God’s Sovereign Unconditional Election
Ephesians chapter one begins with an explosion of revelation: God’s Sovereign Unconditional Election. Sovereign Unconditional Election is God’s free choice, before the foundation of the world, to save those whom He wills; and this choice is not conditioned on His foreknowledge that certain ones will believe in Christ. It is like a stick of dynamite that ignites the flame of God’s glory throughout the book.
The Glory of God (Eph.1:12), the Sovereignty of God (Eph.1:21-23), and Election (Eph.1:4, 5, 10) all meet together in this collective bombshell of truth. The Church (Ekklesia) is God’s Elect (Eklektos), freely chosen by Him for His own glory. Election proceeds faith, regeneration, atonement, and all other salvific doctrines –both in time and importance. It is the hinge and cover of God’s book: every page adheres to it and it reaches from cover to cover.
God begins to unfold His eternal plan of salvation: “to unite all things in Him (Christ) … so that we who were first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory” (Eph.1:10, 12). Uniting all things in Christ, and that, being to the praise of His glory, is the theme of the book of Ephesians. Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be glory melts off every word.
“Uniting all things in Christ” describes the greatest Mystery of the Bible, The Church. The Church is a body of people who have been called out by God; we have been gathered together under one head, Christ. Jesus looked to this as He prayed in Gethsemane: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me (Jn.17:21).”
Election is God’s Sovereign Eternal Decree
It all begins with God: “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4a). God put it into law. Mercy and Justice. Before the world began He knew that Adam would fall. That fall would set into motion a decree of Justice and Mercy. All would deserve justice but some would receive mercy. He freely chose whom He would give mercy.
He set it into motion. The engine never stops. The decree to show mercy upon His elect races full throttle through time: It touches each millennium, each century, each decade, year, month, day, minute, and second. It is a purpose to which God has committed Himself and none can deter Him. Every soul feels the wind of this decree blow by them.
This angers many. Why? Because they do not want to accept God as He is. God makes it abundantly clear that salvation is according to His purpose, His good pleasure, His will, and His plan. All of these phases are used just in the first half of the chapter. It is a gut-punch at the pride of men. God is going to do what He pleases, whether you agree or not, and there is no stopping Him.
If that idea angers you, then you may need to consider what God you serve. The God of the Bible is the Sovereign of the Universe; the only Omnipotent Being. A Sovereign Eternal Decree to save those whom He chooses fits the hand of this God perfectly!
There is no plan B. This plan of salvation, based upon God’s Election, is plan A. It is THE PLAN.
Election is Unconditional
Election is unconditional because God didn’t choose me because He foreknew that I would choose Him. He didn’t look down the corridors of time and select those whom he knew would be receptive to the gospel. If that were the case, then my salvation would be based –In part –on my works to will Him. It would no longer be by grace alone. That idea is called Conditional Election and it’s found nowhere in the Bible. God choosing me because He foreknew that I would choose Him is magically inserted into texts like those in Ephesians one.
Salvation is according to God’s will -it says this four times in the chapter. Also, it says that it is according to His plan; and according to His purpose (Eph.1:1, 5, 9, 10, 11). What purpose? “That we should be holy and blameless in His sight” (Eph.1:4b). But why He chose me, it does not say.
God doesn’t owe anyone mercy. If mercy were owed, it would no longer be mercy. It would be payment. And “that’s not fair” is not an excuse (Paul deals with that in Romans 9:18-23). As I always tell my daughter, you don’t want what is fair, you want mercy. As, I’ve heard R.C. Sproul say: “Some get mercy. Some get Justice. However, no one gets injustice.”
My conclusion is simple. There is nothing “I do” to qualify for God’s election. God chose me because He wanted to. He does not have a qualifier. I responded to the gospel with a repentant and willing heart because God awakened my will, opened my eyes, and compelled me to come (John 6:44, 65). So yes, I did choose Christ, but God chose me first. And the only reason that I love Him, is because He first loved me (1 John 4:19).
Election is in Christ
God made and Eternal Covenant with the Son. He would give Him a Bride and Christ agreed to purchase this Bride with His blood. Before you were born, God gave you to His Eternally begotten Son. This is the Alpha and Omega of Election.
However, Election does not negate the need for salvation. Election is God’s first step towards reconciliation with a lost sinner. God has commanded all men to repent and believe the gospel. I am saved when I repent of my sin and surrender to Christ as my Lord. Therefore, Believing on Christ is the condition for salvation.
The word adoption helps tie together the concept of election and justification. We were “predestined for adoption as sons through faith in Jesus Christ” (Eph.1:5). The adoption process began while we were in the womb of God’s heart. When we came to faith in Jesus Christ He sealed our heart with His Spirit and gave us a new birth name: Child of God. As Paul says in Eph.1:13, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph.1:13). Our salvation is secured and guaranteed (Eph.1:14) because it was eternally decreed before the foundation of the world.
I know I am God’s elect because I have genuinely believed on Christ. And I know that I have genuinely believed on Christ because God sent His Spirit to live in me. Only later do I realize that I chose Christ because God first chose me. Only later do I realize that I love Christ because God first loved me. Only later do I realize that I did not find God, but that God found me. Therefore, when we preach the gospel, the call is to repent and believe; to receive Christ and confess Him as Lord.
Election is necessary
God has not removed man’s free will. However, our free will is held captive by sin. We were dead in sin (Eph.2:1-4); it was the master of our will. In our freedom to choose, we chose what we desired … sin.
We are incapable of choosing God because there is nothing within a dead sinner that loves the true God. That fact that the natural man rejects God’s Sovereignty in Salvation is only another proof. Since God is holy and righteous, He is neither attractive nor agreeable to us. Election is necessary because we are morally incapable of choosing the Supreme Good of God. We are morally incapable of choosing Christ. Thus, God, in His grace, chose us. He does not bring us in kicking and screaming either. He awakens our Will. He opens our eyes to see His beauty; and when we come to Christ, we come willingy. However, our wiliness began with the will of God.
Election is for the Supreme glory of God
God chose the most despised, rejected, and unlovable people He could find (1 Cor.1:26-31). If you want to scrape up a biblical reason for why God chose you and not another, that would be the one. In the Sovereign Unconditional Election of the sinner, God gets Himself ALL the glory. Salvation is all God’s doing. God extravagantly loves an unlovable sinner, freely saves them, and gives them a seat at His table. Every gaze is turned upward.
Paul prayed, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph.1:17). He knew that the growth of the Church depended upon them growing in the knowledge of God in Christ; and that it could only come from God.
He wanted them to know three things in particular. These three things are identified in verses 18-23: The hope of their calling, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable power of God toward those who believe. He wraps up the chapter by exalting Christ to the head of the Church. He puts Jesus in the place of Supreme Power over all things. This especially includes the Church: “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fullness all in all” (Eph.1:23).
The Sovereignty of Christ over the Church should affect every congregational decision. If He loves us, He will warn us when we stray and give us time to repent. Moreover, if we do not, He has the Sovereign right to snuff out the light of any congregation (Rev.2-3). Therefore, we must know that every decision we make for the Church is for His Church. We must humble our heart to His will. His Will brought about our salvation and only His will can succeed in a congregation. Knowing that God is Sovereign in salvation and over the Church will drive us to discover His eternal will in the doctrines of His eternal Word.
The Doctrine of God’s Sovereign Unconditional Election is the loftiest of all. Paul travels back in time, before the foundation of the world, before time itself, and shows the Church their Builder and Maker. This Doctrine is the security blanket of every truth and message preached; it is at the very heart of God and should be within the Church. The evidenced will be a high view of God and salvation in Christ alone.
The Doctrine of Sovereign Unconditional Election protects the Church. It keeps the Church from pride and self-sufficiency. It will affect the way we see each other. It will cause us to see one another as something much more precious than just a group of friends. It will affect the way we do evangelism. It will compel us to pray more fervently than we ever have –for it reveals that the only hope of the Church is God himself. It will keep us from sinner classification; from categorizing certain people with a “quote”, uglier past. Sovereign Unconditional Election demolishes all boasting. None of us deserved salvation and God did not select any of us upon any good He foresaw in us.
The ultimate purpose of God in the Church is this: “To Him be glory in the Church” (Eph.3:21). And His glory shines brightly through the window of this Doctrine: The Sovereign Unconditional Election of the Saints.
Continue in Chapter Two: God’s Sovereign Salvation