By Larry White
Intro. There are several references in the New Testament writings that sum up the entire scheme of redemption in just a few short words.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
In these types of verses you get a whole sweeping view of the history of salvation, and in these short descriptions you see all the particulars mentioned with maybe one word apiece. Here in Peter, you have the ideas that Christians were elected or chosen according to what God knew beforehand and this election provided for and is characterized by the sanctification of the Spirit, and this election was for obedience to the will of God and the cleansing that he has provided through the death of his son.
So we understand that God had a foreknowledge about what he was going to do and who he was going to elect. I would like to look at the place God's "preordaining" or "foreknowledge" has in the scheme of salvation. This is at the request of a member here in our group.
Please watch for the terms, Predestination, Elect, Purposed, and Chosen as we go though the lesson and give special note to how they are used. I will be using this graph to illustrate and keep track of what I am saying throughout the lesson.
I.) I would like to use Eph.1:3-14 as a basis for our study - not every particular - but the general idea of the passage.
Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 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, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in him.
In him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory.
In him you also [trusted], after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
This is the hidden wisdom that Paul speaks of in
But we speak a wisdom of God in mystery, the hidden wisdom which God foreordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the leaders of this age has known; for if they knew, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it has been written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for
those who love him.”
In his predetermination, we must understand everything God determined was out of love for mankind. In his Foreknowledge he knew some would not come to him when he called. He also knew that some would come and believe in his son. For the sake of these few that he saw beforehand that would believe, he Predestinated them to salvation and glory.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he foreordained, these he also called; whom he called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, these he also glorified.
This predestination or foreordaining is like a decree. God saw and foreknew those who would believe and so he determined by decree that he would save those who believe and bring them to glory.
II.) After God had predetermined that he would bring those who believe to salvation and glory, he Devised a Plan to save man.
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when he testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.
So all the way through history God was laying down the groundwork of his plan and the prophets were looking into it and trying to figure it out, even the angels knew there was something going on but did not completely understand what God was doing. Again this is why it is called hidden wisdom in 1Cor.2:7.
God was preparing the world for salvation.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
These elements of the world were the ABC's of the Law, the carnal physical commandments of the Old Covenant. But in God's plan there was an appointed time when his plan would be fulfilled.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Everything that happened in history before us was preparing for this grand event - the world was being prepared to receive the Christ. Men of faith under the Old Covenant were part of the plan.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Ends of the ages was the appointed time of the father. The fulfillment of the ages. When this time came, Jesus came into the world and did everything the father commanded him according to his plan.
Then he said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.” he takes away the first that he may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
This plan therefore is the Gospel, that Christ should come into the world and give his life by crucifixion for the sake of the sins of the whole world. The summation of the gospel we have stated in several places.
Now, brethren, I declare to you the glad tidings which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, through which also you are saved, if you hold fast to that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he has been raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the majority remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Then last of all, even as to a miscarriage, he was seen by me also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it a righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith; as it is written, “Now the just shall live from faith.”
The gospel is God's "magnet" drawing and calling his elect whom he foreknew.
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which he called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ was not only to die for our sins but also to set a pattern of living that we are to follow and grow into his likeness. Living like Jesus in his life is what the process of sanctification is all about.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
"Saved by his life" is seen in Romans 6.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through immersion into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of Sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of Sin. For he who has died has been exempted from Sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died to Sin once for all; but in that he lives, he lives to God.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to Sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As Rom.8:28-30 says, we are to become conformed to the image of his son. We obtain the glory of Jesus Christ.
...of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
To this end I also labor, striving according to his working which works in me mightily.
So it is through the Gospel that this is all possible - it is the sum total of the wisdom of God that in his plan he would bring man to salvation to the obtaining of the glory of Jesus Christ through the call of the Gospel.
So when we fail to teach and preach the Gospel, we fail to carry out God's plan from eternity. We need to keep that in mind and let it spur us to courage to not cease to go everywhere and teach and preach Jesus Christ.
III.) In the fullness of time God Deployed his plan to bring man to a Completion in Christ, to sanctify him and bring him to the image of his son and gather them together out of the world in Christ.
Eph.1:4 Holy and without blame.
1:7 This being accomplished through the remission of sins.
1:10 We have completion in Christ, when we are gathered together in one under his headship.
This oneness under his headship is realized first in our relationship to him in the spirit. We are one in Christ.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were immersed into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
And because of our oneness in Christ, our oneness in unity together can be realized in the church or assembly. That one body is the church.
far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is about to come. And he put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
That is where we have the completeness in Christ. That is where we grow in the image of his son.
...for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
This is where God's eternal Purpose that he predetermined is accomplished in bringing many sons unto Glory. This is the Goal of the Gospel.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the assembly to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in him.
Those that God foreknew he called out of the world and made them complete in Christ - in the church. That is what the word "church" means, the called out assembly. All those in the church are the called of God, the elect, according to the foreknowledge and predetermined decree of God.
Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,
you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The spiritual house of God is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1Tim.3:15)
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
Those who are the called out are the chosen of God, the elect.
1. God's predestination was that he would bring to glory those who would believe in Christ which he already knew there would be some.
2. This was his purpose, his mystery kept secret from the foundation of the world.
3. He brought this purpose about through his plan in Jesus Christ - the Gospel.
4. And he brought it to its completion in the one body of Christ - the church.
5. This is the organization that grows us up into the stature and holiness of Christ when it functions as it should.
If you want to be the elect of God - then answer his calling. He is calling you. You need to respond to his invitation.
(Originally delivered as a sermon in Eagle Point, OR. December 2, 1984)