I recently began a series through the Book of Ephesians called “Family of God.” For the next several weeks, I want us to see a community that finds common ground in belonging to God and what it means to walk worthily as a member of that family.
In verses 1 and 2 of Ephesians 1, Paul greets the believers. Then, he gets a little long-winded. Indeed, verses 3 through 14 is a single sentence in Greek. So, I’m going to break this sentence down into three parts.
Let’s start with verses 3 through 6. We’ll look at the other verses in the coming weeks.
“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, 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 to himself 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” (ESV).
These verses are incredibly rich in theology. I could spend a month or two explaining them. So, before I continue, I want to say that some of you might disagree with my interpretation of God’s election. But no matter what denomination you belong to, if you’re a Christian, you’re chosen by God in Christ.
Paul opens verse 3 by blessing God. After all, God has blessed us in Christ. As the family of God, we’re called to bless the Giver of every spiritual blessing. And our being blessed is the result of being chosen by God in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (v. 4 ESV).
This is further emphasized in verse 5 when Paul writes, “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (ESV).
So, those of us who belong to the family of God were chosen before the foundation of the world. We were individually chosen in Christ according to God’s own purpose and will.
Why? Well, as verse 6 explains, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (ESV).
The doctrine of election is all about the glory of God. It’s all about the grace of God. And in verses 3 through 6 of Ephesians 1, Paul makes this clear.
Salvation is God-centered, not man-centered. The only way we choose God is because He chose us. Not because He foresaw our faith. Rather, God chose us for faith according to His own purpose and grace. If you’re an Arminian, you have a different take on the doctrine of election. But, like I said, there’s something we must all agree on. Those who belong to the family of God are chosen by God in Christ. We have been adopted into God’s family through Christ.
With that being said, I want us to see two implications of being chosen by God in Christ.
First, being chosen by God in Christ is a call to holiness (v. 4).
John Stott writes, “It is inconceivable that we should enjoy a relationship with God as His children without accepting the obligation to imitate our Father and cultivate the family likeness.”
Belonging to the family of God comes with responsibility. If we claim to be followers of Christ, we must submit to God’s work of sanctification.
Second, being chosen by God in Christ is a call to worship.
Notice how Paul ends this amazing passage. He considers the doctrine of election and points our attention “to the praise of his [God’s] glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved [Christ]” (v. 6 ESV).
Being chosen by God in Christ is no reason to boast. After all, this is God’s work, not ours. This is God’s accomplishment, not ours.
Rather than harboring pride at the thought of being chosen, we should respond in heartfelt, genuine worship. The Creator has chosen us before Creation in Christ. This should cause us to be full of joy. There’s no room for pride. Only humility.
Those who belong to the family of God are truly blessed. Now, let us bless Him.
As the psalmist writes, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (103:1 ESV).