(Article for publication week of 3-5- AD 2015)
"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:" (Ephesians 1:4).
Our text takes us all the way back to the very fountainhead of our salvation- eternal, free and sovereign election. Before the foundation of the world God the Father chose a people in His Eternal Son to be saved and predestinated them unto eternal glory. Salvation sprang from the Wisdom of God. Salvation is of the Lord! God from all eternity made a covenant with Himself whereby He gave a people to His Son. At the appointed time the Son of God came into the world to make a real atonement for all His sheep. The Holy Spirit comes with all His quickening powers and effectually calls every heir of promise from death in trespasses and sin and translates them into the kingdom of Christ. Believer, here is a truth in which you will eternally rejoice, salvation is all of the Lord! You are saved not because of anything that you did or earned, but because of gracious election.
Now let us see unto what we have been chosen. God has chosen His people to be righteous ("without blame") and sanctified ("holy"). First of all God has chosen His people to be righteous. That is , in His eternal decree, God saw His people in their covenant Head, the Lord Jesus Christ Who is all their righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). God has imputed the righteousness of His Own Eternal Son to the account of His people therefore they can never be condemned, for Christ has died for them and it is God Who justifies (Romans 8:32-34). If I could introduce a new word into our Mother Tongue it would be the word "uncondemnable." That is the glorious state of God's elect, they are not only un-condemned, they are "uncondemnable." God's Holy law cannot condemn them, for Christ has kept the law for us and His obedience is imputed to us as if it were out very own. Further, Christ has suffered the proper penalty for our law-breaking by His vicarious sufferings and He is raised from the dead for our justification. All the devils in hell can never condemn one of God's chosen ones , though they try. God chose us to be without blame and by His sovereign grace we are eternally justified.
But please notice further that God has chosen His people to be holy. Thus we see that justification and sanctification are always found in the same characters. There is no such thing as a person being justified without also being sanctified. Nor can a person ever live a holy life without the foundation of being justified by imputed righteousness. Our text is one of many where justification and sanctification are put together. Justification and sanctification are to be distinguished, but never to be separated. Every one that God has chosen in Christ to be saved has the imputed righteousness of Christ, and the Holy Spirit by His regenerating Power imparts the holy nature of God to them also (II Peter 1:4). Being made a partaker of the divine nature, with the Holy Spirit working in us both to will and to do of God's good pleasure, we are enabled to pursue holiness, and imperfectly but truly be holy as God is holy. Righteousness and holiness are the result of God's eternal election as our text plainly shows. Therefore, to preach election without also preaching holiness is only part of the gospel. Let no one imagine themselves to be among God's elect who is not in pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14) for He has chosen His people to be holy and without blame.