John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [NRSV]
If you “accept and act in accordance with” Jesus what He says will establish a relationship of life between Himself and you. What makes that matter is this reality: Jesus IS God. The first assurance of John 15:7 is when you “abide” with Jesus, God Himself is alive within you and He understands the reality of whatever you ask. That makes His answer perfect for what He knows you need. The second assurance is God’s answer comes with a greater blessing “if you abide in” Jesus and let his words “abide in you.” Your relationship of life with Jesus makes you living evidence of the glory of God.
“Predestined” is an attention getting word. The dictionary definition of predestined is “an outcome or course of events determined in advance by divine will or fate.” I’ve heard the “elevator” explanation of predestination: when you step into an elevator you trust it’s going to take you where you want to go. The “airplane” explanation is similar; you get on the plane trusting the pilot will get you safely to the planned destination. Those explanations make some sense to me. They’re based on faith not fate. Nobody gets on an elevator or in a plane saying “whatever will be, will be.”
What doesn’t make sense to me is that the God who sacrificed his own Son to remove sin’s power to destroy us would then turn around and pick and choose those who would be saved. The phrase “turn around” became my catalyst to turn these eight verses around and read them in reverse changing only the punctuation at the end of verse 14 because that’s a question I could answer.
V14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory[?]
V13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
V12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
V11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
V10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
V9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
V8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,
V7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace,
I turned around those verses and as I read I found myself caring less about my understanding of how “predestined” relates to personal choice and more about the question I could answer. “Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory[?] Predestination is still an elusive concept but I do know the answer to V14 is where destiny begins. The big turn around ends at the right destination too; “in him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
27…“Who do people say I am?”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
33…“Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
34…“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Who? Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Right answer but which was the right question: “Who do people say I am?” or “Who do you say I am?” The right question mattered to Jesus not just the right answer.
“Who do people say I am?” The cultural heritage of the Jewish people was that Messiah would come as a warrior-like king in a battle to redeem their long history of oppression and remake their world. That was a powerful and appealing identity any Jew would recognize about Messiah
Jesus presses on with a far more personal question. “Who do you say I am?” It was an identity destined to be an uphill battle for their mind. Jesus was talking about being killed and rising from the dead…for heaven’s sake! Messiah WOULD redeem their long history of oppression and remake their world…BUT by giving up his own life in exchange for their souls and asking them to deny themselves and lose their life for him.
It’s no wonder Peter was worried about the messaging. It’s no wonder Jesus called him on it! “Who do you say I am?” is still the right question. It’s still an uphill battle to keep “in mind the concerns of God,” and not just settle for knowing the right answer.