One of God’s Chosen

 God’s sovereignty and the free will of man continue to be a mystery after hundreds of years of Bible study and debate.  We read in Scripture of the “elect” or the “chosen” in numerous passages such as: “You did not choose Me, but I have chosen you…” (Jn. 15:16); “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Ro. 8:33); “…and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48); “For consider your calling brethren…God has chosen the foolish…to shame the wise, etc…”‘ (I Cor. 1:27-30); “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4); “And as those who have been chosen of God…” (Col. 3:12); “…God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (II Thes. 2:13); “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus…” (II Tim. 2:10); “to those who…are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (I Pet. 1:2);,

     But we also read lots of “whoever” passages in Scripture, such as: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes on Him who sent Me, has eternal life…”(Jn. 5:24);  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved…” (Acts 16:31); “Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Ro. 10:9).
     How we are chosen by God to eternal life and yet must individually make a choice to trust Christ for salvation, I don’t begin to understand–but I believe both are true because both are clearly taught in Scripture. I will leave the harmonizing of them up to God and not worry about trying to figure it out. The two biblical truths are like the tracks of a railroad. Way off in the distance they appear to become one, yet they are definitely two tracks.
     I was reminded of this Bible doctrine of “election” versus the “free will of man” this weekend as we had a graveside service for Ray Sampson who had been at Three Lakes Community Bible Church as an elder for as long as I had been a pastor there. After serving in the military during WW II, Ray became a fireman in Seattle. He was married to someone involved in a religion that does not believe that Jesus Christ is God. Ray, though not yet a Christian, would not go along with her religion, so she divorced him. He later met and married LuRee, a believer who was not living for the Lord at the time. When Ray retired he wanted to move to Montana. He was an avid elk hunter and fisherman, and believed that northwest Montana would be a great place to live.  LuRee, who had by then rededicated her life to Christ, prayed that they would locate near a church. Well, they bought property near Little Joe, Montana which consists of a bar/restaurant and a few trailer houses and homes along Highway 56 (the Bull Lake Road).  The closest church was about 15 miles away in Troy, Montana.  BUT, LuRee found out about a Bible study in the home of John and Lottie Ring, just a few miles north on Highway 56. She began attending a study taught by Pastor Clarence Kutz (my father-in-law). She discovered that several of the men who came were also elk hunters, so she told Ray and he came with her the next time. Pastor Kutz was going through the Gospel of John and was in chapter 4 which gives the story of the woman at the well who had had some four husbands and was currently living with a fifth man. She was not only a Samaritan (who were despised by both Gentile and Jew), but was an outcast among them, having to come to draw water alone in the heat of the day. Well, in her conversation with Jesus, who offered her “living water” (Jn. 4:10), she discovered who He was and believed, leaving her waterpot and running back to town to tell folks about having met Jesus. Many believed in Jesus because of her testimony and others came out to hear Him personally.
     That night, when Ray went home from Bible study, he got down on his knees, repented of his sins, and trusted Christ for eternal life. In the testimony he shared later, he said, “That night I left my waterpot!” Ray came to Montana to hunt elk and to fish, not realizing that, like the woman at the well, he had an appointment to meet Jesus and gain eternal life.  As Denny Noble, our visitation pastor at Three Lakes, shared at the memorial service for Ray, “Ray had come to Montana to be the hunter, but in reality, God had brought him here to be the hunted. Although Ray had no way of knowing it at the time, he had a big target on his back, and the “true Hunter” in life, God, had set His sights on that target…and it did not take the great “Hound of Heaven” long to run His quarry down…and the once godless hunter of elk had given his own Pursuer free entrance to his heart.”
     Ray still had a love for the out-of-doors and for hunting and fishing, but something far better became the real passion of his heart and that was getting to know God better and better through His Word and serving Him faithfully, which he did for the next four decades before God took him home in May of 2013, shortly before his 90th birthday (which he shared with my dad, June 4th).  Ray grew in his new faith by leaps and bounds and became a stable, faithful, humble leader in the church, serving as one of the initial elders. My father-in-law passed away just as we were pouring the foundation for the church, so I had the (scary) privilege of becoming the pastor. Ray Sampson is one of the main reasons I was able to continue there until my retirement a couple years ago. I praise God, that in His sovereign purpose, He “chose” Ray Sampson in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  Did Ray personally trust Christ for eternal life? Yes. Did God choose Him first? Yes!  Do I understand that? No. But praise God it is true. Ray was definitely one of “God’s Chosen.”  Are you?  Have you trusted in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection on your behalf?
                                                                                           Forever His,
                                                                                                    Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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