The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Divine Romance

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:44


When I was a young man perusing for love my vehicle for the mission was a 1969 bright yellow RS Camaro. Its heart was a 302 small block. It purred its powerful presence through low resonance headers. It prowled by the comfort of an automatic tranny. It danced with custom wheels and rubber that embraced the road. Inside it had a black leather interior that hugged you just right. Its first impression was made with seducing hideaway headlight covers. It was a sweet ride; my first car-love; my Honey. It was my Honey that transported me to the love of my life.  


One day a petite godly girl at church caught my eye. I was pretty impressed as I watched her lead the coffee house ministry. She carried herself well. You could see the Spirit of the Lord was upon her. I may have driven a sweet ride but it was really God that drove me to this young lady. Finally, after much prayer I got up enough courage to ask her out. She accepted my invitation for a ride to the beach. It wasn’t long before my Honey had to take a backseat to my sweetheart; my “Lil’ Dee.” It was the beginning of a three year romance that evolved into 34 years of romance-full marriage that is still going strong.


Now if you talk to my wife she’ll tell you she wasn’t as impressed with my car as she was with me. (Wow! Thanks honey.) I can still remember riding in my Honey with my Lil’ Dee. She’d sit next to me on the middle console. She’d put her head on my shoulder. I was in heaven. She was wooing me and I was wooing her. We were in love. I can’t believe how time has passed but I can remember those courting years like they were yesterday. That was a precious time in our lives. It was a precious time of God’s will for us. Thank You Lord!


Do you know that God courts us? The LORD woos us. He comes and whispers to us, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Solomon 2:10). The LORD by His grace approaches us. He sets His gaze on us. He introduces Himself. He woos us. He romances us. He wisely infiltrates our heart until He wins it; if we let Him. He reaches out to us and draws us to Himself with reasonable words. “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’” (Isaiah 1:18). That’s Divine romance.


God loves us so dearly. God loves us with a passion. He says to us, “You have ravished my heart, . .” He yearns to be able to call us, “My sister, my spouse; . . .” He looks on us and says, “you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace” (Song of Solomon 4:9). He woos us saying, “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:19-20). We may not initially understand or care about righteousness, justice, lovingkindness or mercy but that is the love language of the LORD to us. He comes in the night. “He knocks, saying, ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, . .” He yearns to be able to call us, “My dove, my perfect one” (Song of Solomon 5:2). .”

It’s a divine romance of the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44a). This speaks of prevenient grace. No one comes to God on their own; in their own strength. No one seeks or searches for God without God stirring up that desire and curiosity to seek Him. That’s grace. No one would come to Jesus unless the Father had gone before to draw them to Him.


Salvation does not depend on us. God involves us. We must by faith receive and believe in Jesus. But we wouldn’t even be interested unless God reached out to us. The Spirit whispers “Jesus” to us. The Spirit points us to Jesus (John 15:26). Saving faith is the work of God’s grace in us (John 6:29). God is the One who initiates this Divine romance. He is the One who courts us. He is the One God in Three Persons who sets His eyes on us and makes His love for us known. He pursues us with His love while we are estranged from Him. Like with Israel God aims at our wayward heart.  He expresses His purposeful romance saying, “that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols” (Ezek. 14:5).


The Father woos us to bring us into an eternal marriage with His Son Jesus. That is His plan. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). The Father’s will is the Son’s will; they are One (John 10:30). And the Spirit is One with Father and Son; “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Jesus, “loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). And Jesus’ word to us is, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”


What does it mean to “draw” someone? The term “draw” (Greek helkyo) means to persuade or woo. Some commentators interpret the meaning of this term to mean compel, drag, or force regardless of will. They use this definition to teach an “unconditional election” and “irresistable grace.” What they say may sound good on the surface. But dig a little and it results in doing damage to the nature of God. The word is better defined by the idea of a persuading conversation. God calls the sinner to come reason about their sins. If to draw means a forceful dragging of sinners to Jesus then it results in difficulty when we see the word used in other contexts of scripture.


One such difficulty is seen in John 12:32 where Jesus uses the word “draw” stating, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people’s to Myself.” If we define “draw” as compelling, dragging or forcing regardless of one’s will then the imagery of Jesus turns from romance to abuse. People aren’t dragged by the hair and thrown at the feet of Jesus. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not hold shotgun weddings. The Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit do not circumvent anyone’s will in the Divine romance. They woo the sinner with great passion, persistence and persuasion, but they never force Themselves on anyone. If forcing oneself on someone is unacceptable in human to human relationships, how much more is it true for Divine to human relationships? God’s romance is better than that. God’s romance is a holy romance.


If in John 12:32 “draw” is a forceful dragging of “all people” whether they like it or not, apart from and even against their will to Jesus, it conveys the idea of a universalistic view of salvation. A Universalist believes all people are ultimately saved; even Satan! That of course is not the case. All are not saved. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. . . .Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mat. 7:13-14, 21). Jesus woos us with the cross. He offers us freedom from the slavery of sin with the redemption of the cross. He reveals freedom from sin with a love letter written in His precious outpoured blood. But the sinner must receive that offer by faith.


God’s word is a powerful, passionate Divine love letter to us. The pinnacle of that letter, the proof of God’s love for us, is the cross of Christ. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The cross of Christ is able to break open hard hearts. It’s a love-compelled invitation to say, “I do,” at the eternal wedding altar of the Lord.


Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Jesus is the Perfect Gentleman. He comes to the door of your heart and knocks. We see no belligerent banging on the door. We see no battering ram thrusting through the door. We see Jesus knocking. Will you open and invite Him in? It is grace that He is knocking at all. How will you respond to this wooing of the LORD?  How will you respond to this Divine romance?


Jesus said, “. . . and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44b). Everyone will experience a resurrection day. Some will be raised to everlasting life with the Lord. Others will be raised to everlasting punishment (Mat. 25:46). One day a great multitude in heaven will mightily sing, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:6-7). Will you be part of His bride the church? Will you welcome and receive the wooing Lord?


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