For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5heb predestined us for adoption to sonshipc through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
To recap –
Week one – we looked at what an apostle is, who holy people are
Week two – Paul in stream of consciousness mode! Mike
We looked at how God wants us to be blessed.
– there was a pivotal phrase “In Christ” – all these blessings are “in Christ” – but not just theoretical but to be experienced. Not I’m blessed – everything in my life is rubbish but I am blessed in christ. Not separate from reality. But not just feelings usual;ly based on circumstances and are superficial. Today I feel blessed, tomorrow something goes wrong and I don’t feel blessed.
Religousness says we are blessed even if we never experience it. Worldliness says we are blessed just because everything is going well.
Truly being blessed is when there is the reality of relationship with Christ. Being in Christ is not just a theory but the reality that makes a real and tangible difference.
So the pivotal phrase last week was “in christ”
Topdays pivotal phrase is. Everythiong here points to one thing – evberything has a purpose – “to the praise of his glorious grace”.
Every blessing we have, every benefit we enjoy, every gift that he gives ….
All this doctrine and theology is to effect our lives in ways that make a difference to our lives and is all focussed on one thing – glorifying Jesus.
Todays title – OUR BENEFITS FOR HIS GLORY
I used to know a guy who said we don’t come to church for us, we come for him. This is to combat the “what can I get out of it approach”.
When he answers my prayers he gets glory When he meets my needs he gets glory When he blesses me far beyond my needs he gets glory
The more he blesses us, the more glory he gets
When we get benefits he gets glory. Some people think God is stingy, he’s a hard taskmaster, that he wants to withhold blessing. I want to ask a question – Who gets more glory someone who is stingy or someone who is generous.
Piper – he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him
He is more glorified by how we live our lives than our singing on a Sunday.
So lets explore more. There will be some challenges! Maybe today the more questions you have at the end the better job I will have done! What we are looking at here is interpreted in different ways by people with far greater understanding than I have, far greater knowledge of Greek. BUT we shouldn’t entirely bury our heads in the sand.
So looking at verse 4.
- He chose us in him.
Gk – Literally selected.
This verse is saying that in Christ he chose you. He selected you. We think we chose God. We talk as if we chose God. I became a xian, I made a decision, I asked Jesus into my heart, I gave my heart to Jesus, I repented. I came to faith. We look at it from the human perspective of this is what I did – and that’s natural but it’s not the whole truth.
The god perspective that paul is putting here is that he chose us. Now I’m going to come to an alternative view in a while
- He chose us before the beginning of the world.
Piper – Your salvation did not begin with your choice to believe in Christ—a choice which was real and necessary. Your salvation began before the creation of the universe SO – no merit on our part.
OUR EXPERIENCE. Choosing teams for football. Choose me choose me. How the team captain felt in that moment. There’s none of that – God’s choice was made before we were born.
The word is literally selected, It’s not just this verse. It’s consistent with the chapter – verse 11
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
He has selected the weak things, the foolish things, the things that are not to shame the wise. 1 Cor 1.27
John 15 – you did not select me, I selected you.
Spurgeon said this I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine.
PROBLEM – does that mean there are some who God has not chosen?
Quote the Tyndale NT bible commentary:
The fact that God has chosen or predestined us is not raised as a subject of controversy or speculation> It is not set in opposition to the self evident fact of free will. It involves a paradox that the NT does not seek to resolve and that our finite minds cannot fathom.
The bible presents the viewpoint that we are chosen by him, but clearly also teaches that we have free will. We should not emphasise one above the other.
There are many alternative views.
Now some say he chose us in him. So it’s only because we accepted Christ that we are chosen. There is some merit in this view, but there are some problems.
Firstly it makes it almost meaningless.
Secondly it makes his will subject to us. – whose will is greater? Mine or God’s. Are we are subject to HIS will or is HE subject to ours?
So how do we handle these paradoxes. How do we handle this and other areas that we find hard to reconcile?
We always want life to be a neat equation – if this then this.
AN EQUATION WITH MISSING PARTS
I want to suggest that maybe there are parts of the equation that we just don’t know. It is just possible that in heaven, God’s sovereign choice and our free will make perfect sense because there is a part of the equation that heaven sees and our finite minds cannot.
Let’s put it like this. 70mph. Vehicle exceeds.
If this is the case we need to be able to hold on to both these truths.
There are pitfalls of over emphasising one at the expense of the other.
Over emphasise God’s sovereignty = there’s nothing I need to do, pride, fear that I’m not chosen, laziness
Over emphasise free will and mans responsibility = I can’t do enough to meet God’s standards, I’m not sure I’ve done enough, driveness, control others
How do we cope?
- Humility – we are not God – his ways are far beyond our understanding 2. Worship – he is far greater than our feeble minds can cope with 3. Faith – believe even if we can’t understand. In a sense that’s what Job came to. 4. Don’t be dogmatic about one truth at the expense of another. Great men of God have fallen out over this very issue. Whitfield and the Wesleys in the 18th century revival.
- Chosen to be holy and blameless.
Holy = set apart for him. Different for him. Blameless because of Christ’s death but also in how we conduct our lives.
2 Peter 3.14 make every effort to be found spotless, blameless
So our belief in God’s soverieignty of God should not lead us to be lazy or casual.
Conclusion. It seems to me that the bible clearly teaches that in some way God chose us. This should give us assurance of our faith (it doesn’t depend on us), confidence in his work in our lives. Belief in his soverieignty means that when we pray we are co-operating with him in his will, not trying to twist his arm. It means when we share the gospel we can be confident that his will will be done even if we feel our efforts have fallen short.