Chosen in Him before the Foundation of the World
I said yesterday that of all Paul’s letters, Ephesians is his most profound. We see this here in these three verses as he lays out the doctrine of election. He discusses this same doctrine in Romans 9-11 in greater detail, but I truly feel that this passage, as brief as it is, elucidates that doctrine in a deeper and more beautiful way as the emphasis is placed on this all being done “in the Beloved,” that is, Christ.
“He [the Father] chose us in him [the Son] before the foundation of the world.” It is difficult to see two sides to this passage. It is forthright. It is clear. It is the Father who chose us, not vise-versa, and verses five and six are just as clear that this choosing had nothing to do with our works (Romans 9:10-18), but the Father’s purpose and will. I confess that there is something deeply troubling about this when looked upon with the eyes of flesh (our sinful nature); indeed, almost horrifying. But the believer does not look with the eyes of flesh but of the Spirit, and he trusts that the Judge of all the earth will do what is right (Genesis 18:25).
“That we should be holy and blameless before Him.” God’s choosing of us has its purpose within ourselves and that is that we be holy (morally pure) and blameless (free of guilt). Now, it is true that the blood of His Son makes us holy and blameless, but I believe that this verse is saying that we have been chosen so that we will live in such a manner. God has chosen a people that they may behave like His people, His Spirit empowering them to do so.
“He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” Here we have explained to us that to which we are predestined and it is a marvelous thing—adoption as sons (and daughters). Adoption is one of the most beautiful doctrines of our redemption. We must remember that we are by nature “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). If we will be in God’s family, we must be adopted—there is no other way for us. And if we will be adopted, then someone will have to adopt us; that is, someone will have to take the initiative to adopt needy, dirty, and undeserving children whom no one else wants—not even the devil. And that’s what God did: He chose us, adopted us, and made us clean through His (natural) Son.
Yes, election is a dreadful doctrine when seen through the eyes of flesh, but when seen through the eyes of faith, it is both beautiful and necessary.