Summary: This sermon looks at the doctrine of election and brings the gospel comfort always attached to it for believers.
Introduction: Try-outs can be nerve-racking times. The attempt to be the best or among the best. Whether it is try-outs for basketball, try-outs for the spring play, Or a "try-out" for a new job with an interview. What emotions does one usually exhibit when he or she makes the cut and gets the cherished position? Is it not elation and joy? Maybe the person jumps up and down shouting with joy, or perhaps a smile simply breaks across his or her face. Do you remember how Jesse Ventura reveled when he found out that he had been chosen by the people of Minnesota to be their next governor? It feels good to be chosen for something special, doesn’t it?
As exciting and thrilling as being chosen for a team or a position can be, the Apostle Paul talks about a much more exhilarating election which we have received. He contemplates how we have been chosen for the most unlikely of positions. We have been Chosen to praise God. God reveals this to us and assures us of it, since he predestined us to be his children through Jesus Christ and since he enlightened us to know our inheritance.
I. since he predestined us to be his children through Jesus Christ
Paul starts his letter his friends and fellow believers in Ephesus, by praising God for the many spiritual blessings which God had given them. One of those blessings is how God chose them to be holy and blameless in Christ. This is important when you consider that they were not able to be holy and blameless by their power or willing. For they, like you and I and all people born into this world, were born with a corrupt and sinful nature. In fact, Scripture says that all people are born unholy and desire only that which is unholy. Like the Ephesians, we were not blameless, but stood accused and condemned for our sins.
But praise be to God, for like the Ephesians, you and I were blessed by God with every spiritual blessings in Christ! What blessings are those? We have been saved from our sin by Christ. We have been given faith and the hope of eternal life in Christ! Yes, praise be to God for these blessings!
But Paul didn’t stop with those blessings. In fact, he expounds on how our Lord ensured that we would receive those blessings. He says we were “predestined” for adoption. How exactly are we to take the word "predestined"? Some claim that God chose some for salvation and others for damnation. But is that taught in Scripture? No. Not at all. In fact, when you look at the rest of Scripture, that would be a contradiction. God is serious when he says he “wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. Realize that Paul wrote we were “predestined in Christ”. As the God who knows all things, God knew that Christ would accomplish salvation for all people. He knew this even before he created the world. God “chose” us as believers and reveals this to us only to affirm our salvation and make us certain that we have been adopted as his children through Christ.
Why did God predestine us to be his children? Is it because he saw that we would believe and be his children? No. He predestined us for adoption in Christ purely because of his grace not because of anything in us. We became children of God because we were adopted through Jesus Christ. Unlike an earthly adoption, we were chosen by God long before we were conceived. We were predestined to receive forgiveness and mercy as his adopted children because our Lord abounds in mercy and forgiveness.
Application: God wants us to understand predestination in the way that he explains it here. Not that he chose some to be blessed and chose some for damnation. Scripture nowhere teaches this. Inferior human logic might dictate this, but God in his wisdom never does. In fact, he teaches quite the opposite. Those who are damned have earned their condemnation by hardening their hearts against God. Instead the Lord reveals that he predestined believers in Christ, he chose us in Jesus, and that this is to be a great comfort. For if salvation were left to us, certainly we would have lost it long ago.
The Lord does not teach us about predestination so that we have a license to sin. God says he chose us that we might live holy and blameless. However, when you do sin, you should not question whether or not you have been chosen by God, whether you are part of the elect. God says that you and I were hand picked by him before he created the world. He picked us to be saved by Jesus his Son and to be given the rights of God’s own children. We were not chosen by our merits, but by Christ’s merits. It is essential to remember this whenever one talks about election or predestination. God predestined us in Christ. Even when we sin, this does not change the fact that God has chosen us to live for him. Rather, his grace and free forgiveness encourage us to live holy lives to his praise.