sunday of the new year, new decade, that You would find ready worshipers and You would find those who are quick to listen to what You have to say, as you speak to us. In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, a nine-year-old was asked by his mother what he learned in Sunday school. She was surprised. And this is the way he put it: "Mom, I learned the story of how Moses was sent behind enemy lines to rescue the children of Israel and how that he called for his engineers to come in and they built a pontoon bridge over the Red Sea and it enabled the children of Israel to go safely across and then Moses got on his walkie-talkie and called for reinforcements. And then he called for bombers to come in and bomb the bridge while the Egyptians were on it and the children of Israel were rescued." And she looked and him puzzled and said "Is that what your Sunday school teacher taught you?" He said, "Well, not exactly. But mom, if I were to tell you the way she told it to us, you never would believe it." That illustrates a truth, does it not? There are some things in Scripture that are just tough to understand.
Whenever the supernatural intersects with the natural, we have problems with it. And one of the areas we have the greatest problem with is when divine choice intersects with human choice. Even though the Bible says both are true: that God elects and yet we are told to make a choice. That God predestines people for salvation and yet we are called to make a decision. Well how can that be? How can both of these things be true? That seems so impossible to grasp. Here's a thought: it's sort of like this. An airline is slated to go to New York City from London. The destination has already been determined by the proper authorities; the FAA is involved (Federal Aviation Administration); the ICAO is involved (the International Civil Aeronautic Organization). They're both involved to set that course and that plane is going to take off. It has been decreed---nothing can change it. However, on board that airplane are passengers with free will. They have made a series of choices. Number one, they've chosen to fly. Number two, they've chosen what airline to fly. Number three, they've chosen what date to leave on. Number four, they've even chosen what part of the plane they're going to sit in: whether it's first class, business class, or economy. Once they're on board, they're not chained. They can have an enormous amount of freedom. They can eat, they can sleep, they can read, they can talk. At the same time, they're all being carried to a predetermined port. And so you have sovereignty involved and you have human choice involved and they do not contradict.
And every now and then, you'll come across both of these truths wedged into the same paragraph of Scripture, and that is the paragraph we have in front of us today, beginning in verse 43 down to verse 51. Let's read it together: "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.' Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.' Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!' Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered and said to Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!' Jesus answered and said, 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree," do you believe? You will see greater things than these.' And He said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.'"
What's going on here is pretty simple. The very first disciples are being called. Last time we were together we saw how Andrew and John were called by Jesus after following John the Baptist; then Peter gets into the act. And here we have two more of these early followers: we have Philip and we have Nathanael. It's a strange story because on one hand, you have men following Christ, making a cogent, cognizant decision to follow Jesus. But at the same time, reading through this story, you get the idea that Jesus had been anticipating them all along. So which is it? Did they choose to follow Him or had He chosen to have them follow Him? Well I would say it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? Can't both be true? I'll ask you this question: a person who is five foot six, is that a tall person or a short person? I'm getting different answers. Just little whispers. I'm not going to answer that definitively except to say well it depends on who you are. If you're four foot ten, that's a pretty tall person. I'm six foot five, that person would not appear to be tall to me. It's all a matter of perspective on who you are. And thus, we look at this text this morning.
There were three people that were visiting the Grand Canyon. They got off the bus, all at the same time, and they all had an impression of what they saw before them---this beautiful, huge hole in the ground. One was an artist and the artist looked and said, "What a magnificent panorama to put on canvas!" The next was a clergyman and this pastor looked and said, "What a beautiful example of the majesty and handiwork of a creative God!" The third was a cowboy. He looked down at that hole and said, "What a terrible place to lose a cow!" Now they were all correct; they all had a perspective.
What I'd like to do with you this morning is take the verses that we have read and cull through them a couple of different times and look at them in two different perspectives. One is from the divine perspective, that is, God choosing people. And then second, from a human perspective, people choosing God. And see how they fit together. The first is the divine perspective. And it's pretty evident from looking at this text that Jesus is part of the choosing process. There's three divine attributes that are seen in our text. Number one is preference. Jesus makes His choice. In verse 43, "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'"
Now you should know something. This was, this was against the norm. Rabbis typically did not do this with disciples. It was the protocol to have a disciple opt voluntarily after hearing a rabbi to be a disciple of that rabbi. Rabbis never came up and invited somebody into the inner circle. This was different: Jesus takes the initiative. That's preference. The second I want to draw your attention to is omniscience. Watch this, in verse 44, is an explanatory note: "Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter." That's exactly where Jesus wanted to go. He wanted to go to Galilee. He knew in advance before even meeting Philip, "This guy lives in Bethsaida; that's where I want to go." Hold on to that thought. Look at verse 47: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under that fig tree, I saw you."
So these two guys understand that this Jesus knows where they live. Number two, knows a little bit about their character in advance. And three, even knows the secret hangouts that they frequent. So that's omniscience. Now look at something else in verse 50, if you will. I'm calling this providence. This is a prediction: "Now Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree," do you believe? You will see greater things than these.'" How did He know that? Because He knew that. He was omniscient. And He knew that He could arrange his life, Nathanael's life to experience what He predicted. This is called providence: it's like it's all been arranged in advance. By the way, providence is a good word for you to know. Here's what it means. It means the supernatural arrangement of natural events. It is not the miraculous. The miraculous is the intervention of the supernatural imposed upon the natural world. Providence is simply natural events that happen but arranged by a supernatural hand. It comes from the Latin word provideo, "to see in advance." God sees in advance and can call the shots.
So, these two guys are getting schooled in theology in one paragraph. This is like a little crash course. They understand that God sees, God knows them, and God chooses them. Now from a divine standpoint, this is always the case. People come to know Jesus Christ because God sought them. First and foremost. Doesn't matter what preacher they go to hear, doesn't matter who initiates the conversation when witnessing to them, doesn't matter what crusade event one attends. Ultimately and originally, it begins with God's choice and predestination. They're going to discover that. In John chapter 15, verse 16, Jesus is going to unload a heavy truth on them. He's going to say to them, "You did not choose Me. I chose you and I ordained you that you should bear fruit and that your fruit should remain."
I want you to notice something; maybe you already have. But let's go back and notice a repeated word in our text, verse 40, I'll take you back a little bit: "One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, [now, watch this] "We have found the Messiah." Now go down to verse 45: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote.'" And yet, it says in verse 43, "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'" So, question is: who really finds whom here? Well you have two different perspectives. See, we often say, "I found Jesus!" Oh really---was He lost? I mean isn't the real truth, behind-the-curtain truth, is that you were lost and He knew that and sought you out and He found you? "I once was lost, but now I'm found/Was blind but now I see." We're dealing here with the deep mysteries of election and predestination. It's some pretty heady theological stuff. You've got a couple things at play. On one hand, you have in the Bible frequent commands to unbelievers to engage their choice; their freedom of choice. To make a decision.
For example, both John the Baptist and Jesus said, "Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That's a command for people to engage their will and their choice. In Matthew 11, Jesus said, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me." Again a command. In John chapter 5, Jesus will say to the Jewish leaders, "You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." And in John chapter 7, He will say, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink and whoever believes in Me," as the Scripture has said, "out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Now that's just Jesus talking. We can have several more. In Acts chapter 16, Paul says to the Philippian jailer when he's in prison and before he gets out, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." So on and on, Scripture after Scripture, these commands to the unsaved to respond to the Lord---to exercise a choice; to respond by faith.
But on the other hand, we learn from the same Bible that we can't do it wholly on our own. In fact, we discover that in whatever choice we have made, a choice has been made by someone else before we got there. That we have already been selected by God out of this world's system and that our salvation began way before we were even a twinkle in your father's eye. Before we were born. John chapter six, Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." Did you get that? "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." Paul is even more specific. In Ephesians one, verse four, "Just as He chose us in Him before the creation of the world." And he amplifies it a few verses later by saying, "We are predestined according to the counsel of His will."
Charles Spurgeon loved to play with this a little bit. He said, "It's a good thing that God chose me before I was born because He never would've picked me afterwards." So we have here sovereign election and human decision together---together---that seem opposite and seem as if you can't reconcile them. And you can't in your finite mind. This has been tried for centuries and if you think you are going to unravel the mysteries of all this, um, I'll come and visit you in the insane asylum.
They seem to be opposed to one another. We're called to make a choice and yet God selects. There's a helpful little book that I would recommend on this subject by J.I. Packer. Just a little book. It's called Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. And on page 18 and 19, there's a great little illustration that I remember. In fact I read it again this week. He said that in the Oxford shorter dictionary there's a word; a definition. The word is antinomy. A-N-T-I-N-O-M-Y. The definition of the word antimony is an apparent contradiction between two equally true conclusions. And Packer says, "For example, in physics we have an antinomy---it's called light. There is cogent evidence that light exists as wave but there's equally cogent evidence that light is particle. But it is not apparent how the same substance can be both wave and both particle at the same time. But there's evidence that it is---that is an antinomy." We're facing here a theological antinomy.
So what do we do about it? Do we draw swords and fight each other? And argue over it? A lot of people do that. They have for centuries. The followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius have fought over this issue and drawn blood as they have fought with their theological swords. The Calvinists will emphasize election apart from human choice and many of them won't even do evangelism lest they preach the gospel to those who aren't elected by God to hear it. And those who follow Arminius will emphasize human choice over divine election. I'll tell you what we ought to do, honestly. We ought to allow the tension to remain. Sort of like a suspension bridge. The reason the bridge stands is because you have two forces opposing each other, pulling on that taut bridge so that you can go over it. So you can sit at the Golden Gate Bridge and go, "I just don't agree with this whole thing, these forces are opposing each other" or just get in your car and drive across it. That's what I recommend we do. We let this tension remain. These are truths held intention. And I submit to you that's exactly what Jesus Christ did.
I want to show that to you. Sometimes Jesus combined both truths of divine election and human choice in the same sentence. Here's an example. In John chapter six, verse 37: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me." That's election; that's sovereign election. "And the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." That's human choice. He does it again in Luke chapter 22 regarding Judas Iscariot. Jesus said, "The Son of Man goes as it has been determined." That's election. "But woe to that man by whom He is betrayed." That's human choice. So we could polarize and there's a lot of people that love to do that. Or we could see that these things harmonize. On one hand, man isn't just sitting there, passively, being irresistibly grabbed by God apart from any knowledge of it themselves or decision on their own. And on the other hand, man is not trying to discover some hidden God that can't be found. Truth is, God chooses and we respond. It's like throwing a rope to a drowning man.
Will that rope save him? Unless that man grabs a hold of it? And even if that man grabs a hold of it, if there's not somebody at the shore pulling it in, will that rope save him? Nope. There's three elements that are needed. You need the rope, the guy in the water has to grab a hold of it, but there has to be somebody drawing from the shore for that salvation to occur. So God by election throws out the rope and draws us in and we by our choice grab the rope. So we can kvetch over it, we can argue over it, or we can enjoy it. Here's what I mean: God picked you. Let that sink in. You're on God's team; you're on the winning team. Instead of going, "I just don't know about this whole predestination and election." Get over it and enjoy it. He picked me---how cool is that? You're on the winning team.
Let's shift gears. Let's look at it from a second perspective. Not the divine perspective, this time the human perspective. How people choose God. That's also in this story; it's prominent in this story. Philip, first of all, seems to have obeyed immediately. Jesus said, "Follow Me." Not only is he willing to do that, he wants to tell Nate about it, Nathanael, perhaps his brother or a good friend. He's thinking, "Man! Nate needs to meet this guy! He's got to hear this stuff." So from a human perspective, there's a few elements. Number one, there's investigation. Philip comes to Nathanael. Look at verse 45: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
What kind of a statement is that? What kind of a question is that? I'll tell you what it is. It's the question of a skeptic. It's the statement of somebody who isn't quite sure that what he's hearing he believes yet. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" For Philip, faith was pretty easy, much easier than Nathanael. And there are some people like Philip; they're just ready to believe. They have no barriers, they have no roadblocks, they're just, are ready to be plucked. There are other people like Nathanael that are more resistant. It takes some investigation. They need room; they need space. They have to work through some issues. If you know a Nathanael, or if you are raising a Nathanael in your home, can I just suggest that perhaps you back off a little bit? And give that one space and grace to wrestle through the issues and the questions. In fact, help them do that. They'll come out the end much stronger. You never want to force somebody to say with their mouth what they don't believe in their heart. Jesus showed enormous grace here.
Now, the question is pretty funny: Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I just want to tell you what that's all about. The people down in Judea, Jerusalem looked down their noses at all the people in Galilee in general. Galileans were hicks. Unsophisticated; mostly illiterate. Now I'm not going to say what that's like, I'm not going to name a city or a state. You all have in your minds some place, but I won't name any place. I've tried that and done that and it didn't work out very well. I don't want to offend anybody. But the Judeans saw the Galileans---all of them---as unsophisticated, backwards hicks. But, those in Galilee even had a place in Galilee that was worse than every other place. The armpit of Galilee---that was Nazareth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Something else that will help you in the story. Nathanael, the guy asking the question, is from Cana, in Galilee, we will discover later. Cana of Galilee is four, five miles away from Nazareth. If you come to Israel with us, I'll show it to you. We drive right through it. From Nazareth on the way to the Sea of Galilee. You blink, you'll miss it. So because Nazareth and Cana were so close to each other there was a rivalry going on. I'm sure that the high schools battled each other in a lot of games. So you can just hear Nathanael, "Ugh! Nazareth! I played them back in high school...Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" He asks. Moses didn't write about Nazareth, the prophets didn't say anything about Nazareth, The Talmud and the Mishnah said nothing about Nazareth. That's investigation: that's stage one.
Here's stage two: It's belief. It's when you come to faith. Verse 47, here's the meeting: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" The word "indeed" is aléthós, it means in truth. Or you're genuine; you're the real deal; what you see is what you get; you wear your heart on your sleeve. Man, you say honest things. You are a true, blue Jew. An Israelite indeed. I know all about you. Then Jesus shocks him. When Nathanael says, "How do you know me?" I love this. "Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you [before that whole conversation] when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" That was the moment he believed. That was the moment he believed. That's the moment that divine election and human decision transacted---right here. Just that flash. Now we don't know what the fig tree thing was all about. Most people think it was a place that nobody knew about, he thought, a private place where he meditated and maybe was asking God questions and dealing with issues. It was private. He had a private experience under some fig tree with God that no one knew about until Jesus said, "I was, I was privy to that. I know all about that fig tree thing." And that's why he goes, "You're the Son of God! You're the King of Israel!" Um, I've watched people who are like Nathanael, resistant at first. They've got issues, they've got questions, they struggle. But I've also watched them in a split second; just some light goes on in their heart. They just suddenly get it and they turn to Christ. That's belief.
Here's the third stage: revelation. You investigate, you come to faith, and then you grow a little bit. And I just want you to see how this is hinted at in verse 45 when Philip finds Nathanael and notice what he says: "We found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Philip is amped at this point. He's amped at how the Scripture predicted the Messiah and he sees it all. He grew up Jewish. It's like, "I get it! I see how the whole Bible fits together!" And there comes a point in every believer's life when they fall in love with that. They fall in love with the Bible. They can't get enough of it because they see how it all fits together and how it speaks so clearly about the issues of life. And they're entering into that, not just faith, but revelation. They're growing in the Word. I've quoted often what Charles Spurgeon used to say. He said, "A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to somebody who's not." It's well-worn; it's been read; it's been used; it's been applied; it's been outlined and underlined. That's a good phase. I hope you never get out of that phase. I hope you never say, "Yeah, I used to read the Bible a lot. I was in the phase." I gotta tell you, I've been doing this for a number of years---reading and studying and exegeting and teaching. And I'm still right in the middle of that phase. The Bible is the most exciting thing. Martin Luther used to say, "The Bible has hands, it grabs hold of me. It has feet, it runs after me."
Here's the third---or fourth phase, I should say, and we'll close here: adventure. From a human perspective, when you come into that relationship with Christ, you are entering into something that you have never dreamed about. It will end in heaven eventually, but until then, you are in for the adventure of your life. Look at verse 50: "Jesus answered and said to him [Nathanael], 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?" You will see greater things than these.'" You think that fig tree thing was cool? Psh. Stick around. You haven't seen anything yet. What does He mean? Well in chapter two, Nathanael and the other disciples will be with Jesus when He performs His first miracle. In Nathanael's hometown of Cana: turning water into wine. Blow him away, it'll blow him away! He'll enter into a whole new realm of faith. He'll witness 36 other miracles that are recorded in the New Testament. Nathanael will watch blind eyes able to see again, deaf ears able to hear again; dead people get up and live again. That's what Jesus meant when He said, "Greater things will you see."
What does that last verse mean? What is that all about when the Lord says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." This is what I think Jesus is doing. I think Jesus is reaching back 2,000 years in history to Genesis 28 to a story Nathanael was familiar with as a Jewish young man. In fact, could it be that under the fig tree he had been meditating on Genesis 28? Could be. Genesis 28 is a story about a young man named Jacob who stole the birthright from his brother Esau and he was found out and so he ran away from home. He fled in the middle of the desert and he was so tired, he was so unprepared for the journey, he felt so abandoned by God and man. It says he fell asleep on a rock; he put his head on a rock. You've got to be really, really tired to fall asleep with your head on a rock. But he fell asleep. And at night he had this vision and it was a vision of angels coming down out of heaven to the earth and going up that ladder that he saw back up into heaven. So he sees all of this traffic from earth to heaven and heaven to earth on a ladder. He wakes up the next day and he went, "Whoa! God is in this place! And I knew it not." And he named the place Beth-el, the House of God.
But notice that Jesus says, "You will see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." That is, Jesus Himself. What is He saying? Simply this: "Nathanael, I'm the link. I'm the ladder. I'm the only Mediator between God and man and you're going to see that in the days ahead. You're going to see that." There's only one way to make contact with God. There's only one way for a human to make contact with God and that is through Jesus Christ. And when a person comes to Him, they're in for an adventure. I was in Spokane some time ago and I was boarding a plane at the airport and I saw a banner on the wall that grabbed my attention. It said, "Buckle Up! You're in for an Adventure!" It was a Southwest Airline ad, advertising flights from Spokane to Reno. "Buckle up; you're going on an adventure!" I don't think going to Reno, though I have nothing against it, is like the adventure of a lifetime. But I do think that, that fits right here. In essence, what Jesus is saying to Nathanael is, "Buckle up, buddy. You're going to have the adventure of your life. You're going to see such things and it's as if all of heaven will be open to you."
I believe that following Christ, from my perspective, is like the ultimate adventure. It's the ultimate adventure. Yeah, there are ups and downs. There's trials; there's potholes in the road. There are curves I did not anticipate, but what scenery there is! Let me give you a challenge for the New Year. If you're a Christian today, you already know what the ultimate destination is; you know where the flight is going to end up. That's going to be where? You're going to end up eventually in heaven! You said that with a little bit of---"Hmm, uhh..." Heaven! That's the destination; that's the ultimate landing spot. Can I just suggest that you enjoy the ride until you get there? Just learn to not live this way: head down, hands clutched, white-knuckled. "This is hard---" Just, okay, the worst thing that will ever happen to you is you're going to die and go to heaven? So enjoy the scenery a little bit more. Head up, look around. "This isn't what I expected; what's going to be next; what's the Lord going to do?" It's an adventure.
I know I'm speaking to a few Nathanaels this morning. Jesus knows you; He knows all about your questions and He knows your thirst to find Him. It could be that you've come and you've just sensed something different here. "I'm around people who really believe and feel that Jesus is alive---He's among us." But you still got those issues; you still got those struggles. "I don't know. I've heard about this stuff. What happens if...My wife told me to come...My mom..." Here's what I suggest. I love the answer that Philip gave to Nathanael: just come and see. Come and see; come check this out! "Yeah, but..." Just come and see. "Yeah, but I'm not..."Just come and look and see! I love that response. If you do come and see; if you do respond to Him, you're going to discover a couple of things. Number one, you're in for the ultimate adventure. But you're going to also discover that He's been waiting for you there all along. All along He's been there. He has made a choice before you got there.
Some of you maybe are struggling and saying, "Well, you talked about that whole election thing, Skip. Maybe He didn't choose me. Maybe I'm not one of the chosen ones." I can prove to you that you are. You come and receive Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you will discover that He has chosen you from the foundation of the earth. You'll discover it. "Maybe I'm not ready to do that." Then maybe you're not chosen. "Well, that's not fair. I mean, what if I..." Great! Why don't you come? "Don't push it on me." Then maybe you're not chosen. But you'll discover that if you come to Him, He will in no way cast you out, He said. There's a beautiful story about a huge rock that was cut out of the quarries in Carrera, Italy and sent to Florence, Italy for one of the masters to take it as a project and make a sculpture out of it. And it was brought to Florence. The problem is it had a crack running through it---a fissure. An imperfection. And one sculptor looked at it, Donatello, the great master, and said, "It's flawed. I can't work with it." And one after another just rejected it until it finally sat for a long time in an empty yard. A lot, a vacant lot. One day another artist came along, looked it over, saw the crack running through it and said, "It's perfect." This is what he said, "There's an angel trapped inside of it and I must let it go free." And so that young artist, Michelangelo, worked for two years on that piece of stone and on January 25, 1504, he unveiled his masterpiece known as "David." That wonderful statue that you've seen at least in picture, that you can see still today in Florence, Italy.
You know what I think? If you just let God get a hold of your life, what He can do with you, no matter what flaws that we all have when we come to Him with, if you just, just let Him shape and mold and put you in the ultimate adventure.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the time that we have spent. Thank You Lord that Your Spirit through the writings of John has given us a very unusually keen insight into two parallel truths, and that is human decision and divine election, and how both of them have intersected in the lives of these men we read before us. So it is with all who come to Christ. Father, none of us here knows who in this world You have elected. We are simply asking that You would elect some more. And we pray, Father, that those that You have chosen would keep that appointment that You have made with them from the foundation of the earth, that today would be the day that they're set free to be everything You've intended them to be.
As our heads are bowed, as we're praying, and you're thinking about your life, maybe you have never given your life to Christ, you've never let Him in. The best you've come up with is: God is my copilot. You've just never given Him the keys to the car. God wants that to change. He wants you to surrender to Him. Others of you maybe made a choice years ago as a younger person, and the truth is today you're not walking with Him, you're not following Him, and you need to rededicate your life. Whatever the case, whatever the background, maybe you're just visiting from out of town and about to go home after a holiday season. I don't know; God knows; you know. But, are you willing today, by your own decision, empowered by God's choice, to come to know Him? Are you willing to give your life to Christ? Do you want to say, "I know that if I died, I'd go to heaven"? If you're not sure about that truth, then this is the day for you to surrender your life to Him. In this quiet moment, I want you to raise your hand up if you are willing to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Just raise it up, keep it up just for a moment, so I can pray for you. God bless you right up front. Anybody else? Raise that hand up. In the back, God bless you. And you, in the middle, toward the back. Anyone else? Maybe you want to come back to Him and rededicate your life to Him, I don't know, but raise your hand up. You're saying, "Yes, I'm going to do this." God bless you, and in the balcony. Anyone else? Way in the back, and in the corner back.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for people around this auditorium, ones that You have brought and that You have touched. They have responded by an act of Your grace, and they're about to walk into an adventure. Wonderful. How we thank You for it. In Jesus' name, amen.