Thursday, 30 June 2016
…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:5
As this is one long continued thought, let us review the last verse together with this one –
“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”
Paul said that God “chose us” in the previous verse, and now he notes that this choice includes “having predestined us to adoption as sons.” The question is, “What exactly does the ‘predestination’ mean; when did it occur and by what means?”
There are several possibilities, three of which should be considered. Before doing so, it needs to be understood that God does not think either syllogistically (meaning He does not make deductions based on facts), nor does He think discursively (meaning going from thought to thought in a random manner as we often do). God knows everything immediately and intuitively. As He is outside of time, then there can be no time associated with the mind of God. Those (and other such) types of thinking imply the passage of time.
As God doesn’t think things through in a pattern, our possibilities are only a reference for us to consider. They do not reflect the actual way that God predestined us, but they are laid out in sequence because everything that pertains to our predestination has occurred in time; in the process of redemptive history. Understanding this, the options we will look at are:
- God “predestined” those for salvation from a point in time even before the fall of man. God, in essence, said, “I will choose these people and none other.” There is no act of the will on the part of the elect, but God willed them for salvation or condemnation from even before the fall. If this is so, then it means that God actually created all the others for destruction as a part of His active plan. In this view, He is saying, “I have created some to go to hell.” This crazy, unbiblical view is termed “hyper-Calvinism.”
- God “predestined” those for salvation from a point after the fall of man, but before the point in time when He determined to correct the fall of man by sending Jesus. There is no act of the will on the part of the elect, but God willed each for salvation or condemnation from after the fall. He then decided to send Jesus to redeem those He chose. If this is so, then God selected those He chose for salvation and simply left all the others out of His plan. He ignored their fallen state and said, “They can go to hell. They are not a part of my redemptive plan.” This unscriptural view falls under the general teachings of modern Calvinism.
- God “predestined” those for salvation after both the fall and the plan to fix the fall. This would mean that He says, “I knew that this would happen and I am going to fix this problem by sending Jesus. Anyone who calls on Him will be saved. My plan of redemption is one of ‘choosing’ those who are willing to believe, by faith, that I am a rewarder of those who diligently seek Me.” In this is seen the truth of John 3:16 – “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He saw there was a problem; resolved to fix the problem; and sent Jesus on His mission to fix the problem.
The contents of Scripture clearly lay out that God allows man free-will. As this is so, the predestination of man falls into the third category. God “predestined us to adoption as sons” through a plan which reveals His love for His creatures, and yet an allowance for those creatures to willingly accept or reject Him is granted. And this is done “by Jesus Christ” and “to Himself.”
It is through the work of Jesus Christ that God has accomplished His work of predestination. It is the means by which man can and must be saved. As this is so, then it can be the only means by which this may come about; God has no other plan because God is God. Thus, the entire plan is “according to the good pleasure of His will.” This term doesn’t indicate merely a sense of a friendly feeling, but rather that it is what is pleasing to Him.
As has already been noted above from Hebrews 11:6, but which will be cited in its entirety, it is “faith” which is pleasing to God. The entire body of Scripture points to this –
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
What kind of nutty thinking would state that this faith is not of free-will? Why would it please God to make a being that was forced to believe that He existed in order to be saved? That is as nutty as a tennis puck. Rather, God instilled in man free-will. He also set the parameters by which that free-will would be pleasing to Him. When the free-will is in accord with those parameters, God is pleased with that.
This is the proper understanding of what God has done within the stream of time in which we exist. Again, as noted above though, God doesn’t actually think in the way that is presented; but His thoughts are revealed to us in one of those ways as the stream of time, which He created, unfolds.
Life application: Where is God glorified in creating automatons that simply do what He wills? Other than reveling in something that He didn’t even need to create in order to get exactly the same effect as if He did, He is not so glorified in any way. Rather, in creating free-willed sentient beings who willingly accept His offer of Jesus Christ, He is truly glorified. From that acceptance, He can then fellowship with those beings, redeemed by the blood of His Son, for all eternity.
Lord God, You are fully complete in Your own Being and You didn’t need to create a thing in order to be satisfied with who You are. And yet, because of Your love for the creatures You could create, You did create. And now we are given the choice to accept that, or reject it. Your word tells us that those who are pleasing to You are those who diligently seek after You and have faith in You and in what You have done. Help us to demonstrate faith in the work of Jesus, calling on Him and being saved unto eternal life. And then Lord, help us to pursue Christ all our days. With this, surely You will be pleased. Amen.