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Sermon #4 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: God’s Election
The Source and Cause of all Blessedness
Text: Ephesians 1:3-4
Subject: Christ Our Blessing and Blessedness
Readings: Rex Bartley and Larry Brown
The title of my message is God’s Election — The Source and Cause of All Blessedness. My text is Ephesians 1:3-4.
Proposition: God’s choice and election of his people to salvation is the cause of everything he does for us in Christ.
That is clearly the doctrine of God the Holy Ghost in our text.
(Ephesians 1:3-4) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
And this is the doctrine of the whole Book of God regarding God’s election. — God’s choice and election of his people to salvation is the cause of everything he does for us in Christ. — Look at Psalm 65.
(Psalms 65:4) “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”
Here election is spoken of as being in the present tense, though it was done before the world began, because this great work of grace is known and experienced in time. No one knows his election until he has been effectually called by the Holy Spirit to life and faith in Christ.
Notice the progression of grace running through this verse of Scripture. — “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest.” That is election. God chose to save some in eternity; and those he chose to save in eternity he graciously cuts out from the rest of mankind in time, like a rancher cutting his cattle out of the many roaming the open range. They were his cattle before. He simply rounds them up at the appointed time.
“And causest to approach unto thee.” — This refers to irresistible, saving grace, the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit. Election both precedes and is the source and cause of this call. Now look at the next line.
“That he may dwell in thy courts.” — Sinners chosen and called by grace are caused to dwell, not to visit, but to dwell in the courts of Divine worship. Those who are chosen and called by the grace of God to life and faith in Christ, are kept and preserved by that same grace unto eternal glory.
Moreover, election is the source and cause of the everlasting happiness and satisfaction of God’s saints in heaven. — “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” — The house and temple of God in the Old Testament were typical of and representations of Christ and heaven, of God’s salvation and our everlasting nearness to and worship of him. This is true blessedness; and this blessedness rises from and is effectually caused by God’s election of his people unto salvation in Christ before the world began.
No wonder David sang, “O the blessedness of the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee.” No wonder God’s election was so much on his mind and heart. It was the thought of God’s election that made him leap and dance before the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:21). And it was the fact of his election by God unto salvation and eternal life in Christ that sustained his heart and rejoiced his soul as he lay upon his deathbed (2 Samuel 23:5). Indeed, this is a doctrine full of joy and comfort to every child of God.
I want us to look into the Word of God and see what God teaches us about this glorious gospel doctrine of election. For most of you, this will be a refresher course. For some of you, it will be entirely new. But, if God the Holy Spirit will be our Teacher and bless his Word to our hearts, we will leave here today saying, “Thank God for his electing love!” Go with me now through the Scriptures. I want you to see seven things revealed in the Book of God about God’s election.
There are some who will tell you, “The Bible does not teach the doctrine of election.” Those who make such foolish statements have either never read the Scriptures, or totally forgotten what they read, or they are out and out liars. Election is taught everywhere in the Bible.
The Scriptures speak of “elect angels,” an “elect nation,” an “elect lady,” and “elect churches.” God chose some angels, and passed by others. Of the first two men born in the world, Cain and Abel, he chose one and passed by the other. He chose Noah and his family, and left the rest of the world to perish. He chose Abram, but no one else in his father’s house. He chose Jacob, but not is brother, Esau. God chose Israel, the smallest of all nations, to be the nation to whom he would reveal himself. All other nations were left in utter darkness. He chose Joseph, but not Pharaoh. No one can, with any measure of integrity, teach that the Word of God does not teach the doctrine of election. That is too obvious to even discuss. However, the question of importance is this — Does the Bible teach the election of some to salvation to the exclusion of others? Does he Bible teach that God chose some, but not all, the sons and daughters of Adam to be the heirs of grace and glory in Christ? Indeed it does. We will not look at all the relevant passages now, since we will be considering them later in the message. For now, let me just show you a few texts where this blessed doctrine is clearly taught.
(Matthew 20:16) “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”
(Matthew 22:14) “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
(John 15:16) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
(Romans 9:11-18) “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. (17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
(Romans 11:5-7) “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded”
There is absolutely no question about the fact that the Bible clearly and distinctly teaches the doctrine of election. God chose to save some and passed by others. Really, the only question to be answered is — What does the Bible teach about election? So, secondly, I want to show you that…
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
We recognize, of course, that the Word of God teaches the doctrine of God’s glorious, sovereign predestination. Like election, it is a truth so plainly revealed in Holy Scripture that it simply cannot be denied by honest men. For that matter, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to deny it.
Predestination is the all-inclusive purpose of God by which he sovereignly determined all things that come to pass in time for the salvation of his elect. In other words, everything that has been, now is, and hereafter shall be was purposed by God in eternity and is brought to pass by God in time for the salvation of that great multitude whose names were inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life in sovereign election before the world began. No one since the apostles ever stated the doctrine more beautifully than Isaac Watts did in his hymn…
“Keep silence all created things,
And wait your Maker’s nod;
My soul stands trembling while she sings
The honors of her God.
Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown;
Hang on His firm decree;
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.
Chained to His throne a volume lies
With all the fates of men,
With every angel’s form and size
Drawn by th’ eternal pen.
His providence unfolds the book,
And makes His counsels shine;
Each opening leaf, and every stroke
Fulfills some bright design.
Here He exalts neglected worms
To scepters and a crown;
Anon the following page He turns,
And treads the monarch down.
Not Gabriel asks the reason why,
Nor God the reason gives;
Nor dares the favorite angel pry
Between the folded leaves.
My God, I would not long to see
My fate with curious eyes,
What gloomy lines are writ for me,
Or what bright scenes may rise.
In Thy fair book of life and grace
May I but find my name,
Recorded in some humble place
Beneath my Lord the Lamb!”
This is the Bible doctrine of predestination. I give it to you in the very language of Holy Scripture. — “In love,” God our Father “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved…In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4,5,6,1,12).
God chose some to salvation; and the purpose of God in all things is the salvation of all the chosen, whom he loved with an everlasting love. Thirdly, I want to show you that…
All that God has purposed, God will perform. The Bible never talks about God purposing what he does not perform, or trying to do what he does not do, or willing that which he never actually brings to pass, or of him in any way trying to prevent anything that does come to pass. God almighty does not try. He does! He does not wish. He accomplishes! He does not plan. He purposes.
Men talk about God’s plan, because men can do nothing but plan. God does not talk like that. God talks about his purpose. His purpose of grace is much more than some imaginary “plan of salvation.” A plan may be interrupted, hindered, altered, or utterly rejected. That is not God’s purpose of grace. God’s purpose is the eternal determination of his Being to save the people of his love whom he chose to salvation before the world began. That purpose cannot be frustrated, altered, or even hindered to any degree. Not even the rebellion of Lucifer or the fall of Adam hindered God’s purpose of grace. Oh, no! Those events were just part of that which was and is necessary to accomplish God’s sovereign purpose of grace according to election.
(Isaiah 14:24, 26, 27) “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.…(26) This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. (27) For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”
(Isaiah 46:9-11, 13) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (11) Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it…(13) I bring near my righteousness: it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.”
(Romans 9:11) “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.”
We have seen that…
· God chose some to salvation.
· The purpose of God in all things is the salvation of the chosen.
· The purpose of God must and shall be accomplished. Fourthly, I want to remind you that…
(Ephesians 1:3-7) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
I remind you again that everything God does for, gives to, and requires from sinners is in Christ. God does nothing for us, requires nothing from us, and gives nothing to us apart from Christ. I want you to see just three things in these verses concerning our election in Christ.
(1.) Election took place in eternity, before the worlds were made. God’s love for us did not begin yesterday. It is from everlasting to everlasting. He chose us in Christ before time began. He inscribed our names in the book of life from the foundation of the world.
(2.) Our eternal election in Christ is the source and cause of all the other benefits and blessings of grace. Apart from election there are no blessings of grace here or glory hereafter; but for the elect all the blessings and blessedness of grace and glory are sure. Read verses three and four again. God’s blessings of grace and glory flow to sinners “according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” Adoption, acceptance with God, redemption and forgiveness, regeneration, preservation, resurrection, and the heavenly glory of the inheritance awaiting us, all are ours, all are sure to all the elect, is according to the election of grace! All the chosen shall obtain all these things according to the purpose of God
Do you see this? Everywhere today people are talking about the fact that Christ came into the world, but few have any idea who he is or why he came. Very few indeed realize that the cause of his coming here to live and die for sinners is to be found in God’s electing love and his sovereign purpose of grace toward his elect. The Son of God came here to save his people, the people chosen by and given to him by God the Father, from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
“`Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
Towards the sinner flame,
That Jesus, from His throne above,
A suffering man became.
`Twas not the death which He endured,
Nor all the pangs He bore,
That God’s eternal love procured,
For God was love before.
He loved the world of His elect
With love surpassing thought;
Nor will His mercy e’er neglect
The souls so dearly bought!”
(3.) Election is for the glory of God. Here is the reason why God chose to save sinners, why he chose some unto eternal life, and why he saves us in a manner that clearly demonstrates both his supreme sovereignty and his glorious grace. It is, as Paul here declares three times, “That we should be to the praise of his glory!”
(Ephesians 2:7) “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
· God chose to save some.
· God’s purpose of grace in all things is the salvation of his elect.
· God’s sovereign purpose according to election shall stand.
· Election is an eternal work and benefit of God’s grace in Christ. Fifthly, the Word of God teaches us plainly that…
(2 Thessalonians) 2:13-14 “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:2) “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
Without question the Bible teaches eternal salvation. There is a sense in which all who are saved in time were saved from eternity. The passages we read earlier (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-6), declare that all God’s elect were in Christ, redeemed, accepted, justified, sanctified, and glorified from eternity in the mind, purpose, and decree of God. But do not ever think of election as salvation. Election, by itself, is not salvation. Election, by itself, saves no one. Election is unto salvation. Be sure you get the language of the Scriptures. Put 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 together with 1 Peter 1:2, and you will see these seven things about God’s election.
(1.) Election is a cause for great thanksgiving and praise to God.
(2.) Election is according to the foreknowledge of God, according to his everlasting love and sovereign foreordination. — The word translated “foreknowledge” in 1 Peter 1:2 is the exact same word translated “foreordain” in verse twenty.
(3.) Election is a personal, distinguishing work of grace. — “God hath from the beginning chosen you!”
(4.) Election is unto salvation. — I realize that there is a sense in which some are elected to specific service in the kingdom of God from eternity. Not all are prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and deacons. Those who are, if they hold their offices in faithfulness, were chosen to their work by God. However, the biblical doctrine of election is not election to service, but election unto salvation.
(5.) We were chosen to be saved in a manner consistent with and honoring to the holiness, justice, and truth of God. — Peter tells us that we were chosen by God “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” That is to say, No one, not even the elect, could ever be saved apart from the obedience and death of Christ by which redemption was accomplished. The sprinkling of his blood in 1 Peter 1:2 has a double significance. Both are necessary to the salvation of God’s elect.
(6.) We were chosen to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit. — In other words, no one can ever be saved who is not born again, regenerated, sanctified by God the Holy Spirit, election and predestination notwithstanding.
(7.) We were chosen to salvation through the belief of the truth. — Not only has God ordained who will be saved, he has also ordained the means by which they shall be saved; and the means he has ordained is the hearing of faith. Those who were chosen of God in eternity and redeemed by Christ at Calvary must be regenerated and called by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
· God chose some to be saved.
· God’s purpose in all things is the salvation of his elect.
· God’s purpose of grace toward his elect is sure.
· Election is an eternal work of God’s free grace in Christ.
· Election is unto salvation. Sixthly, in 2 Timothy 1:9 we are taught that…
(2 Timothy 1:9) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
God did not choose us and he does not save us because of our works. His choice of us was not based upon foreseen merit, or our foreseen choice of Christ, or our foreseen faith in him. Oh, no! Our only merit before God is Christ. Our choice of him is the result of his choosing us. Our faith in him is the fruit and result of his election.
“`Twas with an everlasting love
That God His own elect embraced,
Before He made the worlds above,
Or earth n her huge columns placed.
O love, how high thy glories swell,
How great, immutable, and free!
Ten thousand sins, as black as hell,
Are swallowed up, O love, in thee!
Loved when a wretch defiled with sin,
At war with heaven, in league with hell,
A slave to every lust obscene,
Who, living, lived but to rebel.
Believer, here thy comfort stands,
From first to last salvation’s free;
And everlasting love demands
An everlasting song from thee.”
I hope each of you see and clearly understand these things regarding God’s election.
· God chose some to be saved.
· God’s purpose in all things is the salvation of his elect.
· The purpose of God according to election shall stand.
· Election is an eternal work of grace in Christ.
· Election is unto salvation.
· Election is unconditional. Now, look for just a moment at 2 Timothy 1:10 and understand this seventh blessed fact about God’s election…
That simply means it gets the job done! All who were chosen in eternity shall be called and saved in time, by the irresistible power and grace of God through the gospel.
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”
I have no way of knowing until God makes it manifest, but perhaps the reason you are here today is God’s election. It may be that he has graciously and sovereignly brought you here today that he might bring life and immortality to light in your soul through the gospel you have heard.
Do you now find yourself trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as your only, all-sufficient Lord and Savior? If you do, if you truly trust the Son of God, it is because — “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation!”
Let every child of God give praise honor, and glory to him forever for his free, electing love and favor, sovereignly and graciously bestowed upon us from eternity in Christ. He who chose us redeemed us, called us, gave us life and faith in Christ; and he will keep us unto eternal glory by his grace.
Who shall condemn to endless flames
The chosen people of our God,
Since in the book of life our names
Are written in the Savior’s blood?
Christ for the sins of His elect
Has full, complete atonement made;
And justice never can expect
That the same debt should twice be paid.
Neither the craft and pow’r of hell,
According to God’s faithful Word,
Nor all the sins that in us dwell,
Can separate us from our Lord.
Nothing in life, nothing in death,
No pow’rs on earth, no pow’rs above,
Our God has sworn, the God of truth,
Can change His purposes of love.
His sovereign mercy knows no end,
His faithfulness shall yet endure;
And those who on His Word depend
Shall find His Word forever sure.
(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”