We began this study of Ephesians with Paul’s prayers that these new Christians might experience something of the glory of God and really know his love for them. It is how we should pray for each other.
Paul never separated doctrine from experience (and neither should we). His desire was that they enjoy unmerited favor from God and peace that surpasses all understanding. Then he goes right into the depth of a doctrine that has sadly been very divisive.
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 in love (Ephesians 1:3-4, ESV; bold is KJV).
Praise should be on our lips as we remember that one day we will appear before the throne without any sin or blame. It does not depend on what we have done in this life or how we have overcome our troubles or mastered life. This decision was made before the world was created. God the Father set us in the bosom of his son, Jesus, out of sheer love. It is all of grace and the prerogative of the Creator. He is sovereign… which means no one has power over him to tell him what to do. He has every right and the power to do as he decides is best and he has decided to love:
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:5-6, ESV).
His love is such that it compels us to praise and thanksgiving. There we are, gazing at the face of our Savior, knowing fully our weakness and failures, yet accepted and loved. We know we do not deserve this; it is a gift. So we erupt in praise and thanksgiving. God has done as he desired. It is glorious in our eyes.
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created….To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! (Revelation 4:11; 5:13).
Jesus affirmed this teaching; it is not something Paul plucked out of nowhere. Jesus said, in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me;” and “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” (John 6:44); “And He said, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (6:65).
Many people through the centuries have hated the word “predestined.” The meaning of it, “to determine, to decree,” is offensive to them. I think some of this resistance came from our political movements to limit the power of governments and kings and queens who had tainted the word with their unfair decrees. But, just because they sinned does not mean that God cannot exert his will in perfect love.
Others are offended that God’s decree should come before the individual’s belief in Christ. So they put the emphasis on the person’s choice rather than God’s. There is no question that only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be in heaven. Jesus affirms this in John 6:40,
And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Yet, if we emphasize belief and omit decree, who gets the praise? Perhaps that is why Christianity in England and America became so egocentric…all about us, starting with us, instead of God. Ephesians and Revelation both teach that our thanksgiving is to be to the praise of his glorious grace not to the praise of the individual’s choice.
How To Apply This To Your Family
Love your children. Show your love for God. Always urge them to seek God through the scriptures and do it yourself. Make an attempt to model what it is like to live in the love of God and to praise him for it.
Don’t simply assume the children are destined to love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask them, “Do you believe that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God?” “Do you believe there is a heaven and hell?” “Why in the world do you even need a Savior?” “What do you think sin is?” “What does the creation of the world teach you about God?” “Do you believe Genesis 1 or not? Do you really know deep down that Jesus loves you?”
Try to make your prayers before your children more than just a rote “Thank you for this day; Thank you for this food.” Thank God for assurance that you will stand before him without taking the blame for your many sins …just because he has loved you. Praise him for the blessings of his grace and favor.
I never lived next door to my grandmother, but over the years, she modeled before me what it was like to respect the sovereignty of God. There was just something about her that caught my eye. I thought it was her temperament. I watched her. She was a strong-willed woman and I admired her for it. In spite of life’s hardships, she had learned to live in the love of God and rely on his sovereignty. Her very demeanor communicated that to me. I found it very attractive. Once she told me of a spiritual experience she had. Her husband had been dead less than two years and her two oldest sons had left the farm to fight in World War II. She was distraught. How was she to handle the farm? What if her sons were killed? She was so upset and worried. Suddenly, she was overcome by a vivid assurance of God’s love and care for her…she could FEEL it. It was wonderful; she never forgot it! She brushed herself off, got up, and stopped worrying! She experienced what she knew doctrinally. God loved her and could take care of her. I thought, “I wish I could taste that myself.”
The children in your life who have ears to hear will get the message that salvation is all about God and his glorious grace. They will see that they are not the center of the universe, God is! Perhaps they will take away something of what it is like to know God and to live in his love.