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ZT: Election Ephesians 1:4–6
送交者: 从上而生 2019年05月16日07:28:13 于 [彩虹之约] 发送悄悄话


Ephesians 1:4–6

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.



It is wonderful to be told, as Paul does tell us in the third verse of Ephesians 1, that God “has blessed us … with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” But as soon as that is said we immediately want to ask how such great blessing actually becomes ours. Paul describes it as “spiritual” blessing “in the heavenly realms.” But we are not in heaven; we are on earth. How can we possess the blessings God has for us?

We can imagine a number of wrong ways. The blessings of heaven might be thought to be possessed by force, which is what Satan tried to do. He tried to conquer heaven; he was conquered instead. We might try to earn these great blessings. But with what would we earn them? Heaven’s blessings must be bought by heaven’s coin. We possess no spiritual currency. Perhaps we can inherit them when the owner dies. Alas, the owner is the eternal God, who does not die. Perhaps God is gracious and is only waiting for us to ask him for these blessings. Even this will not work. For according to Scripture, we are not the kind of persons who, unaided by God, will even ask him for blessings. On the contrary, we despise God’s blessings. We want our will and our way and left to ourselves, we would never ask God for anything.

Then how is it that some people receive these blessings, as Paul says they do? The answer is in verses 4–6. It is the result of God’s own sovereign act, election. Paul says, “For [the Greek word is kathōs, meaning ‘just as’ or ‘because’; it links verses 4 and 3, as an explanation] he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

This teaches that the blessings of salvation come to some people because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to them—and for that reason only.

Election and Human Depravity

This doctrine is difficult for many persons, of course. But before we deal with their objections we would do well to consider the various views that people hold about election. There are three of them.

The first position is a denial of election outright. No one is saved because of some supreme hidden purpose of God, these objectors say. We can speak of grace, for God chose to reveal himself to fallen men and women and to provide a way of salvation through the death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That he did so proves him to be gracious. But having spoken of the grace of God in this sense, we must stop there and turn the entire situation over to human beings. God graciously offers salvation, but people must choose this salvation of their own free will. Election simply does not enter into it.

The strength of this view is that it conforms to what we all naturally like to think about our abilities. The difficulty is that, whether we like it or not, the Bible does teach this doctrine. John R. W. Stott calls election “a divine revelation, not a human speculation.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones refers to this teaching as “a statement, not an argument.”2 In his study of election J. C. Ryle begins by listing eleven texts (including Ephesians 1:4) that teach election in the simplest and most undeniable language and urges his readers to consider them well.

It is hard to imagine anyone doing this and then continuing to deny that election is the Bible’s teaching.

According to the second view, election is taught in Scripture but it is election based on foreknowledge. This is a mediating position, held by those who acknowledge that election is taught but who do not want to admit to a doctrine which they consider unjust and arbitrary. They would argue that God elects some to salvation and its blessings but that he does so on the basis of a choice, a response of faith, or some other good that he foresees in them.

This is patently impossible. One problem is that an election like that is not really election. In such a reconstruction God does not preordain an individual to anything; the individual actually ordains himself.

Another, greater problem is, if what the Bible tells us about the hopeless condition of man in sin is true, what good could God possibly see in anyone to cause him to elect that one to salvation? Goodness is from God. Faith is from God. If God is eliminated as a first cause of goodness or faith or a God-directed human choice (whatever it may be), how could there ever be any faith for God to foresee?

Calvin put it like this: “How should [God] foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us.”

When people have trouble with election—and many do—their real problem is not with the doctrine of election, although they think it is, but with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary.

The question to settle is: How far did the human race fall when it fell? Did man fall upward? That is the view of secular evolutionists, that we are all getting better and better. Did man fall part way but not the whole way, so that he is damaged by sin but not ruined? That is the view of Pelagians or Arminians. It affirms that we are affected by sin but insists that we nevertheless possess the ability to turn from it and believe in Christ when the gospel is offered—by our own power. Or did man fall the whole way so that he is no longer capable of making even the smallest movement back toward God unless God first reaches down and performs the miracle of the new birth in him? That is the view of Scripture.

The Bible says that we are “dead in … transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

It says, “There is no one … who seeks God” (Rom. 3:11).

Jesus declared, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

It is written in Genesis: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

What good could God possibly foresee in hearts that are dead in transgressions and sins and inclined only to evil all the time? What good could God anticipate in people who cannot come to him and do not even seek him unless he first draws them to himself? If that is the situation, as the Bible says it is, then the only way any man or woman can be saved is by the sovereign election of God by which he first chooses some for salvation and then leads them to faith.

The third position is election pure and simple. It teaches that we are too hopelessly lost in sin ever to partake of God’s great spiritual blessings on our own. Instead, God in his mercy chose us and then made his choice effectual. First he made our salvation possible by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sin. Then he made us capable of responding to him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth and glory of the gospel. Thus, all the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ. And Paul does exactly that in these opening verses of Ephesians.

Arminian Objections

Objections to the Bible’s teaching about election have been around for a long time, and there are many of them. Here I consider two: that election is arbitrary 随意的、专横的、霸道的and that it is unjust.

When election is described as arbitrary we need to understand precisely what we are talking about. If we are basing the accusation on any supposed quality in man that is imagined to call forth election, then there is a sense in which election is arbitrary. From our perspective there is no reason why one individual rather than another should be elected. But generally that is not the way the charge is made. Generally the objector means that election is arbitrary, not from our perspective, but from God’s perspective. It amounts to saying that God has no reason for what he does. He is utterly arbitrary in picking one individual rather than another. It could as easily have been the other way around. Or God could have picked no one.

That last sentence indicates the way through this problem. For as soon as we think of the possibility of no one being saved we run against the very purpose Paul talks about in Ephesians 1:6, namely, that salvation is “to the praise of his [God’s] glorious grace.” That is, God purposed to glorify himself by saving some. Since that is so, election is not arbitrary. It has a purpose from God’s point of view.

But why one person rather than another? Why more than one? Or why not everyone? These are good questions, but it does not take a great deal of understanding to recognize that they are of another order entirely. Once we admit that God has a purpose in election, it is evident that the purpose must extend to the details of God’s choice. We do not know why he elects one rather than another, but that is quite a different thing from saying that he has no reasons. In fact, in so great an enterprise, an enterprise which forms the entire meaning of human history, it would be arrogant for us to suppose that we could ever understand the whole purpose. We can speculate. We can see portions of God’s purpose in specific instances of election. But on the whole we will have to do as Paul does and confess that predestination is simply “in accordance with [God’s] pleasure and will” (v. 5).

The second objection is that election is unjust. It is unjust for God to choose one rather than another, we are told. All must be given an equal chance. But is it possible that a person can still so misunderstand what is involved as to think in these categories? An equal chance! We have had a chance, but we have wasted it by rejecting the gospel. And it makes no difference how many “chances” are given, or to how many. Apart from God’s sovereign work no one follows Jesus. So far as justice is concerned, what would justice decree for us, if justice (and nothing but justice) should be done? Justice would decree our damnation! Justice would sentence us to hell!

It is not justice we want from God; it is grace. And grace cannot be commanded. It must flow to us from God’s sovereign purposes decreed before the foundation of the world, or it must not come at all.

Blessings of Election

Election is not the problem some have made it to be. In fact, it is actually a great blessing of the gospel. It is so in at least four areas.

1. Election eliminates boasting. Critics of election talk as if the opposite were true. They think it is the height of arrogance, something hardly to be tolerated, for a person to claim that he or she has been chosen to salvation. They suppose it is a claim to be worth more or to have done something better than other people. But, of course, election does not imply that at all. Election means that salvation is utterly of God. As Paul says, “he chose,” “he predestined,” “he has freely given,” and this is “to the praise of his glorious grace” and not to our glory.

Only election eliminates all grounds for boasting. Suppose it were otherwise. Suppose that in the final analysis a person could get to heaven on the basis of something he or she had done. In that case, that individual could claim some part (small or large) of the glory. In fact, it would be the critical part, the part that distinguished him or her from those who were not saved. That is why salvation’s blessings have to be ours by election alone.

2. Election gives assurance of salvation. Suppose it were otherwise. Suppose the ultimate grounds of salvation were in ourselves. In that case, salvation would be as unstable as we are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. As Calvin says, “If … our faith were not grounded in God’s eternal election, it is certain that Satan might pluck it from us every minute.”

Calvin found security of salvation in the “adoption,” which verse 5 says God’s election provides for us. Adoption means that we are taken into God’s family so that we become his children and he becomes our heavenly Father. Calvin points out that when we pray to God we must call him Father, for that is what Jesus taught us to do (see Matt. 6:9). But how can we do that, he asks, unless we are sure that he really is our Father? If not, then our prayers are mere hypocrisy and the first words we utter in them (“Our Father …”) are a lie. “We must be thoroughly resolved and persuaded in ourselves that God counts us as his children. And how may that be but by embracing his mercy through faith, as he offers it to us in his gospel, and by assuring ourselves also that we are grounded in his eternal election?”

3. Election leads to holiness. A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do; therefore, I’ll enjoy myself and sin all I please.” Those who say that either are not elect or else are elect but are not yet regenerate. Why? Because, as verse 3 says, election is to holiness. That is, election to salvation and election to holiness go together. They are never separated. So, as John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness.” If we are not growing in holiness, we are not elect. We are still in our sins.

4. Finally, election promotes evangelism. Some think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. “For if God is going to save certain individuals anyway,” the argument goes, “then he will save them, and there is no point in my having anything to do with it.” It does not work that way. The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which he calls those elect persons to faith. One of those means is the proclamation of the gospel to sinners by those who already believe (1 Cor. 1:21). The very Paul who wrote this letter was the first great missionary.

Moreover, it is only as we recognize the importance of election that we gain hope in evangelism. Think about it. If the hearts of men and women are as opposed to God and his ways as the Bible says they are, and if God does not elect people and then call them effectively by means of the Holy Spirit so that they respond in saving faith, what hope could you or I possibly have of winning them? If God cannot call effectively, it is certain that you and I cannot. On the other hand, if God is doing this work on the basis of his prior election of some, then we can speak the word of truth boldly, knowing that all whom God has previously determined to come to faith will come to him.

We do not know who God’s elect are. The only way we can find them out is by their response to the gospel and by their subsequent growth in holiness. Our task is to proclaim the Word boldly, knowing that all whom God has elected in Christ before the foundation of the world will surely come to Jesus.[1]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 14–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

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                  耕种的人,这里指三一神! - repentant 05/17/19 (168)
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                还有圣经上的属基督,也已经被阿古们篡改的面目全非了!😎 - repentant 05/17/19 (167)
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  感谢和赞美主!Election - YeSuShiZhu 05/16/19 (209)
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