Summary: Paul’s words show us why the doctrine of election is so comforting to people - because it is all by Gopd’s grace!
EPHESIANS 1: 3-14 PENTECOST 8
REV. CHARLES DEGNER JULY 14, 1991
Today, our text teaches us the doctrine of election, namely, that God chose us to be his own even before the world was created. Election is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Bible. God revealed this teaching to us to make us even more sure of salvation, so that we could trust in his grace to save us from beginning to end. Yet, I’ve found that when I teach the doctrine of election, people sometimes are LESS sure of their salvation. With a worried look on their faces, they will often ask, "But how can I be sure that God chose ME?"
Why are people confused by the doctrine of election? Because we tend to look at how we go about "choosing" and think that God chose us in the same way. This week, Linda and I celebrated our anniversary. Why did I marry her? I can tell you it had nothing to do with grace. I married her because I selected her out of all the girls I dated to be by my side for a lifetime. I selected her because I liked the way she looked, the way she talked, the way she felt about life. I liked what was in her heart towards God. So I said to myself, "Charlie, this is a real catch. Don’t let this one get away." In other words, in my mind I selected her because she had all the qualifications of being a good wife for me. Isn’t that the way people "choose?" Kirby Pucket was chosen to be an all-star because he’s a good ball player. You pick a puppy out of a litter of puppies because this one little mutt was just so cute. In other words, we choose those whom we feel deserve to be chosen.
Friends, if you try to understand God’s election by the standards of human selection, you will to run into all kinds of problems and miss out on the real comfort and hope this doctrine gives us. God didn’t choose us because we were the pick of the litter. He didn’t choose us because he knew we could do a better job than others on his heavenly evangelism team. He didn’t choose us because we were a real "catch" for his kingdom. God chose us to be his own because ... well, just because! There was no reason. And that’s what grace is all about. God chose to love us even though we never deserved to be chosen! Our text shows us what this comforting doctrine of the Bible is all about. We are...
ELECTED, NOT SELECTED
I. GOD CHOSE US BY HIS GRACE
When did God choose us? "PRAISE BE TO THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO HAS BLESSED US IN THE HEAVENLY REALM WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST. FOR HE CHOSE US IN HIM BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD TO BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS IN HIS SIGHT." Before the creation of the world, God chose us. That’s important. God chose us before there could be any reason for his choosing. There could be no merit involved in his election. It was not a selection process, where God chose the best and the brightest to be his people. It was an election. God simply chose us, as Paul says, "IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS PLEASURE AND WILL, TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE" and again later, "IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE."
Do you understand the comfort that gives us? All our lives, we are subject to the painful process of human selection. We are constantly being measured and chosen to be worthy or unworthy according to fickle, human standards. The coach chooses only the top players to make the team. Little Sally Somebody chooses who gets to be her friend for the week. Some are chosen to make the honor role. Others are not, even though they may be just 1/10 of a grade point less than the person who did. Young girls wait to be selected by some awkward young man and asked out on a date - only to find out he decided Sally Somebody was prettier. The human selection process can be cruel and painful.
Can you imagine if God had used this "selection-by-merit" process that people use? What if he lined us all up against the wall and compared us against each other, trying to decided which one of us should get the nod to be children of his kingdom? Which of us would ever imagine that we could be fit for the kingdom of God? Who could be confident that God had indeed chosen him or her, when we can always find someone who has lived the Christian life just a little better than we have?