Chosen by God
The idea of election goes back to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3).
· God chose to make a nation of that patriarch’s descendants.
· He chose Israel to be his people.
· He worked his purposes out through that one nation and in due course sent his Messiah as a Jew.
· After that, God continued to choose, or elect, people in accordance with his purpose (Rom. 9:11), grace (Rom. 11:5), love (1 Thess. 1:4), and foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2).
· The “elect” can rely on God’s concern for them (Luke 18:7) and on their sure salvation (Rom. 8:33).
· They are to live lives befitting their status (Col. 3:12–14).
· Mystery is inherent in the concept of election, because we also know that God desires the salvation of all persons (1 Tim. 2:4).
Many people want to know their election before they look to Christ. But they cannot learn it thus; it is only to be discovered by ‘looking unto Jesus.’ Look to Jesus, believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for as surely as you believe, you are elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones. Go to Jesus just as you are. Go straight to Christ, hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election.
Christ was at the everlasting council. He can tell you whether you were chosen or not, but you cannot find out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him. There will be no doubt about His having chosen you, when you have chosen Him. - Charles Spurgeon
- The Elements of the Eternal Forming of the Body
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace. (1:4–6a)
- These verses reveal the past part of God’s eternal plan in forming the church, the Body of Jesus Christ.
- His plan is shown in seven elements: the method, election; the object, the elect; the time, eternity past; the purpose, holiness; the motive, love; the result, sonship; and the goal, glory.
- The Method—Election
- The Bible speaks of three kinds of election. #. One is God’s theocratic election of Israel. “You are a holy people to the Lord your God,” Moses told Israel in the desert of Sinai; “the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deut. 7:6).
i. That election had no bearing on personal salvation. “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel,” Paul explains; “neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom. 9:6–7).
ii. Racial descent from Abraham as father of the Hebrew people did not mean spiritual descent from him as father of the faithful (Rom. 4:11).
- A second kind of election is vocational.
i. The Lord called out the tribe of Levi to be His priests, but Levites were not thereby guaranteed salvation.
ii. Jesus called twelve men to be apostles but only eleven of them to salvation.
iii. After Paul came to Christ because of God’s election to salvation, God then chose him in another way to be His special apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Rom. 1:5).
- The third kind of election is salvational, the kind of which Paul is speaking in our present text. i. “No one can come to Me,” Jesus said, “unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).
ii. Helkuō (draws) carries the idea of an irresistible force and was used in ancient Greek literature of a desperately hungry man being drawn to food and of demonic forces being drawn to animals when they were not able to possess men.
- Salvage yards use giant electromagnets to lift and partially sort scrap metal. When the magnet is turned on, a tremendous magnetic force draws all the ferrous metals that are near it, but has no effect on other metals such as aluminum and brass. #. In a similar way, God’s elective will irresistibly draws to Himself those whom He has predetermined to love and forgive, while having no effect on those whom He has not.
- From all eternity, before the foundation of the world, and therefore completely apart from any merit or deserving that any person could have, God chose us in Him, “in Christ” (v. 3).
- By God’s sovereign election, those who are saved were placed in eternal union with Christ before creation even took place.
- Although man’s will is not free in the sense that many people suppose, he does have a will, a will that Scripture clearly recognizes.
i. Apart from God, man’s will is captive to sin. But he is nevertheless able to choose God because God has made that choice possible.
ii. Jesus said that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) and that “everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (11:26).
iii. The frequent commands to the unsaved to respond to the Lord (e.g., Josh. 24:15; Isa. 55:1; Matt. 3:1–2; 4:17; 11:28–30; John 5:40; 6:37; 7:37–39; Rev. 22:17) clearly indicate the responsibility of man to exercise his own will.
- Yet the Bible is just as clear that no person receives Jesus Christ as Savior who has not been chosen by God (cf. Rom. 8:29; 9:11; 1 Thess. 1:3–4; 1 Pet. 1:2). i. Jesus gives both truths in one verse in the gospel of John: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).
- God’s sovereign election and man’s exercise of responsibility in choosing Jesus Christ seem opposite and irreconcilable truths—and from our limited human perspective they are opposite and irreconcilable. i. That is why so many earnest, well–meaning Christians throughout the history of the church have floundered trying to reconcile them.
ii. Since the problem cannot be resolved by our finite minds, the result is always to compromise one truth in favor of the other or to weaken both by trying to take a position somewhere between them.
- We should let the antimony remain, believing both truths completely and leaving the harmonizing of them to God. #. Eklegō (chose) is here in the aorist tense and the middle voice, indicating God’s totally independent choice.
i. Because the verb is reflexive it signifies that God not only chose by Himself but for Himself. His primary purpose in electing the church was the praise of His own glory (vv. 6, 12, 14).
ii. Believers were chosen for the Lord’s glory before they were chosen for their own good.
iii. The very reason for calling out believers into the church was that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (3:10).
- Israel was God’s elect, His “chosen one” (Isa. 45:4; cf. 65:9, 22). i. But she was told, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. but because the Lord loved you” (Deut. 7:7–8). God chose the Jews simply out of His sovereign love.
- God’s heavenly angels also are elect (1 Tim. 5:21), chosen by Him to glorify His name and to be His messengers. #. Christ Himself was elect (1 Pet. 2:6, KJV),
- The apostles were elect (John 15:16).
- By the same sovereign plan and will the church is elect.
i. God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9).
ii. In Acts we are told, “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (13:48).
- Paul said, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). #. His heart’s desire was to reach the elect, the ones who were already chosen, in order that they might take hold of the faith already granted them in God’s sovereign decree.
- Paul gave thanks for the church because it was God’s elect. “We should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).
- It is not that God’s sovereign election, or predestination, eliminates man’s choice in faith. Divine sovereignty and human response are integral and inseparable parts of salvation—though exactly how they operate together only the infinite mind of God knows.
- Nor is it, as many believe and teach, that God simply looks into the future to see which people are going to believe and then elects them to salvation. Taken out of context, Romans 8:29 is often used to support that view.
i. But verse 28 makes it clear that those whom God foresees and predestines to salvation are those whom He has already “called according to His purpose.”
ii. Any teaching that diminishes the sovereign, electing love of God by giving more credit to men also diminishes God’s glory, thus striking a blow at the very purpose of salvation.
- The Object—The Elect
- The object of election is us, not everyone, but only those whom God chose, the saints and “faithful in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). #. Those whom God elects are those whom He has declared holy before the foundation of the world and who have identified with His Son Jesus Christ by faith.
- Being a Christian is having been chosen by God to be His child and to inherit all things through and with Jesus Christ.
- The Time—Eternity Past
- God elected us before the foundation of the world. Before the creation, the Fall, the covenants, or the law, we were sovereignly predestined by God to be His. He designed the church, the Body of His Son, before the world began.
- Because in God’s plan Christ was crucified for us “before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:20), we were designated for salvation by that same plan at that same time.
- It was then that our inheritance in God’s kingdom was determined (Matt. 25:34). We belonged to God before time began, and we will be His after time has long run its course.
- Our names as believers were “written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Rev. 13:8; cf. 17:8).
- The Purpose—Holiness
- God chose us in order that we might be holy and blameless. Amōmos (blameless) literally means without blemish, or spotless.
i. Because we are chosen in Him we are holy and blameless before Him.
ii. Because Jesus Christ gave Himself for us as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet. 1:19), we have been given His own unblemished and spotless nature.
iii. The unworthy have been declared worthy, the unrighteous declared holy.
iv. It is Christ’s eternal and foreordained plan to “present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27).
- Obviously Paul is talking about our position and not our practice. We know that in our living we are far from the holy standard and far from being blameless.
i. Yet “in Him:” Paul said in another place, we “have been made complete” (Col. 2:10).
ii. All that God is, we become in Jesus Christ. That is why salvation is secure. We have Christ’s perfect righteousness.
iii. Our practice can and does fall short, but our position can never fall short, because it is exactly the same holy and blameless position before God that Christ has.
iv. We are as secure as our Savior, because we are in Him, waiting for the full redemption and glorious holiness that awaits us in His presence.
- And because God declares us and leads us to be holy and blameless, we should strive to live lives now that reflect the holiness and blamelessness that are our destiny.
- The Motive—Love
- God elects those who are saved because of His love. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons. Just as He chose Israel to be His special people only because of His love (Deut. 7:8), so He also chose the church, the family of the redeemed. #. Biblical agapē love is not an emotion but a disposition of the heart to seek the welfare and meet the needs of others. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus said (John 15:13).
- And that is exactly what Jesus Himself did on behalf of those God has chosen to be saved. In the ultimate divine act of love, God determined before the foundation of the earth that He would give His only Son to save us. .
- “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5).
- He loved us, and will eternally continue to love us, according to the kind intention of His will.
- The Result—Sonship
- The result of God’s election is our adoption as sons.
- In Christ we become subjects of His kingdom, and because He is our Lord we are His servants He even calls us friends because, He says, “All things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
- But in His great love He makes us more than citizens and servant, and even more than friends. He makes us children. God lovingly draws redeemed sinners into the intimacy of His own family.
- When we become Christians we become children of God. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear” Paul says, “but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Rom. 8:15). Abba was an Aramaic word of endearment somewhat equivalent to Daddy or Papa.
- To be saved is to have the very life of God in our souls, His own Spirit enlivening our spirit.
i. Human parents can adopt children and come to love them every bit as much as they love their natural children.
ii. They can give an adopted child complete equality in the family life, resources, and inheritance.
iii. But no human parent can impart his own distinct nature to an adopted child. Yet that is what God miraculously does to every person whom He has elected and who has trusted in Christ.
iv. He makes them sons just like His divine Son. Christians not only have all of the Son’s riches and blessings but all of the Son’s nature.
- The Goal—Glory
- Why did God do all of that for us? Why did He want us to be His sons? We are saved and made sons to the praise of the glory of His grace. Above all rise, He elects and saves us for His own glory.
- When Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), He was affirming the delight of God in putting His glory on display. As Paul further explained, “God is at work in [us] … for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
- The apostle Paul interceded for the Thessalonians, praying “that our God may count you worthy of your calling … in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (2 Thess. 1:11–12).
- Even the beasts of the field will glorify the Lord, Isaiah tells us (43:20), and the heavens tell of the glory of God (Ps. 19:1).
- The only rebels in the universe are fallen angels and fallen man. Everything else glorifies its Creator. The fallen angels have already been eternally removed from God’s presence, and those fallen men who will not be saved by Jesus Christ will join those angels in that eternal separation.
- God chose and preordained the Body before the foundation of the world in order that no human being could boast or take glory for himself, but that all the glory might be His.
- Salvation is not partly of God and partly of man, but entirely of God. To guarantee that, every provision and every detail of salvation was accomplished before any human being was ever born or before a planet was formed on which he could be born.
- The ultimate reason for everything that exists is the glory of His grace. That is why as God’s children, Christians should do everything they do—even such mundane things as eating and drinking—to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
KJV King James Version