A Bastion for Our Souls
God has loved you for a long, long time.
Paul’s striking outpouring of praise at the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians announces to us the wonder of all that God has done for us in Christ. One of the features that makes it so striking is that it begins with God, reminding us that before we ever existed, He took the initiative to draw people to Himself. We may be tempted to believe we need to search for God through human effort; indeed, many world religions teach just that. But from its very beginning, the Bible teaches that it is actually God who reaches out to us.
Our election in Christ is not some kind of historical afterthought; it goes all the way back into eternity past, before creation. Yes, we do decide to follow Christ—but it is so humbling to recognize that we could never have chosen God if He had not chosen us before the creation of the world. You would not be capable of deciding to follow Him if He had not first decided to make you His child.
There is a delicate tension in reconciling the responsibility of man with the sovereignty of God. Many people believe they must choose between the two when, in fact, both ideas are biblical and connected. They are two truths that sit side by side, seemingly irreconcilable in our finite human minds yet both entirely true. We don’t need to worry away at them as an intellectual exercise. Instead, we are free to respond by bowing down in wonder over the kindness of Almighty God on our behalf.
The doctrine of election is not a banner under which we march but a bastion for our souls. It makes all the difference to our security and our joy. Once you humbly recognize that your identity in Christ was established the moment He first set His affection upon you, even before the dawn of time, you find freedom and you have confidence. You don’t need to seek to come up with some reason in yourself to understand why you have received His amazing grace; you can simply enjoy knowing that He chose you because He loves you. You don’t need to live burdened by you sin or crushed because you feel you are making little progress in your Christian life, for His love was never based on your performance or on your promise of doing better. You can walk through the peaks and valleys of this life with the assurance that you are loved by the one who made all things and directs all things—and that because you never had to win His love, you can never lose it.
35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
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