Today we studied Ephesians 1:15-23 and in doing so, we looked back at verses 3 to 6 as we want to always ensure each passage in Ephesians is read in context and we are clear on who the different parties are who are mentioned.
If you look at verse 3 ‘Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly (places) in Christ:’ verse 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:’ verse 5 ‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,’ verse 6 ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’
Firstly, this is a sentence and it is directed to the saints at Ephesus and those who are faithful in Christ Jesus (who could potentially be the same group but could also be inclusive of other churches to whom this letter was to be distributed to). So verses 3 to 6 are talking to Christians, those already saved.
Secondly, verse 4 says he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame. Two truths here that I see are;
- Christians have been chosen in Christ (note the ‘in Christ’) before the foundation of the world; and
- the purpose was that Christians should be holy and without blemish.
It does not say we have been chosen for justification (salvation) because the context is more to do with the process of sanctification. It also does not say we were chosen ‘unconditionally’. That is sometimes an assumption made by Calvinists because they must ensure the bible supports their assumptions. Yes, there is an election and yes God chooses his people, but nowhere does it say he does it unconditionally. We see in Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2 that he chooses based on foreknowledge.
I brought your attention to the ‘in him’ or ‘in Christ’ before, and the reason is because interestingly, Calvin leaves these words out in his teaching on this ‘Blessed be God who hath blessed us in Christ, according as he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world.’ (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, Calvin p68).
Taking these two words out do somewhat change the meaning of the verse so that it says we were chosen before the foundation of the world. But the verse actually says we were chosen IN HIM before the foundation of the world. This is just another example of where the Calvinist has played around with scripture rather than accept what scripture says and fit our doctrines into what the bible says rather than make the bible say what our doctrines are.
The word used in Ephesians 1:4 for chosen is eklegomai and interestingly, the word used in 1 Peter 1:2 is eklektos (derived from eklegomai). It is clear that we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. It is also clear that we were chosen based on God’s foreknowledge (consistency is a must). Foreknowledge being that God knew who would accept salvation and believe the gospel and put their faith in God, and God choosing them. We cannot demand that God save us. Faith is believing in the character of God and his word, his promises. We believe that God exists, we believe that Jesus died and rose again for us to pay the price, we believe that God will save us, but we cannot demand this.
God knows all things from start to finish before the foundation of the world. To believe otherwise would be to limit God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign and can also give free will choices to us. To limit God from doing this is again, to limit his sovereignty. God chooses us and we choose him. This is completely in line with the bible.
Calvinists I think get a little confused when foreknowledge is awkward. Firstly, they discredit it because the Calvinist God has dictated all things or pre-ordained all things that will happen. So they cant accept foreknowledge and therefore have to change the meaning to something that doesn’t make sense anyhow.
I have heard a number of Calvinists talk about foreknowledge sarcastically as it is like God looking (or peering) into the future (or corridors of time), as if God has to get out his binoculars or telescope to pick out any detail (or those who would come to him), But they need to understand who God is. God is the great I AM. He is present at all points of time at all times. Jesus didn’t refer to himself as I was or I will be. He said I AM. Time is a panorama spread out before him from beginning to end. Why then is foreknowledge so difficult for Calvinism? Or perhaps their God is indeed limited and cannot effectively use foreknowledge? Then he isn’t the God of the bible.
Check out other articles on this website to see other examples of misinterpreting bible verses, taking them out of context, changing or removing words and applying rules incorrectly to verses. If Calvinism is really the truth, then why the need to change the bible? Why doesn’t the bible clearly state their doctrines?