Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we praise You for knowing us and choosing us to be Your beloved children—even before You created the entire world! We praise You for loving us and directly applying to our hearts the forgiveness for all sins which You earned by Your innocent death on the cross. May each of us glory in our chosen status and live up to our election by Your grace. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO CHOSE YOU TO BE HIS BELOVED BROTHER AND SISTER!
TEXT: Ephesians 1: 4-6 “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 to adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Today I want all of you to close your eyes and remember. Let’s go back in time to your youth on the playground with classmates and neighborhood children. You’re getting ready to play a game—dodgeball, kickball, softball, or perhaps soccer. You’re starting to choose up teams. As usual, the two best players (everyone knows who they are) are the automatic captains. Then they start to choose their teammates—Chuck, Dick, Sally, Cindy, etc. Are you hoping you won’t be the final player chosen? Perhaps you aren’t very skilled at the sport, but you know you’re better at it than little Susie. Will one of the captains recognize this and save you from embarrassment? Now open your eyes. Isn’t it wonderful that God chose you to be His child and be eternally saved by using a different criteria than children use on the playground? Today we’re going to examine His mind-boggling teaching of predestination or our election to eternal life by His grace, alone.
Little Susie stomped her foot and exclaimed: “Life isn’t fair!” That’s because she was chosen last for the neighborhood soccer team. Susie was correct. Life isn’t fair. Because of human sin our lives are dominated by personal prejudice, favoritism, and the recognition that everyone possesses different skill sets. Some are smarter than others. Some are more athletic. Some are stronger. Some run faster. Some are richer, others poorer. Some are more popular. Our entire lives are built around the recognition of these facts. We may not like it, unless we’re one of the “winners”, but human life is imperfect. So, get used to it.
But, don’t people make their own breaks through hard work and initiative? Won’t the Olympic coverage have stories about teenage “also rans” who became champions by practicing more than others who were once rated ahead of them? Of course! Such things happen in life. And knowing it fills us with hope and enables us to dream and not just give up on life. It also enables us to take personal pride in our hard-won achievements, doesn’t it? And from it comes that rosy glow of success.
But when it comes to God, we humans dare never apply these exact same rules. God is bigger, stronger, wiser, and exponentially beyond our ideas of decision-making. Our election to salvation by His grace alone is one of the prime examples of this. And, my friends, it is a glorious example!
When I was a pre-Seminarian in college I first wrestled with the doctrine of election. O, I knew the teaching before that. But I had never really examined it in-depth. So, for the first time I wrestled with this question: “Why did God chose me to be His child, cause me to be born of Christian parents, to be baptized and brought up in a Christian Church, and to be blest with the gift of saving faith? I could just as easily been born a Hindu in northern India, never heard of the Triune God, and be lost. But, I’m not. Why?”
Over the centuries, different people have tried to formulate different answers to that question. Could it be that God plays favorites—kind of like a prejudicial captain picking his team? Maybe it’s because I’m really not as sinful as others? Did He look ahead into time and discover that I wouldn’t be as hard-hearted as that atheist down the street? Maybe there is something innately in me that makes me better and more appealing to Him? Perhaps He chose me because of such things? Well, if so, than God’s grace really isn’t grace at all. If so, His undeserved love would be deserved, even a little, by me. If so, than I could stroke my ego and say: “Even if it was a tiny bit, I still earned my salvation because I’m so special.” However, if any of that were true, wouldn’t I be subtracting and detracting from God’s glory and God’s love? Wouldn’t such a view negate His grace and ultimately make me insufferable and arrogant?
Listen again to St. Paul’s inspired message from God the Holy Spirit: “For he (God the Father) chose us in him (Jesus Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (agape love, self-sacrificing unconditional love) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Ask yourself: “Why am I saved?” “Why me?” God’s answer is: because I love you in Jesus Christ alone. His answer is: Before I even created the world I looked ahead, saw you and chose you to be my eternal child, to be eternally blest, all because of and through the loving sacrifice of My Son, Jesus. I didn’t choose you because you were smarter or richer or wiser than that Hindu in India. I didn’t choose you because I knew you’d be less obstinate to my call. No, I simply chose you in Christ. And now everything in your life, all the blessings you’ve ever received or will ever experience stream from that blessed gift of my grace.
If anything should cause us to be humble, it is this truth. It’s almost as if little Susie was picked first for the team, isn’t it? And in Christ, she was picked in God’s love for His Son which is extended to each believer individually.
The teaching of predestination or God’s election of grace is not designed to answer: “Why are some saved and not others?” It is not designed to inflate our egos, either. No, God lays it out to comfort you, the individual Christian. Why are you saved? Why are you His child? Why are you heaven-bound? Because God wants you to be in Christ! So, ask yourself this: “Do I believe in Jesus as my Savior?” If the answer is: Yes! Than you are one of God’s elect. And that means your entire future lies in His loving hands. Earthly life may not be fair to us, but God’s love for us in Christ trumps earthly life every time. For that we rejoice. After all, our souls depend on it. Amen