Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
When Jesus, the night before His death, prayed His last prayer to His heavenly Father in John 17 in the presence of His few disciples, He clearly distinguished between two classes of people: The first group are the "all flesh" mentioned in verse 2. He says that the Father sent Him into the world so that He might give to them "eternal life." The second group are the people whom the Father gave Him who are "out of the world" (vs. 6). To them He says He "has manifested Your name," and they have received the blessing which the Father has given to the world "in Christ."
The fact that many "out of the world" don't want to receive the gift God has given them does not mean that the gift was not given to them. If a person refuses to believe in Christ, that does not mean that Christ did not die for him. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" long before you or I chose to believe or disbelieve!
Our unbelief cannot annul the faith of God, says Paul in Romans 3:3. In the final judgment before the Great White Throne at the end of the biblical millennium (Rev. 20:11-15), the lost will realize that their life-long unbelief was a rejection of the "eternal life" which the Father had given them "in Christ." They will see themselves as Esau who "despised" and "sold" the birthright that God had given (not merely offered) him (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16). May the realization of the gift given move our hearts out of our collective lukewarmness today!
Jesus had a burden on His heart that last night: the disunity that has plagued His followers through the ages. Could it be that the root of that tragically persistent disunity is the unconscious refusal of "Christian" hearts to appreciate that the gift was given to the world? Could it be that in our "lukewarm" hearts we want to limit the love of Christ and reduce salvation to a mere offer? Do we want to glory in our own initiative to receive? When we enter the New Jerusalem do we want to say, "I'm here because I believed! I grabbed the offer! I took the initiative in my salvation!"?
It seems likely that those who enter will humbly say, "I'm unworthy! I'm here only because of the grace of God, not because I took the initiative to believe. To Him alone be all the glory! I thank Him for all the troubles He allowed me to have so that unbelieving I might learn to believe!"
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 17, 2001.
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