Tyler David speaks on election using Ephesians 1:3-6.
Series: Raised to Life
In the first fourteen verses of Ephesians, Paul describes the amazing blessings we have in Christ, in order for us to take our eyes off the day-to-day and gaze in wonder and amazement at the story of salvation God is writing for us.
In our lives there are those pivotal stories that shape the way we see our relationships. Not knowing God’s story of salvation for us, or remembering it incorrectly, greatly affects the way we relate to God.
Right after my sister graduated high school I was back home hanging out with my dad. He told me he was about to change his job. As long as I’ve been alive, he’s been a detective in Dallas. Now he was moving to be a homicide detective. He said he’d always wanted to change jobs, but he had been waiting. I asked him why he had waited until now. He said the reason was because he wanted to be involved in his kids’ lives. I began to think how incredible that was. He hadn’t stayed in his job because of the money, or the perks, but because he wanted to be involved in our lives. That’s why he never missed a football game or a drill team performance. In that moment, I felt so loved and cared for. My dad was thinking of us when he did that. That story still shapes the way we interact.
But imagine if I remembered that story wrong. What if I remembered the reason he stayed in that job was because he just hadn’t thought about it or because he wanted more time to watch TV? Remembering it this way wouldn’t make me dislike my dad, but it would decrease my love for him. I wouldn’t think he was a terrible father, but it wouldn’t make me think he was a great one.
The story God is telling us about our salvation is one of those pivotal stories. If you don’t know this story, you may not dislike or hate God, but you definitely won’t love Him as much as you should. It won’t make Him a terrible father; He just won’t be a great one.
God wants all of His people to know the story of our adoption. He wants us to know we have been adopted in Christ, because He chose us. He wants the magnitude of His unmerited and unwarranted fatherly affection and love to shape your relationship with Him.
Plan A: Our Adoption
3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV)
Our adoptions is one of the most amazing privileges God has given to every Christian.
5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will… Ephesians 1:5 (ESV)
From the beginning, before the foundations of the earth, God’s plan had always been for Him to adopt a people as His own who had been orphaned by their sin.
When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the garden, every single one of us followed in their wake, we were made spiritual orphans. We listen and say yes to the lies of Satan and our hearts that tell us there is more joy and life away from God and that we don’t need Him. It’s all a lie; we lost God and everything that went with Him. We’re left in a world full of death and suffering, where we have hearts that constantly push us toward short-term happiness and long-term pain. We cry out to them only to get more abuse. We’re orphaned by our sin and hopeless.
But God’s plan was to adopt His people from their spiritual orphanage of sin, to be His sons and daughters with the payment of His Son.
Our adoption through Jesus Christ was not Plan B. It wasn’t as if we sinned in the garden and God thought, “Uh oh, what am I going to do?” Before the foundations of the world, before sin existed, He was planning to adopt us with the blood of His Son. He wanted to take a people that wanted nothing to do with Him, who deserved His wrath and make them His son and daughters. Through Jesus, not only does God take away our sins, making us holy and blameless, but He also adopts us.
Removing our sin enables us to be in the throne room of God, in His presence. But adoption makes us sit on the thrones next to Him.
J.I. Packard says:
“Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel offers, arguably higher than salvation. Adoption is higher because of the relationship it involves with God. Salvation is wonderful, but it does not imply necessarily an intimate relationship. But in adoption, God doesn’t just save us, but He takes us into his family as children and heirs.”
This is the incredible privilege we all get when we’re in Christ. Let’s watch a short video about the adoption story of Aaron and Jamie Ivey’s son Amos. When you watch it, think about how this is a small picture of what your adoption in Christ looks like.
Amos was in a place where the world was literally crumbling around him with no hope and no way to get out. But his father found a way. This is a picture of a happy father getting his son home.
The point Paul is making is that this glorious heart-stirring picture of adoption is rooted in God’s election of His people. We are adopted, because God chose us and predestined us for that end.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV)
The phrases, “He chose us in Him,” “He predestined us for the adoption of sons,” show us that all God is doing is being done for the end of making us His kids. That’s the purpose of it, so we will be holy and blameless before Him. Our spiritual adoption does not happen without God’s election.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)
If you’re in Christ, God has given you the same spirit that Jesus had. We aren’t stepchildren; we are co-heirs with Jesus. We can talk to God as our Father in the same way Jesus can. That’s adoption. Right after this, Paul makes it clear our adoption happened because God predestined it to.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)
We’ve been adopted and are now being conformed into the image of the Son. Jesus is teaching us what it means to be children of God, because God predestined it. Based on verse 30, if He predestined it, He will glorify us one day. What an amazing promise.
Hopefully you’re seeing by now that God wants His people to know that we’re His kids and are loved, because He chose us.
That’s why you’re adopted.
God’s Sovereignty Vs. Our Choice
This is where many of us have a difficult time with the word of God. I’ve never heard anyone push back or be frustrated with the idea of God adopting us into His family or say it’s ridiculous for God to love us in extravagant ways. But we begin to push back and feel frustrated when we talk about God being a sovereign author over it all.
If God is sovereign over it, then is it really love?
We struggle with the idea of God electing His people, because we think this nullifies human choice. We infer this teaching is saying human beings are just robots, with no will of their own. So in our minds, if there is no choice, we think love can’t be genuine. Any relationship that’s forced can’t be love. Yet, we know God is love. So we begin to think these statements are incompatible. The God we know can’t exist in these texts, they can’t be true.
I totally understand that response. It was my first response too. However, there’s one big piece we’re not thinking about.
Human beings did have a choice.
We had a choice in the garden. You had a choice in your life. But we all chose sin.
Adam was in the garden without sin in his heart or in the world, nothing but provision and blessing. There was one thing he couldn’t have and he chose it; he chose sin. You and I are born under Adam, in sin. But what do we do? We spread more sin all over this planet. Sin totally corrupted us to where we couldn’t get back to God. We had no ability to.
Our Inability To Choose God
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8 (ESV)
It’s not that we just don’t want God. It’s that we can’t submit to Him. It’s a matter of ability. You and I have a will, but we have no ability to choose God anymore. We don’t think we’re as bad as the Bible says we are. Deep down in our hearts, we want to believe if we were given the right circumstances, we would choose God. We have no problem believing we’re not perfect, but we have a big problem believing we are totally ruined by sin.
One of the reasons is because we only think of sin in terms of overt evil and immorality. We think God might be exaggerating a little bit when it comes to sin. You think of your friends who don’t know Jesus, but are moral, nice and love their families well. We begin to ask if sin is really that bad.
We don’t understand what sin did to us. Sin doesn’t make you incapable of being nice or of loving somebody. Sin makes you incapable of doing any of those good things with a heart to honor God. It makes you incapable of loving, serving and honoring God as the One who gave you the ability to do those things.
Sin makes us think our lives are made for the morally neutral things, like family, sex, money, and entertainment. The great lie of sin is not, “Go do all these really terrible things,” the lie is, “Make these really good things your ultimate things.”
We are spiritually dead to God. Without His intervention, we will always choose His stuff over Him. The only way we could ever be saved is if God chose us.
God Chose Us
God isn’t telling us about election so we’ll focus on ourselves. He wants us to focus on the amazing reality that He wanted us. He wasn’t forced in any way; He didn’t have to save us. He wanted us, even with our sin in mind. He knew every way we would sin, every perverse thought, shameful moment, angry outburst and loveless action, yet He still chose us. Every time we belittle, shame or dishonored Him, He already knew we would do it. Yet, He said, “I want them.”
Could you imagine loving someone and marrying them knowing they would cheat on you everyday? God knew all of our unfaithfulness and how we would go to anyone and anything other than Him. Yet, He said, “I want them.”
That’s what election is about.
Struggling With Election
I’m sure some of you are still torn over this. You’re thinking about those people who you love that don’t know Jesus, both alive and passed away. You’re asking the question, “Well has God chosen them?” That’s a natural question to ask. We must be careful not to obsess over something we don’t have the answer to.
Our job is to trust God, because we don’t know whom God is going to save.
None of us know who’s going to hear the gospel and want to follow Jesus. Our job is to be faithful, to pray, to share the gospel and know there is nothing that will keep God from saving His adopted children.
Three weeks ago I officiated my very first funeral, my grandfather’s. I loved my grandfather. He was a good man. He was one of those guys you just want to believe was good enough. I had to deal with the fact, that to the best of my knowledge, my grandfather never repented of his sin and trusted in Jesus. The week of his death, I had to wrestle with God’s sovereignty. Why would God choose me and yet seemingly not do the same for my grandfather who I love? I’m no better than him. It was a difficult week. As much as I tried, I had a hard time seeing how this was good. I realize I’m still in the process of learning that even in darkness, even if I can’t see it immediately, I can trust the trustworthy character of my God.
This is the God who loved and chose a poor sinner like me to be his own son. He iss trustworthy.
To His Praise
God wants us to know the glories of our adoption are rooted in His election of us.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6 (ESV)
God has done everything to the praise of His glorious grace. The reason He chose a people based on nothing they had done and didn’t just make them servants, but rather sons and daughters, was to bring the maximum amount of praise in our hearts to Him for His grace.
God, not us, secured every aspect of our salvation. Jesus paid for every single ounce of sin. Every bit of righteousness was given to us through Jesus. Every moment of joy we have has been given to us by God, because He wanted to. This is the character of our God.
He is generous, kind and gives freely.
Imagine when Amos is older and Aaron hears him telling the story of his adoption. Imagine if Amos told someone he had heard of Aaron sending letters to the orphanages in Haiti saying if he could get to Austin then he could be his child. What if Amos said he decided this was his best option, hitched a ride to the airport, begged for some money and got enough to buy a plane ticket to Florida, then hitch hiked across the Southeast to Austin, knocked on Aaron’s door who opened it and said, “You made it! Welcome home.”
The first thing Aaron would think was, “Liar!” But the main thing is that his heart would be broken. He would think, “Amos, you think that’s what happened? That I just waited around hoping you’d get here? Son, you don’t understand what my love is like for you. I chose you to be my son! I came after you! I paid whatever I had to! You didn’t come after me. I went after you.”
All of us need to hear this story from our Father, because we all tend to tell our story like Amos. We tend to think God did a lot of it, but we still had to fulfill our end of the bargain. We think the reason we know Jesus is because we had a good family growing up, or a good church or preacher, of our circumstances were right. Even when we begin to think the reason we’re staying faithful to God and haven’t left Him is because we love Him and we’re faithful to Him, we should know better.
Then we start thinking He’s not as forgiving as He says. We don’t think He’s as gracious as He claims. We begin to think He can’t love us the way He does or He owes us because we’ve done good. We worked hard and fulfilled our end of the bargain, so He has to do His part. We put Him in our debt.
We don’t know what His love is like. He chose us. He wanted us. He adopted us. He gave it to us for free. He wants us to know our story.
The Best Is Yet To Come
There’s something really important to note about our adoption story. The best is yet to come.
The best scenes in that video are the moments when Aaron comes out of the barricade with Amos in his arms, tears in his eyes and joy in his heart. The moment when he comes down the escalator and everyone is shouting, “Aaron’s son is home!” When Amos reunites with Story, his sister, who he was separated from for years. Those are the scenes that make your heart sing.
Those scenes are yet to come for us.
In our adoption story, right now where we are, the papers have gone through, everything has been signed and paid for. We are legally adopted sons and daughters of God. But we’re still stuck in Haiti, in this world where everything crumbles and our bodies fall apart. Where sin accuses us, death swallows us up, where we begin to doubt. We can feel the sin in us wanting, desiring and burning to be acted upon and we’re wondering if our Father really is on the other side of that barricade. We’re wondering if He’s really doing everything He can to get us home.
God is saying, “Don’t you worry. I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to bring you home. I know you feel lost and forgotten, but trust Me; I’m moving everything towards you coming home to be with me. I chose you.”
One day we will cross that barricade and see the smiling face of Jesus. You’re going to come down the escalator and the hosts of heaven will be shouting, “The sons and daughters of God are home!”
We will get there because God predestined it to happen. We won’t make it because we’re strong, faithful. No sin will keep Him from saving you. You are His and He doesn’t lose a single child.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:29-31 (ESV)
This is your adoption story; one of those pivotal stories we have to know. You belong to God, because He wanted you to be His kid. He wanted you to share in His eternal joy of marveling at the spectacle and being the recipient of His glorious grace.