“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12
We’ve reached a point of major contention within the church, theology, and Christianity as a whole– the issue of predestination. Essentially, this doctrine teaches that God chose before the creation of the world those who would by grace through faith be saved. And Christianity is torn right down the middle over this one. If God chooses some, does that mean He doesn’t choose others? Would God be a loving God if He chose some and not others?
I love that God’s Word speaks to these questions that many of us, including myself, wrestle with. Predestination is actually mentioned prior to our two verses today that we are looking at. Ephesians 1:4b-5 begins this conversation by saying, “In love, He predestined us…” If there is one thing that we all need to embrace no matter which side of the spectrum we fall on, it is this: Predestination is linked to God’s love. We cannot separate the two because Christ united them in His Word. “In love, He predestined us…”
Those that would fall on the side of Calvinism would say, “God chooses us.” Those on the other end of the spectrum that would call themselves Armenians would counter, “No, we choose God.” Here’s the reality that Scripture teaches us twice here in Ephesians 1:
God chooses us first. We choose God second.
There is choosing happening on both sides, but God initiates the choosing, which only speaks to His awesome love – a Holy God that would place His affections on sinful man. The author of Ephesians, the apostle Paul, knew this reality to be true in his own life very well. A man who persecuted the first Christians, watching in approval as some were martyred for their faith in Christ, was chosen by God on the road to Damascus. He was adamantly opposing God, but God called out to Him. God arrested him. God chose him. And Paul responded to God’s call by choosing God back.
I know that it is highly unlikely that this theological debate will be resolved by my blog post today, but the point in addressing it at all is to highlight a key point of our identity in Christ. If you are in Christ, He chose you to be. Before the earth was formed, you were on His mind, and His plan for you was determined. There is hope to be found in this truth because it emphasizes God’s love, not our good works. All that God does flows from His love because He is love. We don’t need to understand every last implication of how His love works, but we can trust it and rest in it and be made whole in it. In love, He predestined us. And it was and is for His glory, not our own. The fact that we have been chosen if we are in Christ is not to boast on anything that we have done, but rather it is to point to what Christ has done. In Christ, this is your identity. Walk in it.