Remember the days you used to play the game tic-tac-toe? The game was exciting, until you learned that you could play for the block, rather than the win, and come up with a constant series of draws. No one won; no one lost. Well, something was lost: your interest. That is why the game only gets played with a child.
In many things, we still play that game. We play tic-tac-toe for the draw. That is how some people, for example, look at the Bible. They read a passage of scripture, and then proceed to find something somewhere else in the Bible that seems to them to cancel out the first statement. They spend their spiritual life trying to out-maneuver the Lord.
Consider three examples. The first is the Bible`s commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." The second is the Bible`s invitation: "Whosoever believeth." The third is the Bible`s declaration: "By faith in Christ Jesus."
The command "Thou shalt not kill" is often taken to be a cancellation for other portions of Scripture. The Bible tells us that "whosoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." And we are given the reason why: "For in the image of God made he man" [Gen. 9:6].
When a man abducts a child, abuses her and then kills her; the best some have to suggest is that we imprison him for ten, twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty years. If he dies of old age, they are content. If his crime is forgotten by society in general, they seem satisfied.
Jesus himself gave us the invitation to salvation of "Whosoever believeth." The Lord told Nicodemus that God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for this purpose: "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" [John 3:16].
Many are not satisfied with this simple declaration. They nullify its simplicity by matching the Lord`s words with such a quote as this one: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" [John 15:16]. By this method, they satisfy themselves that they have never had to humble themselves and call on God to save them. By this method they justify living whichever way they will, never having to come to Jesus by faith.
What they do not realize is the way in which God "chooses" us in salvation. It is not by our works or labors, for we would be unthankful to God. It is not by chance, for we would be arrogant in his sight. It is by Jesus, and faith in the blood he shed at Calvary.
The declaration "by faith in Christ Jesus" comes from Paul`s letter to the Galatians: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" [Gal. 3:26]. It is straight forward: if any of us are the children of God, we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. That is how all become the children of God, with no exceptions and no exclusions.
We must believe the Bible, knowing that all scripture is given by the inspiration of God. And once we believe it, we will learn to rest in its truths. Otherwise, we are left with a game we play with God. We could call it "tic-tac-toe." But it is a game we will never win.