This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Meditation on Ephesians 1:4-6
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: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In Eph. 1:3, we saw that God “has blessed us…with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” How does such blessing become ours? Is it because we are so good and lovely? How can we possess the blessings God has for us? The answer is found in verses 4-6. Verse 4 begins with the word “according”. The Greek word can also be translated "just as" or "because". It links verse 4 to verse 3 as an explanation for verse 3. Spiritual blessing is ours because God chose us in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. Why would God do that? These verses emphasize the sovereignty of God in regard to salvation all the way through. The blessings of salvation come because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to some people, and for that reason only!
There are various views that people hold about election. There are those who deny the truth of election outright. Others acknowledge that election is taught in Scripture, but it is an election based on foreknowledge. God elects some because He knows beforehand of their willingness to believe. It would be like a captain of a softball team choosing members for his team based upon his knowledge of their ability to play. John Calvin put it like this:
How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us. (Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians).
We believe in God’s sovereign election. We are hopelessly lost in sin. Instead, God in His mercy “chose us (vs. 4), “in love having predestinated us to the adoption of children” (vs. 5), “according to the good pleasure of his will” (vs. 5). God accomplished our salvation by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. God made us capable and willing to respond to Him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and heart to the truth and glory of the gospel. All the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ!
What are some of the blessings of election for you and for me as believers? First, election eliminates boasting! This is contrary to the human nature. We like to think that we did something. All the glory of all our salvation is in our Triune God! This is the purpose of election as we read in vs. 6, “to the praise of the glory of his grace…” Second, election gives assurance of salvation! If my salvation were based upon my feelings or my works, I would be one of the most miserable people around. My feelings are so fickle and my obedience so small. Our salvation would be as unstable as you and I are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. Because our faith is grounded in God’s election, we can be assured of our salvation.
Third, election leads to holiness! We read in verse four, “he hath chosen us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do.” It is like that phrase of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” In verse 4, the purpose of election is holiness! John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness” (Stott, God’s New Society, p. 38). The glory of God is revealed in us as we live positively in holiness, and negatively, without any fault. We stand before the face of God and reveal His virtues. This is the purpose of our election.
Finally, election promotes evangelism! There are those who think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. The argument goes, “If God is going to save certain individuals anyway, then He will save them, and therefore evangelism really is not that important.” What folly that is! The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which He calls those elect persons to faith. God uses the proclamation of the gospel to sinners (Lord’s Day 31). God is pleased to use the testimony of believers and their godly obedience that “others may be gained to Christ” (Lord’s Day 32, Q.A. 86). We do not know who the elect are, but we sow the seed of God’s Word, leaving the harvest to Him.
What a blessed truth for you and me to ponder and celebrate again! God loved me eternally!
Oh love of God, how strong and true, Eternal, and yet ever new, Uncomprehended and unbought, Beyond all knowledge and all thought. (Virgil Taylor, 1847)