“Give Jesus a chance.” [From a local bumper sticker]
We have no desire to weary our readers with frequent comments on "Bumper Sticker Religion" but this rancid bumper sticker message provoked a number of thoughts on the chance system. We would also briefly state why, despite the acceptance of the expressions regarding chance, as propounded by the religion of this world, we could never "give Jesus a chance".
chance 1. the happening of events without apparent cause, or the apparent absence of cause or design; fortuity; luck; [to leave things to chance] 2. an unpredictable event or accidental happening 3. a risk or gamble. Webster's New World Dictionary, Second Edition, 1984.
What is really being said by the slogan on this particular sticker? We reluctantly break it down into terms the reader cannot fail to understand, sickening as it is.
According then to Webster's definition of the word chance, and as used by most educated people, the proponents of the bumper sticker message would have all who read their clever slogan to "give the Son a shot", or "try the Saviour on for size". "Take a fling with the First and Last" would also suit the terms of this unholy message. And all this without apparent cause!
We feel a terrible sense of shame come over us to even recite what they are saying, but there it is; "give Jesus a chance" and that, we repeat, without apparent cause. Who knows, according to what they seem to be saying, if you "take a crack at Christ" you may well experience good fortune, or luck out, as the champions of chance would term it. Those that fear the Lord, and reverence His holy Name, must surely blush at the thought.
Webster's second definition of chance says that it is an unpredictable event or accidental happening. Then, is not the bumper sticker telling us that to "take a whirl with the Word" will most likely have unknown consequences at best; anything might happening! And the third definition, a risk or gamble leads to the same blasphemous garble; "take a risk on the Redeemer;" "gamble on God's Son", for who knows? you gotta play to win. May God be praised if we are spared from such infidel notions.
Chance is used in the Scriptures six times, four times in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament. In each case it refers to events that were, to the participant, random. Or, it was of no consequence to them if it had been some other way. The events were certainly ordered and sure as regarded God, but not to those involved. In no case where the word is found in the Bible was anyone told to "take a chance". They positively were not told to "take a chance on Jesus", or anything even remotely like it.
What then is the plain language of the Scriptures regarding affinity with the Saviour? "I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name (Isaiah 65.1)." This nation, the Gentiles no doubt, were not called by God's name as were the Jews. Nor had they ever asked for Him. But, in God's good time, and according to His determinate will and purpose, these Gentiles, as many as were ordained to eternal life, had a sweet soul-saving manifestation of the Redeemer to them. Thus they sought Him, but not before. They had not sought to find Him as they dwelt in the regions of darkness and death, but when great heavenly light shined upon them, they found Him whom their soul was made to love. This was all the work of God.
Lest the reader feel we read into this passage something that is not there, we quote the apostle as he applies the text in its fuller light. "But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me (Romans 10.20)." Could any honest reader construe these texts to possibly suggest we should "give Jesus a chance?" There is no more chance in these texts than there is unholiness before the throne of God.
Another mongrel notion, near akin to the "give Jesus a chance" proposal is, "accept Jesus and He will save you." But what does the Word of God say to this proposition? "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1.6)." No hint here of the sinner accepting Jesus; rather He accepts us, if so be we are among those He has predestinated unto the adoption of children (Verse 5). No chance here either.
At the time Jesus was engaged in His public ministry there was no people on earth more religious than the Pharisees. Did those devoted law-keepers then "give Jesus a chance?" There was not a gambler among the lot of them, and the Lord informed them, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5.40)." Neither will the religious masses today come to Him, despite the many bumper stickers and other pleas to do so. The poor sinner that is saved by grace has already tasted that the Lord is good in all His ways, and he has learned by the inward teaching of the Spirit of God that this was no chance system that brought him to the feet of Jesus. All others, yet dead in sin and trespasses, will not have this man to rule over them, chance or no chance. They love darkness, and will not come to the Light that they might have life, for the Light will expose their wickedness and reveal that their deeds are evil.
"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 (II Thessalonians 2.13, 14)." Yes, from the beginning God chose us! Then what possible need could we have of a chance system? Before He shaped the mountains, or dredged out the course of the rivers, God had eternally secured us in Jesus; and that without requiring us to "give Jesus a chance". Furthermore, with the voice of His Son He preached the gospel unto us that we might obtain His glory.
The first definition Webster gave of chance was that of the happening of events without apparent cause. Did God have apparent cause for calling us into union with His Son? "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31.3)." The love of God for His chosen children is the best of all causes. This then removes all possibility of chance, in the past, now, and forever.
For our part, we had rather be found bowing before stocks and images of stone than to walk with those that would suggest to us, "give Jesus a chance". By His grace we will do neither. If a poor sinner ever gets saved it will be through the electing love of our God, for "...the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (Romans 11.7)."
May our God be praised if we have escaped the delusions that drive the slogan promoters.
The following lines from a Hymn by Joseph Hart very well express our view on where the matter stands.
"Why so offensive in their eyes,
Does God's election seem?
Because they think themselves so wise,
That they have chosen him.
Election! 'tis a word divine;
For, Lord, I plainly see,
Had not thy choice prevented mine,
I ne'er had chosen thee."
James F. Poole
Volume 7, No. 5