…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.Ephesians 1:4
Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single sentence in the original Greek and contains the scope of redemption from eternity past to eternity future. It is a view of salvation from the vantage point of the triune Godhead. The Father planned it (vv. 3-6); the Son paid for it (vv. 7-12); and the Spirit applies it (vv. 13-14). Today, we’ll think about the role of the Father.
The wonder of salvation is that God chose us; he picked us out of all mankind to be recipients of his redemptive grace. The verb tense indicates that God chose us for himself, yet we are the beneficiaries. Paul reiterates this in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” From beginning to end, redemption is God’s work.
The doctrine of election is designed to lead us to fall on our knees and worship God for his amazing grace. To choose any rebels out of the world to adopt as sons and daughters is amazing, much more that he would choose you and me. Let me encourage you to think about four elements of God’s gracious choice.
The sphere of God’s choice is “in Christ.” Election is inseparably united to the work of Jesus. In fact, while praying, Jesus referred to believers as having already been given to him as a gift from the Father (John 17:1-2, 24). Together, believers are the bride of Christ. God loved his Son from eternity, and his choice is inseparably united with him and his sin-atoning work on the cross at a planned moment in history.
The time of God’s choosing was “before the foundation of world,” a figure of speech meaning from eternity. Prior to the creation of the universe, God chose out for himself a people for his own pleasure and possession (1 Pet. 2:9).
The purpose of God’s choice is “that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Since holiness is the purpose of election then it cannot be the basis of it. In other words, God did not choose you because you are holy. Instead, he redeemed you to remake you into the image of his holy Son (Rom. 8:29). You are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Eph 2:10).
The motive behind God’s choice is love. He chose you for himself, but his motive looked beyond himself. “In love he predestined” you (Eph. 1:4-5). He demonstrated the depth of his love for you by sending Jesus to die in your place while you were still an enemy (Rom. 5:8).
Now, from a human viewpoint, we may look back in time to the time when we chose to follow Christ. However, the full picture includes the certainty that we would never have chosen him had he not chosen us first (John 15:16). The British pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, sums it up well: “If God’s plan of salvation were to be dependent upon man, and the choice of man, it would certainly fail; but if it is of God from beginning to end, then it is certain.”You were chosen before time.
Your salvation was not an afterthought. You were always on his mind… and still are.
. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 92.