by Mike Ratliff
21 Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, 22 δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή, 23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 3:21-26 NA27)
21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe for there is no distinction. 23 For all sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed as a propitiations through faith in his blood for a display of his righteousness because of the passing by of the previous sins 26 because of the forbearance of God for the display of his righteousness in the present time for him to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
I listened to part of President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural speech and I want to reiterate to all of you reading this with discernment that we should not be surprised when leaders who are not Christians do and say unchristian things. I wrote about this over a year ago in a post I called Evil Personified. We live in an evil world in a dark time in which the visible church has become dominated by those attempting to redefine the Gospel to make it more palatable to the post-modernism while at the same time blatantly ignoring what God’s Word clearly teaches about what is evil and what he judges and what genuine Christians are really to be about. On the other hand, God has always kept a remnant within the visible church, which is the True Church, and it has remained faithful. This post and what we are teaching here is meant for those Christians. In fact, I suggest that what we are about to study will “offend” many of those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just attempting to be religious while sanctifying what they do in the flesh.
3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ, 4 καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, 6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ. 7 Ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων, κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ 8 ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν εἰς ἡμᾶς, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει, 9 γνωρίσας ἡμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ 10 εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν αὐτῷ. 11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. 13 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, 14 ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. (Ephesians 1:3-14 NA27)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, 5 having predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace by which he favored us in the Beloved 7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses according to the wealth of his grace, 8 which he lavished on us in all wisdom and understanding 9 having made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in him 10 for a stewardship of belonging to the fullness of the times to sum up all things in Christ, things in in the heavens and things on the earth. In him 11 in whom also we obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according the counsel of his will, 12 for us, the ones having previously hoped in Christ, to be the praise of his glory. 13 In whom also you, having heard the message of the truth, the good news of your salvation in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
In this passage Paul describes God’s master plan for salvation in terms of the past (election, vv3-6a), the present (redemption, vv6b-11), and the future (inheritance, 12-14). Paul also clearly emphasizes the Father in vv3-6, the Son in vv7-12, and the Holy Spirit in vv13-16.
In v3 Paul begins by praising God. Why? He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. In his providential grace, God has already given believers total blessing (Romans 8:28; Colossians 2);10; James 1:7;2 Peter 1:3). The “spiritual blessings” are the work of God who is the divine and spiritual source of all blessings. This is why we pray for God to “give us this day our daily bread…” The “heavenly places” refers to the realm of God’s complete, heavenly domain, from which all his blessings come. I really like how Paul ends this statement with “in Christ.” Why? God’s superabundant blessings belong only to believers who are his children, by faith in Christ, so that what he has is theirs—including his righteousness, resources, privilege, position, and power (cf. Romans 8:16, 17).
In v4 we have a statement that has caused much heartburn for so many when it really should bring Christians much joy. The doctrine of election is emphasized throughout Sacred Scripture (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 45:4; John 6:44; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29; 9:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3,4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10). The verb “chose” translates ἐξελέξατο, “exelexato”, “choose”, the Finite, 3rd Person, Singular, Aorist, Indicative, Middle case of ἐκλέγομαι, “eklegomai.” What does all that mean? This form of this Greek verb indicates that God not only chose by himself but for himself to the praise of his own glory (vv6, 12, 14). God’s election or predestination does not operate apart for nod does it nullify man’s responsibility to believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Matthew 3:1,2; 4:17; John 5:40). When did God choose all would be his? It was before the foundation of the world. This means that his choice was obviously made independent of human influence and apart from any human merit. All who are saved have become eternally united with Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8). Our predestination includes that we should be holy and blameless before God. This is both the purpose and the result of his choosing those who are to be saved. Unrighteous persons are declared righteous, unworthy sinners are declared worthy of salvation, all because they are chosen in Christ. We have looked at this many times. This is the imputation of Christ’s righteous to our account, our Justification (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). This imputed righteousness places believers in a holy and blameless position before God (Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 2:10) even though daily living inevitably falls far short of his holy standard.
The “In Love” at the end of v4 should have been at the beginning of v5. Our God predestined us to sonship or adoption as sons from a divine motivation of his love for us. This sonship is through Jesus Christ unto himself according to the good pleasure of his will. This adoption is not just to be called by his name or to be called a Christian, but God also miraculously gives his own nature to those whom he has elected and who have trusted in Christ. (John 15:15; Romans 8:15).
In v6 Paul praises God for his glorious grace. This grace is the grace, which God bestowed upon the “beloved,” that is, the elect. This is saving grace. Notice who gets the glory for this grace, as he should. Grace is underserved love and favor. No one merits salvation. No one earns it. Everyone merits to be judged and condemned to an eternity separated from God because of their sin and there is not one thing they can do to buy their way or earn their way out of it. They have nothing in and of themselves that makes them worthy of grace. That is why it takes grace, this glorious grace to save one such as I. In v7 Paul explains this very thing, “…in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses according to the wealth of his grace…”
In v8-10 we see that when God forgives us our sins by his grace it is within his divine spiritual understanding, which he also teaches to those he grows into mature believers within the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In v11 Paul again brings up our inheritance. Jesus Christ is the source, which is so certain that it is spoken of as if it has already been received (1 Corinthians 3:22,23; 2 Peter 1:3,4). Again, no matter how sinful or worldly a elect sinner was, by trusting in Christ he is made righteous.
In v12 we see that the supreme purpose of salvation is God’s glory. This is why the plan he put forth to redeem a people for himself will not fail. All the elect will believe and be saved. In v13 we see that the Holy Spirit has sealed all who are in Christ. The Holy Spirit is given by God as his pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory (2 Corinthians 1:21).
As I said at the beginning these truths are quite hard for some to swallow, but as you can clearly see we did not deviate from Scripture at all. We did not add or alter anything. I personally find that these doctrines do not cause me any issues with my faith, but instead, bring great comfort and joy because I know that God loved and elected me before the foundation of the world and did everything necessary to bring me to faith in Jesus Christ and is still working to grow me spiritually in Christ. He has given me the gift of the Holy Spirit and my eternity with my Lord awaits. If you are in Christ then my brothers and sisters rejoice with me.
Soli Deo Gloria!