Chosen in Him ~ Ephesians 1:4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:3-4
Introduction – Remember that we are at the beginning of a passage in which Paul is bringing praise to God for the great spiritual blessings He has given to us.
I. God chose you
i. Definition - Choose is from eklegomai (ἐκλεγομαι) which is made up of legō (λεγω) “to choose” and ek (ἐκ) “out from.” Thus, the compound word means “to pick, single out, to choose out.” The genius of the word has in it the idea of not merely choosing, but that of choosing out from a number. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
1. The adjective eklektos (ἐκλεκτος) comes from the same word and is translated by the words “chosen” and “elect.” Choose is the verb form of the word and the word “elect” describes “the chosen-out ones.”
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 1 Corinthians 1:26-27
2. One of the most fractious issues in the evangelical church both historically and at the present time is this issue of election. Briefly, the argument goes like this, one side of the discussion emphasizes what God does, that is, His choosing of some for salvation and the other side of the discussion emphasizes what man does, that is, making the decision to receive salvation. The discussion is not based on whether or not God chose us, because here and elsewhere it is a clearly stated fact. The problem arises primarily from the discussion of whether we truly have a choice in the matter or not. So the question becomes this, Did God choose me or did I choose God? In a general sense I would answer that two part question with one word…yes. The further intricacies of the discussion are many and beyond what we are here to do today.
a. I want you to know that I fully believe that every aspect of salvation has been initiated by God including my own response to the gospel.
b. If you want to dig in to this doctrine a little more I would be glad to do it with you.
Now that we have a definition of the word that Paul uses here, let’s look at what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words.
ii. Background- It is valuable to look at some of what Paul had in mind when he was thinking and writing about as he was praising God. We can’t know fully what he had in mind but we do have good background information to rely on. For instance, we know Paul had excellent knowledge of the Old Testament. When he wrote about being chosen by God he certainly thought about the children of Israel. And that began with Abraham.
1. God’s choice of Israel
a. In Genesis 12 we read, “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
b. God’s gracious choice of Abraham led to the formation of the nation of Israel. If we were to continue to read through next few chapters we would find the promise of a land and the son through whom the covenant would be carried.
i. God’s did not choose these people because they deserved it but out of love for them.
ii. “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,” Deuteronomy 7:7
iii. “Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.
There is no doubt in my mind that when Paul spoke of God’s choosing he thought of…
2. God’s choice of Paul
a. We know what type of man Paul was before he was saved. He was a persecutor of Christ and the church; about as far away from knowing Christ as you can get. And yet Paul writes here that he was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world as is true of all believers.
b. Paul says “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9) In the very next verse he says, I am what I am by the grace of God. He knew the importance of being chosen by God.
He continues in vs. 4 by qualifying God’s choosing. Paul writes that He (God) chose us in Him, which is…
b. In Christ
i. We are joined with Christ
1. The reason we can say that we as Christians possess every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places because we are in Christ. When we trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, we are placed in a marvelous union with Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 6:17 says, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him”
2. The unity we have because we have with Christ is the basis for our unity as Christians. John MacArthur writes, Our unity as Christians is more than simply that of common agreement; it is the unity of a commonness of life, the common eternal life of God that pulses through the soul of every believer.
ii. We are heirs with Christ
1. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ”
a. It means that Christ’s riches are our riches, His righteousness is our righteousness, and His power is our power. His possession is our possession: what He has, we have.
The truth is that without being chosen in Christ as Paul says here we would not have the spiritual blessings mentioned in this passage. All that has been done for us is done ‘in Christ’. Paul also speaks of the time when God’s choice was made.
c. Before the foundation of the world
i. Before God’s creation had seen its first sunrise, before the rivers cut their courses God chose you. His choice was based solely on the kind intention of his will. His choice of any came from the depths of his gracious nature.
With Paul I wonder at God’s plan and think as David did when he said,
What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:4
Not only does Paul praise God for being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world but he goes on to tell us that…
II. God chose you for a reason – there is no doubt that there is great benefit to being chosen by God but along with that benefit comes responsibility.
Paul says in vs. 4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
It is clear what God’s intention is, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. The fact that he chooses any of us speaks of his glorious grace because we must think of…
a. What we were - without Christ we were unholy and blameworthy, just the opposite of God’s intention for the called out ones.
i. Consider what Paul says, quoting the Old Testament scriptures, “as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12
1. Our unrighteousness included all manner of evil thought and deed consistent with living in the kingdom of darkness. It involved dishonesty, coveting, idolatry, drunkenness and more. This is what we were when God chose us and that with no hope of a solution.
ii. What we are in Christ – God chose us in Christ that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
1. The word ‘blameless’ means literally without blemish or spotless. When we put our faith in Christ we became positionally holy before God and positionally blameless before God. This happens because we have been chosen in Christ.
2. “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
3. We are part of God’s eternal plan “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27
III. The benefits of being chosen
a. You know that God has shed his grace on you
i. For by grace you have been saved…
b. You are secure for eternity
i. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35
ii. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
iii. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We have been made complete in Him. That is not to say that we always live as we should. We do fall short of God’s holiness but our position can never fall short. Because we are in Christ we await our full redemption and perfect holiness in His presence.
And because God declares us and leads us to be holy and blameless, we should strive to live lives now that reflect the holiness and blamelessness that are our destiny.
c. You desire to reflect holiness
i. Colossians 3:12-17 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.