Summary: One of the spiritual blessings referred to in verse 3 is this: chosen in Him, before the foundation of the world! (#2 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
Last week we began our study in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and we saw that God has blessed us with ‘every spiritual blessing’ in the Heavenly places, in Christ.
I mentioned at that time, that in the following verses Paul goes on to name some of those spiritual blessings, and even listed a few for you.
Today, I want to begin to go down that list, taking these things one at a time, and glean some nuggets from them with the indispensable assistance of the Holy Spirit, without Whom we would understand none of these things.
Let’s read these verses one more time, beginning at verse 3.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 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.”
Now, we have come here to a word that has caused very much debate and confusion and even dissention in the church over the past couple of centuries, but if we are to study this book we cannot skip over it or handle it sloppily. We have a duty to sharpen our focus, ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our understanding, and deal with the subject honestly.
Here is the troublesome phrase: “...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world...”
Here is how we’ll break these verses down for the sake of clarity:
1. HE CHOSE US
2. WHY HE CHOSE US
3. WHAT HE PLANNED FOR HIS CHOSEN
4. WHAT MADE HIM DO THIS
1. HE CHOSE US
There are really two words in today’s text that refer to this same point of doctrine. One of them is “chose”, here in verse 4, and the other is that dreaded “p” word, in verse 5.
Before we go on, I’d like to have you turn and look at a couple of other passages that relate to this same issue:
“But 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. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Our main focus will continue to be on Ephesians 1:4,5, but the things that are said in these verses can help us get a better grip, so we will refer back to them as we go along.
Let me say before we venture further however, that this debate of predestination and whether we are saved because we chose to be or whether we had any choice in the matter at all, etcetera, etcetera, ... is a relatively recent debate.
Christians and Christian preachers of earlier Christianity had, it seems, a lot less problem with just letting God be God, and accepting that they didn’t have all the answers.
I personally do not want to have all the answers. I do not think that I would feel very comfortable with worshiping a God Whom I could explain in every aspect. That god would be too small, if I could completely understand everything about Him.
In the scriptures I see God saying of Himself,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways, ‘ declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts‘.”
In the eleventh chapter of Romans, verses 33 - 36 Paul breaks into one of his very frequent anthems of praise, and says:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
So I want to offer a friendly warning to you here; if you ever encounter a preacher or Bible teacher who presumes to fully understand this question of predestination and God’s choices verses our choices, ... if he does not readily admit to you that it is somewhat of a mystery to him too, then you just smile politely and say ‘no thank you’, and then you turn and run from that man just as fast as you can.