The Sovereignty of God, The Hope of our Salvation
Read Eph. 1:1-12
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him”
Perhaps the most perplexing doctrine in scripture is the sovereign election of God. Theologians have been debating the doctrine for centuries as they try to understand the relationship between God’s sovereignty and humanity’s freedom of choice (i.e. did we chose God because he first choose us, or did God choose us because we choose him). At the center of the debate regarding the sovereignty of God stands Ephesians 1:1-12. While the debate has raged for generations, and will no doubt continue until the Lord returns, the tragedy is that in the midst of the debate some of the greatest truths of scripture have been overlooked. Rather than it being a source of conflict, when we read this passage carefully it becomes foundational for our hope and salvation in Christ.
While the debate continues to rage regarding the meaning of the words “chose,” and “predestinated” what we dare not miss is the purpose and goal of our salvation that is expressed in these verses. The benefits of our salvation highlighted in these verses are beyond comprehension. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (3). We are chosen for the purpose of becoming holy and blameless (4). Because of his love for us, we are adopted to be his children (5). We are the recipients of his grace which he freely bestows upon us (6). We are redeemed from the slavery of sin (7) and forgiven of all our sins (7). He has lavishly poured out his grace upon us (8). We have insight into his divine will and purpose (9). We have obtained an eternal inheritance (11). We have a firm hope in Christ (12). And the list goes on. It goes beyond our ability to truly comprehend the full depth of what he has given us and promised us in our salvation.
But this is what brings us to the foundation of his sovereignty. The basis of these promises is not grounded in our ability and actions, but in the sovereign work of God. When Paul states that God chose us (vs 4) and predestined us (vs 5,11), he is providing the foundation of our confidence. The word “predestine” means to determine something ahead of time or before it occurs. Before God spoke the world into existence (vs 4), he already had us in his mind’s eye and already determined his purpose for us. In a world seemingly driven by chaos and circumstance, God does not leave our salvation to chance. Instead his sovereignty moves us to the realization of his purpose for our life. Rather than seeing his sovereignty as a threat to our freedom, it is the foundation for our confidence and joy. Because he has already determined the outcome, we have confidence no matter what circumstances may seem to undermine our hope for the future. It serves to remind us that with God there is no coincidence, life is not determined by luck, and our salvation is not just a fantasy of an idealist. To surrender to Christ and his plan is to not give up our freedom and dreams, it is the means by which we fully realize them.
Right now, as we are going through the uncertainty of the day, it is easy to become fearful because we do not know what will happen tomorrow. But when we rest in God’s sovereign purpose, we already know the outcome and this gives us hope for the present, a hope that is not a pipedream, but a deep conviction that God has already determined the outcome.