Chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:3–1:4)
My mum used to tell me I was special because I survived her and my dad having quite a serious car crash when she was pregnant with me. She says I have a flat nose because I must have hit the side of her womb rather hard, but perhaps she just doesn’t understand the physics. Not too special though, because my mum described me after I was delivered, by caesarian note, as looking like a sucked mango pip. Since my dad died, I think I have become a little more responsible for her, and we have a great relationship, punctuated by lots of humour, and love. She drives me crazy, but I love her, and I am pretty sure she has always loved me more. I am special to her, and I appreciate knowing that, because it is a good feeling to know such a thing I hope you realise you too, are special to someone. If it was your mum or your dad, great, but even if it wasn’t, you are special to God.
Max Lucado put it this way: “God is crazy about you. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If God had a wallet, your picture would be in it. Whenever you would talk, He would listen. And you might go days without thinking of Him, but there would never be a moment when He would not be thinking of you.” That’s a wonderful thought, and I believe it’s true! Consider this verse from I Peter 2:9.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Let’s just savour that for a moment. A chosen people! Royal, holy, a people belonging to God. And all of this is because of Jesus. We are God’s chosen people because of Christ. In this letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul explains our chosen position in Christ: (1) We are chosen in Christ, (2) We were chosen in Christ before the world, and (3) We were chosen in Christ for a purpose. Let’s have a closer look at this position we have.
I. WE ARE CHOSEN IN CHRIST
(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.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked.“Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13–16
Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”
This is probably the most important question we can ever be asked, and ever be required to answer: Who do I think Jesus is? It is the crux of life. Jesus is the hinge of history. What we believe here must impact everything else about our existence. It is the most important question any person can answer. The reason this is so is because my answer to this question will determine what I do in life and where I will spend eternity! The answer to this question will have affect on everything I do in my life. Or should. There was a street survey taken in New York City, which asked a simple question: “Who was Jesus?” Some answers were: White guy with a beard. Blond-headed dude. A fictitious person. A bit like Gandhi. A guy with super powers. A Jew. A fisherman. A Carpenter. Someone who started a new religion.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THESE ANSWERS?
Before I was a Christian, I became intrigued that not a single recognised religious leader like Moses, Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed — ever claimed to be God. But Jesus did, and Jesus is the only person who has ever convinced a great portion of the world that He is God. So Jesus said he was God, and that of course can either be true or false. If false, Jesus either knew His claims were false and He lied, or He was deluded and a lunatic.
The reasoning is simple: if Jesus knowingly lied, he was the world’s greatest hypocrite and a charlatan of the worse kind. He would also be the greatest fool, for what person would die for a lie? And, if Jesus was deluded, how could His precepts help so many people for so long a time? His critics and enemies had nothing but the highest accolades on His character. The philosopher John Stuart Mill called him a “preeminent genius” and “probably the greatest moral reformer and martyr who ever existed on earth, the ideal representative and guide of humanity.” A long time ago, it seemed to me then, as it does to me now, that there is no other choice. It is known as the TRILEMMA: either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is your Lord. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God?
Daniel Webster once wrote a letter to the Rev. T. Worcester: “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. The miracles which he wrought establish, in my mind, his personal authority, and render it proper for me to believe whatever he asserts. I believe, therefore, all his declarations, as well when he declares himself to be the Son of God, as when he declares any other proposition. And I believe that there is no other way of salvation than through the merits of his atonement.”
Make no mistake about it: Jesus is who He claimed to be and He can do what He said He could do! Give us eternal life! We are chosen in Christ. We are privileged characters to God and it’s all because of Jesus. We became God’s chosen ones when we chose Christ as our Lord and Saviour! The choosing of God part comes when we chose Christ. I’ve heard it said that it was like God said, “Those who accept my Son will be chosen ones.”
II. WE WERE CHOSEN IN CHRIST BEFORE THE WORLD
1:11 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.
1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Before the creation of the world. What was before the world? That depends on who you’re talking to. During the French Revolution, there was a strong movement hat was determined to abolish Christianity. One night an atheist was loudly proclaiming his wicked doctrine to a poor countryman “Everything,” he said, “will be abolished—churches, Bibles, clergymen; yes, even the word ‘God’ itself. We shall remove everything which speaks of religion!” The poor countryman chuckled. “Why do you laugh?” said the other. The peasant pointed to the stars and replied, “I was just wondering how you and your men would manage to get them down!” To adequately destroy everything about God, you must include His creation as well, stars and all! But we were talking about what was there before the creation of the world — many people today will simply say there was nothing there before the world came into being, but I think that is the wrong answer, because before the world, was God. There are many verses of Scripture to support this notion, but let’s focus on two passages:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 … in the beginning God…
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1–3
Before there was a planet called earth and before the whole immense universe existed, there was God! Before everything existed, there was God! It’s hard for most people to wrap their minds around this idea but God has always existed. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He has no beginning and no end.
1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
There is a story about a very old woman who had been listening to a group of preachers speaking on the topic of predestination: “Ah, I have long settled that point, for if God had not chosen me before I was born, I am sure He would have seen nothing in me to have chosen me afterward.” Maybe you feel that way? part of what she said was accurate, but not all of it was. She said that the way she looked at life was that God would not have seen anything in her after she had been born, that would have caused Him to choose her. Well, that’s true in the sense that she was a sinner and we’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God. When we sin, we’re all unlovely in His eyes. But God does not choose us to be His children because of who we are, but because of who He is! That old woman said she was chosen by God before she was born. There is some truth to what she was saying. God knew us all before we were ever born. Do you realise this? He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. How amazing is that? How could this be? Because He is God who knows all, sees all, and is limitless in His power. We can barely catch a glimpse of the full nature of Almighty God.
How could God choose us to be His children before we were born? He knew man would sin and would need a Saviour so He planned to send Jesus before mankind came into existence. We were chosen in Christ before the world began in the sense that God knew we would choose Jesus as our Saviour. But God’s plan started before earth and man came into existence.
III. WE WERE CHOSEN IN CHRIST FOR A PURPOSE
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Imagine buying a nice car, brand new, all the mod cons, expensive, for cash, then parking it in the garage and hardly ever using it. It would make me want to ask you: “Why did you buy that car? Are you are just going to keep it in your garage to look at it?” Most people buy a car for transportation, it’s the purpose of a car. Why are you here? What’s your purpose in life? God didn’t save you in Jesus, just to look at you and admire you, like you are some kind of trophy in a museum case! What’s your purpose in life? God has a purpose for your life.
All the way through high school I was pretty confused about what my life purpose might be. I knew I would need to grow up, and get a job, and then when the bush war came along, it changed all sorts of expectations and ideas. I fell in love, and somehow new that Rosie was a part of my purpose, but it was all a bit vague and unclear. I did not have devout Christian parents who had raised me to believe God had very clear ideas about me and my life purpose, so I just muddled along. How about you?
I have watched people of a similar age to me, but who came from really mature, deep, solidly Christian families. I’ve watched them grow up and so much more naturally and effortlessly, move into pastoral or missions work, as if they were simply born to it. My calling came after much soul searching and trying to do other things, I wish it had been another way really, but it wasn’t. However, I came to a place where I became comfortable with God’s purposes for my life. They change, adjust, from time to time, and I am OK with that. After six months here, there are days to ask the Lord if I am in the right place, if I am the right person for this group of people right now, and of course Satan will have a little go at undermining things too. But mostly, I can rest easy as I believe that for now, my purpose in life is happening.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? And do you know your life’s purpose right now?
Rick Warren, in his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, wrote, “Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself. You didn’t create yourself, so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for!” Warren also wrote in that book, about Dr. Hugh Moorehead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern IL University, who once wrote to 250 of the best known philosophers, scientists, writers, and intellectuals in the world, asking them, ’What is the meaning of life?’ He then published their responses in a book. Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were clueless”. Here what it says in Colossians 1:15–16: For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. (The Message)
Do you get the picture? Our purpose in life is not that we are here for us, but rather that we are here for Him, to know Him, to please Him, to live for Him, to live for His glory! We are: God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1–4. Christ is our life!
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31
You have been chosen for a purpose. That purpose is to live for Christ, and for His glory no matter what life work we choose, no matter whom we marry, or where we decide to live. He is God in the flesh and He alone gives the promise of eternal life. He alone gives purpose and meaning to life! Let me conclude — we are chosen in Christ. We are God’s chosen people and it’s all because of Jesus. It matters not who we are, what we do in life to make a living, how much money we make, or where we live. Life is about knowing our Creator and we can only come to know Him through Jesus. Jesus came to show us the Father. And He came to seek and to save the lost. We find that which is truly life when we find Him and come to know Him. And when we know Him we will know our Creator God!
I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly. John 10:10
There is nothing better than this. Amen.