just as He 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, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. --Ephesians 1:4-6*NOTE: I'm not looking to stir up trouble with the post, I'm just starting a study on Ephesians and I wanted to share my thoughts on this very controversial passage.
This particular passage of scripture does a good job of laying out salvation for us in three steps:
1. God Has chosen us.
2. God Has adopted us.
3. God has accepted us.
He Has Chosen Us
Warren Wriersbe once said, "Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!" I have yet to find a single Christian who will disagree with me that Salvation begins with God and not with man. Where we tend to disagree is on where the transaction takes place.
Scripture tells us in no uncertain terms that it is not us who chooses God, but He who chooses us, (John 15:16,) and that left to his own nature, a lost sinner does not seek God, (Romans 3:10-11,) but rather that it is God who seeks after the sinner, (Luke 19:10.) I find it particularly interesting that God chose us "before the foundation of the world." To me, this says as well as anything that our salvation is entirely God's doing and not earned by us in any way, shape or form.
Is this passage implying then, that the sinner responds to God's grace against his own will? No, he responds because God's Grace makes him willing to respond. It's at the urging of the Spirits convictions and by the will granted to us from God, that we respond to his call, accepting the grace given by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Wiersbe continues on to say, "As far as God the the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity!."
He Has Adopted Us
I will guarantee my three beautiful little girls an inheritance when I die. If they were not a part of my family, but I chose to bring them into the family, I would adopt them as my children and guarantee them an inheritance as well. This is much like it works with God. When God "adopts" us, He is giving us a place in the family. This guarantees us our inheritance, (Ephesians 1:11.)
He Has Accepted Us
One of my favorite terms is "imputed righteousness." (Not just because I sound smart when I say it.) We know that as humans, we have already fallen short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23,) and that we are seen as "dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1.) But the the passage tells us that we are not accepted because we have somehow made ourselves acceptable, but rather because He made us accepted in the Beloved." The doctrine of imputed righteousness tells us that although we are not righteous before God, Christ has imputed His righteousness on our behalf so that we may be seen as righteous.
God the Father chose us before Time began, The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins so that we might repent and we are made acceptable to God through the grace allowed to us by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God's plan since the beginning of time, laid out for us in three simple verses in the Book of Ephesians.
Isn't the Bible amazing?