Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians there is some evidence that the apostle intended the letter to go to everybody, not only to the believers in that city.
About half of the letter is concerned with telling the world what Jesus Christ did for us even before any of us were born. He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (1:3). But who is the "us"? The believers in Ephesus, yes, by all means; but are they the only ones?
Then the apostle goes on: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, ... having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (vss. 4, 5). Now Paul brings the reader to a point of decision. We must decide: (a) Does he mean that God has "predestined" some people before they are born to be saved, and therefore the "us" means He has "predestined" "all" to be saved? Or (b), has He predestined others before they are born to be lost?
If we choose to believe (b), we raise an enormous barrier against the cardinal truth of the entire Bible--that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). There is no way under heaven that any rational human being can believe that a God who is love would determine some poor people to be lost before they are born, in spite of their desire (and trying) to be saved! If "God is love," He must give every one free choice; and a divine predestination to hell is no free choice!
The "us" in Ephesians chapter 1 has to be the entire human race. It's the same "all men" of Romans 5:15-18 who are given "the free gift" of election and justification in Christ their Substitute. (But we can reject what we are given!)
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 27, 2005.
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