Dave preached last night from John 1:43-51, looking at the call of Philip and Nathanael. In recent Bible studies on Romans, we have been looking at the question of predestination and free will (doctrines which have sadly in the past split the church.) Predestination teaches predominantly about God’s sovereignty, that God is in control and has a plan for our lives: taken to extremes, however, it can lead to the view that people are mere puppets of God. Free will, on the other hand, says that we are given a choice to follow Jesus or not and are not mere robots or puppets. Taken to extremes, it can virtually render God powerless.

As always, we need to have balance in our beliefs. Scripture teaches us that God has chosen us. It also teaches us that when we hear God call us, we have a choice as to whether we respond or not. This passage in John shows us Jesus calling disciples to follow Him; it also shows us the response of those disciples.

Philip and Nathanael are not the best known of Jesus’s followers. We do know quite a lot about Philip, though. An eminently practical person (see his response to the feeding of the five thousand or to the arrival of the Greeks who wanted to meet with Jesus), Philip hears Jesus’s call to ‘Follow me’ and responds to this. Others chose not to follow (the rich young ruler or the man who wanted instead to bury his father, for example.) Philip was both chosen by God and chose to follow. We find him later on in Acts doing exactly the same thing as in John 1, seeking to introduce others to Jesus.

Philip, having decided to follow Jesus, goes to tell others, giving them the same choice. He goes to his friend Nathanael, who responds very cynically to the idea that anything good could come out of Nazareth. Philip is not put off by this rebuff, however. He persists, urging Nathanael to ‘come and see’ for himself. That is what our response to others should be. We should urge them to ‘come and see’ for themselves.

The ultimate aim is that we introduce people to Jesus – not necessarily to ‘church’ itself but to the Lord. There are numerous ways our church seeks to introduce people to Jesus, many of them not apparently evangelistic in aim. The community outreaches we hold (coffee mornings, youth meetings, Mums & Toddlers etc.) may not seem to mention Jesus all that much, but at the heart of all we do is the longing that we may befriend people and introduce them to the best friend we have ever met. What people then choose to do as they hear that call from Jesus is their responsibility. Our responsibility, like Philip’s, is to seek to introduce our friends and acquaintances to Jesus. They then need to hear His call and choose for themselves.