3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:3–5 (ESV)
The phrase in love really belongs in Ephesians 1:5. This love (ἀγάπη; agape) is a self-sacrificial love of the will. It was expressed when Jesus Christ died on the cross in the sinner’s place (Romans 5:6-9; Galatians 1:1-5; I John 4:7-12).
It was with this self-sacrificial love of the will that God the Father predestined who are converted to Christ. The word predestined (προορίζω; proorizo) means to decide beforehand, to determine ahead of time, and to foreordain. It is a word also found in Acts 4:28, Romans 8:29-30, I Corinthians 2:1-7 and later on in Ephesians 1:11. Within the context, the word refers to God the Father’s sovereign choice to save for Himself certain sinners by His grace alone, through God given faith alone, through the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
When God chose to predestine certain sinners unto salvation, it was a plan of sovereign, saving grace. Predestination entitles all who now believe in Christ to trace their faith and conversion back to an eternal decision God the Father made before the world was even created (Ephesians 1:4).
The biblical doctrine of predestination causes much controversy and concern. While it is a difficult doctrine, it is one which demands our attention and not our ignorance. It must be handled with great care and grace, and as a biblical doctrine it must be studied and considered.
Dr. R .C. Sproul writes, “Left to himself, no fallen person would ever choose God. Fallen people still have a free will and are able to choose what they desire. But the problem is that we (fallen sinners) have no desire for God and will not choose Christ unless first regenerated. Faith is a gift that comes out of rebirth (John 3:1-8; Ephesians 2:1-10). Only those who are elect will ever respond to the gospel in faith.”
Those who are elect, or predestined, do choose Christ, but only because they were first chosen by God. We do not choose to be chosen by God. Rather, God chose us and enables us to repent of sin and to choose Him by God given faith. This is known as conversion.
Dr. Sproul concludes, “A vexing problem with predestination is that God does not choose or elect to save everybody. He reserves the right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. Some of fallen humanity receive the grace and mercy of election. The rest God passes over, leaving them in their sin. The non-elect receive justice. The elect receive mercy. No one receives injustice. God is not obligated to be merciful to anyone or to all alike. It is His decision how merciful He chooses to be. Yet, He is never guilty of being unrighteous toward anyone (see Romans 9:10-16).”
Take time today to thank God for choosing you unto salvation. To God be the glory for His marvelous and amazing grace.
Soli deo Gloria!