“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
In this final study on the parable of the vine we will see something of our position in Christ and how we came to be there. There are two important words found in our text, chosen and ordained, which inform us of the plan and purpose of God in saving us. There are some who see a mythical elect in this verse, but that is far from what Jesus has been teaching through the passage. We cannot isolate a text from its context otherwise we will find ourselves sinking in the mire of error.
The Vine chooses the branches and the position they will hold. The Lord chose us while we were sinners and in a position where we would never have even thought of choosing Him. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19) … “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). We often hear believers say that they chose Christ as their Saviour, but in reality we can only choose to serve Him after He has chosen us. Once we have been chosen then we can choose to follow Him or not. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Matthew Henry writes, “Let us state the matter impartially to ourselves, weigh things in an even balance, and then determine for that which we find to be really true and good.”
He chose to be our Saviour even though we do not deserve the price He paid to redeem us. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). This choosing took place before the foundation of the world. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:4-7). The word for chosen in Greek is “exelexasthe” meaning “pick out”. It is vital that we note that God’s choosing does not bulldoze its way through man’s free will. His choosing presents us with a choice to either accept or reject the invitation to serve Christ. This means that God calls us but we must choose to believe in Him. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).
This choosing becomes effective the moment that the Gospel is presented and believed. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). God in His sovereign grace has chosen to allow man the free will to reject the truth. Therefore it is always personal faith in Christ that actually saves when man accepts, and true faith must be an act of the will. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Faith is not the gift here but rather the gracious offer of salvation. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23) … “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).
We have been chosen to live our lives the way God has intended, that is, to bring forth the greatest fruit of all which is to be like Jesus. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). This predestination only begins its transforming work the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. We have been chosen to live holy lives that please Him. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The Lord teaches us two important truths that reveal His reasons for choosing us. Firstly, that we are to be fruitful, and secondly, that we will know the power of answered prayer. The fruit we bring forth, which must be holy and acceptable to Him, will endure throughout eternity. That which we do for His glory will never be forgotten and we will enjoy the blessing of the reward. Those who abide in Christ will have their prayer answered. We can only be assured of answer to prayer if we willingly abide in Christ, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
We have been chosen to take the same message of salvation to the world and tell them that God has chosen them to come to Him by accepting Christ. This means the chosen are then ordained [appointed] to be Christ’s heralds. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). For it is certain that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We cannot ignore the obvious fact that in the first instance the Lord is speaking of the choosing of the twelve and their ordination into His service. “They did not choose him, but he them, in order that they might bring forth abundant fruit in the conversion of the world” (People’s New Testament Commentary). His words apply themselves to all the Lord calls to Him.
In light of our study in John 15, we can see that the chosen ones must abide in Christ and in His word. Failure to do so will forfeit the blessings of God’s calling on our lives. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John :9).
Christ chose us for a purpose and it is certain that He does not do so without giving us the power to obey Him. He chose us, but we must in turn choose to serve Him in our daily lives. We are not robots that are programmed to perform a certain task, but instead are free agents who decide whether to bend our will to His or not. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Chosen, yes, but let us continue to walk worthy of such a high calling. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).