Ephesians 1:3-6 – Dr. Todd Gray


I’ve heard many Christians say that they don’t believe in predestination. That’s troublesome because it’s in the Bible. That’s what we learn when we read that God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless. The word “predestination” is used right after.

God wants us to understand it. We learn in the Bible that this is for the blessing of God. This is for the praise of His glory.

In this study, we want to reach understanding. We will understand what Paul is saying here, not just share it with others, but have a real praise-centered heart in response to it.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

These concepts used to bother me. Before I had adopted what I call “a Big God theology”, I saw things differently. Predestination was hard for me to understand.

God can do anything, and He knows everything. That means there’s nothing God can’t do and there’s nothing that God doesn’t know. He’s God. But after I started to digest Big God theology, verses like this got a little easier to digest.

God started to feed me what I would consider the meat of His Word. I needed that protein for the spiritual formation of my soul. It has been a blessing for me and I pray that it becomes a blessing for you.

Like every blessing that Paul mentions in this long sentence, whether it be God choosing you or His predestination for you, they’re still offered by His grace and accessible only in Christ.

What does this have to do with salvation?

Think back to the book of Joshua as he was going into the promised land. God said that everywhere you place your feet has already been given to you through the promise that I made to Moses. That blessing was not realized until he put his feet on those places.

God knew Joshua would take those steps. God made the promise. Joshua still had to step on it to make it happen.

In Ephesians one, Paul is describing God’s part and knowledge in our salvation.

God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless in Him and before Him.  The only reason you were holy as a believer is because Christ was holy. You believed in Him and He washed you anew.

God chooses you for Himself. God’s not choosing you because He sees something good in you. God’s choice is His. It’s good because He is God and He makes it. The Bible’s very clear. We are lost. We are hopeless and we all fall short of His glory, which means you cannot come to Him on your own.

You might ask, why would God choose some and not others? I don’t think that’s the right question because you’re leaving out parts of scripture like how God desires that none would perish. All who believe will not perish but have everlasting life.

Why would God choose some and not others? I don’t know. I’m not God. Neither are you. That is not my place and it’s not yours either, when we do that, we go into a very scary place in our logic, thinking that we can figure it all out. I think there’s a better question.

Why would God choose any? Why would He choose me? Out of all people, why would he choose Paul? Paul says I’m the chief of sinners. God chooses you out of His love. If He did not find you and He did not choose you, you would be lost forever.

What does this mean for missions and evangelism?

The number one reason I hear people tell me “I’m not going to go out and share the Gospel” is that they say, “I don’t know if I’m going to do it right”. You worry about sharing the Gospel. You let God worry about saving the soul.

He’s choosing you. Don’t complicate it. Praise Him for His choice and surrender to that decision.

God has made a way for you to believe. John 3:16 says that whosoever will believe in Christ will not perish. I believe He’s calling you.

God’s Motivation

He chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless, and it says in love. That’s His motivation. It’s the same motivation for predestination in verse five. You can say it in love. God chose us. He also predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.

We’ve been sought after by a father, The Father. We’ve been found by Him. In Christ, we are allowed to be called sons and daughters of the King.

You didn’t earn salvation, you didn’t create salvation. None of us deserve salvation, but God’s love offers us an opportunity to be a son or a daughter.

Your questions still might be, who are the chosen? Who are the predestined and who are adopted into the family of the King? It’s a very simple answer. Those who believe.

In Galatians 4:3-7, Paul explains that we are no longer slaves to sin, but through adoption, we are full heirs to eternity as sons and daughters.

As you go through the journey of learning and understanding this topic, let me give you some guardrails to help.

  1. If you read or hear from texts that claim no predestination, you’re going in the wrong direction.
  2. If you get to a point where you think nothing matters and you can sin as much as you want because you are predestined. You’re on the wrong path.
  3. If you think that there is no choice for you to make and there is no human responsibility. You’re on the wrong path.
  4. If you think you shouldn’t have to go out and share the Gospel or we shouldn’t do missions anymore. You’re on the wrong path.

You can be on the right path and still struggle. You can be on the right path and there will still be tension in your heart between God’s predestined Will and man’s choice. If you think that you can work these things out perfectly, you’re smarter than me.

If you take this path of discovery and you’re guided by His Word and by His Spirit, here’s what you’re going to find: love, mercy, grace, and beauty flowing from the throne of God.

At the center of His Will in heaven, you’re going to be able to see miraculously and supernaturally how man’s free will and God’s predestination are traveling with you like a railroad track on your way home— tied together to the cross of Jesus Christ.

One day it’ll make perfect sense. Let this word speak for itself and let God be praised.