According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
We commonly regard our lives from a human standpoint, which we cannot well leave even in thought. But, if it were possible, it would be most interesting to see how God looks upon them. Now, it is one of the objects of revelation to help us to do this - to lead us to see ourselves as God sees us. Next to the vision of God himself, such a picture of humanity as it appears in the eyes of God is of the greatest importance. The manifestation of our present condition in the searching light of God turns out to be a shameful exhibition of sin and failure. But the declaration of God's idea of our lives, of what he wishes and purposes for us, and of his design in fashioning us, is truly sublime, and should fill us with genuine "self-reverence." In the verses before us, by a magnificent feat of inspired imagination, St. Paul describes this idea and the method by which God is working it out.
I. THE ORIGIN OF THE IDEA. It was conceived "before the foundation of the world." The architect's design precedes the builder's structure. God had his plan of mankind before a man was created.
1. Seeing that God is infinite, that plan must extend to every detail of the vocation of every individual soul.
2. Seeing that God is independent of time, he must know from the first all future issues, and. what course will be taken by the free-will of each man.
3. Seeing that all things are united by successive waves of influence, what God does from the foundation of the world onwards must all have its bearings on the latest development of mankind, and must therefore be determined in some measure with respect to God's idea of humanity.
II. THE OBJECTS OF THE IDEA.
1. In our character. God's will regarding us is our sanctification. He foreordains us to be pure and free from all defilement and imperfection. Thus we learn that the moral and spiritual state of a soul is far more important in the eyes of God than any intellectual gifts, or any amount of comfort anti happiness.
2. In our condition. God wishes us to be his sons. The high privilege of Christ he desires to bestow upon Christ's brethren. To be thus nearly related to God is to have the highest possible destiny.
3. In relation to God himself. The praise of his glory is thus attained. If God seeks his own glory, it is because this is the glory of goodness seen in the welfare of his creatures.
III. THE MOTIVES OF THE IDEA.
1. In God's sovereign freedom. He purposes "according to the good pleasure of his will." Like the potter with his clay, God has a right to choose his own idea of humanity.
2. In God's great love. God's will is always holy and always gracious. If, therefore, anything depends solely on his will, it is sure to be done in the best possible way, and in the way that brings most good to his creatures. Instead of fearing God's free choice, we ought to rejoice in it, seeing that it is always determined by love. It is love that leads God to design for mankind so glorious a destiny as was conceived before the foundation of the world.
IV. THE METHOD OF REALIZING THE IDEA.
1. Through grace "freely bestowed on us." God does not call us tea high vocation without giving us the means whereby to fulfill it. As he first ordained the future destiny, he alone can now give us power to accomplish it.
2. Through Christ. Christ is the greatest gift of God's grace. By our faith in Christ we receive God's grace. Christ, as the Beloved of God, brings us into the blessings of God's love. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: