Predestination and Our Union with Christ
This post is primarily geared towards the people of 2 Pillars Church; however, you’re welcome to listen in...
This Sunday I’ll be preaching on the doctrines of election and predestination (including looking at several common objections and misunderstandings with respect to hose doctrines) and there is no possible way to say everything that needs to be said in one sermon.
In order to guard myself from preaching for seven hours, I’m posting a couple of additional things here on the blog.
Not a Detour or Soapbox
In this post, I want to acknowledge that even though those doctrines are very present in Ephesians 1:3-14, stopping to pause specifically on them can seem a little jarring. Part of that is because we’re not used to hearing about predestination in Sunday sermons. But whatever the reason, this topic has the potential to feel like a slight detour with respect to Paul’s general message—or worse—a pastor’s personal soapbox.
However, if we slow down enough to think theologically and to look at the interweaving of Paul’s line of reasoning, we see that it is not at all a detour.
Union with Christ and Downton Abbey
Thus far in Ephesians, we’ve been talking a lot about our Union with Christ. Last week we looked at how in Ephesians 1:3 Paul tells us that in Christ—that is, because of our being united with Christ—that every Spiritual blessing is ours. No blessing has been withheld!
To help illustrate this point, I encouraged folks to think of the huge castle in the PBS program, Downton Abbey, and to think of all of the spiritual blessings being like rooms in that castle. AND, if you’ve been united with Christ, the castle is yours. It belongs to you, you belong to it. Which means all the rooms are yours—whether you’ve discovered them or not, whether you’ve experienced them fully or not. This is what it means to be blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing.
Predestination and Our Union with Christ
This week, as we look at the doctrines of election and predestination let me frame it this way: Assume for a minute that there is a room in the castle that explains to you how it is that you came to possess the castle to begin with. The name of that room is predestination. And it’s not removed from our understanding of being united with Christ.
Theologian, Anthony Hoekema articulates the relation of our being predestined to our union with Christ as follows:
“As we think about the scope and the breadth of union with Christ, we should see this union as extending all the way from eternity to eternity. Union with Christ begins with God’s pretemporal decision to save his people in and through Jesus Christ. This union, further, is based on the redemptive work for his people which Christ did in history. Finally, this union is actually established with God’s people after they have been born, continues throughout their lives, and has as its goal their eternal glorification in the life to come. We go on, then, to see union with Christ as having its roots in divine election, its basis in the redemptive work of Christ, and its actual establishment with God’s people in time.”
What Hoekema is saying here is that our union with Christ; which, as believers, we now live in, has its roots all the way back in eternity past. It has its roots in God’s divine election.
Predestination is Not a Soapbox
The point? Predestination is not a detour; it is not a soapbox.
This has everything to do with understanding our union with Christ and it has everything to do with Ephesians 1. In fact, we certainly would not be talking about this if it was not so clearly articulated by Paul in Ephesians 1.
This is one of the reasons why we primarily preach through books of the Bible and not just from passages in the Bible at 2 Pillars Church. When you preach through books of the Bible, you can’t avoid stuff like this; and, when you do preach it, it should be clear that it’s not a pet doctrine.
So when it comes to preaching on predestination, know that the Bible teaches it, so I am to preach it, and we are to believe and live it.