Our lesson this week is the last lesson of the year! What a journey we have been on this year in both our sermons, lessons, and studies. I certainly hope this year has led to much growth for you spiritually, and I hope that you will continue your walk of faith with me throughout the next year. Our lesson this week takes a look at who God has called and chosen.
Chosen to be Holy
The opening verses of our lesson today focuses on predestination. Do you know what it means to be predestined?
We are already blessed
Our lesson opens with Paul praising the Lord for how God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (v.3). Now, at a glance, it is easy for us to overlook Paul’s true meaning with this statement, but I want to spend a few moments discussing what Paul has said here.
In this one verse, Paul touches on the point that the Lord has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. There are times where some of us get down on the Lord because we feel that God is slow to move on our behalf or that God has not blessed us. The truth of the matter is that the Lord has blessed us hundreds and thousands of times over; we are already blessed. Along that same line, the blessing(s) that we have prayed for, the Lord has already put in motion to fill our hearts desires or to supply better than what it is we desire!
Let us not overlook that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the “heavenly places”. Some of us like to go around speaking about hoping to be in heaven one day. While I understand the hope and the sentiment, something that I like to point out to us sincere believers is what is shown to us in Revelation 21.
In Revelation 21:9, one of the seven angels came to John and desired to show John the bride, the Lamb’s wife. The Lamb is in reference to the Lamb of God – Christ. The bride of Christ is the Church – the congregation of the sincere believers of this present age.
Where did the angel take John in order to see the bride? Scripture tells us that the angel took John to a great and high mountain and showed him the great city, the holy Jerusalem (New Jerusalem) descending out of heaven from God. From the mountain, John was able to look over into New Jerusalem and see the beauty of Lamb’s wife.
Why do I reference this to you? Well, I want you to understand that you have already been seen in heaven! All of us believers have been blessed in the heavenlies! So, all we must do is continue to walk in the light and what John saw will certainly be fulfilled.
Predestined to be holy and righteous
So, along that line, we will see Paul write to those in the church of Ephesus, “He (God) chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (vss.4-5).”
This is a verse that uses language that is very similar to Romans 8:29-30, which says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Any time we begin to speak about predestination it raises a certain question about destiny and free will. Some begin to wonder whether or not some are destined for heaven while others are destined for hell? Among that thought, some begin to wonder whether or not people truly have a choice to go to heaven or not. This is a thought that we certainly need to spend time focusing on in our lesson this week.
A good reason to focus on this thought is because many misuse “being called by God” to shut the door to heaven on others. This was a major issue that Jesus spoke against when it came to how the religious leaders would “labor for the Lord”.
I want to be very clear on the notion of who it is that the Lord has predestined and called. Who did God predestine and call? Was it a specific group or nation of people? Israel is certainly God’s chosen but I want you to understand what God had set Israel aside to do.
In Exodus 19:1-6, you will see where the Lord desired to make a covenant with Israel. In desiring to make a covenant with Israel, the Lord sought a people that would live obediently according to His instructions. Should Israel have lived in obedience, God said that Israel be to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Now, what is the role of priests? Yes, priests do serve in a role of spiritual leaders, but as spiritual leaders, Israel would have been spiritual servants to the world! When James and John desired to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in His kingdom, Jesus taught, “whoever desires to be first (greatest) among you, let him be your slave (servant)— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:27-28).”
Many people convert over to Judaism today in order to feel like they are one of God’s chosen; they also do this as a means to try to lord over others but they do this out of religion. We should not confuse today’s Judaism with what we see in scripture, especially when it comes to who it is that God has chosen.
The best verse we can point to in speaking about who it is that God has called, predestined, and chosen is John 3:16. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Do you see what I see in John 3:16? The Lord chose the world which is why He gave the world His only begotten Son. Jesus expressed this as well when He said in the Parable of the Wedding Feast, “For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14).” Jesus called on the world to live in repentance but sadly, only a few of us have answered that call and chosen to live in repentance so that we may be partakers in Christ.
All can be saved
Paul said, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence (vss.7-8).” Again, the Lord desires for all to live in repentance so that we can all be redeemed of our sins. How many of us will answer the call of redemption through Christ?
Sadly, many of us hinder ourselves as we begin to believe that redemption is not possible for us. Yes, we let the devil persuade us to think otherwise, but as you hear me say quite often, we also can be our own worst enemy. To be very frank, many of us come up with excuses as to why we can’t be saved. Don’t never let anybody tell you that you can’t be redeemed; don’t even let yourself tell you that you haven’t been chosen by God for redemption!
Jesus is all the proof you need to see that God has chosen you (vss.9-10). As we discussed in our lesson last week, Jesus revealed the divine truth to the world. The word of God was meant not just for one people but for the world. The word of God is ministered throughout the world and is freely available to all of those that desire to receive the word.
What must happen is that we have to get over our hurdles. Again, I want to be very clear about this point, you must confront yourself and all of the excuses you make if you have not already come to Christ. The Lord is not and cannot hide from you! God is everywhere and has His message known loud and clear.
As I preached in a series of sermons that I have mentioned a lot recently – Know Thyself – once you confront your demons, you can then get yourself aligned with God. To get aligned with the Lord you must learn to trust in the Lord and depend on Him. Again, I say to you, whether you are the biggest faith walker in the world or not, your faith will seal your salvation. God’s salvation will lead you to being able to enter the heavenly as a holy and righteous child of God.
Predestined to be glorified
Paul also takes time to point out here in this scripture is that not only did God predestine mankind to be saved from sin after the fall in the garden, but He also predestined us to be the praise of His glory (v.13). Something I started out preaching at the start of 2023 is the fact that God created mankind for the purpose of dwelling with mankind.
When God created mankind, He created a being that was without flaw or blemish. In Genesis 1:26, the Lord said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Mankind, initially, was already living in God’s glory while dwelling in the garden; we were a beautiful creature as all that is holy and righteous is beautiful.
Sadly, as we know, Adam and Eve fell into sin in the garden and were exiled from the garden (Gen. 3). Sin caused mankind to lose the glory we once had, but in the garden, the Lord promised that through the one who would defeat the serpent (the Devil), mankind would regain what was lost (Gen. 3:14-15). Again, mankind was chosen to be redeemed by the Son to be the praise of God’s glory.
Our lesson closes out on a note of how the reward of being the praise of God’s glory is sealed (vss.13-14). As you have heard me say on several occasions, our salvation is sealed; it was sealed to us through the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said to the disciples that He needed to return back to the eternal domain in order for His followers to receive the Helper – the Spirit of truth (John 16:7-13). The receiving of the Holy Spirit was, and still is, confirmation of all that Jesus has promised. Therefore, all who receive the Holy Spirit have been sealed unto salvation. Who receives the Holy Spirit? All who are of sincere faith.
Regardless of our works, Paul wrote to the Corinthians that when the sincere believer goes before the judgment seat of Christ, His judgment will be one that saves. Those whose works endure the fire, Jesus’ judgment, will receive a reward (1 Cor. 3:14). Those whose works do not endure Jesus’ judgment will be saved as His judgment will purify them as fire purifies (1 Cor. 3:15).
Too many people live with this thought that they aren’t one of God’s chosen because either they have heard a word that was not according to sound doctrine or because they believe themselves not to be worthy of redemption. To all people, God has chosen to redeem all and grant to all the opportunity to dwell with Him. All you must do is have faith and believe in this calling from the Lord.