Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (ESV)
As we saw last post on Ephesians 1:3, the Father has blessed us in Christ with every single spiritual blessing that the heavenly places has to offer. Now, in verses 4-14, Paul expands upon what those blessings are.
The first blessing we come to is in verse 4. It reads, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Some translations render it “just as,” and a other render it “according as.” What’s being communicated, it seems, is this is both the first of those blessings and the ground of those blessings. God choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world is one of those blessings as well as the beginning of those blessings.
Now this is a huge one. It is hotly debated in our day by different denominations and traditions. But the text of scripture is clear: God chose “us” (those saints who are in Christ) in Christ before the foundation of the world. Before God created the world. Before God laid the foundation of the world. Before history began. Before time came into existence. Before we did anything good or bad: God chose us in Christ.
There can be little room for doubt. If you think you chose God, well think again. God chose you first before you even existed. He had a plan to bestow his love upon you. He decided that you would be his child, in Christ, before you were even a child. Do you see the tightly packed theology in there? That means the Father picked a people he would save by the death of his son Jesus Christ, and they would be placed in Christ, and he would love them and keep them and make them his own. God is the great actor. God is the great doer. God is the amazing sovereign one who acts perfectly according to his will and does not fail at any of his purposes.
If you are a Christian, then know he has chosen you. You didn’t choose him. There is nothing in this text about God choosing you because he saw that you’d choose him. That goes exactly against this text because it says, “before the foundation of the world.” If the foundation has to be laid before the world exists, and if God had a plan, and he was going to act in time, and send Christ, and choose a people; If the world is contingent upon the power and work of God, and God is a personal God who acts in his creation, then we cannot pretend God winds up some clock and lets it loose. God isn’t winding up a clock when he acts in his creation. The clock maker might wind up a clock and let it go, but God isn’t winding up a clock that will move on its own. History and time both move forward because of God’s actions. He changes history in moments. He changes the world. The Bible is clear that God acts in time.
All that to say, God’s choosing us is a positive action. It’s not a passive action. He truly chooses, in His wisdom, who he is going to save. He doesn’t passively search out in some hypothetical universe who will choose him and then choose them. That goes so contrary to this text that it’s ridiculous. Why? Because God is blessing his people with every spiritual blessing. Because his people being chosen before the world exists is one of those blessings. Because the rest of scripture demonstrates that nothing happens outside the control of God.
So, we have been chosen. And we were chosen not because of ourselves but because of the work of Christ on the cross and us being placed in Christ before the foundation of the world. That is what “chose us in him” means. Meaning that God already had planned for Christ to die before the fall. History was going to happen in such a way as to bring about the death of Christ. This was God’s plan A. And he was doing it so he could place the people he chose in Christ. All of this being done so “that we should be holy and blameless before him.” This was part of the reason why we were chosen. So that we should become holy and blameless. This is God’s goal in saving us. His glory of receiving a perfect people. The bride of Christ being perfect.
It’s an amazing thing to be in Christ, for we are becoming perfect by his work, we were chosen by him before we existed, and we are his. What amazing love.
This causes no room for boasting. Who can boast when God acts? Who can boast in believing when God chose you to be in Christ before the foundation of the world?
You must ask yourselves: Does God choose before we believe? Or do we believe and then God chooses?
This text is pretty clear. God chose before we believed.