2004-08-24 - Behold the Gifts
Ephesians 1:4, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love"
This seems like an odd verse, because it dangles the phrase at the end, "in love." It seems like it should go with verse five and in all truth, it seems from the Greek to be that way also. We can't blame Paul for this goofiness, nor can we blame God. Remember that the Bible was neither written in chapters or verses. The Books of the Bible were not divided into chapters until 1228, when Stephen Langton did it. So if you don't like the way the chapters are divided you can't blame the author of the book, but rather, blame Stephen Langton. Additionally these chapters did not have verses. R. Nathan divided the Old Testament into verses in 1448, and Robert Stephanus did the New Testament in 1551. So if you don't like the way the Bible is divided here at this verse, blame Robert Stephanus. I have a 1539 copy of Erasmus' New Testament in my library and sure enough, no verses. It looks like a regular book.
We are going to camp here at Verse Four this week and next week. This week, we will briefly look at the phrase, "He chose us," and next week we will look at the phrase, "that we should be holy and blameless before Him." Many do not like this truth of Scripture, but you can't read the Bible without running into it over and over. God loved us because He wanted to love us. It was not because there was anything lovable about us that God loved us, but rather, He loved us, and chose us because it please Him to do so. How can we know that it was not because we were lovable that God loved us? Because His love to us, His choice of us, is said in this verse, to have been from "before the foundation of the world." We did not exist yet, and still God loved us. He chose us, and loved us before the foundation of the world, because it pleased Him to do so. It was His pleasure, and since He is God, who are we to say that His pleasure does not meet our acceptance? Who are we, who would answer back to God?
Being chosen by God from before the foundation of the world is certainly a great gift from God. However, it is more than that, because the choice is said to be "in Him," or namely, "in Christ." All the spiritual blessings that we have are ours through Christ. We are called, justified, sanctified, and perfected in Christ. One day we will be glorified in Christ. Every spiritual blessing that we have is grounded in Christ, and apart from Christ we have no spiritual blessings. We do not receive spiritual blessings out of Christ, and they are not given to us haphazardly, as if we played the lottery and won. It was God's plan, before the foundation of the world, to choose us, and to give us all blessings and gifts in Him.
Being chosen by God is about much more than escaping hell. Some people, when they talk about salvation, only have this in mind. They are overjoyed that they are free from the threatening of punishment for sin in hell through Christ, but if this is all they think of. They only experience half the joy of being chosen by God in Christ. All spiritual blessings are ours in Christ. It is, as I have said many times, an overplus. Not only does being chosen in Christ restore all that we lost when sin entered the world, but it also grants us all the blessings and wonders that would have been ours if Adam had never sinned in Eden. This is a very precious gift. We ought to thank the Lord for His mercy and grace in choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world. We may not understand all of God's workings, but we can thank Him that He has shown His grace to us.
Soli Deo Gloria,