Pastoral Devotion August 13, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today I want to turn our attention to a familiar passage to remind you of a familiar truth. Oftentimes, we tend to look past these well-known passages and truths and forget the splendor and the depth and the treasure that they are and how devotional they can be for us.

Look with me then at Ephesians 1 verses 4 and 5, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”

Rightfully, when teaching this text, most of the attention gets focused on God’s sovereign election of the saints for salvation in Christ. The argument centers on explaining the paradox between man’s faith and God’s sovereign decree. This is a teaching and a doctrine that we at Heritage know and love. But I want to look at this text from a slightly different angle. My goal is not to strengthen your doctrinal muscles but to point you to a fountain for your assurance. It is here that we find one of the most beautiful realities of the Christian faith: the eternality of God’s love for you and for me. Here’s my message in a nutshell: God’s love for you will never fail because it is not based on you first choosing to love God but on God’s choice to love you in eternity past.

Start with me in verse 4 – you have been chosen. Your salvation did not begin with your choice to repent and believe. God didn’t start loving you in that moment in time. No, God loved you before time was created. Let that sink in. Before the universe was made, God chose you and me, personally, to be His own in Him – in Christ.

God’s choice of you was based on you being in Christ. Before sin entered into the world at the Fall, before the foundation of the world, God predestined His Son to come to earth as the incarnate God and give His life as the perfect sacrifice and ransom for our sins (Acts 2:23, 1 Peter 1:20). This choice of us by God is based in us being united to Christ, Whom the Father loves infinitely and perfectly. When God chose us, He did not see our righteousness, which is nothing but filthy rags, but instead He saw the perfect righteousness of the unblemished Lamb of God – His Son.

And if we drop down to the end of verse 4 and move into verse 5, we see the motive for why we have been chosen in Him – in love He predestined us to adoption as sons.  We were not chosen just to be judicially righteous before the Divine Judge, we were predestined to be the children of the Heavenly Father. In the ultimate divine act of love, God chose you to be united with His Son and then set the course for all of your life so that you would receive the gospel of His Son in faith and be adopted into His heavenly household. As the apostle John says, 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He has loved you and He has loved me this way according to the kind intention of His will. God took delight and pleasure in choosing you. Think of that!

Again I point you to this wondrous truth and plead with you to ponder it so that your assurance will be strengthened and your doubts would be silenced. In commenting on this truth, theologian Geerhardus Vos writes, “The best proof that He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began.”[1] In other words, His love for us existed before time was made. How could it then end or fade?

Dear friend let this ring true in your hearts today.  Perhaps during this time you have experienced terrible sickness and loss. Perhaps during this time you have struggled with anxiety or fear. Perhaps during this time you have been crippled under the weight of doubt and you have been tempted to buy into the devil’s lie that you are outside of the love of God. Dear friend, come to this cup of heavenly water and be washed by your Bridegroom with His Words. Who can separate you from His love? I agree with Paul who asked this question and then answered saying, 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:38-39)  Be wholeheartedly assured, dear saint, “He loved us from the first of time, he loves us to the last.”[2]

[1] Geerhardus Vos, “Jeremiah’s Plaint and Its Answer,” Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos (ed. Richard Gaffin Jr.; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001), 298

[2] John Lo­gan, “Romans 8:31-39: Let Christian faith and hope dispel,” Scot­tish Psalter and Par­a­phras­es, 1781, R48