WE ARE CHOSEN
NOTE: This is the text of a message delivered previously and recorded on video. You can see the video here. (27 minutes)
When I was in middle school, I was never the first one chosen to be on a team. Didn’t matter whether we were playing kickball, dodgeball, freeze tag or red rover, I was never chosen first. I wasn’t chosen in the middle either. When it got down to two of us, I would usually be chosen. So I was never the last one chosen to be on a team.
However, I knew that I wasn’t the captain’s favorite choice. Did you ever go through that? Wondering if you would ever be chosen to play? Since everybody had to play, it was guaranteed that I would be on a team, but it wasn’t like I was a favorite player.
We are chosen in Christ. Were we the first ones picked? Certainly not in our experience. It appears that we were picked in the order we showed up to play. I am going to show you this morning that is not true. You were picked first.
In the last article, we began looking at some of the blessings we have in Christ as presented in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I listed for you 8 blessings from that first section, and we looked intently at the first one —we have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (v.3)
We discovered that the heavenly places referred to here begins with our mind. Over the past few weeks, we have looked at our mindset, what it means to have a spiritual mind, and having the mind of Christ. I know from last week’s message, some of you are beginning to see a deeper reality of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. It is also a liberating reality, just as Jesus said in John 8:32 — and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (ESV)
So, let’s read Eph. 1:3-14 again —
[Eph 1:3-14 ESV] 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
In that long passage we are given 8 reasons to praise God—8 things that He has done for us or given us for which we should be grateful—
- We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (v. 3)
- He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (v. 4)
- He predestined us for adoption as sons (v. 5)
- Redemption through His blood (v.7)
- The forgiveness of our trespasses (v.7)
- Made known to us the mystery of His will (v. 9)
- We have obtained an inheritance (v. 11)
- Sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13)
Lets’ take a look at the second reason given that we should offer praise to God, or the second blessing, if you will. — chose us in him before the foundation of the world (v. 4)
Now we get into some seriously Presbyterian doctrine. Don’t be alarmed by that. You will see that what I present will be biblical doctrine, and if it fits Reformed thinking, that’s okay; but it must subscribe to the biblical teaching first and foremost.
There are a lot of concepts surrounding this idea, this term, and each of the ideas has its main school of thought. There are Calvinists, of which Presbyterians and many Baptists are a part; there are Arminians, of which your Assemblies of God, Nazarenes and Methodists follow. And there are Universalists, of which there are no denominational affiliations of which I am aware, except for the Unitarian Universalists who seldom name the name of Christ.
The word that is translated here is used 21x in the NT of the Bible, and it simply means to pick out or to choose for oneself. It is a simple word. You choose one orange over another. You choose one shirt over another. The word is used in reference to Jesus choosing His disciples. It is also used for God choosing Israel. And it is used, as in this verse, for God choosing you.
That is what we want to look at in this article—God chose you; He chose me; those who belong to Him are the ones whom He has chosen.
The first thing to notice is that we were chosen to be in Christ before the world was created. Look at what it says—“from before the foundation of the world.” God made His choice of you long before you ever made an appearance on this planet, before your daddy was born, before Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem, before Adam and Eve were created, before the world was formed.
The word used may indeed be a simple word, but when it is applied to God’s choice of you and me, it becomes fraught with difficulty. Why did God make these decisions? What is it about you or me that He was pleased to choose us for salvation?
Almost everyone agrees that the Bible definitely presents the idea of predestination, election, being chosen. However, they do not agree as to why God would make His choices.
For instance, those of an Arminian persuasion believe that God knew in advance who would accept His offer of salvation and He chose them based on that foreknowledge. They get this from 1 Pet. 1— 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (ESV)
Peter is using this as a part of his greeting to those whom he wrote. For him it is a statement of fact. He is not trying to build a doctrine. It is just a greeting that includes his theology. Before we go any further, let’s look at some other verses about God’s foreknowledge — [Rom 8:29 ESV] 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
The fact of God’s foreknowledge also extended to Israel as we read in Rom. 11:2 —2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
The word “foreknowledge” as found in 1 Pet. 1:2 is only used twice in the Bible. The other time refers to Jesus being delivered up to be crucified by the foreknowledge of God. The cognate “foreknew” is only used 5x. Both forms refer to the fact of knowing beforehand.
Let’s consider the Arminian position that states “God knew ahead of time who would choose Him, therefore they are His elect, or chosen ones.” Look at those verses where the word is used and try to find the idea that God’s foreknowledge is about what we would do.
IT IS NOT THERE. Nowhere in the Bible is the thought ever presented that God made His choices based on what He knew to be man’s choice. It is simply not there.
You have heard of agape—the unconditional love of God. Unconditional means there are no conditions for this love to be manifest. Good, bad or indifferent, nothing can have an effect on unconditional love.
We think of God’s unconditional love when we read John 3:16 —”For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son…”
The same thing applies to election, to God’s choice—THERE ARE NO CONDITIONS.
David Guzik says in his commentary on 1Pet. 1:2, “Election is not election at all if it is only a cause-and-effect arrangement basing God’s choice only on man’s.” Yet, he is an Arminian in his theology and turns right around and denies the truth of what he said. He claims—without support—that God’s choice is based on His foreknowledge of who will accept salvation.
I looked in numerous places of those who believe this way and not a one gave any support for the claim. It has simply been accepted as truth without any biblical support. Only man’s reasoning has been used as the basis for the claim that God chooses based on His knowledge of what man will do.
Sadly, I have run out of time with this. There is so much more we could discover. Let’s look quickly at a plain statement from Jesus — [Jhn 15:16 ESV] 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you … He did the choosing. He did it before they or we decided to follow Him.
However, I still have not answered the question WHY? Why did God choose me? Why did He choose you? Why did He choose the Hebrews out of all the peoples of the earth?
It wasn’t because of who you are, but because of who He is. It wasn’t because of what you’ve done or will do. You were chosen simply because He wanted you on His team.
The answer is plainly given a little later on in our passage from Ephesians—[Eph 1:11 ESV] 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
He took counsel with Himself and decided that you, me and the Hebrews and other Gentiles whom He has called—that we all fit into His plan and purpose. You are part of the predetermined plan and purpose of God. It is a plan that He established before the beginning of creation. It is a plan that He designed to fulfill His great love that He is and has.
Thinking about these things should bring about an extreme sense of humble gratitude. God chose me. I do not understand it, but I am grateful.