God’s Purpose is Accomplished – Even When People Reject Him

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Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my father.”  (John 15:22-24)

These words convey a stark reality that is not pleasant to consider. We might assume that Jesus was speaking of the Jews when He spoke these words, but we would be wrong. Jesus was speaking of the “world”. Just before Jesus spoke the words quoted above, He said:

“If the world[1] hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

These are curious things coming from Jesus. The import of what Jesus says here is that the world is ordered in opposition to Jesus and God the Father. And even when people reject Jesus, God’s purpose is fulfilled.

In other places, we see Jesus saying very different things. For instance, Jesus said elsewhere, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) So, we might be confused when we see Jesus implying that he came to hold people accountable for their sins.

The truth is that we cannot remain neutral when it comes to God the Father and Jesus. We are either with Him or against Him. We either submit ourselves to Him, or we stand in opposition to Him.

God emptied Himself and become one of us to attempt to save us from the sin that will doom us if we do not repent and allow God to take His rightful place in our lives. He offers this salvation freely to us, having satisfied the judgment for our sins with His death on the cross, but we must take hold of it. And we must let go of the world and our own flesh which is part of the world that is set in opposition to Him.

God does not coerce us. He leaves the choice to us to accept Him for who He is – the Lord of lords, King of kings, the Almighty God – or to ignore Him and go our own way. To do nothing is to choose to ignore Him and to fail or refuse to allow Him to have His rightful place in our lives.

When Jesus encountered people, those people were brought face to face with that choice. While we often live our lives as if we had no such, life and death, choice, neutrality is only an illusion. The choice remains whether we are conscious of it or not.

There will come a day when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10) because God has “appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment….” (Heb. 9:27)

Yes, Jesus came not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved. He came to die for our sins and to preach good news to the poor. (Luke 4:18) And to those who receive[2] Him – who believe Him – He gives the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

Yes, Jesus did not come in to the world to condemn the world, but Jesus clarified in the very next statement (after saying he did not come to condemn the world) that we must respond to Him, and our response determines our fate:

“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:18-19)

One purpose of Jesus preaching was to confront us with the decision we must make: embrace Him, or reject Him.

When Jesus preached, He accomplished God’s purpose, whether people received Him or refused Him.

Jesus and Isaiah have this in common. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah had an encounter with God in the temple where God cleansed Isaiah’s lips with a coal and instructed him to preach to the people of Israel. Then God told Isaiah that the people would not listen to him. God sent Isaiah out to preach the truth to the people precisely so they would hear the truth and not believe it.

This may seem contrary to what makes sense to us, but to God, the preaching accomplishes His purpose. God’s word does not go out and come back void; God’s word accomplishes His purpose,[3] which may not be the purpose we assume it should.

Thus, Jesus accomplished the purpose of the Father when He preached, not only by preaching “good news to the poor”, but by sealing the people in their guilt who did not believe, as God did through Isaiah in his time.

God gives us all choices and brings us all to a moment of choice. We cannot escape it. We can’t turn this way or that. We cannot ignore it. We are confronted by that one choice that we have to make.

We either choose God or choose our own way, without God. In bringing us to that place of decision, we ignore God’s voice to our peril. Ignoring God is not putting off the choice. Ignoring God is choosing the way that we will go.

There will come a day when the opportunity to choose God will end.

That is why Peter urged:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief….” (2 Peter 3:9-10)

Therefore, if today you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts! (Hebrews 3:15)


[1] Kósmos (literally, “something ordered”) – properly, an “ordered system” (like the universe, creation); the world. Kosmos (“world”) occurs 187 times in the NT and usually refers to the world-system, i.e. unaided humanity operating in the “flesh” (rejecting the lordship of Christ).  Thus the world is in perpetual, spiritual chaos (alienation from God) – a “disordered order” – or more aptly, perhaps, ordered in opposition to God.

[2] Lambánō (from the primitive root, lab-, meaning “actively lay hold of,” see NAS dictionary) – properly, to lay hold by taking initiative to (actively) accept what is available (offered).

[3] “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

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