Friday, June 16, 2006
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isa. 48:10)
This seemingly innocent word—“chosen”—has engendered much controversy in the Body of Christ through the years. Its prevalence in the Word of God is undeniable; it is its priority in salvation, however, that is most hotly contested. Verses such as Ephesians 1:4, and especially 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (“…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation…”), indicate a predetermination on the part of God that, for some, completely negates free will, and, therefore, all personal responsibility. For my part, I acknowledge the former, accept the latter, and recognize the Higher. I believe I was chosen to salvation by God, as 2 Thessalonians says, but “belief of the truth” was also a necessary component. And I also believe that the complete comprehension of these two elements falls under the category of what David calls things “too high” and “too wonderful for me”; and I, like he, “cannot attain unto it” (Psl.131:1 & 139:6).
Not only does the reality of having been chosen by God come into play in the matter salvation, it also is the starting point of true service for God. Verses such as Acts 9:15 and 2 Chronicles 29:11 attest to this. But it is the cited verse in Isaiah that spoke to my heart this morning as I was reading. It is easy to sense malevolence and therefore display bitterness when fiery trials befall us. But this verse lets us know that there is no positive and negative when it comes to God’s dealings with His children. The same infinite wisdom that chose me to spend eternity in Heaven with God, and that positioned me for service for Him in the meantime, is the same loving wisdom that hand-picks me for assignment in “the furnace of affliction.” Just as chastening is a certificate of paternity (Heb.12:8), trials are the mark of favorability. It is God’s way of saying you and I are suitable for refining.
No child of God should seek trials, but neither should we bristle and complain in them. They are evidences of the hand of God in our lives, just as surely as the mountain top experiences are. As you can see, they are reserved for God’s “choice” saints.