Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT
God chose us long before we ever thought about choosing Him. He has made it possible for us to be holy, fully accepted and in the closest of relationships by accepting what Jesus has done for us — there’s nothing to earn.
Everybody has a need to belong. And to belong to the family of God, with heavenly privileges and standing — it is not just belonging, it is being esteemed by God and the company of heaven!
Two threads run through the Bible which at first sight seem to be contradictory.
One is the idea of election, or being chosen. That is mentioned here. Even before creating the world, God chose people like us (He operates outside our rules of time and place) to be holy, like Him, and with Him.
The second is free will — God did not create man as an automaton, He did not create us to be boringly, unthinkingly subservient, either. So the choice of predestination also brings with it the element of our choice and our response to Him. We are free to be as independent as we like, although independence taken too far doesn’t play out well, it becomes close to a definition of, or root cause of, sin.
The children of Israel were God’s first chosen people, and they were set apart from other nations to know God and live by His ways. The code of conduct He gave them through Moses seems complicated and pedantic to us, but these were tribal, nomadic people with an oral learning tradition, and surrounded by evil influences where life was cheap and belief was superstitious. They had freedom to live well before God, or to make mistakes and there was grace to learn from them.
That’s the background to what Paul writes here, to people who had no historic reason to consider themselves chosen unless they were Jewish, and even then the fulfilment of their ‘chosen-ness’ had come in Jesus Christ. God has always intended the Jews to be the people who would demonstrate a knowledge of the true and living God, and lead others to know Him. Now Paul is writing to a church assembly which is multicultural. All can share an understanding of the historic background, going back to creation itself. But now Jesus has made a way through the barrier of sin which kept people apart from God. Through Jesus, and only through Him, all can share in fulfilling God’s desire for people created in His image to choose to be His.
Receiving what Jesus has done
He has chosen us to be those who choose Him, and to have His life in us, connecting with the huge privilege of sonship which was always the intention. Through personally deferring to Jesus and trusting Him with our lives by asking Him into our hearts, we can be counted blameless and holy by grace — receiving what Jesus has done.
This is very different from trying to live a holy and blameless life. Christ in our heart changes us, so we want to live as those who are His — and are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit in us.
Over the centuries the relationship of Christianity, us knowing God personally through Jesus, has been institutionalised. Relationship is difficult and unpredictable, and so the ingenuity of man has constructed various systems to achieve a holy and blameless life with priests, rituals, monastic and celibate setting apart and various legalistic adherences to words of Scripture — all of which fall short of the spirit behind the words, which is all about the relationship.
By contrast, sonship is the ultimate relationship. There isn’t a higher aspiration. If we have that, we are freed from the need to work to achieve it, and freed to live in this new identity.
- God chose you before birth, called you and revealed Himself to you. For what?
- What is your destiny, your special purpose in His plan?
- To God, you are chosen, you are special, unique even. How would He introduce you?
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