Before the Foundation of the World
Nehemiah 9:6 reminds us as we worship God: “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
He Chose Us; He Predestined Us
The first time I heard my oldest son’s heart beating, I was 20 years old. I heard two hearts at first. I heard my wife’s heart and I heard another quicker heartbeat. As the ultrasound technician moved the monitor and isolated his heartbeat, it was the first definite knowledge I had that there was now another person in our family. I loved him before I really knew him and certainly before he knew me.
And that is where the analogy breaks down. I can’t love as completely and as selflessly as God loves. I had no foreknowledge of my son other than that he was there. I didn’t even know he would be a son. Yet God knew us, chose us, loved us and adopted us in Christ before he began to create this universe. Before his Spirit stirred the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) he had in his mind to save his people.
According to the Purpose of His Good Pleasure
Translators struggle and debate how to transition this Greek word into an English phrase. I’m not going to presume to know more than they do, but I will take a guess that maybe it is a combination of both attempts. God chooses us, not because of anything good in us, but because it pleases him to set the good purpose of his will upon saving us.
To the Praise of His Glory
Sola Deo Gloria. To the glory of God alone. That is the reason why it pleases him to save us. By his very nature, God cannot purpose in his will to do something that does not bring him glory now and forever.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Remember that in the Bible, repetition equals exclamation. When Jesus sought to emphasis a particular truth in his teaching, he would say, “Verily, verily…” or “Truly, truly…” When the angels are praising God in the visions God gave to Isaiah or John, they cry “Holy, holy, holy.” Here in the opening of his letter, Paul extols these three points, three times. God chose us (v 4), he predestined us (v 5), and we having been predestined (v 11), according to the purpose of his will or the good pleasure of his will in verses 5, 9, and 11, are saved and now live forever to the praise of his glory and his glorious grace ( verses 6, 12, and 14).
I can’t write songs, but I wish someone would turn this chapter into a hymn. Maybe they already have. It is clear to me in reading that Paul is trying to lead the Ephesian church to use their theology to worship God. A biblical theology will cause us to extol and rejoice because of who God is and what he does.