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:
The difficulties that attach to this doctrine do not arise from any ambiguity in the Scripture proofs which support it, but from the nature of the doctrine itself, and its apparent inconsistency with other doctrines of Scripture. Many of the difficulties, indeed, that we associate with the doctrine are involved in the doctrine of Divine providence; so much so that William III. could say to Bishop Burnett, "Did I not believe absolute predestination, I could not believe a providence; for it would be most absurd to suppose a Being of infinite wisdom to act without a plan, for which plan predestination is only another name." Predestination is but God's plan of action; providence is the evolution of that plan. "If this providence has ordered and ordained everything which relates to the temporal lot and life, it is absolutely inconceivable that matt's eternal lot should be determined without God's eternal counsel being fulfilled therein" (Oosterzee).
I. THE ELECTION OF GRACE, WHICH IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL OUR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS, HAS CHRIST FOR ITS CENTER; for "God hath chosen us in him." We are regarded as existing in him, even in the Divine plan. The Son of God is the Firstborn, as well as the eldest Brother of the vast family of God. He who is the Center of creation, providence, history, is also the Center of the Divine plan.
II. THE ELECTION IS FOUNDED ON THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL, WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY ONE WITH HIS MORAL PERFECTIONS, AND CANNOT, THEREFORE, PARTAKE OF AN ARBITRARY CHARACTER. The great question is - Is God or man the author of salvation? Are not faith and repentance, though man's acts, God's gifts? Is not the Christian God's workmanship - "created in Christ Jesus unto good works"? Is it possible to maintain the doctrine of grace without referring man's salvation to God? The system which rejects an election of grace does not make provision for the salvation of a single soul.
III. THE ELECTION IS FROM ETERNITY. It is "before the foundation of the world." It is as eternal as God himself, and not, therefore, founded in man's excellence, or even originated by sin, like an after-thought to rectify disorder or mistake; for believers are chosen, not on the ground of foreseen holiness, but that they may become holy, their faith itself being the effect, not the cause, of their election.
IV. IT IS AN ELECTION TO ADOPTION OR TO HOLINESS; for "God hath chosen us in him... that we should be holy and without blame" - the positive and the negative sides of Christian life - or he hath "predestinated us to the adoption of children." A holy God cannot choose us to be anything but holy. Holiness is the end of our calling, as it is of our election. The Church of God is to be finally "without pot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Holiness is the way to happiness. "A holy heart is a happy heart," even in this world of care.
V. IT IS AN ELECTION OF INDIVIDUALS. There is a national election, or an election to covenant privileges; but there is an individual election inside it: "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it" (Romans 11:7). This fact is further manifest from the manner in which the Apostle Paul comforts believers, and urges them to sanctification by reminding them of their personal election. Believers are comforted besides with the assurance that their names are written in heaven, or in the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23). - T.C.
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: