Summary: Third in a series taken from Ephesians 1, this series delves into the riches that we know through our relationship with Christ.
After last week, and my referencing America’s song “Tin Man”, and after hearing several folks tell me that they couldn’t get it out of their heads during the sermon, I hesitate to do the same again, but here goes. It was a Tuesday night staple in the Harvey household when I was a child growing up; a screen-filling wave being caught by a young surfer and the unmistakable up-tempo theme song signalled the beginning of my favorite show: Hawaii Five-O. We marvelled weekly at the exploits of Steve McGarrett and his faithful sidekicks as they sought to rid the Big Island of crime. My favorite was Che; remember Che? He was the guy in the lab, and every week, McGarrett would send Dano to the lab with some sort of evidence collected from the crime scene, and Che would get to work analyzing it, and when the Five-O team would show up at the lab for a report, Che would be ready. Che could take a single hair and tell the perpetrator’s life story. If it weren’t for Che, there would be no CSI Miami, folks…
Well, as you know if you were a regular, like clockwork every week, in the span of 60 minutes, our boys would bring down the perpetrator, and we all waited for those magic words; you could set your watch by them. McGarrett would turn to his faithful sidekick, and with either a relieved or mildly disgusted air, utter the same five words: “book him, Dano; Murder One”. It was satisfying, because it neatly wrapped up all of the conflicts in the space of an hour—perhaps the antithesis of our modern day “24”, which wraps up nothing for good until the season is over! I liked Five-O, in part because I don’t like to be left hanging; I feel cheated if there’s a carry-over (plus I feel like I have to commit to watching that show the next week, and I don’t like being strung along...but that’s just me). It’s a natural, God-given impulse, I believe, to want resolution.
Contradictions, apparent contradictions, ambiguity are frustrating.
And that is why today’s passage is a bit troubling to many, myself included, because it tells us that we have been chosen before the foundation of the world by God to be His children. Now…that alone isn’t troubling at all, but rather it is the attempt to reconcile this passage with some others that makes for some of the frustration and, in some cases, fireworks! That said, we must allow the Scripture to speak and further, we must be glad, because we can be most certain that whatever Paul means for us to understand by these words, they constitute one of the rich blessings that God has poured out upon His children! God in His sovereignty determined in eternity past that He would choose, through His amazing grace, to declare sinful human beings as holy and blameless in His sight; He made a choice before time to bless you! That is our first point:
I. We are saved because of God’s initiative.
We are so prone to think of salvation from our perspective.
• Some, of course, understand salvation as being works-oriented, as something we earn; this perspective, of course, cannot be supported Biblically.
• We think of salvation in individual terms as well. Interestingly enough, though, the focus of election here involves our corporate election, on the fact that we all, collectively, are in Christ, and thus elect. He loved “us” and chose “us”; God took the initiative to bring “us” together in Jesus.
• Even for those of us who understand that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we can still take the wrong angle at the equation. It might be true enough to make the statement, “I was saved when I trusted Christ as Savior”, but that is only one portion of a much larger picture.
Were we able to pack up and take a field trip to the Louvre, we’d all admire the artwork, but to focus on our end of salvation, as though we deserve any credit for it, would be like lavishing praise on the custodian who dusts the frame on the Mona Lisa! I am saved first because God made the willful choice to pursue me (particularly since the Bible says that there is no one who naturally seeks after God (Romans 3:11)—which is why the term “seeker” is not one I use with a lot of relish). In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No man can come to Me unless the Father Who sent me draws him.” God is not waiting around like a wallflower at the school dance, hoping that someone—anyone—will stroll over and choose Him. Had God not chosen to save us, to draw us to Himself, we would not be saved.