"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Elect Before the Foundation of the World
It is true, and commonly agreed, at least among orthodox Protestants, that the atonement occurred in history, in the acts of Christ in His crucifixion and resurrection. We individually are justified, that is, have that atonement applied to us, also in history, at the time we believe.
However, there is an additional element in Scripture: the planning of that atonement, not in history, but before the world was even created.
This is described in several places in Scripture. Look especially at Ephesians 1:4: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." Who chose? Us? No, God the Father chose. When? When I raised my hand? When I went up at the altar call? No, but before the foundation of the world. Not just before I decided, and not just before I was born, but before any material thing existed. Chosen because I am holy and blameless? Definitely not! But rather that I could become holy and blameless.
The same concept appears in the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:34: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." What is the promised blessing? A kingdom! One that started at the cross, or the resurrection, or when I believed? No! Rather, it is a kingdom that was prepared for me before the world was even created. The kingdom existed before the world did! And again in the words of Jesus in John 17:24: "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me
where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because you loved Me
before the foundation of the world." This is a more-explicit description of the intra-Trinitarian covenant, that decision by the Persons of the Trinity that the Father decreed to give a people, i. e., the Church (Ephesians 5:25), to the Son, before the creation. That means that the sovereign election of Ephesians 1 is not about us, but about Christ. Not for our glory, but for His! Notice the "in Him" in Ephesians 1:4 above. While we are certainly not worthy, He just as surely is! Revelation 5:9: "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were
slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe
and language and people and nation."
Lastly, look at Revelation 17:8: "The dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of
life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast." This verse refers to a separate group of people, those who have not been chosen to be holy and blameless. This is the other side of the coin, the doctrine of reprobation. Just as God was glorified in hardening the heart of Pharaoh, He is glorified also in the hardening of all those who refuse to believe. Paul warned unbelieving Israel of this truth in Romans 9:18: "He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills."
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43