Friday, December 25, 2015

The Gospel of Grace and the struggle to remember it

Over two and a half years ago, I posted about the gospel and how it affects our daily lives. Not surprisingly, all this time later, I still find myself in the same struggle.

From the political discussions to the work setting to the family setting to the Facebook setting...the struggle remains to keep Christ the center of all thought. Scripture tells us, "in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Col 2:3ESV. And here I am at the end of 2015 STILL struggling daily to glorify Him in all that I say, do, and think. If I lose a proper biblical focus, I could wind up in utter despair and compromise the gospel by thinking I have to be perfect in order for it to be true or for God to be pleased with me. Our gospel is not a gospel of works. It is a gospel of GRACE. Friends, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THIS! I MUST UNDERSTAND THIS! In that post over two years ago, I quoted Eph 2:8-9, "for it is by GRACE you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing. IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT A RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast..." You and I must NEVER think that we are made right in God's sight by OUR OWN WORKS (not good works, obedience to the Law, not ANYTHING WE DO!)... Eph tells us that it is by GRACE! The more you and I understand grace, the more peace we will have. If you allow yourself to think that you can DO ANYTHING to make God love you more, you will NEVER have peace! You can never do enough! The Ephesians passage says " NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS."
I am harping on this, because this is my struggle. And I imagine others having this same struggle.

Many churches and people in churches propagate this in the way they tell sinners they can be saved -by telling them it's their decision. This is an error. God chose whom he would save before time (Eph 1:3-14; Rom 9:6-29; John 6:65...Look them all up!) That Ephesians passage tells us that even our faith is a gift of God!

But again, how does any of this help me when an employee is yelling at me at work for some perceived injustice? How does this help me when someone on Facebook calls me a heretic for my Biblical beliefs?   It helps me to remember that God's gospel of grace is true in all events of my life. I've believed the gospel, so that means God gave me the gift of faith. Christ died for ME. He has orchestrated the events of my life for his glory and for my good (Rom 8:28). Even when I am told by a customer that I don't know how to do my job, Christ is my king. Even when I can't see how I am going to get through the day or the work shift, Christ is in control. His gospel is still true.

 One way I have enlisted the help of my family is that they tell me as I am heading out to work, "Remember Who you serve!" How does that help? If I can remember that I serve the God who brought about the truth of the gospel in the midst of a rough day, I can have peace knowing that Christ has saved me and that all the junk I may go through is working in me godly character according to His will. Knowing the gospel as well as other aspects of Biblical truth are quite the armor in our daily battles. They are spiritual battles. Ephesians (again!) tells us in 6:10-20 that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood and goes on to tell us how to be equipped for the battle. Part of that readiness comes from knowing the gospel.

Merry Christmas, Friends. Fill your heads with as much Biblical truth as possible. This can only come by opening up your Bibles and reading and studying. Remember the gospel. And remember, God is all sovereign...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How Does the Gospel Impact My Daily Life?

I was recently challenged by a conversation I had with a good friend. He was reflecting on how the gospel affects us in the daily details of life. I'm used to thinking that "the gospel" is a message we share with others. It's the message I believed and as a result, I am "saved." Back in November of 2011, I posted a short entry trying to define the gospel. Simply put, the content of the gospel message is: Jesus Christ became a man, lived a perfect life, died, was buried, and three days later he rose from the dead.  okay... but SO WHAT?

I've believed the gospel message. I know Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and my God. I have been rescued from God's wrath through Him(1 Thess 1:10.) There is now no condemnation for me because I am IN Christ(Rom 8:1.) But is that all the gospel does- is it only fire insurance? Do I only have to believe once and I'm "in?" The Bible tells us that we must live holy lives as well as have faith. We are to strive for peace with others and to live holy lives (Heb 12:14.) We were saved by grace and God gave us the gift of faith (Eph 2:8-9), but this was in order for us to walk in the good works that God has prepared for us (Eph 2:10.)

So, I ask the question, "How does the gospel impact my daily life?" How does it impact YOUR daily life? When things aren't going well at work, does the gospel help you? When a dear loved one has received a dreaded diagnosis, can the gospel affect how you deal with it? When your "enemy" does all he can to harm you, how do you respond? Friends, in any of these circumstances, I want the gospel to be REAL and to have an impact on how I respond. For example, I work with the public. Often times people can be rude, insensitive, demanding, and I must be gracious and polite and winning in my response to them. This is beyond difficult sometimes. Can the gospel help me at work? Absolutely! I need to remember that Christ died for sinners-> I am a sinner-> the person I'm dealing with is a sinner....I need to remember that Christ was unjustly treated; He had never done wrong or sinned against ANYONE -> I, on the other hand, sin with every breath and deserve unjust treatment in general; and yet I am SOO OFFENDED when someone is unkind to me. And to top it off, at work, I am not preaching the gospel to people and and I am being mistreated (at times)- I'm not saying I SHOULD be mistreated, I'm just saying that when I am mistreated, it's not directly for the cause of Christ. The Bible tells me to "endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as children." Heb 12:7NIV. So God loves me and through hardship He is teaching me discipline. Understanding the gospel helps me endure because the gospel is TRUE. Jesus really lived a perfect life. He really died. He really rose from the dead. He really is with me until the end of the age- even when a customer is angry and in my face. He really inspired the Scriptures that give me so much rich instruction. And the "sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Rom 8:18 ESV. <-That is really TRUE. It's all true because the gospel is true.

I hope that you can start to see how the gospel can impact even the minutest detail of you life. I'm trying to see how this is so and it is truly helping me to respond to situations in a more godly manner. I know I won't be perfect until Glory, but by God's grace you and I can continue this journey- we can continue to progress in our sanctification.  Remember, God is all sovereign...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why Aren't We Doing MORE???

Have you ever been made aware of some injustice and wondered: "Why isn't anyone doing anything about this?"

I have. And usually, I'M guilty of remaining inactive. Such has been the case for me these past couple of decades regarding THE EVIL OF OUR AGE: ABORTION.

I have shed tears over the years at the thought that it is LEGAL to kill babies in the womb. I've given change to help support local pregnancy centers. I've prayed for the end to this evil. I've even begged women NOT to abort, but rather to give the baby to my family! But why haven't I done MORE?

I am only speaking for myself and God has been convicting ME in this matter. But think about it- an entire class of people (the unborn) are regularly torn apart in utero in our country and we ALLOW IT? If an unborn entity is wanted, we call it a BABY. If unwanted, it is okay and acceptable to get rid of "it." Why is there a disconnect?

I know those who support abortion default to language about women's rights and so on, but this will not suffice. Some have gone so far as to ADMIT the humanity of the unborn and STILL argue in favor of killing the baby!

Brothers and Sisters, we have all got to open our eyes! A great EVIL is being allowed in our country, in our states, in our cities, in YOUR CITY. Please consider this and try to understand my newfound passion for ending abortion. I know I may appear over-zealous, self-righteous, over-the-top in my desire to ABOLISH HUMAN ABORTION, but it is NOT my intent to be those things. The knowledge that baby humans are being killed daily, breaks my heart and I can no longer be silent. I can no longer remain inactive. May God be glorified and may God use me to help ABOLISH HUMAN ABORTION.  God is all sovereign...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Letter to those in Milford

I know I posted a letter to you already, but I felt like I have more to say.

You are where I trained as a manager in the first place. Many of you were still there when I returned. Hopefully I was able to teach you something, but please know that YOU TAUGHT ME!  From you I learned:
  • patience
  • problem-solving
  • how to treat people
  • how to discipline
  • how to work AND have fun!
  • God's creative diversity- you are all so wonderfully different!
  • I became a better cook than I was before
I know there's more. I guess I just want to say that it's been just over a week, and I miss you! I'll NEVER forget you! You'll always be my home. I am excited to be at my new restaurant and I'm already feeling welcome.  But I just wanted to restate my love for Team Milford. You guys ROCK! Keep up the great work and make me proud! I know you can continue to be excellent!

with much love and mushiness,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Gospel

I haven't posted in quite some time. My mind is still on God's sovereignty, though. In particular, I've been focused on the Gospel.

What is the Gospel? The word is used many ways. I am thinking about Paul's use of the word in the New Testament.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it s the power of God for the salvation for everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed , a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'." -Romans 1:16-17 NIV

Paul tells us that the gospel is "the power of God for salvation." This tells me that the gospel is a message, but it is more! It is POWER! What does that mean? The gospel message is:
"that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV

So what about this message saves or has power to save? Think this through. Does the fact that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again automatically save a person? No. As Paul stated above, "it is the power of God for the salvation for everyone who believes."   So what happens when a person believes? Here's what doesn't happen: a person does not make himself or herself righteous. The righteousness is FROM GOD. When a person believes the gospel, God does not count his sins against him. What happens to a person's sin? "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV  God performs an exchange. The Great Exchange! When YOU believe the gospel message, God treats YOU like you had never sinned, but had lived a perfectly righteous life! How can He do this? By His own righteousness. In this Great Exchange God treats the Lord Jesus Christ as if He had lived MY sinful life and punishes Jesus Christ for MY SIN!!! It's absolutely incredible! Jesus got MY punishment, but I get HIS reward! If God had NOT performed this on my behalf, I would be damned.

This is why this message is such great news! Romans 1:18 tells us that "the wrath of God is being revealed..."  This should TERRIFY anyone who is not included in the Great Exchange I mentioned above! The gospel is the power of God to save everyone who believes from the WRATH OF GOD! "God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day." Psalm 7:11 NIV Oh thank God that He sent His son Jesus! The work of Jesus Christ (His perfect life, His death, His resurrection) on behalf of all who BELIEVE is truly Good News (which is what the actual word "gospel" means.) In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are told of the Thessalonians that they turned from their idols and learned to serve God "and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." [By the way, I need to get back to my study in 1 Thessalonians!] Jesus saves us from God's coming wrath.

Friends, do everything you can to understand the GOSPEL! Let the gospel saturate everything about you: your thoughts, your work, your relationships, your every breath! "For it is the power of God for salvation..."  Remember, God is all sovereign....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Idols- A Closer Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:9

" how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God."1Thess 1:9b  ESV

We learned that the Thessalonians had turned TO God from idols in our last study. But what IS an IDOL? Perhaps you think of some African native bowing to a carved statue- you would be correct to identify such as a form of idolatry. What would have been an idol to the Thessalonians? Let's think about this. WHEN did Paul write this letter to the Thessalonians? It was in the First Century, approximately around 51 A.D. WHO did he write to? Yes, the Thessalonians, but WHAT empire was ruling at that time? The Roman Empire. Thessalonica was located in part of Greece. With the Roman and Greek gods being basically the same, the idols that would have been common to these people would have been the Greek/Roman gods of the time.  John Gill, in his exposition of this letter names the following:

" the great and chief gods of the Gentiles, were worshipped; as Jupiter and Bacchus, Ceres and Proserpina, Pluto and Mercury, Castor and Pollux, and Esculapius"

This tells us that many (most?) of the converts in Thessalonica were not Jewish, but Gentile. It would have been a big deal for them to STOP worshiping the popular idols of their day. And Paul certainly makes a big deal out of it in verse 9 of our current chapter, "you turned to God from idols." Jesus Christ began a major change in the lives of the Thessalonian believers!  So what? What does this do for us TODAY? Does this apply to us today?

Think about yourself. Have you ever worshiped an idol? Do we have idols today in 21st Century America? Maybe your first thought is  "NO! we don't have idols!" But would that be accurate? Does an idol have to be a statue? Can an idol be something more abstract like a boyfriend or a girlfriend or money or sex or sports? At first I was hesitant to think this way because I wanted to be sure of how the Bible defined idolatry. The Bible certainly includes worshiping statues, Greek gods, and those types of things in defining idolatry. But what about the abstract things I mentioned? Let's look at a couple of verses:

Eph 5:5-6 " For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." ESV

Col 3:5-6 "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming." ESV

In these verses, the Apostle Paul identifies some behaviors that are considered IDOLATRY. Those behaviors include: sexual immorality, covetousness, impurity, evil desire. You see, friends, IDOLATRY EXISTS TODAY IN 21st CENTURY AMERICA! These behaviors and attitudes are rampant today in society! So if you are following after these things instead of God you have to ask yourself, "Am I guilty of idol worship?" Please think very seriously about this. I must do the same. If I allow lustful thoughts, coveting more wealth, coveting a bigger house, or any other sinful thing to become more important than God, then I have committed the sin of idolatry! These may not be your struggles- but what ARE your struggles?

If you have not yet believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, but find yourself guilty of committing Idolatry, Paul tells you that you need to be concerned: "because of these things the wrath of God is coming." Yet you are not without hope! You can be like the Thessalonians and TURN AWAY from those idols. You can TURN TO THE LIVING GOD!! Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation and forgiveness of sins have done just that. We have turned away from those enslaving idols and turned to the One who deserves our worship-Jesus Christ. If you want more information, please CONTACT me!!
Remember, God is all sovereign...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

"9For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

 Last time we saw that the reputation of the Thessalonians had spread to the region beyond Thessalonica itself.  They had become an example to all of the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (v.7-8). Now Paul adds more to the story of these believers  by telling what he had heard from others. The Thessalonians had given Paul and his fellow missionaries a warm reception and much more. In fact, it was evident to all who knew these believers that something had happened to them. There was a change in them.

But what exactly did they notice? There were three things in particular:  they had turned away from idols, they turned to God, and were now eagerly awaiting Christ's return. Is there anything that WE can learn from their example? Absolutely:
1)When Christ truly saves a person, others will notice a change. You can't stay in your sinful lifestyle. You won't want to. I'm not saying that Christians never stumble into sin that they never wrestle with temptation- we most certainly DO stumble and wrestle!!! But the overriding desire is to leave those things behind.
2)Not only do we begin to hate our sin, but we also begin to love God! Before we were saved, we did NOT love God. After He saved us, we find ourselves turning to Him more and more every day. We grow closer to Him through prayer and studying the Bible and spending time with other believers regularly.
3)As part of this turning away from sin and turning toward all things that please God, believers begin to long for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said he would return and we believe Him. We can't wait to see Him face-to-face!

Are these things true of you? If you have believed in the Lord Jesus, they should be. They should be true of ME. I won't pretend that I don't struggle with sin. Those who know me best would probably laugh at me if I tried. Yet, He still loves me. He will never reject me. I never want Him to. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, don't give up. You will struggle with temptation and sin for the rest of your lives. But He still loves you. He will never reject you. Hebrews 13:5-6 reminds us:

"Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content
with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor
forsake you.' So we can confidently say,   'The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear; what can man do to me?' "

So Christ changes us from the inside out and draws us closer to Himself. Paul also emphasises that Jesus, God's son, was raised from the dead. This is part of the message that we believe. Jesus died. Jesus was buried. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is alive NOW. We await His return from heaven.

Paul highlights another important facet of Christ's work on our behalf: He rescues us from the wrath to come. What does that mean? Remember, all humans are born as "children of wrath"(Eph 2:3). We sin because we were born sinners. And once we are able to choose it,  we also sin because we want to. We deserve God's judgement, anger, and wrath. As we saw in an earlier post, He chose to save some of us and now we do not need to fear this wrath! What GOOD NEWS!!! Jesus, the One who rose from the dead rescues us from the wrath to come! And do not be deceived, God's wrath is coming. Christians hold many views regarding what will happen before Christ returns, but all agree that He is returning and that there will be a final judgment of both the righteous and the unrighteous- the righteous will enter eternal life and the unrighteous will enter eternal punishment.

To sum up: When a person  believes in the Gospel of God, that person is changed. Others notice this change. The believer desires to put away sinful living and desires to put on Godly living. The believer longs for the return of Christ, who rescues us from His coming wrath.

If you want more information on the work of Jesus and how He changes lives, please contact me!!
Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...

Friday, July 8, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:4-8

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because
 our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy
Spirit and withfull conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to
be you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in
Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in
Macedonia and Achaia but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere,
so that we need not say anything. (ESV)

      I previously wrote about how the Thessalonian adelphoi were loved by God and a little about what it meant that they were chosen by God. Paul now tells them how they knew this.

                5 "because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and withfull conviction. You know what kind of men
we proved to be you for your sake."

    Paul's first point is that he knew the trustworthiness of the messengers of the Gospel. True believers had delivered the Gospel message. Their message came with power and conviction. This may be a reference to miracles or it may simply be a reference to the clear preaching of the Gospel. We should never underestimate the power of preaching the Gospel clearly! Paul wrote elsewhere:

           "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who
                                            believes..."   Romans 1:16ESV
     Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians,

"And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you recieved the word
in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an
example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For not only has the
word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your
faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything."

    His second point has to do with the response of the Thessalonians to the Gospel message. In 6a, we see that they "became imitators" of the Apostles and of the Lord. This certainly implies a change in the way they were living. In 6b, they received the word "in much affliction" and they received it "with joy of the Holy Spirit." They received  the word under stressful circumstances and did not reject it! Not only did they accept it, but they joyfully accepted it! Accepting the Gospel in spite of fierce opposition is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. Think about the circumstances in which you heard, and received the Gospel. Was your life in danger? Mine was not. Yet, I did experience some hardship. NOTHING compared to what the Thessalonians experienced, I'm sure, but some family members and friends disapproved and clearly told me so. And if you live your life according to Gospel principles, you will eventually face hardship and affliction. We must "consider it all joy" (James 1:2) whenever this happens.
   In v. 7, Paul tells them that they became examples of faithful disciples to the larger region- to the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. And in v.8 they are told that their faith has become known even beyond their region! They cannont take credit for this. It was due to the Holy Spirit's transforming power in their lives.
  So how does this affect US (you and me)? Think about it. How do WE know that WE are loved by God and chosen for this salvation?  Was the message that we received the true Gospel contained in the Scriptures? Did you (and did I) believe the message? Did our lives change? (i.e. did we become "imitators of the Lord?")
     Now, not all believers will be known for their faith throughout their entire city or state, but people will notice a change in them. If you've received the Biblical message and been changed by it, KNOW that YOU TOO were chosen by God and are loved by Him! What precious truth to behold!
Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life, Death, and the Sovereignty of God (R.I.P. Amber Fields)

I just got back from the funeral of a 26 year old mother and wife. She was killed in a car accident less than a week ago. I knew her because she used to work for me in Louisville. Amber Fields truly was all of those nice things they said about her in the funeral service. One of my fondest memories of her is the way she spoke. She spoke with a sweet, country accent. She always had a smile. She was kind to everyone. Now, truth be told, I hadn't seen Amber much during these past couple of years. She had worked in our restaurant in Louisville for a year or so. Then she worked at our Lexington restaurant, so I had less contact with her. But, working for the same company still, we would occasionally see each other at company events. And she always had a big hug and smile for me when she saw me. She always made me feel welcomed and respected.

Because we hadn't been in contact as much, I was surprised by how hard the news of her death hit me. I am genuinely sad. I feel a sense of loss. This tells me how much of an impact she had on me. And by the two overflowing rooms of mourners at the funeral, she had that same kind of impact on many others.

I went into the viewing and service feeling rather numb. After seeing her and greeting her husband, I felt extremely sorrowful and could only cry. But during the service, the pastor quoted a Bible verse that changed my sorrow into something different. The verse:  Revelation 14:13,

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write,
'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'"
"Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors,
for their deeds follow with them." (NIV)

The pastor explained that Amber believed in the Lord Jesus and was therefore "in the Lord." She died "in the Lord" and was blessed. This verse and short explanation reminded me that even though Amber's death seems only tragic, the truth is not only tragic. There is HOPE! Yes, we mourn the loss of a truly wonderful person, but we have hope because Amber is BLESSED! We mourn, but she is worshiping God Almighty before His holy throne!    Now, I won't try to pretend that this truth will make Amber's husband and son feel no pain. Of course they will. But that is not the end of the story! Her husband and son can someday have hope knowing that their loved one IS BLESSED.

And guess what? This little verse reminds me that I have HOPE for other loved ones who have "died in the Lord!" It is less than a month from the 28th anniversary of my own mother's death. She was a young mom, too. She was 32. My mother loved the Lord Jesus and served Him the best she knew how... She died "in the Lord" and I am wonderfully reminded that she IS BLESSED!

The Lord is sovereign over all of the affairs of men. Even the events that seem to make no sense, like Amber's death. But in the midst of these dark Providences, we have hope. God, who brings darkness out of light, life out of death, order out of chaos- God gives us hope. He's the only One who can give us hope in life's seemingly hopeless events.
Remember, God's all sovereign and stuff....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Excursus: God Chose Some

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you ..."  1 Thess. 1:4 ESV

In my last post, I mentioned that God's choice of some and not others for salvation, the doctrine of election, is a "can of worms." If you are familiar with the doctrine, I do not need to explain WHY it is controversial. If you are not familiar with it, the following discussion will most likely reveal to you why it would be a touchy subject.

Paul has written elsewhere about the doctrines of election, predestination, and God's sovereignty in these matters. We will touch on some of these passages as well as what other Biblical writers have to say.

In order to be clear, let me state the doctrine first, and then we can look in the Bible to see what Jesus, Luke, and Paul have to say about it.

 By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels
 are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise
 of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation,
 to the praise of his glorious justice.
-from the 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chp 3.

So basically, when it comes to salvation, people are saved because God chose them to be saved. God made his choice long before he even created the world. His choice was never based on Him looking into the future and choosing those whom He saw would choose Him. Rather, God chose WHO WOULD CHOOSE HIM. If someone never believes the Gospel, it is because God did not choose that person to do so. Most people who hear this for the first time do not like it and will often respond by saying it's not fair, or the Bible doesn't teach such a thing. I had a similar response the first time I ever heard this teaching. But let me show you from the Bible why I now believe it...

Jesus taught it:

"Jesus said to them,'I am the bread of life;whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.'" John 6"35-40

Jesus says that ALL that the Father gives him will come to him (v.37). This loudly implies that those who "are not given" will not come.

"So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, "I have come down from heaven"?' Jesus answered them, 'Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. '"
John 6:41-44

The Jews are complaining that Jesus is claiming to be from Heaven. Jesus tells them to stop grumbling and that (v44) "No one can come to me unless the Father...draws him." Jesus is saying no one CAN come to him. That is, no one IS ABLE to come to him unless something first happens. No one can come to him unless the Father DRAWS HIM. God the Father must first DRAW a person to the Son in order for a person to have the ability to come to the Son.

But why would people NOT have the ability to come to God/Jesus?
Romans 5 gives us some insight. There Paul tells us that through one man's sin (Adam's sin), "many died" v 15, "death reigned" v.17, "death spread to all men" v.12. And also in Romans 3, he tells us, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God..." v.10-11esv.  Paul paints an unflattering picture of mankind. We are dead in sin, we do NOT seek after God and in chapter 8 of this same book, Paul tells us that those who do not belong to Christ have "a mind set on the flesh" and this mind "that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot" v.6-8esv.

Taking what both Jesus and Paul said, we see that mankind is dead in sin and CANNOT submit to God's law! I would paraphrase this: people in their natural, unconverted state, do not seek to be made right with God and they do not have the ability come to him anyway!

I may or may not write more about this. Let me know if you have questions. I would LOVE to interact with you over what the Bible teaches.

For now, when Paul says that "we know...[God] has chosen you," he's saying to the Thessalonians that they know God had chosen them for salvation and that this choice of them is the reason they are saved, not any desire or ability in themselves...

Remember, God is all Sovereign!