predestined for glory (Eph. 1:3-14)

Title page of 1560 Geneva Bible

How interesting that Paul opens his letter to one of his favorite churches, the one at Ephesus, with the topic of predestination. Granted, Paul himself had spent three years teaching there, so maybe this was a mature group of believers ready for meatier material. Would our churches today lead with this topic after three years, much less after thirty?

What does this passage actually say about predestination? . . . That we were chosen before the creation of the world; that we have been adopted according to his good pleasure and will; and that all of this is freely given by a gracious God. As it was with Abraham so it was with Ephesus: God says, “I will surely bless you.” There are many who would harmonize predestination with free will by suggesting that predestination is merely divine foreknowledge of our own choices. This passage appears to be problematic for this line of interpretation. There are many places where the Bible calls upon the freedom of our wills, and this must be factored into the overall theological equation, but this passage is not one of those places.

What is here is the Apostle Paul saying, “Look, this is who you are.” Paul actually continues this way three chapters before getting to his first action item at the beginning of chapter 4: I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. One of Paul’s cardinal rules of preaching is this: respond to the imperative in light of the indicative. In other words, teach them who they are before you tell them what to do. This is good advice for preachers that is too rarely followed.

We are predestined for glory. May we together today move toward whom we are meant to become.


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