Friday, December 21, 2012

Election and Predestination - this Sunday Morning at Redeemer

Monroe county

This Sunday morning at Redeemer I'm preaching out of Ephesians 1:3-10, which reads:

3 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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

I'll draw on non-Calvinistic biblical scholars to explain our "election" as being "in Christ." (Such as Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, Greg Boyd, Klyne Snodgrass, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig [see here], et. al.; note: I've never been a Calvinist.)

The key to understanding these words of Paul is to gain an understanding of the corporate solidarity language of "in Christ" (and its variants). Here, e.g., is Gordon Fee commenting on 1 Thessalonians 1:4: 

“The noun “election” itself is found elsewhere in Paul’s letters only in Romans 9-11, all having to do with Israel. Elsewhere Paul uses the verb (Eph 1:4) or the adjective “elect.” Although this language does not occur frequently in his letters, its occurrence in a passage like the present one indicates that it is presuppositional for him. It should be noted that in the present case Paul is thinking of the whole body of Thessalonian believers as elect, not individual believers. Indeed, although he refers once to an individual as “chosen” (Rom 16:13), his understanding of such election is presuppositionally related to a person’s incorporation into the community of believers. Moreover, for Paul “election” is always a referent to believers, and thus reflects a reality after the fact, not before; and as here it is always seen as an action of God’s love, and thus it becomes a dynamic force in the life of the believing community.” (Emphasis mine)
This is a weighty, huge subject, and I am looking forward to preaching it, hopefully so even youth can understand!