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Finding the God Who Found You - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
June 12, 2022 6:00 am

Finding the God Who Found You - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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June 12, 2022 6:00 am

When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.

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Because on one hand you have men following Christ, making a cogent, cognizant decision to follow Jesus. But at the same time, reading through the 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? Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. If you know anyone who really loves chocolate, you know that given a choice between something that has chocolate in it and something that doesn't, the true chocolate lover will choose whatever it is that has chocolate in it every time, right? Well, the question is, are they making that choice out of their own free will, or does their love for chocolate predetermine for them what their choice will be? This is a question that extends far beyond just dessert choices. And today here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, Skip Heitzig takes a look at that tricky subject of free will and predestination. Before we dive into that heavy subject, here's what's going on in the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Joy in the midst of hardship is a hallmark of the Christian life.

But is it really possible? Here's Lenya Heitzig. Sometimes what starts out as a happy trail turns into a really daunting road, and we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of times, God's purpose in allowing trials is to give us opportunities to grow to the point where we genuinely experience joy in the midst of trials. Learn how to face trials with courage, wisdom, and yes, joy with Lenya's booklet, Happy Trials. And when you give $20 or more today to help keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air, we'll send you a special bundle of three booklets by Lenya. Happy Trials. Don't Tempt Me and Speak No Evil. In Don't Tempt Me, I hand you the keys to unlock the thoughts, circumstances, and fears that can cause you to give in to temptation. And in Speak No Evil, I encourage you to avoid setting fires with your words and instead use them to bring showers of blessing.

Get your bundle of three booklets when you give $20 or more by calling 800-922-1888 or give online securely at slash offer. Turn in your Bibles to John chapter 1, and as you find that spot, Skip Heitzig begins her study with an example of just how remarkable some of the stories of the Bible can be. Well, a nine-year-old was asked by his mother what he learned in Sunday school.

She was surprised. 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 at 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 the 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. 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, onboard 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 onboard, 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 opened 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 that 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 the 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 10, 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 and 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 in 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 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 that 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. We'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 or 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 of 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 five, Jesus will say to the Jewish leaders, you are not willing to come to me that you may have life. And in John chapter seven, 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 system and that our salvation began way before we were even 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 have picked me afterwards. So we have here sovereign election and human decision together, together that seem opposite and seem as if you can 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, 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, antinomy. The definition of the word antinomy 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, you know, I just don't agree with this whole thing.

These forces are opposing each other. I got to, 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 in tension. 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. Well, you know, when a kid is presented with a choice between something chocolate and some other dessert, it's very likely that they'll opt for both. And so it is with this issue of free will and predestination. Perhaps the issue isn't one or the other, but of both being equally valid and true.

How exactly does that work? Who knows? But it is rather sweet. Nevertheless, we'll see if we can't work out how both can coexist when we resume this study next time. But for now, here's a unique opportunity to grow in your knowledge of the Lord. Going to church is a great way to learn about God. But what if you want to learn more?

Go deeper. Calvary College offers classes in biblical studies, courses like Worldview Apologetics. Learn how to defend your faith on your schedule. Take evening classes on campus or online and transfer credits to Calvary Chapel University or Veritas International University for an accredited college degree that will impact your spiritual life for the rest of your life. Apply now at

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Thank you. Join us next time as we learn more about this fascinating topic of free will and predestination here on Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 05:56:54 / 2023-04-06 06:05:28 / 9

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