Summary: Why has God included us in Christ to be chosen and predestined? What is God's purpose?
LIVING IN CHRIST – Included In Christ
Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession — to the praise of his glory.
Opening Illustration: Growing up we all wanted to be included. Do you remember what it was like when teams were picked at recess? Where you one of those who everyone wanted to have on your team? Or were you one of the last ones to be picked, or worse did team captains argue trying to give you to the other team?
I. In Christ we are CHOSEN.
Ephesians 1:4 NIV
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
1. How can God be sovereign and man be free to choose at the same time?
a) The doctrine of election has to do with God’s choice. Many understand what Paul says here in verse 4 as well as verse 5 to teach that God has chosen some to salvation and others to damnation. For them you are either chosen as a member of the elect unto eternal salvation or you aren’t and there is nothing you can do about it because God’s rule is absolute. That is because God is sovereign, we are powerless to effect a change in God’s election of the saved and the unsaved.
ILLUSTRATION: It is as though God looked down from heaven and said, “I pick you and you, but not you or you.” In the case of the Ephesians God would have saw these helpless people bowing down before the goddess Diana worshipping her image said to have fallen from heaven and suddenly God’s heart was moved with compassion to send the gospel to their city so they would be saved.
b) God does not choose to include some to the exclusion of others. Instead God chose “before the creation of the world” a people. Whenever Paul deals with election and predestination he does so collectively and not individually—God’s choice is plural and not individual because the emphasis is upon those IN CHRIST.
2. Remember Paul’s emphasis is that believers are IN CHRIST.
a) The verb “chose” is in the middle voice meaning God chose a people “in Himself.” The emphasis of what Paul says in verses 3-14 is being IN CHRIST or in the sphere of Christ. Again in the Greek this is one long run-on sentence of 202 words that we have translated into English using 266 words, 7 sentences and 2 paragraphs. We have taken the whole of Paul’s thought and breaking it into its parts and focused on the pieces instead of the whole.
b) The main idea behind the doctrine of election and predestination is that God took the initiative to provide for salvation in Christ. The emphasis is upon the method of salvation in Christ and not upon the individuals being chosen unto salvation or damnation.
ILLUSTRATION: As Americans we’ll understand this. God gives everyone a car of their very own; we hold the title free and clear. We all receive the same make and model; it’s a car that will never rust and will last a lifetime. God has given us the car “Freedom.” We’ve all have freedom to chose to go wherever we want whenever we want to go.