“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to Sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…” – Ephesians 1:3-6
Isn’t it reassuring to know that God personally chose us before He laid the foundations of this world – billions of years ago?
Most Christians will readily affirm that our salvation is by grace through faith in what Jesus the Messiah accomplished for us on the cross. They may even be able to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 from memory, and equally affirm that we are not saved by our own good works, lest anyone of us have opportunity to take credit for our own salvation. But what most believers fail to understand is the concept of God’s sovereignty in the matter of election. In theological terms it is called Predestination.
The fact is, none of us would be saved today if God Himself had not chosen us long ago to salvation. Jesus Himself validated this truth when He said, “For no one can come to me unless [God] the Father draws them to me…” (John 6:44). Both the Old and the New Testament teach that election and salvation is a sovereign work of God’s grace. God is the One who chooses us, God is the One who gives us faith to believe, God is the one who does the work of regeneration, and it is God who sustains us to the very end of our lives.
Because of my Armenian theological background, I used to have a problem with this.
I used to wrestle with the issue of salvation and man’s free will. I once believed that Free Will Theology and God’s election were incompatible. Then one day, I heard a well-known theologian explain it in a way I could understand and agree with. I realized that man could have a free will, and I could still believe in the sovereignty of God with regards to election and salvation. The answer lies in understanding God’s foreknowledge (1). The apostle Paul describes this concept in Romans 8:28-30:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Notice that Paul says that whom God foreknew He predestined and called to salvation. Since God is all knowing, He knew ahead of time who would choose to accept His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. In other words, He could see into the future – from the foundation of this world, who would make the decision, out of their own free will, to be saved. He knew beforehand who the winners were, and who the losers were, so to speak.
Take the Lottery, for example. I don’t gamble, but I know many Christians who have a weakness for this vice. If you could know ahead of time which numbers would win and which would lose, why would you bet on the losing numbers? That’s how God’s foreknowledge works. He knew in advance that you and I would choose Jesus Christ and become His winners. And because we are the winners – and not the losers, He chose us and predestined us to justification and glorification. Our eternal security is assured, because God doesn’t pick losers, but winners.
The God of this universe chose us from the foundation of this world to be adopted into His family and become His beloved sons and daughters. He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus! How wonderful is that?
– Luis Josephus
1. In his omniscience and foreknowledge, God knows what the future holds both for individuals and for nations. He knows and sees everything in advance and his will is carried out in accord with his plans and purposes. In the Old Testament God’s foreknowledge is usually represented by the verb yada is the normal verb for “know.” In the New Testament the main verbs are proginosko, “to know in advance, ” and proorao, “to see what is ahead.” Foreknowledge is closely connected to election and predestination and to God’s sovereign rule of his universe. – Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology