Why are you a Christian? Not why as in what do you hope to gain from it. Not how did it happen that you became a Christian. The real question being asked in – Why are you a Christian? – is: for what purpose? What did God have in mind for those who would respond to His invitation?
Eph 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
You hear a lot of catch phrases thrown around in churches today. Separated from their context, certain words can mislead us to make assumptions the Bible doesn’t leave room for. Words like chosen and predestined. The word chosen is a word that cannot stand alone. It needs a modifier, a clarifier. Chosen from. Chosen how. Chosen for what purpose.
In the Bible, unless we know the modifier, by taking the word out of its context, we can force it to say what it isn’t saying. Like some are chosen and others rejected.
As a kid, I hated when we’d line up and get picked for teams. There was usually one team you wanted on and kept waiting for that leader to call your name. And then there was only one person left – you – and it was the other team’s choice. You were rejected by the one team you wanted to be on which put you on the other.
That’s often our idea of chosen. Picked, selected. And if not, rejected. Chosen to be included or chosen to be excluded. But when it comes to salvation, you’ll have a hard time finding support for that idea in Scripture.
1Tim 2:4 Our God, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
God does not predetermine who are going to be saved and who are not going to be. Remember what He has promised? He loved the world to such a degree that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. He would never make that promise with the intentions of excluding some. Otherwise to those not selected this would be a false promise. God doesn’t make false promises. In Jesus, all the promises of God are yes. Jesus died once for all. He wouldn’t come back later and say, Oh, you didn’t read the fine print. All doesn’t mean all. Whoever is limited to a select few.
That’s why, we must find the modifier, so the word can explain itself. Chosen for, or chosen because, or chosen to become, or chosen so that.
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
Paul says we are chosen with this purpose in mind. Before the world was formed, when God formulated His plans for how He might provide a relationship with man after the fall, He knew He would make a way for His people to be holy and blameless before Him. That would be the condition He would place on them.
Eklektós, the Greek word for chosen, is made up of two words: Ek – means out of or out from, and kletos means called. In English it may mean selected but not in the original language. It describes people who have been called out from one group so they can now become part of another group, from one life so they can receive another. Called out of darkness so they can live in the Light. Called out of the flesh so they can live in the Spirit. Called out of unbelief so they can now belong to Him. Called out of a people who aren’t the people of God so they can become the People of God.
Israel is known as God’s chosen people because it was through the Jews God intended to bring the Savior into the world. He called them out for a mission, a purpose. They were to be the people through whom God made Himself known. And out of their family, He would produce the Messiah, the Savior of the world. They were and are the chosen ones because of that purpose.
When you come to the word chosen, keep reading. You’ll find its modifier to tell you what the purpose is behind what God intended when He called us out.
The other word, predestined, also needs a modifier. If you stop with just the word, you lose free will. The word becomes Predetermined as though there is no response for us to make. The decision has already been made. It will be this way no matter what. Now, it is true that the purposes of God cannot be thwarted and His will will be done, however, throughout Scripture, God gives mankind choices. People can agree or they can reject. But God will not make their choices for them. He will motivate them toward the right decision but leave that decision to them.
So, as with chosen, the word predestined needs a modifier to see what God had or has in mind.
The word means foreordain – set intentions on, determine in the past how something will operate in the future – as in planned in advance, or marked out beforehand. When we find its modifier, predestination always has a target. Predestined toward some predetermined goal. When speaking of salvation, it shows us what God set up and what were His intentions for us when we were saved.
Predestined is made from two words: before and establish boundaries or define limits. It means God determined His intentions for what He would accomplish in believers before anyone ever became a believer. This is what I want all believers to look like.
Paul said: He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself
The boundaries defined by the word adoption explain the relationship we would have with Him. He predetermined how or in what terms we would belong to Him – as His children by adoption. Predestined always needs a modifier.
Rom 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…
Eph 1:11 having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,
So, He called us out to be holy and blameless and decided in advance how we would relate to Him - as His children by adoption. In other words, Paul answers our question: why are you a Christian? For what purpose are you saved? To be holy and blameless and live as Children of God.
Col 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, - you are what He called you out to be.
Paul has used another troubling word: Holy. What does it mean to be holy? What would holiness look like in my life? Is it an attitude or action? If we go into the language behind the English word it makes more sense. The word means: different, unlike, other than everything else; for the believer it means we are different from the godless world.
We get the word Sanctified from the word Holy.
Sanctified means set apart, different. Reserved or designed for special use. The Temple in Jerusalem was holy because it was different from other buildings. It is set apart. A candle used in the Temple is holy because it is set apart from all other candles the candle-maker made. It had been sanctified. Set apart for Temple use. Others made at the same time, not for the Temple, are common, not sanctified. The difference is in how it lives out its purpose.
We have been called out from the world to be different from the world, set apart for His special use and predestined to live as His Children. What does all that mean? It means we live by a different standard. We think a different way. We operate by different motivation. We live a different lifestyle. We demonstrate the goodness of God in our lives. And our main objective now is pleasing Him.
Paul says, God’s intentions for us are to live separated and different from the world of the unbeliever. To help us know what that looks like, he gets specific with patterns of behavior we are to get rid of and patterns of behavior we are to add to our lives. Paul has already given us the motivational doctrine behind living differently, which is: because Jesus is Lord. Now he gives us the application.
Col 3:8-9 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,
put them all aside: Put off or put aside means these are things that we give up, renounce, or take out of our lives. Remove them from use. They may have been common for us in the life we were called out from, but not in the life as a Child of God.
1Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
These things are attitudes and actions that contradict the Spirit of God living within us.
James 1:20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Paul is saying the same thing. Let’s remove the anger because it doesn’t reflect how God has told us to live. Neither does wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech.
These attitudes or actions compete with the intentions of God. They don’t reflect well on who we are as Children of God.
There is a rule in giving up a bad habit. You need to replace it with a good habit. Otherwise, you’ll slip back into the old. It’s not just cleaning out the clutter in the garage so the car will fit, it’s putting the car into the garage, so there’s no room for the clutter to come back.
Matt 12:43-45 Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
Paul says, not only do we take these bad habits out, we replace them with good habits.
Col 3:10-17 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Paul isn’t trying to fix society. You cannot make a godless society live like a godly society. He’s showing believers how they can live in that godless society without becoming like it. To live differently. How? By encouraging each believer to consider why they are saved. To understand the purpose God had in mind for them and to live according to that purpose.
Phil 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
We let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts by dwelling on these things.
To dwell on them, we must remove anything from our lives that gives the wrong message of who we are and replace them with what reflects the truth about God in our lives. When we do, we will honor God and sense His blessings in return. What blessings?
2Pet 1:3 His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
That’s our blessing. By belonging to Him, all we need is provided. All we need to do is decide to live like who we are: Children of God. All we need to do is live in such a way that: Whatever you do in word or deed, [you can] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
There is nothing more satisfying than realizing why we are saved and living according to that purpose.
- When our salvation is simply an add-on to our lives and not a definition of who we are, our appreciation for how to live it is lessened.
- Unless we discover the purpose for which we are saved, we will become satisfied to live beneath the privilege of being a Child of God.
- A good place to begin is with prayer: God, show me what it means to belong to You.
- Then, what He shows us becomes our guide in adjusting our lives to what He has chosen and predestined us to be.