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Ole Joe Never Had a Chance
By Lynn Ford
I worked with Joe for several years, and a nicer fellow you could not expect to find. Joe was far from perfect; he drank a lot of beer and gambled on sports, but he was a good, reliable worker, and he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Being a Christian myself, I felt a burden for Joe’s soul. He never went to church, but he would listen to me talk to him about Christ—he never got mad, and sometimes I thought he was close to accepting Christ. However, his answer about going to church or trusting Christ as his Saviour was always, “Someday I’ll do it, Lynn.” But he never did.
Well, Ole Joe is gone now. We are all sad about it. The guys at work miss him because he was a good friend and coworker. I’m sad because I’m quite sure where he went—and where he will be forever. However, I am coming to grips with all this; I am learning a lot of things I never knew before. I know now that Ole Joe never really had a chance to be saved. The fact is God never wanted him. That’s been hard for me to accept, but with the help of our new pastor, Brother Calvin Smirtz, I am sorting all this out. He is teaching us things about God that I never knew before. Our former pastor, Jim Franks, finally retired, and most people agree that we are very fortunate to get Pastor Smirtz. He is very educated and reads a lot of books. I think Brother Franks never read much more than the Bible.
I say our friend Joe never had a chance because, according to what Pastor Cal has taught us, if he did not accept Christ, then it means that he was never one of the elect. God did not choose him for salvation. If He would have, Joe would have been saved. To be honest with you, this was a little hard to understand and to accept at first; but the more Brother Calvin teaches about it, the clearer it all becomes. He explained that God has only chosen a few, and Jesus died for their sins alone. He didn’t die for all sinners, just the ones who God wants to save. I feel kind of bad that I told Joe many times that God loved him and that Jesus died for his sins. Now I know that is not true. But I was only telling Joe what I heard Pastor Jim preach and what I thought the Bible says. I can’t go back and tell Joe anything now. I can only be more careful in the future what I witness to people.
Poor Joe, I was pretty hard on him. I told him more than once that the reason he didn’t get saved was because he loved his sins more than he loved God. Now I know that he didn’t get saved because God didn’t want to save him. I told Joe, “God has done all He can; now it’s up to you to believe on Christ.” Boy was I wrong! Pastor Cal explained something about sinners being totally deprived. He says, “The sinner is dead, and all a dead man can do is stink!” I can’t explain it like Brother Calvin does, but I guess people can’t really believe on Christ until God makes them alive first and forces them to believe. But if God doesn’t do this—like He didn’t for Joe—then they just can’t believe. This is still a little new to me, but I’m sure that with time and teaching it will make sense. If people don’t get saved it is a sure sign that God didn’t choose them in the first place. As hard as it is for me to take, God just didn’t want Joe. All my praying and pleading were a waste of time.
Sometimes I thought that maybe it was my fault that Joe didn’t get saved. Maybe I should have prayed more. There were time I could have talked about the Lord and I didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t always the best example of a Christian at work. Sometimes I blamed the devil for Joe’s condition. Once I told him, “Joe, you are making the devil happy because you won’t accept Jesus.” I sure didn’t mean to say things that aren’t true; I didn’t understand my Bible very well. I guess I had zeal without knowledge. It wasn’t Joe’s fault, or my fault, or even the devil’s fault. It was God who made the choice long before any of us were born, or before He created Satan, that He just didn’t want Joe in Heaven.
I wonder why doesn’t God show us who are His elect and who aren’t so we won’t waste our time on unsavable people, and so we don’t tell people that God loves them if He don’t? I asked Pastor Cal this one time. He kind of rebuked me and told me that God is sovereign—He does what He pleases; and we should never question Him. Brother Calvin told me that since we don’t know who the elect are, we must give the gospel to all people. I guess I was doing right by talking to Joe about Christ even though God didn’t want him. To be honest though, some of this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me yet, but I’m sure Pastor Cal will help me understand. I just need to give him time.
All this new stuff that our pastor is teaching us is really making me a better Christian though. Out of all the millions of people in the world, very, very few are chosen by God. I am one of those few! This makes me really love God because He first loved me. Jesus didn’t die for very many people; but He died for me! At lease I think He did. I won’t know for sure until I die. Brother Smirtz says that the proof that someone is really God’s elect is that he preservers—kind of endures to the end. I think I will make it. I’m doing pretty good right now. I feel like I am saved; but I know we can’t trust our feelings. Even Pastor Franks told us that.
When I get to Heaven, or I should say, if I get there, I want to ask God what was the difference between me and Ole Joe. Why did God want me but He didn’t want Joe? Poor Joe, he never had a chance!