Elected Unto Eternal Life

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The biblical doctrine of election is arguably one of the most controversial doctrines in holy writ. Yet it is one of the doctrines Paul lays down soon after his preliminary remarks to the Ephesians.

While some avoid it altogether, others have a problem “accepting” it, appealing to reasons such as it being unfair, or inconsistent with the nature of God. Regardless of our feelings, there is no denying that this doctrine is nonetheless taught in Scripture. It behoves us therefore as faithful bible students to confront it, and contemplate it. After all, Paul wrote this epistle, not to bible scholars or theologians, but to the Church at Ephesus — most of whom would have had no background in theological training.  The recipients were gentiles, formerly alien to the sacred writings of the Jews. In addition, the contents of practical instructions given towards the latter part of the epistle shows that some of them were probably slaves, with no formal education. Yet Paul undoubtedly expected that they would read and contemplate these doctrines, and revel in them! So should we, if we indeed believe that all Scripture is God-breathed.

It all starts and ends with God

Paul in the third verse of Ephesians  chapter one mentions special blessings that are the Christian’s in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”, he exclaims. But how do these spiritual blessings, which are in the heavenly places, become ours here on earth? This is the question Paul addresses in his next statement in the fourth verse.

It is instructive that Paul does not start with our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not even start with the work that the Lord Jesus Christ himself has done, or with the work of the Holy Spirit in applying these blessing to the believer. He starts with God the Father! This is a repudiation of the man-centred kind of Gospel which is becoming very popular in our day. To Paul, Christianity starts and ends with God! It was the Father who thought up the plan of salvation; He it is who sent Jesus to die for us whilst we were yet sinners and enemies against Him in our minds. Paul tells us elsewhere that even the faith to believe unto salvation is a gift from Him, so that boasting on the part of man is totally excluded as far as salvation is concerned. And He does all this according to the great counsel of His will, for His good pleasure! The truth is, what Paul does here is in perfect agreement with the entire biblical teaching, which we can sum up as a revelation of all what God has done in Christ with regards to the salvation of man.

Election, Paul’s first argument

Paul’s explanation to how these spiritual blessings have become ours is, we are what we are because He (God) has chosen us!

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (Ephesians 1:4).

This is what Paul puts in the first place. The recurring phrase in this chapter is “to the praise of His glory” in various forms — “according to the purpose of His will”,“according to the riches of his grace” etc. Surely, this is to emphasise the point that the decisive action in salvation, and therefore all the glory belong to God. The doctrine of election reveals to us the Sovereignty and love of God like no other.

Ultimately in time, the believer will in response to the Gospel choose to place his faith in Christ Jesus. However, in the words of our Lord Himself, we did not choose Him, but He chose us and appointed us that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide (John 15:16). God’s action in election comes first, faith unto salvation follows. Herein is a reason why every Christian should isolate and contemplate this doctrine – the fact that both Paul and our Lord put it in the first position in explaining the Christian position. As if to remind us that our salvation is not an after-thought, Paul starts with the divine perspective. The awe-inspiring truth of all this is that He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world; in spite of us. This is the humbling truth of the election of the saints.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being[b] might boast in the presence of God. (1Cor1:28-29).

Election, The Joy and Security of the Saints

Further, this doctrine is the basis of the surety and certainty of our salvation. If God’s salvation plan was conceived and executed by Him in spite of us, then we can be assured that He will carry it out to completion. If I am saved by His Grace and not by anything in me, then I can be assured that He who has began a good work will bring it to a perfect completion. Oh what joy to know that nothing can separate those whom God has elected, called and justified from the love of God!

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast

For my Savior loves me so

He will hold me fast”

~ Ada Habershonnew, 2013

2 thoughts on “Elected Unto Eternal Life

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