Chosen in Christ
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).
Perhaps we can best get at the deep and precious meaning of this glorious truth by answering six simple questions: Who? What? Whom? How? When? Why?
Who? “He” – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. What? “Hath chosen” – picked out for Himself a people to be His own peculiar possession. God is love, and love can not live alone. God has selected those who will be the habitation in which He dwells. Whom? “Us” – the saints of Eph.1:1,3. Let us see very clearly that Ephesians has only the Church and the Christian in view. The unsaved are mentioned in only a few passages. So here there is no reference to them. There is no intimation that God has chosen some out of the vast number of sinners in this world to be saved, or that He has chosen any sinners to be saved. It is not a choice of one sinner versus another sinner, but it definitely states it is the choice of “us” who are saints. God acts sovereignly in making the choice because of His inherent right to choose those who will live so intimately and eternally with Himself. The choice is both absolute and final, but it is not capricious or partial. God has not acted on the principle of favouritism, nor has He arbitrarily elected some and damned others. His election was made on an absolutely just and reasonable ground which gives to sinners a fair and equal chance. This leads directly to our next question:
How? “In him.” The sinner is always and only the object of God’s superabounding grace. In himself he merits nothing but God’s wrath. In making the choice God is not looking at man in himself, but only as he is in Christ. So Eph. 1:4 teaches that those who are chosen are those who are in Christ. The rest of the epistle shows that those who are in Christ were sinners who put faith in the redeeming blood of the crucified Son by virtue of which they have been united with Him as members of His Body in an eternal oneness, and have become saints. So every saint has been chosen. Is it not very plain, then, that those who are lost are lost because they refuse to accept Christ as their Saviour? They choose not to be among God’s elect. D. L. Moody stated the truth of election in his own inimitable way: “The whosoever-wills are the elect, and the whosoever-will not’s are the non-elect.”
When? “Before the foundation of the world,” – in the timeless eternity of the past, when there was neither a world nor men to in habit it. Why? “That we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The best commentary to be found on this phrase is in 1 Peter 1:15-16. Note the utter simplicity of the reasoning. “But as he is holy, so be ye holy. Be ye holy, for I am holy.” The Father must have children of like character, that there may be unity and harmony in the divine household. Because He is holy, those who are His habitation must be holy.
Oh! the pure, incomparable joy of being in the company of “chosen” ones! Are you there, my friend? How may you know? The answer is very simple: Are you “in Him”? If you are not, you may be this very moment if, by an act of faith, you open your heart to receive Christ as your personal Saviour.
Predestined in Christ
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5)
“Predestinated” – Are we fearful of the word? Does it sound cold, formidable, and theological? Not so, if we understand its meaning in relation to God’s purpose for His chosen ones. The word means “to mark out the boundaries beforehand.” It indicates God’s next step in His gracious plan for those whom He has chosen. “Unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” Christ Jesus is God’s Son in a unique way. He is the eternal Son, “the only begotten in the bosom of the Father.” Yet it was the Father’s purpose to have a family of sons [and daughters] and to set up a household of “brethren” from every nation and people over which He would be Father.
How were these to become His sons and what would be their position in the family? Through regeneration, which is not at all in view here, the believer in Christ is made a son. Through rebirth he has imparted to him a divine nature and implanted within him a supernatural life that fits him for membership in God’s family and for companionship with God.
Now the question arises, What is his position and what are his privileges and responsibilities as a son in the divine family? Dr. L. S. Chafer, in The Ephesians Letter, answers this question so clearly that I quote his words:
“The believer is constituted a legitimate child of God by spiritual birth with all its attending relationships, but he is also, at the moment of that birth, advanced to maturity of position, being constituted an adult son by virtue of that legal placing which in the Scriptures is termed adoption. There is therefore no childhood period in the sphere of the Christian’s responsibility. Whatever appeal as to a holy walk and service God addresses to one He addressed to all regardless of the length of time they may have been saved.”
“By Jesus Christ.” As with every other phase of our salvation, this work is wrought also solely through Jesus Christ. Every believer in Him has been marked out for the son-place, and in this son-position he has the present privilege of free and unlimited access to the Father (Eph. 2:18), with all its attendant blessings and responsibilities and the pledge for the future inheritance as a joint-heir with Christ. In choosing us in Christ God marked us out as Sons who would share all the possessions and privileges of the risen, ascended Son for all the ages to come.
Acccepted in Christ
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph.1:6). “Accepted” – what a gracious word! What a wealth of significance in it! Those that were by nature “children of disobedience and wrath” (Eph. 2:2-3); so “far-off” from God that they were called strangers” (Eph. 2:19); so deep down in the abyss of death and depravity that they were “without hope” (Eph. 2:12); yet here said to be “accepted.” How could such a change ever be wrought in the sinner? If so utterly disobedient, he would not want acceptance; if so utterly depraved, he could not make himself acceptable, even if he desired to. The Sinner of Eph. 2:1-3 is rendered both hopeless and helpless by sin.
Then by whom and on what ground was the change wrought by which he was taken into the very heart and home of God? “Made accepted.” God has left to the sinner not an inch of ground for boasting. Not an atom of anything either in his character or in his conduct can avail to bring him into God’s favour. If he is ever accepted by God, God Himself must act on his behalf.
Eph. 1:6 “In the beloved” – the Son of His love. How marvellously tender is the relationship between the Father and the Son! How dearly the Son is loved! So dearly that three times the Father opened heaven to tell men on earth, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Christ was the perfect satisfaction of the Father’s heart.
“In” – Can we ever grasp fully the meaning of this little word to us? In Him whom the Father loves supremely we are. In the Beloved whose righteousness and holiness satisfy every demand of the Father’s justice and holiness we stand. The Beloved Son is our divine rainbow, God’s pledge to us who are made accepted in Him that we will never again be cast out from His presence. In the Son of His love the Father receives us as He receives Him and loves us as He loves Him. It would be impossible to believe such an apparently incredible statement did not Christ Himself declare it. Then we must believe it and rejoice in it. John 17:23: “that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me..”
“Near, so very near to God Nearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son, I’m just as near as He.
Dear, so very dear to God, Dearer I could not be:
For in the person of His Son, I’m just as dear as He.”
“To the praise of the glory of his grace.” Surely every saint should have a singing heart, and the theme of his song should ever be the matchless grace of God. The saints on earth and the redeemed in heaven unite in one grand, glorious symphony of “praise to the glory of his grace” wherein He took sinners like us and “made us accepted in the beloved.”
Let us take one backward glance at our immeasurable wealth in the Father’s grace before we look forward to that in the redemptive work of His Son:
- Through His grace – chosen – loved
- Through the riches of His grace – predestinated – loved as adult sons
- Through the exceeding riches of His grace – accepted – loved as the Son is loved.
Could our Father do more than this for us? Could He do less for His Son? Then should not our fearful, trembling hearts rest full-length upon the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus? And should not the dominating passion of our lives be to live to the praise of the glory of His grace?
An excerpt from The Wealth, Walk, and Warfare of the Christian [an exposition of the book of Ephesians], 1939. pp 21-24.
For a further consideration of election and predestination see the Grace Note: “The Sovereignty of God and Responsibility of Man: A Quest for Balance“.
Pandora music app. Channels are available such as Instrumental Praise, Praise and Worship, etc.