Pastor Alec Taylor
Foreknew ... predestined ... called ... justified ... glorified
The Jews had the advantage of possessing the special revelation of God through the Old Testament (‘the oracles of God’, 2). They were however, the same as the Gentiles (‘Greeks’) in that they also were sinners. They are all under sin (9,23). Paul fully accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as the word of God and quoted from the Psalms and Isaiah to prove the guilt of everyone (10–18). Man’s depravity is universal! Notice the words ‘none’ (10–11). Man in his natural state is ignorant of spiritual things (11; cp. 1 Corinthians 2:14). Sin is vile and its terrible fruit is described in verses 10 to 18. We also sin when we fail to do what God commands (sins of omission). It is sin not to seek after God our Creator (11). Our goodness is not good in God’s sight (12) because all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The speech of sinners is deceitful, poisonous and full of cursing and bitterness (13–14). The tongue is a world of iniquity (James 3:6) which we must learn to control if we belong to the Lord (Ephesians 4:31; 5:4).
Let your speech always be with grace (Colossians 4:6). Sin also produces murderous attitudes and brings misery and destruction (15–16). Man in his sin cannot know peace nor does he fear God (17–18). When we speak to many who are not Christians, it is soon apparent from their attitude to sin, righteousness and coming judgment that there is no fear of God before their eyes. Many vainly believe that because God is love there will be no judgment and so nothing to fear. They fail to understand the nature of the love and justice of God. We must tell them that the Bible teaches that God is angry with them and that they will perish if they do not repent.
God’s holy law cannot save us, but it reveals our sin. The law silences and condemns us all. It speaks that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (19–20). Let us praise God for giving his Son to die so that in him our guilt is cleared through justification. The doctrine of predestination brings great comfort if rightly understood. On what basis did God choose us before he made the world (Ephesians 1:4)? Some Christians interpret ‘foreknew’ to mean that God chose those whom he knew would have faith to choose him, making election (God’s choice) ultimately dependent upon us. Such teaching fails to accept that faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) and that we can only come to the Son when the Father draws us to him (John 6:44). The foreknowledge of God means more than him knowing about us. It means ‘to know and to love with intimate personal awareness.’ (cp. Genesis 4:1; 18:19; Hosea 13:5; Amos 3:2; Matthew7:23; John 10:14). The Lord did not set his love upon us for any good found in us, but on the basis of his free and sovereign grace according to the good pleasure of his will (Ephesians 1:5; cp. Deuteronomy7:6–8). The apostles Paul and Peter poured out their hearts in praise to God when they thought of the doctrine of election (Ephesians 1:3–6; 1 Peter 1:2–3).
God has chosen us to be holy (Ephesians 1:4). Those who lead careless lives and yet profess to be saved should not take their salvation forgranted. We are urged, ‘Be diligent to make your calling and election sure’ (2 Peter 1:10). We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (29). Can the beauty of the Lord Jesus be seen in your life?
There are five links in the chain of salvation that cannot be broken. Notice that they are all the work of God. — He foreknew ... he predestined ... he called .... he justified ... he glorified. We cannot lose our salvation. Everyone whom God has predestined, he calls, everyone who is called is justified, and everyone who is justified will be glorified. God does not choose us and then lose us; what God begins, he completes! He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). He is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).