We have done nothing to earn the kindness of God. When we speak of His grace, we literally mean “that which is undeserved.” Grace is a gift given in the freest sense. At times, in speaking of God’s grace, we mean that we have received not merely what we didn’t deserve, but rather the exact opposite of what we deserved. Yet, we need to constantly remind ourselves, if we did not deserve it, then there is nothing in us that brought God’s grace upon us.
In Ephesians 1:4, Paul writes that God has “chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.” The argument is then made that God did not choose of His own will and desires, rather, something must have caused Him to choose. The logic of this premise then concludes that God chose for salvation those who He knew would choose Him. This premise lessens the elective foreknowledge of God.
According to this idea, God knew what would come to pass, so he chose to elect those who would eventually choose Him. While in a nuanced way this may appear to be correct, the design of this argument has one fatal flaw – God chose to elect certain people based upon something in themselves (albeit in their future selves). In this regard, His grace is not free and unmerited, rather, in His foreknowledge, He owes His grace to those who will eventually believe. This view undermines the nature of grace, and mishandles the truths presented here in Ephesians 1.
In His love God chose us, not because we would eventually choose Him, but because of v. 5, “the good pleasure of his will.” He wanted to. It was His desire that brought us into His family through the sacrifice of Christ, not our own desire. In this regard, those who would argue for an election based upon the foreknowledge of God have the cart before the horse. In a right view of Scripture, John 6:4 says, “no man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” We then understand, that we will only choose Him after he has chosen us.
So then why does He choose us? If it is not because of something we have done (or will do) then why were we chosen? What cause could God have to elect from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a diverse group of sinners? In Ephesians 1:6, Paul answers this query, “To the praise of the glory of his grace.” He chooses of His own good pleasure so that he will be praised and worshipped. We have been chosen to be a part of the family of God so that God will be glorified and exalted.
We have been chosen. We have been loved. We have been predestined, and it was all because of his good pleasure, and for his own glory. What an amazingly loving God who would choose us in spite of ourselves. What a wonderful God who would forgive our sins in Christ and offer us peace with Him. We ought to praise and worship Him for his unmerited kindness toward us.
Reflect: How does the idea of God electing us because He foreknew that we would trust Him go against the very nature of grace?