Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe                                            Date: 11/30/16

 

 

                                                                           

         Lesson 2: A Sentence Begun in Eternity (1:3-6)                        

 

 

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

 

3 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. 

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 

 

Introduction

[Paul is already teaching us to use the grammar of the gospel.]  It is because we receive grace that we become faithful; because we are “in Christ” we can be “saints” even if we live in Ephesus. What follows, however, almost suggests that Paul cared very little about ordinary grammar!  While verses 3-14 are broken down into five sentences in our translation, they are actually only one sentence in Greek—stretching to over 200 words— the longest sentence in the Word of God!  They constitute a doxology, a poem of praise to God for all the blessings of the Gospel. There is a reason for this: Into these verses is woven the most thrilling account of spiritual blessings and provisions revealed in the Word of God.  There is no place for a period in this account, because three persons are involved.  They are inseparable, both in their being and in their activity as it relates to our salvation.  Therefore, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one great sentence describing the one great provision made for hell-deserving sinners.

God is to be blessed because He has blessed us (3).  “Bless” here means “to speak well” of someone.  We speak well of the Lord (Blessed be…God) because in Christ, the Living Word, he has spoken well (blessed) us.

Dear reader, one of the richest and most overwhelming passages in the Bible is this discussion of the blessings which are ours now in Christ Jesus.

 

Commentary

3 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. 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” It all begins in the mind of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the God who had revealed Himself uniquely to Jesus as Abba, Father, and had raised Him from the dead.

“…Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms…” The word “blessed” has in it the thought of happiness and joy. It says “Who has blessed us.”  I can’t think of anything more wonderful than this.  He is not speaking here of something that may be ours when we get to heaven but of something that is ours right now. 

The phrase “the heavenly realms” does not refer to a physical reality but to a celestial region, a sphere of spiritual activities to which the believer has been lifted in Christ. This reality can be found in several places in Ephesians (1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). It refers not to the heaven of the future but to the new realm of spiritual realities, the heaven which lies even now within and around the Christian, the heaven into which believers have been brought in Christ. Believers do in reality belong to two worlds (Philippines 3:20). Temporally they belong to the earth; but spiritually their lives are linked with Christ’s, and they belong to the heavenly realm. The Gospel does not promise material blessings as its central benefit (although its power in a person’s life may create greater diligence and wisdom that will lead to such prosperity.) In fact, the blessings of the Gospel are for those who take up the cross and die daily (Luke 9:23); suffering with Christ is part of our inheritance in Christ: Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

“…with every spiritual blessing…” The word “spiritual” defines the nature of our blessings.  These blessings come to us in accordance with an eternal purpose of God.  The main idea seems to be that they are spiritual as opposed to natural, material, or temporal.  Paul, a childless, landless, homeless man, knew little of blessings of this latter sort, but in regard to spiritual blessings he knew himself to have boundless wealth.  The contemplation of these blessings opened in his heart the flood gates of grateful praise.  “All spiritual blessings” may be understood in the sense of “every kind of.” Whatever our spiritual lives require, God amply and abundantly provides.  He has given us “every possible spiritual benefit in Christ!” He is the great reservoir of blessing, but only those who have a living connection with Him share in His benefits.  To those, however, who do enjoy this vital union God gives the key to His treasures and says in effect, “Go in and take whatever you want.”

When we become Christians we do not merely receive a “benefits package” from Christ—containing forgiveness, new life, new hope and so on. Much more than that is involved; we receive Christ Himself. We are united to Him by His Spirit so that all that He achieved for us becomes ours. In this sense, says Paul, we died with Christ, were buried and raised with Him, ascended with Him, reign with Him and will be with Him when He comes in glory (Colossians 3:1). Here we are given a catalog of the superabundance of blessing that comes to us in and with Christ; election adoption, redemption, sanctification, forgiveness. Big words—big blessings.

How have God’s blessings in Christ come to us? By faith, as Paul says later (13). But while it is through faith that we are saved (2:8), that faith cannot be our own doing, because, by nature we were dead in our sins, captive of an evil one. The spiritually dead are incapable of signs of life. New life must therefore be the result of something God does. The origin of our faith is found in God’s action, God’s purpose, God’s will.

Moreover, God the Father planned and was the originator of every spiritual blessing.  All spiritual blessings are ours (if we are believers) in Christ, by Whom we were redeemed.  All spiritual blessings are spirit bestowed.  God’s blessings in the Spirit come only as we yield fully to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  If we refuse to be led by the Spirit, we cannot hope to share the blessings of the Spirit.

Receiving grace leads to enjoying every spiritual blessing—many of which Paul mentions in the verses that follow.

“In Christ.” Christ Himself is the source of these blessings. It is in Christ that God blesses us, not apart from Him. This expression and its equivalents occur over and over in these verses (in Christ, through Jesus Christ, in Him, in Christ, in Christ Jesus). It is Paul’s description of a Christian (a word he never uses in his epistles).  In fact, the words “In Christ” are the KEY that unlocks this storehouse of spiritual blessings.  In Christ is the KEY that opens the door and permits us to look into the storehouse of this epistle.  Every believer, every born again child of God is “in Christ” because he has been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).  Paul makes the same statement in other words in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.”

Paul even goes so far as to say—every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ. They are all ours the instant we are in Christ. Why then, would you look for God’s blessing anywhere else than in Christ.

Were it not for the fact that Jesus lives today, seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us, spiritual life on this earth would be an impossibility.  We live in a non-spiritual atmosphere.  We live in a world that is steeped in sin.  The whole world “lieth in the lap of the wicked one.” Therefore, if we were not literally connected to the heavenly Man who makes intercession for us and pleads our case before a holy God, it would be impossible for us to live a spiritual life on this earth.  Therefore, man born of God cannot live a spiritual life without a constant supply of Heaven-sent grace, strength, power and blessing. If Jesus withdrew His power and His grace for one split second, we could not stand . . . we surely would fall! I am so glad if God is for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31) In Him “we live and move and have our being.” In Christ we have salvation.  In Christ we have strength to live a Christian life.  In Christ we have overcome Satan.  In Christ our needs are all supplied.

Did you notice that it does not say here that these blessings are with Christ (there are those who read it like that).  Right now you and I are seated in Christ.  Let me say this to you; if you’re going to heaven, you’re already there in Christ.  He has blessed you in the heavenlies in Christ, and you are there regardless of what your position is down here.  Your life down here may not be good, but if you are a child of God, you are already in Christ.  The fact of the matter is you are in the heavenlies in Christ even when you are down in the dumps.  Everyone who is in Christ is seated in the heavenlies in Him.  That is the position which He has given to us.

The only way any man can please God is in Christ. If you ever hear God the Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” It will only be because you stand before God in Christ Jesus.

We have arrived at a very important section of the Book of Ephesians.  We are in that part which states that God the Father planned the church. You would not build a home today without a blueprint.  What is God’s blueprint?  What did God do in planning for the church?  We find in this section that He did three things: (1) He chose us in Christ; (2) He predestined us to the place of sonship; and (3) He made us accepted in the Beloved.

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

In this section Paul is thinking of Christians as the chosen people of God, and his mind runs along three lines.

1)     He thinks of the fact of God’s choice.  Paul never thought of himself as having chosen to do God’s work.  He always thought of God as having chosen him.  Jesus said to his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).  Here precisely lies the wonder.  It would not be so wonderful for man to choose God; the wonder is that God chose man.

2)     Paul thinks of the rewards of God’s choice.  God chose us to bless us with the blessings which are to be found only in heaven.  There are certain things which a man can discover for himself; but there are others which are beyond his obtaining.  A man by himself can acquire a certain skill, can achieve a certain position, can amass a certain amount of this world’s goods; but by himself he can never obtain goodness or peace of mind.  God chose us to give us those things which He alone can give.

3)     Paul thinks of the purpose of God’s choice.  God chose us so that we could be holy and blameless.  Here are two great words.  Holy comes from a Greek word which has in it the idea of difference and of separation. God is supremely holy because He is different from men; the Sabbath is holy because it is different from other days, and because God says it is.  So, then, God chose the Christian so that he would be different from other men.  This difference consists in his separation and dedication to God.

“For he chose us in him…” Paul begins with God’s purpose and plan. Right at the beginning he underlines that all the blessings of salvation come to us because He chose us in Him [Christ] before the creation of the world. Jesus said:You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit . . .” (John 15:16a).  The word translated “chose” literally means “choose out” or “select” (for one’s self).

God did it all.  An old hymn puts it like this:

Tis not that I did choose Thee

For, Lord that could not be.

This heart would still refuse Thee

But thou hast chosen me.

A favorite hymn of today says:

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God.

He, to rescue me from danger,

Interposed His precious blood.

 

“…before the creation of the world…” God’s grace is so gracious that He had us in view before we came to faith, even before we were born, even before the world was created! Then—when only Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed (notice how he mentions all three persons of the Godhead in this section)—in the love which these persons have for each other, and for all they are as God—God lovingly predestined His people to be His (4, 5).

“…for he chose us in him before the creation of the world…” God planned our salvation way back yonder in eternity before you and I were even in this world at all.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who came down in time, and He wrought out our salvation upon the cross when the fullness of time had come.  God the Holy Spirit is the One who can fix us today.  He brings us to the place of faith in Christ and to a saving knowledge of the grace of God that is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, “God chose me before I came into the world, because if He’d waited until I got here, He never would have chosen me.”

“…to be holy and blameless in his sight.”This is God’s eternal election.  This doctrine magnifies the sovereignty of God, the helplessness of man to save himself, and the sinfulness of sin.  In a more restricted sense, it is God’s gracious and sovereign choice of individual sinners to be saved in and through Christ.

This teaching deals a crushing blow to human pride.  It is indeed a leveling doctrine, which strips away all trust in flash and brings a man to rely wholly on the grace of God in Christ.  When rightly understood, election is a precious truth designed to give believers assurance of final salvation and to make them realize how much they owe to God’s grace and mercy.

Here is the challenge that the modern Church has been very slow to face.  In the early Church the Christian never had any doubt that he must be different from the world; he, in fact, knew that he must be so different that the probability was that the world would kill him and the certainty was that the world would hate him.  But the tendency in the modern Church has been to play down the difference between the Church and the world.  We have, in fact, often said to people: “So long as you live a decent, respectable life, it is quite all right to become a Church member and to call yourself a Christian.  You don’t need to be so very different from other people.”  But, the fact is that a Christian should be identifiable in the world.

If we ask “Why did He choose me?” the only answer is: “He loved you.” If we then ask; “Yes, but why did He love me?” the only answer is “because He loved you and planned to bring glory to His grace in and through you.”

But surely there must be some other reason? What was there about me that made Him love me? Did He see that I was the kind of person who would trust Him? No! How befuddled such an idea is! I am the kind of person who is dead in sins, without hope, at enmity with God. There is nothing in me that “makes” God love me. The reason for His love lies in Himself. It is grace from start to finish; nothing but sheer grace.

When we see this we begin to understand why so much talk about “freewill” is harebrained. My will is certainly free, but only in the sense that it is not coerced. It is never free from who I am, as if I could will “out of character.” No, what passes as “out of character” is not a deviation from what we are but a revelation of it! Thus, because my mind is by nature at enmity with God, inevitably my will opposes Him (and opposes His free will!  Romans 8:7-8).  I need to be set free from that bondage if I’m ever going to want Christ.  Though Paul holds to the idea of election, he no less firmly believes in human responsibility, and recognizes that a man may fall from the place in grace to which God has elected him.  Basically, the doctrine of election is rooted in the conviction that we do not just happen to exist, that our lives had their roots in eternity past, that our salvation begins in the mind of the Eternal God, and that it is brought to realization in Christ, the divinely sent Savior of men.

It is also harebrained to question God’s sovereign election of His people by protesting that this is not “just.”

God would have displayed perfect justice by condemning all of us.  It is His mercy that is expressed in lovingly choosing to save any of us, even one of us.

Paul’s teaching on God’s election often provokes controversy.  Often, the prejudice against election springs from embedded human conceit.  It is also frequently misunderstood—“If you believe in election there is no point to evangelism,” as it is frequently said.  But notice that Paul is teaching election to the very people he himself had evangelized!  Election and evangelism are not opposites far less enemies, but friends.

Paul had learned this from his Old Testament.  But he has also observed it from personal experience (his own “free will” lead him to seek to destroy the church).  Only the intervention of God, rooted in the loving will of God, could save him.  That intervention was not an accident.  It was planned from the foundation of the world!  And what was true of him was, he believed, true of all believers.

The last thing to die in us seems to be the lingering element of pride that says “there must be some reason in me to explain why God loves me.” But as soon as we have thought that way (and how hard it is for us proud sinners not to think that way!), we have compromised grace.  And compromised grace is no longer grace.

How wonderful, on the other hand, to reflect on the fact that God loved me before I loved Him, before I trusted in His Son, even before His Son came, even before the creation of the world.  Can His love for me be that big, last so long, and be that deep?  Yes, indeed—and if it is rooted in eternity, it will also last for eternity.  God always puts the finishing touches to the work he has begun (6).

In sports where contact with a ball is involved, a carnal error is often repeated; taking your eye off the ball.  It is easily done.  We want to see where we hit it yet even before we made contact with it!

We can make a similar mistake with election—we rush to our own conclusions before seeing how the Scriptures unfold the truth and its implications.  It is thus often said that if we believed in eternal election we would live anyway we wanted—because we would still be “saved.” But to think that way means that we have taken our eyes off the text.  We have seen the words “he chose . . . before the foundation of the world” without reading on to the result . . . “that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  We are certainly not chosen because we are holy; but we are chosen in order to become holy!

This is the logic of love—love that has chosen to love us, sacrificed and waited for us, been patient with us—this passionate love of God, once received, does not, indeed cannot, leave us unchanged.  The believer in Christ is seen by God as one who is without blame.

Don’t get the idea that I am a hyper-Calvinist. I believe in the sovereignty of God—God knows the end from the beginning—but that has nothing to do with the free-will of man. I believe in Bible election, Bible predestination, so do not hastily jump to any conclusions because of the statement I have just made.  I am not a fatalist; I do not believe that some are elected to go to heaven while others are elected to be damned.  I do not believe some are chosen to be saved, while in the mind of God, in the eternity behind us, He chose some to be dammed.  That is not the God I know, nor is it the Gospel I find in Ephesians. Dear reader, if God has saved you, He hasn’t saved you because you are good but because you are not good.  Paul puts it in such a marvelous way “What shall we say then?  Is there unrighteousness with God?  God forbid.  For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:14-16).

God knows the end in the beginning.  Because God is sovereign, omniscient, and omnipresent, He knew in the beginning that I would be saved.  God knew that I would be a part of the body of Christ; but the foreknowledge of God had nothing to do with my own free will.  God did not force me to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  I willingly accepted Christ as my personal savior.  Dear friend, if you ever step inside the pearly gates it will be because you received Jesus Christ (John 1:12).  If you have been led astray by hyper–Calvinism, may God help you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ this very moment.  Trust Him as your Savior, receive him by faith—and I guarantee on the authority of God’s Word, God will save you for Jesus’ sake, this very moment.

In these verses we learn that the blood of Jesus was foreordained before God ever made this universe.  The redemption price of a soul is the blood—nothing less.  God demands blood . . .  the blood of an innocent, sinless sacrifice—and that could have been no one except the Son.  So—it was agreed between Father and Son that Jesus would die on the cross for the remission of sin.  This covenant was made between the members of the Godhead before God ever created this universe or anything in it.

Election, predestination, and the foreknowledge of God are to be taught to spiritually-minded believers—never to be preached to unbelievers in a mixed audience.  God pity the preacher who will stand before an audience made up of believers and unbelievers, and preach to that mixed audience that some are elected to be saved, and if they are elected they will be saved; but if they are not elected they cannot be saved.  God pity such a stupid spiritual ignorance!

In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 

“In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ…” The King James Version attaches the phrase “in love” to the thought of verse four;  most modern translations favor placing the comma before “in love” and putting these words with “he predestined,” as does the New International Version used here.

All of God’s saving activity in regard to sinners is “through Jesus Christ.” This phrase expresses the goal of all; that is, to bring sinners, redeemed through Christ, unto an adoring relationship to God as the true end and object of their being.

“…in accordance with his pleasure and will.” There is a further dimension to this.  Paul moved, as it were, from one end of eternity to the other.  God set His electing love on us before the world’s creation; he predestined us to adoption.  Here and now we have the privilege of calling God “Abba, Father”; however, the complete manifestation of our adoption and the full realization of its privileges are still in the future (Romans 8:23).   In the future He will display in us the glory of the full family likeness (Romans 8:15-25, 29).  God’s glory, God’s grace in election, our salvation, holiness of lifestyle, expressing the family likeness—these are not at odds with one another.  They belong together.  Some people seem eager to go to heaven, but they have no desire for holiness.  Yet without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

What difference does this make?  It produces humility, the affect of being loved by Eternal Love.  It gives us a new sense of dignity, the affect of knowing God Himself has loved us.  It anchors us in a deep security—God’s grip of me goes back into eternity.  It makes us want to sing the doxology: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Predestination is the bringing to pass of things determined by God in the eternity behind us.  There is probably no rigid distinction between election and predestination; they relate to the same divine act and, for all practical purposes, are identical.  Every believer is predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son of God.  Predestination is never used in reference to saved people.  God has never predestinated anybody to be lost.  If you are lost, it is because you have rejected God’s remedy for sin.

We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  We do not work for our salvation . . .  Salvation is God’s gift; but after receiving salvation we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  We are to grow and become stronger day by day, as we study and feed upon the bread, meat, and milk of the Word of the living God.

In this verse, the word adoption has to do with our position, not with our relationship to God.  Every believer is a son of God, a child of God through the new birth.  We are born—not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but “born of God” (John 1:12-13).  We are adopted into the family of God through the act of God, placing us in the position of an adult son.  That is what Paul says that God has done for us.  We were absolutely in the power of sin and of the world; God, through Jesus, took us out of that power into His; and that adoption wipes out the past and makes US New.  Study carefully Galatians 4:1-5 and you will see what I mean. 

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

“To the praise of his glorious grace…” Dear sinner saved by Grace, never forget that God has saved you for Christ’s sake.  God has forgiven you for Christ’s sake.  God has redeemed you for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32).  God has saved you—“to the praise of His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6).  God through His great love and His great grace provided Jesus in a body, that in the body of flesh Jesus might fulfill every jot and every tittle of God’s holy Law, and through His shed blood might purchase redemption for sinners.  All of this was blueprinted, planned, purchased and provided by God the Father in order that His Grace in Jesus might be published in all heaven’s Glory.

Foreordination (another word for predestination) is God’s enforcement act, whereby what God determined in the eternity behind us is carried out.  Foreordination operates through the sovereign will of God (5).  Foreordination insures us that what God has purpose for all believers shall never be nullified, but shall surely come to pass.  Foreordination and the free-will of man, like two parallel lines that meet at infinity, harmonize in God.  When we view the foreordination of God and the free-will of man from eternity to eternity, we will find no conflict.  Difficulties disappear and our thinking becomes clear if we will just realize that foreordination, election, predestination pertain only to God’s people. Every man in the world has a free will to accept or reject Jesus Christ, every man is invited and urged to accept the Lord Jesus.  He took a body of flesh and bones, that in a body like unto our body He (Jesus) “. . . by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

“…which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” This expression, “in the One he loves” is translated “in the Beloved” in the RSV.  “The Beloved” is a Messianic title for Christ, in whom that grace was gloriously exhibited.

We are now accepted by God the Father—in the beloved, the Son.  When Jesus was baptized God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” On the Mount of Transfiguration God said concerning Jesus, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.  Hear ye Him!”

We are accepted by God the Father because we have received the Savior, the Son.  What assurance we have, beloved!  We are sons of God, children of God, adopted into the family of God, thereby an heir of God . . .  accepted by God in the Beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ who is our High Priest.  Therefore we, as sons, come boldly to the Father in prayer, in the name of Jesus, making known our needs.

Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  The lost do not seek Jesus.  The natural man is blind, dead, totally and entirely depraved.  Something must happen from without to stir the natural man within, before the natural man will accept Jesus as Savior.  According to John 15:16, we who are believers, did not choose Jesus—he chose us.  But remember, election never applies to anyone except believers.  All the others are excluded.  Men are not elected to be separated from God eternally.  Men are not elected to be dammed.  The word “election” cannot be used in such a manner.  If we ever understand the election of God we must see clearly that Christ is the first chosen one.  Christ is the first to be elect of God.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:1-7)

From this we clearly see that Christ is the first chosen one.  He is the elect of God.  Then God chose US in Christ.  I trust I can get across to you what I feel in my own heart and see through the eye of the inner man.  God chooses us in Jesus.  Only those who are in Jesus are accepted of God, and God has chosen everyone who will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. 

Please do not accuse the Holy Spirit of being insincere or hypocritical.  If individuals are elected and predestined to be lost, if individuals are foreordained to be dammed, the Holy Spirit would not have said through Paul, that Jesus by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  On the contrary, the Holy Spirit would have said that Jesus by the grace of God came to taste death for the elect . . . or for the chosen.  Please be reasonable, and face the fact that God knows the end in the beginning—yet God’s knowledge of the end in the beginning has nothing to do with your free will.  You as an individual have the opportunity to receive Jesus, and when you receive Jesus, God accepts you in the Beloved.  “WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE OF THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY” (Revelation 22:17).  The Lord has extended the invitation.  Whosoever will may come. Don’t try to say that you are left out.  God so loved the world.  Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish.  That “whosoever” means Tom Lowe.  It means you—you can put your name right in there beside mine.  Just because there are the elect, it does not mean we know who they are.  You have no right to say that you are one of the nonelect.  If you will open your heart, you can come.  That is all you have to do.  I don’t believe in the idea around today that you can have “mental reservations.” The problem is that you have sin in your life, and the Bible condemns it.  If you come to Christ, it means you’ll have to turn from that sin, and some people just don’t want to turn from their sin.

Two doctrines—apparently at variance—are taught in the New Testament with respect to salvation.  Man has complete freedom of choice.  “Whosoever will may come.” But the New Testament also affirms, “He hath chosen us.” We may not be able completely to harmonize the two, but we can be sure that they are perfectly harmonized in the mind of God.

God sees the believer in Christ and He accepts the believer just as He receives His own Son.  That is wonderful.  That is the only basis on which I will be in heaven.  I cannot stand before Christ on the merit of Tom Lowe.  I am accepted in the Beloved.  God loves me just as He loves Christ, because I am in Christ.  Jesus said, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23).

There has been, therefore, a threefold work performed by God the Father.  He chose us in Christ.  He predestinated us to the place of sonship.  He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  It is all to the praise of the Glory of His grace.  He is the One who gets the praise.  He is the One who did it all.

All of this is for your good and my good.  I just like to revel in this, I like to rejoice in this, and I talk about this because it is worth talking about.  It is so much more valuable than a lot of the chitchat that I hear today that goes under the name of religion.  How we need to see the grace of God as it is revealed in Christ!

Here is the revelation the Holy Spirit has given to me concerning Bible election: God the Father elected the body—the New Testament church; and we know the body is made up of a certain number of believers.  One day, some person somewhere will be born again, and that will complete the body.  When the body is complete, the Rapture will take place that instant . . .  “in the twinkling of an eye.” God the Father elected a body.  God chose a body as a body.  The body is made up of individuals.  Individuals become members of the body by receiving Jesus of their own free will.

 

 

 

 

 

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