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GOD CHOSE US BY HIS GRACE

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We are beginning a study on the book of Ephesians. In the first chapter we run across a topic that confuses people. It is called the doctrine of election. Most people read about the doctrine of election and become very confused or bothered by the idea. The problem is we view God’s election as how we go about “choosing”. We select based on criteria and God’s elected are based on His love and grace with no standards. We, Christians, are elected, not selected. May this condense blog help us get our hearts and mind around a doctrine that is for our assurance of the faith that we have called and saved by.

GOD CHOSE US BY HIS GRACE

When did God choose us?

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV)

Before the creation of the world, God chose us. That’s important. God chose us before there could be any reason for his choosing. There could be no merit involved in his election. It was not a selection process, where God chose the best and the brightest to be his people. It was an election. God simply chose us, as Paul says,

…..in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace,….7in accordance with the riches of God's grace (Ephesians 1:5-7 NIV)

Can you imagine if God had used this "selection-by-merit" process that people use? What if he lined us all up against the wall and compared us against each other, trying to decide which one of us should get the nod to be children of his kingdom? Which of us would ever imagine that we could be fit for the kingdom of God? Who could be confident that God had indeed chosen him or her, when we can always find someone who has lived the Christian life just a little better than we have? God would be viewed as an angry judgmental God. Who could at any moment change his mind. God chose you before the world was created, not by merit, but by grace.

GOD ACCEPTED US IN CHRIST

Why should God choose someone like us, sinners, to spend eternity with him in heaven? Because "in Christ" we are acceptable to God. Listen to Paul’s words again.

MEMORY VERSE

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4a)

4bIn love5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ……7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:4a-8 NIV)

The guy at the beach was wrong. God can’t accept us the way we are. God accepts us only in Christ. We are acceptable to him because Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins. We are acceptable because we have Jesus’ blood and righteousness, which makes us holy and blameless in his sight.

Perhaps that explains why people sometimes have a problem with the doctrine of election. In our minds, we can easily separate the doctrine of election from the doctrine of salvation. But God didn’t choose us because of who we are or what we would be. He chose us in view of what Christ did for us. So if you want to be sure of your election, if we want to know how God could have chosen you, go back to the cross. Because if you understand how God could accept you in Christ, then God’s choosing you from eternity isn’t going to be hard to believe.

HE CALLED US BY THE GOSPEL

Perhaps it’s best to look at the doctrine of election as part of God’s comprehensive - and I mean COMPREHENSIVE - plan to save us. Because the better we understand that our salvation depends on God’s planning and his ability to carry out his plan, the more sure we will be of getting to heaven.

God CHOSE me from eternity and PREDESTINED me to be one of his children. In order to fulfill His plan to bring everything in heaven and earth together under one head Jesus Christ. (UNITY-ONENESS)

God had to make salvation possible. So from the very beginning, in the most detailed and carefully worked out plan that has ever been devised, which led to God sending His Son into the world to become our Savior, to suffer and to die for our sins. But in order to save ME, God’s plan had to include a personalized plan of salvation that would bring me to faith in Jesus. That’s what Paul is talking about in our text to the Ephesians (and to us!) in vv 11-13: "11 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:11-13a NIV)

And how can you be sure that God has also called you? Paul writes, "…When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13b-14 NIV)

There is a beautiful picture here. If you believe Jesus died for your sins, you’ve been marked with a seal because the Holy Spirit is in your hearts. In ancient times, people would use a special ring or cylinder which contained their official stamp or seal to mark something as their possession. If I put my seal on something, that was like saying "hands off!" and telling people to leave my property alone. Friends, God called you by the gospel. Just by hearing the Gospel, not listening, by hearing the bible says the Holy Spirit has entered your hearts and minds and gives new life. And God has marked you with his seal with the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism. You’ve been stamped as being one of God’s people.

God has put his Spirit into our hearts and put his seal on us, too. That seal marks us as God’s possession. It says, "Hands off!" to the devil, who would love to claim us for his kingdom. It says "Hands off!" to the world which is ever trying to destroy our faith. We can be sure of heaven someday because we know that God will also carry out his plan for you and me in order to save us for heaven.

May you have great comfort and faith in your election is sure in Christ!

For the full sermon and outline go to www.hopeonthebeach.org/resources/sermons.  You can also join us on Wednesday at 10 and 6:15 for Bible study.

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