“In him, as before ordained, we also were chosen to be united with Christ as God’s own possession. We ourselves have an inheritance from God as well as us being His heritage, having been predestined, foreordained, and had our way marked out beforehand – that is, we were chosen in advance. This was all according to the plan of him whose might works out everything as He intends in conformity and agreement with the counsel, purpose and decision of the design of his own will. He does everything He wills to do.” (Ephesians 1:11 My own expanded paraphrased translation)
This is the crunch line after the phenomenal statement of Ephesians 1:10. This plan that was created in the mind of God before the stars and the galaxies were made, has a sharp arrowhead point aimed at the very centre of our hearts. The irresistible statement of Ephesians 1:10-11 is only ever downplayed by Bible teachers because it seems too breathtakingly good to be true. It is astonishing in its claim of personal intimacy and relationship with the believing Christian all being premised on the fact that God chose each one individually “twenty billion years BC” (That is a Lannonism euphemistically referring to a point of occurrence before time had begun). Each individual true Christian, born again of the Spirit of God, is a part of this huge and intergalactic plan; an “inter eternity and time” project. In other words, the bullet of eternal life that was fired your way actually had your name written on it. The concept, from start to finish, is bigger than any project ever discussed by man. Could anything be more revelatory about those things that are invisible? Could anything be more awe inspiring than being told that we are part of an infinitely larger cosmos than the one we consciously living in. This world is not our home. We are just passing through! Could anything be invented that would bring more dignity, self worth, or purpose to a human life? God is on your case and before you were even born, He had a reservation in His Father’s house with your name on the door and your initials on the towels. Truly, our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
To say that true Christ believing Christians have struck gold the day they chose to believe is rather an understatement. God chose us to be united and one with Christ. No Christian is sinless, but they are blameless. By faith in the blood of Christ, and what it achieved for us, we become God’s very own possession and part of His family.
The Christian has an eternal inheritance in God and all His promises. Awesomely, concurrent to that, the Christian is the very heritage of God Himself. It is quite mind blowing to the degree that I am not at all sure which is the greater blessing, for us to have all that God has promised (and there are rafts of rather startling promises) or for us to be God’s own heritage by His own will and choice. We are blessed a billion times over with the former truth, and a billion times again with the latter. Surely we are just doomed to a life of blessing and victory in this relationship that we have with Christ Himself. The only thing that stops us singing and dancing with delight is the brightness of the light of this revelation – it truly blinds us to a mental numbness that can hardly take it all in. It isn’t pink and fluffy poetical language that sounds nice and tickles the ego as well as the ears, these are the hard and concrete facts of the gospel as the Apostle Paul presents them. This is Paul’s blinding revelation of the invisible. Indeed! The light of this truth is so bright it almost burns the spiritual retina out of its socket.
Moreover, we can’t get past these statements of wonder without stopping for a moment to chew on that giant word “predestination.” This word has been a rallying call for polemic and polarisation in the body of Christ for centuries, when it has to be screamed from the rooftops that neither the Lord Himself nor Paul meant it to be any such thing but an elation inducing truth that inspires faith, destiny and motivation. It is supposed to inspire us with faith, dignity, boldness, and determination. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” said the Lord Jesus. The words are softened in most people’s minds because it was Jesus as a man, in the days of His flesh, speaking these words to men He had only met some three years previously. For that reason most people understand that the choice that Jesus is referring to was something similar to a football manager who has eighteen or nineteen players lining up for his team and from them he decides, “I choose Frederick in goal, and Charles as the striker,” and so on. The assumption is that the manager has been watching the players in training all week and picks whosoever he thinks is “on form” and playing well “at the moment.” However, that is as far as the east is from the west from the truth of what Jesus meant. Jesus did not just decide as if He happened to be passing Peter one day and startled, stopped to utter, “Oh yes! He looks like a good leader with potential! I think I shall choose him!” No such thing! The point is that Jesus chose Peter and the others before Abraham was born or Adam was created. His choice was made prior to time being created and instituted (or should it be “implemented?”).
The choice of Peter, just as God’s choice of anyone who has believed on Christ to save them, was in perfect harmony with the activation of God’s plan and purpose set firmly before time even began. Ephesians 1:10-11 says so clearly. Oh! How great is God! He knew my name before a thousand generations before me were even a twinkle in their respective mother’s eye.
God’s thoughts were perfect. His plan was faultless. His intentions gave Him great joy and the performance of those intentions gave Him unbounded delight. It was the good pleasure of His will to give us the Kingdom. And it is all wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ and a person’s relationship with Him, conceived, brought to birth and development by faith in Him and His word.
The only reason there are heated discussions about God “predestinating” Christians is the concept of God “choosing some and rejecting others.” However, that is not in the ring for discussion. As finite beings we cannot conceive of the Almighty predestinating some without rejecting others, because that is simply how finite beings would be moved if the election of Christians was in their area of culpability. A pox on that thought however! We must start with the knowledge that God is as vast as eternity itself, and that He actually lives in eternity, i.e. outside of time. That is why God cannot age. He is the same “age” now as He deals with your life, as He was at the beginning of eternity (Can eternity have a beginning?) as He will be at the end of eternity (Can eternity have an end?).
Because of this vast eternal nature and being of God, we have to conclude that his knowledge of all things is as eternal and without beginning or end, just as He is. Anything that can be known – is known by Him. Whatever we discover in terms of knowledge, whatever it is, God Himself has known it always. He didn’t learn it, He did not have to read up on it. He made all things and He knows all things. He couldn’t be eternal and omniscient if there was any falsehood in my statement here.
Because of His omniscience, His omnipotence and, His omnipresence we cannot but conclude that He is present in an omnichronological sense. (I apologise! I have made that word up for the simple reason that I have never heard another word that expresses the fact that He is in all time, with all people.) God rules the universe in a way that is present in all events on the planet, and throughout all time on the planet. His active presence is there in every moment that ever did, ever is, or ever will occur in the entire universe. He is Yahweh. That name means what He was, what He is, and what He shall be is never ending and never changing. He is everywhere at once in our time space world.
In some of these events he is actively present and directly at work. Other stuff takes place under the umbrella of the description of “providentially occurring.” This means that Some stuff is allowed to take place, good, bad and/or ugly without it being anything to do with His wishes or will. People do some things that God neither approved of nor sanctioned. He very rarely, if ever, strikes people dead for those things, but when wrong things are perpetrated like murder, starting wars, stealing or destroying, the world has to live with those consequences whether it is restricted to one person losing their money and so cannot buy food, or destroying a nation and having millions of people displaced and starving. That is just the way the world is and it has absolutely no bearing on the divine culpability apart from Him having given all men the freedom to think, choose and act as they will – just as He does.
Because He is eternal, He must foresee all things. He knows the day that your great great Grandson will be born, and He knows when He will die. It does not however, necessarily mean that He has predestined such moments. Many people die before their time. There is a difference between foreknowing and predetermining. God foreknows everything. God has not, however, predetermined everything. To handle these facts we need to hold tight of the truth that the Almighty Yahweh is infinitely good and plans and plots benevolence, kindness and goodness towards everybody on the planet. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
With these facts as the backdrop to any assertions concerning those who are redeemed we need to say that, according to these verses we are ploughing through in Ephesians chapter 1, those who are saved are saved by God’s personal action and volition. He chooses and actively converts. It is this writers conviction that He is actively working to bring all people to Christ. Repentance is given by God. Conversion is an act of God. Faith is injected by God. Christ Himself becomes our sanctification. It is all of Him. But, God grants all of mankind the freedom to choose. In the light of biblical truth, it means that to choose Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour, or to reject Him is clearly the most important choice that any person can ever make.