Election: The First Decree of Blessing

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love” Ephesians 1:3-4 

It is true that every blessing, every good given, every pleasure granted has a source. In verse three the Word of God says that believers have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. From this truth we know that these blessings are other-worldly – they are in heavenly places. We know that the act of choosing was the Father’s good pleasure. At the very beginning of verse 3 Paul sets out to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the Father has chosen to choose us to be blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. It is the Father being praised, being lauded, having heaped upon Him our thanksgiving for the choice He has made. But was this an arbitrary choice to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places? Did the Father choose haphazardly? 

We have to answer with an emphatic no to the question. There are two prepositional phrases in these verses that tell the story of the source of the spiritual blessings that the Father has laid on us. The two phrases refer to one and the same person. The phrases are these: “in Christ” and “in Him.” The text is clear: we are blessed in Christ because we were chosen in Christ. The first was a direct result of the second, but the second stated came before the first. In other words, we were chosen in Christ first (though it’s stated second in the text), and as a result of the choosing we are now blessed in Christ as a result (though the blessing is stated first in the text). 

It was the pleasure of the Father to choose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. We should not be mistaken about this choice of the Father though – before He ever chose us, He first chose Christ. In what sense did the Father choose Christ? He chose Christ as the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Without this first choice of the Father we who were chosen in Christ had no hope of being chosen. 

Peter writes of Jesus, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in these last times for the sake of you, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:20-21
Peter speaks of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Acts 2:23
Even Isaiah in the OT foretells of the purpose of the Father in eternity past, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Jesus); he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.” Isa. 53:10

It becomes clear that the source of the believers election and the source of the spiritual blessings in heavenly places given to believers is the Lord Jesus himself, the second Adam. Jesus is the representative head of every believer (I.e. all of his offspring, Isa. 53:10). Those who believe are elected in Christ Jesus and he is the firstborn among many brethren. As Thomas Goodwin says,

“In the womb of election he, the Head, came out first, and then we, the members. He is therefore said in predestination to be the first-born of all his brethren: Rom. 8:29, ‘Who hath predestinated us,’ says the Apostle, ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.’”

The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Vol. 1

One application for we who believe on the Lord is this: our destiny is anchored in Christ and He is a sure Rock that will not be moved today, or any other day. We are in Christ, chosen by the Father, before the foundation of the world, and so we can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that our labor in the Lord is never in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58) The work of Christ cannot fail and as we join in the present day work of Christ in the world, we also cannot fail.

This bodes well for the confidence of every plowman that plows in the harvest fields of the earth in the name and stead of Jesus, seeking to make disciples for the glory of the firstborn of all creation. All of the seed of Jesus will be saved and not a soul will be lost for God the Father has chosen “us” (plural) in Christ Jesus to be blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. 

So today we seek those souls chosen in Christ – to declare to them the greatness and glory of King Jesus who is Lord and Savior, and we do so with the confidence that His purposes will prevail.

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