I preached on Ephesians 1 this past Sunday (Jan 22, 2017) which is God’s sovereignty over people. Eph 1:4 says God chose us before the foundation of the world. I don’t teach Calvinism or any other theological system, I teach what I see in the Bible. We could have spent weeks on this concept alone. Due to time constraints, I did not give a defense of this position because no defense is given in either Eph 1 or anywhere else in the Bible.
I also chose not to give a defense of the sovereignty of God’s grace in this passage because I lean toward the positive presentation of difficult passages. I tried to teach this passage in such a way that we would celebrate what Paul celebrates – we are chosen and adopted.
Eph 1:5 tells us that we are chosen to be holy and blameless. We are not chosen to do whatever sins or evil deeds we want and get to go to heaven. We don’t get our ticket to go to heaven and then live anyway we want. Holy and blameless – that’s a lifetime assignment.
To choose some and not all seems to label God with the direct or indirect choice of leaving some out of His grace. Remember to be specific IS to be exclusive. God chose Israel, other nations perished. To choose specifically IS to choose exclusively. So I have been very up front with God’s sovereign choices but that typically doesn’t concern people because they don’t feel the personal connect between God’s sovereignty and their choices.
Therefore, of the three Sundays I addressed God’s sovereignty, this particular Sunday was the most challenging. That was expected and left me humble and dependent upon God.
All of this seems to beg the question: Is God to blamed for the person’s lack of choice? Nope. We all choose sin. We are all guilty before God. We are all targets of His wrath and justifiably so. On the day of judgment, a record of our deeds will be read (Rev 20:12) and no one will have any argument. There will be no accusation, blame or fault assigned to God. People who choose hell will know that they have made their choice and God is justified in His judgment.
Paul makes it clear in 2 Tim 2:10 that he is passionately motivated to preach the gospel so that the elect may be saved. “I endure all things for the sake of the elect.” If they are going to be saved automatically then Paul should have stopped what he was doing/preaching to free himself. Paul sees these people as in need of his preaching so that they can respond to the gospel even though they are elect.
Evangelism can be effective because God has chosen and is drawing people to Himself. These are great days for the gospel because God is at work and we should choose to join Him in the work of bringing people to Jesus.
God enables us to believe but He does not believe for us. (We are responsible for our choice to believe or not believe.)
God chose us so that we can choose Him.
The gospel begins with the love of God (John 3:16, Eph 1:4-5.) The gospel does not begin with our choice.