I have a Bible program on my PC and several Bibles around the house, but I did not utilize any of those today. You see, I just got a my very first smartphone—and I put a Bible application on it! So this morning, I couldn’t resist the novelty of studying God’s word on my Android.
It’s not the most effective way to keep a firm grasp on the context of surrounding passages, but I discovered that individual verses pop out a whole lot more (possibly because little more than that fits on the screen). The one that arrested me today was John 15:16.
John 15:16 (NASB)
16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
These are among Jesus last words to his disciples before he is arrested. The last supper is over. Judas has gone out—the eleven remain. Jesus comforts them with the hope of heaven (14:1-3) and the promise of the Holy Spirit (14:16-17). He exhorts them to continue to put their faith in him, to remember his teachings, and to observe his commandments—placing special emphasis on the commandment to love each other (15:1-13).
It is at this point that he reminds his disciples that they were chosen by him first, not vice-versa.
Now the eleven had, in a very literal sense, been chosen by him. He had invited them into his inner circle and personally commissioned them to be his apostles. So does this really apply to me?
Well, God’s desire is for each and every individual to come to faith in him and follow him, and he actively pursues that goal (1 Tim 2:4-6)…I’m pretty sure that qualifies every believer as chosen. And Jesus said he would be with his disciples to the very end of the age to help them carry out the great commission (Matt 28:16-20); that wouldn’t make much sense if he had only appointed the eleven to go and bear fruit.
I say all of that only so you know where I am coming from when I tell you why John 15:16 grabbed me so.
Sometimes I behave as though I am the one who really wants to go out and do something for Christ, and I am pleading with a reluctant God to empower and use me—a deficient and flawed vessel—for his work.
Well, I am deficient and flawed, but what’s that got to do with anything? I am his disciple. He did choose me and HE has appointed me to bear eternal fruit in the lives of others. I am utterly dependent upon him in this task, but he is certainly not reluctant!
When our desire, commitment, and priority is to bear fruit for the kingdom of God, we are near to the very heartbeat of God. It is in this place that ‘whatever we ask of the Father in Jesus name He may give to us’. We are not beggars pleading for a handout; we are emissaries of the king—with full access to the resources necessary to do the task to which he has appointed us. That’s how he wants it.
Luke 11:13 (NASB)
13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”