Summary: Why He chose us, in Christ, before the foundation of the world. (#3 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
Over the past couple of weeks we’ve looked closely at the content of these opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and I can say here that we haven’t done more than scratch the surface of the volumes that could be said and written about them.
But as much as we have discussed them, we cannot stop and take this one phrase, and talk about it entirely separated from the words around it.
Let’s reach back to verse 2 for just a moment; one that we have not covered in our study, but pertinent to the things we’re going to talk about today, nonetheless.
This is Paul’s salutation. His greeting. But his choice of wording is very significant to the rest of this chapter, yes, the rest of this letter, because he greets his readers
“...from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
This is significant, infinitely significant, because he says, “OUR” Father.
All through His earthly ministry, Jesus referred to God the Father as My Father, yet after His resurrection He says this to Mary in front of the empty tomb:
“...go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”
This, He only could have said after the cross, because it was His work on Calvary’s cross that brought all who will believe into relationship with God. It was through Christ’s atoning blood that the Father adopted us into His eternal family; as we saw in verse 5 of our text:
“In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself...”
As we move through this epistle we’ll see in chapter 2 that Paul reminds us, as Gentiles (non-Jews), that we were once strangers to the covenant of promise, separated from Christ and without God in the world.
But now He calls us brethren, and says, ‘Grace and peace to you from OUR Father, who has blessed us, chosen us, predestined us and adopted us, and so much more’.
You may remember that last week I asked you to lay aside all of your impressions of what fatherhood is, based on your own history, if you have one, with an earthly father; and think only of God as a Father. Difficult as that may be to do, if you then look only at the scriptures for a portrait of a father, and see who God really is; how He talks about Himself, all that He has done for His creation, all that He has in store for us (as far as it is revealed to us), then you must raise your voice in praise and your heart in spiritual worship, as you begin to understand that in His role as Heavenly Father, He has loved you and will love you forever.
With that fresh in mind, I want to talk to you about why He chose us, in Christ, even before the foundation of the world.
God’s desire for us has always been that we be holy and blameless. He created Adam that way, of course, and it is interesting to note that God’s very first action following Adam’s fall from that position of holiness and blamelessness, was to provide a way to be reestablished in it, ~ and that ‘way’, was Christ.
In God’s curse of the serpent in Genesis 3:15, is the promise of One who would come and crush the serpent’s power and become the Redeemer of mankind through sufferings.
But I want to be careful to point out to you here, that God’s plan of salvation was not just a way to escape Hell; not just a way to gain access to Heaven.
That is often how we think of it, and indeed, it is usually the primary reason a person comes to Christ in the first place.
But we must not continue to think of salvation in that way. Escaping Hell and gaining Heaven are not the only, or even the primary reason for salvation.
Salvation means, primarily, being in right relationship with God. Nothing less than that!
As the new believer begins to learn and grow and establish a personal relationship with their new Lord, it is important for them to come to the realization that God wants fellowship; and His desire for us is to be holy and blameless, (are you listening?) before Him!
In Genesis 17 the Lord appeared to Abram at the age of 99, and gave him the grandest invitation of all: “I am God Almighty, walk before Me, and be blameless”.
And that invitation is extended to all mankind, through Christ.
Ok, long introduction: let’s get to it and talk about:
What is “holy”?
Well, being technical for just a moment, the Greek word for this is ‘hagios’. Vine’s dictionary of New Testament words says that “...fundamentally (hagios) signifies separated, (among the Greeks, dedicated to the gods), and hence, in Scripture in its moral and spiritual significance, separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred.”