Diving deep into theological waters with eternal implications, Pastor Ray Viola shares from Eph. 1:3-5 and asks “who chooses who in salvation” With God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, what does the Bible say about “election and predestination?” This truth will set you free from the extremes that plague the church today on both sides of this debate.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have more than likely been drawn into the Calvinism vs. Arminianism conversation regarding the method or process of man’s salvation. Both systems of interpretation contain 5 points that contain biblical support. Both systems believe and teach the biblical doctrines of election and predestination. But when you read either of their 5 points, you walk away knowing that something is missing.pastorraywatchwhite

According to Scripture, God chooses man before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-4; Revelation 13:8, 17:8), but man is also responsible to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38, 17:30). So who chooses who? Well, both systems believe that God chooses man and man chooses God. Where they disagree is in the “mechanics” or the “process” of how it happens. They disagree about what God does and when, and what man does and when. Both want you to embrace The Savior and embrace their system. I say, embrace The Savior and forget their systems. No system saves you. We owe our salvation to the electing love and drawing of The Father (Ephesians 1:3-4), the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:7), and the conviction and sealing of The Holy Ghost after hearing and believing the gospel.

We will see in this study that the bible teaches the doctrines of election and predestination. So it is kind of absurd to ask if we at Koinonia believe in election or predestination. Of course we do. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). Secret things belong to The Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29). We, being finite, can only see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). A man once asked a staunch Reformed pastor after a message on election if he could know if he were one of the elect. His answer? Absolutely! Repent and believe in The Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. John Wesley couldn’t agree more. Today, make your calling and election sure; repent and believe the gospel (Acts 20:21).

V. 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:  

  • He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world. This is known as the doctrine of election, which is taught throughout Scripture. Through God’s sovereign will before the creation of the world and, therefore, obviously independent of human influence and apart from any human merit, those who are saved have become eternally united with Christ Jesus.
  • Redemption is God’s plan of salvation from everlasting to everlasting.
  • It is vitally important that we understand that God’s election or predestination does not operate apart from or nullify man’s responsibility to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. No one is saved apart from believing personally in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • When God opens our blind eyes to see our own guilty condition and also the beauty and glory of the person of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, we cease from our efforts to save ourselves. That glimpse of the greatness, majesty and glory of God shows you why you need the Savior. Thus, we cast ourselves totally on Christ.
    • Verse 4 reveals to us why we were chosen? (1) To be holy and without blame. (2) To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8.29).
      • Holy. Set apart for the Master use. This is the same Greek word that is translated saints in verse 1. God’s will for each and every one of His children is that we be holy as He is holy. Holiness, or sanctification is the will of God for every child of God. RJV Look up cross reference for holiness…1 Thess 4.7
      • Without blame.The Greek word that is translated in the KJV without blame is the same word that is used to describe an acceptable paschal lamb. Jesus Christ, as our paschal lamb, is also said to be unblemished (Heb 9:14; 1 Pet 1:19). Since believers are in Christ, God views them positionally without blemish as well (Jude 24; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22).

Vs. 1.5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Vs. 1.6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

  • Many Greek scholars tell us that the phrase in love at the end of verse 4 should grammatically be placed at the beginning of verse 5, for it reveals the divine motive for God’s elective purpose.
  • Predestinated. Motivated by love, The Father predestinated us to be adopted as His children, by grace through faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will.
  • The Greek word that is translated predestined (Strong’s #4309here in verses 5 and 11 means “to mark out beforehand, to determine before, foreordain”; 
    • Acts 4.28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before G4309to be done.
    • Romans 8.29 For whom He did foreknow he G4309 also did predestinate G4309 to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30.Moreover whom He did predestinate G4309 them He also called, and whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
    • 1 Cor 2.7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained G4309 before the world unto our glory.
      • Foreknowledge is one aspect of God’s omniscience. His includes His electing grace, but does not preclude human will.
  • Adopted. Adoption as his sons is different from spiritual birth as children. All true believers have been born as children of God. To be adopted as a son means to have the full rights of an heir. Because of this adoption, all believers acknowledge God as Abba or Father. Rom 8.15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father
  • It is by God’s grace through Christ that we are accepted in The Beloved (Jesus Christ).
  • To the praise of the glory of His grace. The ultimate purpose of election to salvation is the glory of God. In fact, the entire gospel message and the purpose of the Christian life is that we live for the glory of God.
  • “God’s love and grace are the originating causes of salvation. The atoning death of Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause. The Spirit of God is the efficient cause. The Word of God is the instrumental cause. Faith is the conditional cause. The glory of God is the final cause.” Thomas Oden

In closing, let me say a few things.

  • John 3.14-17 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
  • Jesus referred to the story of Num. 21:5–9 where the Israelite people who looked at the serpent lifted up by Moses were healed. The point of this illustration or analogy is in the “lifted up.” Just as Moses lifted up the snake on the pole so that all who looked upon it might live physically, those who look to Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, will live spiritually and eternally.