If I were to tell you that I was about to travel back in time before anything existed and go pay a visit to God, would you come with me? Seems like a silly question, who wouldn’t? And when we got there, what do you think God would be thinking about? Just imagine for a second that at one point there was nothing… except God. No planets, no stars, no earth, just God. Now, what if I told you Ephesians 1:4-6 is a passage that allows us to see into what God was pondering. The Apostle Paul invites us to a state of wonder to imagine this and see what was in God’s heart and mind before he created anything. And what do we find there in the very heart and mind of God according to the Apostle Paul before anything existed? The love of God, but not in the way we would have thought.
The verses I’m about to share with you are all about the love and grace of God, but if I didn’t say that and just shared the Scripture, I wonder if you would agree with me. For so many Christians, the doctrines of predestination and election are the words they stay away from. They hear those words and run as fast as they can in the other direction because their experience with them has been filled with arguments and tension. But I want to argue that when viewed rightly, these are not words we are meant to argue about, they’re words we are meant to stand upon. God’s purposes of election and predestination are to demonstrate the love of God so that we would praise the grace of God. That’s the goal of election and predestination. Have these doctrines done that for you? I hope this post helps you to move in that direction if they haven’t at this point in your life.
“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (italics mine, Eph. 1:4-6). Now, don’t miss two key words that don’t carry the same tension as “election” and “predestination”. Do you know what they are? It’s the two words that many people pass over without a thought in this passage because they’re so strung out on the other two words (election and predestination), it’s the words: “in love”.
1) The Love of God in Election: Election is rooted in the love of God. I think everyone would agree that unconditional love is more loving than conditional love. If you’re a Christian, before anything existed you were in God’s heart. You were loved by God unconditionally. Before you did any of the awful and gross sins against God you’ve done, God decided to rescue you. If you are a Christian, you were saved before God breathed the stars into existence, and in his timing this promise came to pass in your life and became reality. You were a dead sheep that God was going to bring to life. Now, I realize many Christians believe this passage teaches that God foresaw who would believe in him, but the problem with that in my mind is that means he chose you conditionally upon your choice to believe in him, and that doesn’t show us the love of God in its unconditional nature (Rom. 5:8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”). The second problem I have with this view of election is that Scripture doesn’t give us any room to believe that we have the power to initiate our salvation. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:44). Listen, I promise I’m not trying to start an argument, I’m trying to help Christians to see God’s unconditional love. Just consider, what if you believed in Christ solely because God drew you to himself and opened your eyes. What if you were like Lazarus who needed to be raised before you could walk out of the tomb? What if you were like the blind man who needed Jesus to come to you and open your eyes before you could come to Jesus? What if you needed to be born again before you could see the Kingdom of God? Yes, Lazarus did walk, but the power to walk was not within himself, it came from outside of him, and in the same way, consider that it is possible that you believed because God enabled you to. Doesn’t that give more glory to God than the other view? Honestly, if you’re not with me on this, it’s ok. You don’t need to believe in reformed theology to be saved, you just need to believe in Jesus, but I’ve noticed in my life such a greater appreciation for what God has done in embracing these truths. Besides, if we’re saved by God’s grace through faith and this is a gift (Eph. 2:8), how could I have possessed faith apart from God giving it to me? A gift is given to you, not something you possess before it’s given.
2) The Purpose of God in Election: The purpose of God in election was not unending arguments, it was that we would praise the glory of God’s grace. His predestining us for adoption through Jesus Christ was done so that we would “praise the glory of his grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Eph. 4:6)”. There’s so many theological battles about these doctrines but the end goal of election and predestination are not Christian battles, but Christian praise. Do you praise God for his election and predestination? If not, then you haven’t seen these doctrines in the right way yet. They should lift you up to say, “God, thank you for your unconditional electing love without which no one would be saved.” I invite you if you have been running away from these doctrines to turn around and run to them instead. Reconsider election and predestination as truths that can carry you to praise the love and grace of God. It can’t be emphasized enough, God’s purposes of election and predestination are to demonstrate the love of God so that we would praise the grace of God.