Ephesians 1:3-6 – Chosen by God [for his glory] to be His [special] children


Chosen by God [for his glory] to be His [special] children.




ILLUS.: We were on holiday in the northern part of South Africa once at a place called Blyde River Canyon – It ia a very mountainous part of the country and very beautiful – also very few people there – so you get these magnificent views with no houses, electric pilons or motorways. There is one particular viewpoint where you can look over the edge of the canyon and see for miles and miles. It is called ‘God’s window’ – the view is breathtaking – trying to discribe it would need more adjectives than the English language possesses.


Many of you will have had similar experiences – this I think gives us some idea of Paul’s difficulty in these verses.


Verses 3 – 14 is one long sentence in the Greek language. He begins by wanting to praise God for the blessings we have recieved – but as he mentions God’s blessings his mind runs off trying to enumerate these blessings which runs one into another. Election, redemption, adoption, forgiveness, assurance, inheritance, ……


This sentence has been variously described as a kaleidoscope, a golden chain or “a snowball tumbling down a hill picking up volume as it descends” [Hendriksen].

V.3 really introduces what is to come in the next 11 verses.

Just because Paul is overwhelmed by God’s blessings it does not mean that there is not structure or progression in what he is saying.


OUTLINE OF v 3-14:


Facets of salvation.

  1. 1:3-6. Past. The Father’s electing – (adoption)
  2. 1:7-11. Present. The Son’s redeeming – (forgiveness)
  3. 1:12-14. Future. The Spirit’s sealing   – (inheritance)


Ephesians 1:3

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (NIV)




Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – OR – Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


As Christians we use the word “Bless” in a very loose way – we bless someone when they sneeze and we very glibly say “God bless you”

What would you say if someone responded “How do you want God to bless me?”


In the NT the word blessed in used only of God – he alone is worthy to be blessed [praised]. People are blessed only when they receive God’s blessings.


Because God is the only one who is truly good [Matthew 19:17] our highest praise should be reserved for him alone.


It is in God’s nature to bless – God is the source of everything that is good


James 1:17 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV)


From God comes a continual flow of blessing — we tend to think in terms of the material. If we are comfortably off and don’t have too many problems then we say God has blessed us. Yes that is true!! Material thing are from God and can be blessings BUT material blessings and a comfortable lifestyle are not necessarily indicators that God is pleased with us — NOR if we do not have material blessing and have a load of problems does it follow that God is NOT pleased with us.


Paul qualifies what he means by the Blessings of God “SPIRITUAL” – this does not exclude material blessing BUT the focus is on the spiritual. And notice that Paul says ‘ … has blessed us …’


ILLUS. There is a famous story about HETTY GREEN – an American ladt who died in 1916 – she was so miserly that she ate cold porridge to save the cost of heating it. When her son injured his leg she spnt so long trying to finf free treatment that infection set in and the leg had to be amputated. When she died her estate was valued at $100 million [ back in 1916]


As Christians we can be in danger of treating out spiritual resources in the same way – we can suffer from spiritual malnutrition because we fail to take advantage of the great spiritual storehouse that God has put at our disposal


All to often we ask God for things that we need not ask for because he has already given them. We need to thank him for them and we need to ask him help us realise in a fuller way what we have received .

You can’t pray as a Christian for the Holy Spirit to be given to you — if you are a Christian the Holy Spirit lives in you. You can pray that you might be more aware of His presence, more available to him.   BUT ………..

Romans 8:9

9 ………..   if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

What does Paul mean when he says in the heavenly places? “In the Heavenlies”

Can refer to the sky or space BUT here refers to the unseen world of spiritual reality. Because we can’t seen something physically it does not mean that it is not real. There is a spiritual reality beyond this world and Christians are part of that spiritual world.

As Christians we are dual citizens – citizens of earth and citizens of heaven. How is this possible? Well Paul used his favourite two words “in Christ” — we have a heavenly citizenship because we are ‘in Christ” ( This concept of “in Christ” will become clearer as we go through this letter)


The teaching of v.3 is vitally important because we are Trinitarians – the father, Son and Holy Spirit – and here we have “every blessing of the Holy Spirit given us by the Father if we are in the Son” {Stott}


Of course we need to grow and become mature Christians, we need to constantly change BUT nevertheless we “in Christ” then every Spritiual blessing belongs to us already.




Election is one of the most difficult teachings of the Bible – no one finds it easy to understand let alone explain. BUT it is something that is clearly taught in scripture and we would be failing if we passed over it.


It is, as you would expect, a huge subject – one about which volumes have been written. We will look at just a few aspects which arsie out of these verses.

2.1. The Author of Election.


“For he [God] chose ….”


This concept of God electing is not something that man thought up – the doctrine of election is something that runs right through Scripture. We read in the OT the God chose Israel. Not because Israel was better than all the other nations but becasuse God in his sovereign wisdom chose to elect Israel or elected to choose Israel.


We know about election because God has told us about it in scripture and because we, as God’s people, have been elected. It is not a matter of speculation but a matter of Divine revelation.


2.2. The Timing of Election.


…. before the creation of the world …….. 5 he predestined ….


Probably the most difficult aspect of election is this concept of timing. God knew in advance who the elect would be. In fact God decided before creation had taken place. This was all part of God’s plan that is why Peter could write


1 Peter 1:20 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (NIV)


It is difficult to understand this yet we need to remember that God is not bound by time; God created time and therefore he knows the end from the beginning. Also remember that God is infinite and we are finite – it is not surprising therefore that we don’t understand – in fact it would be very surprising if we did!!


ILLUS. Try to explain the concept of time to a young child – “Granam and Granpa will be here next week – it is beyond the child’s ability to understand such concepts of time.


In a similar way it is beyond our ability to understand things the occur outside of time in God’s eternity!!




  1. The Objects of election.


….. he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,


The object of God’s election is us!!


But I can hear someone saying, “But didn’t I choose God??” Yes and it was a free chose BUT only because in eternity past God had first chosen you.


BUT you say, “Don’t I have a free will?” YES!! But not in the sense that we are completely free because apart from God all people are captive to sin. BUT nevertheless we were able to choose God because God has made that chose possible. Jesus said

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [JN.3]

John 7:37-38

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (NIV)


There is a clear command in scripture for the unsaved to respond to God’s call – it is clear that people have a responsibility to exercise the will God has given them .

YET it is also clear that no-one responds to Christ who has not been chosen by God.

Jesus in John’s gospel puts both these truths in one sentence: 6 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.


God sovereignly elects AND people have a responsibility to exercise their chose – these two things may seem irreconcilable to our puny minds BUT what we must not do is try to pick one or the other NOR must we compromise to some kind of middle ground. Both of these are true – God does elect and people are responsible to believe in Christ – we must hold these two truths in tension.


Why did God chose us?? God’s election of Israel in the OT gives us insight into why God choses.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8

7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (NIV)


Why did God chose Israel?? Because he loved them – WHY? Because they were better; stronger; more numerous than the other nations?? NO!! NO!! Because he loved them and because he chose to love them.


Why has God chosen us? Becuase we are better?? hardly!! Because we are more loveable?? NO! NO!


BUT notice very carefully – it is “US” – the saints – the Church – the body of Christ. While it is true that this applies to individuals we need to remember that Paul is addressing the Church as a whole. We tend to over-individualize things in our Western way of thinking – we must always bear in mind that he is calling out for himself a people to be the bride of Christ.


We also need to remember that we are elect “in him” – It is because we know Christ that we are elect and we are elect because we know Christ! Without Christ it is not possible to be Chosen by God. Without Christ it is impossible to know God.


  1. The Benefits of Election.


In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,


People were created to to live in fellowship with God as children of their Creator Father. Paul in Athens:-


Acts 17:28 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (NIV)

Sin destroyed that privileged relationship with God BUT by God’s grace and through Jesus Christ the restortation of that relationship is made possible – by being adopted back into the family of God..


Adoption was a common Roman practice – the adopted child had exactly the same rights and privileges as a natural one.


Romans 8:15 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NIV)

Any illustration of human adoption falls far short of what Paul is talking about here – not only do we get a new standing, a new name and a new family relationship [which is what human adoption entails] BUT we can a new image, the image of Christ.


Romans 8:29 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (NIV)

When we are adopted by God he puts his Spirit within us and makes us like Jesus – BUT I am not perfect; I am not like Christ. You are!! We might not yet be perfect BUT we will be when we see him and that is so certain that scripture talks about it as if it is already a fact – which it is!!


Do you know this in your own life? Are you a child of God? Do you have that close relationship with God like a child has with a parent?

No one is a child of God naturally – we must become children of God – we have to trust him – Jesus said:-

John 1:12 12 …to all who received him, {Jesus} to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — (NIV)

That fact that we must BECOME God’s children presupposes that we were not God’s children to begin with. There has to be a time when you change from being outside God’s family to being included in it. It might be a dramatic experience at a point in time or over a period –


If you are not a child of God you can become one – recieve Jesus – believe in Him – be adopted into his family – But you say, “How do I know if I am elect??” If you receive him and believe then you are elect!!

..to ALL who receive … to ALL who believe he give the RIGHT to become children of God……


If you need to talk more about this please see me or one the other leaders we would be delighted to show you how to know Christ!!!


The benefits of being adopted into God’s family is that you not only have Christ’s riches and blessing but also his nature.


  1. The purpose of Election.


in accordance with his pleasure and will — 6 to the praise of his glorious grace,


Why does God do all this for us? Why does he want to save people like us?

It is his will!!

Yes! I can will something – It is a matter of will that I go to the dentist; it is also a matter of will that I love my wife and children. The difference is that the latter is also a delight!!


God not only wills to elect us but he takes pleasure and delight in doing so.

God delights in the salvation of sinners.

He delights in giving good things to his children


Luke 12:32

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (NIV)

Philippians 2:13 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose [pleasure]. (NIV)


God take pleasure in his children – God chose and preordained his people before tha foundation of the wordl so that no one could boast or take the glory for themselves – the glory goes to God alone.

Salvation is not partly God’s work and partly man work – No!! It is completely and utterly the work of God so the all the blessing and praise and glory go to Him alone.


  1. The Responsibilities of Election.


…..to be holy and blameless in his sight.


God’s election makes us holy and blameless [perfect] – he gives us the same standing before him as Jesus has. We are ‘in Christ’ [the church] and it is Christ’s purpose to have a perfect and holy body of believers.


Ephesians 5:25-27

25 ………………   Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (NIV)


That is why a Christian can be confident and know for sure that he/she will be with God in heaven – indeed is already in the position.


This truth of election leaves no room for boasting – we should never imagine that he chose us because we deserved it more than anyone else. Election should move us to humility not arrogant boasting.


Nor is the doctine of election an excuse for sin – “I am safe and secure because God has chosen me therefore I can live as I please – I don’t need to worry about holy living!” WRONG!!


Election is no excuse for sin – it is the opposite, or should be; it should be the incentive to holy living.

“Holy and blameless” point to out final state of perfection – the process of becoming that starts in the here and now – Election is the incentive for holy living. In fact striving to living a holy life pleasing to God is one one who has been elected.


Being children of God implies responsibility – if God is our Father then we should exhibit the family likeness. So Paul writes in 5v1:-

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us …..


The realisation that God has chosen us should be the greatest incentive to holy, Christlike living.


MacArthur “The ultimate reason for everything that exists is the glory of His grace. That is why God’s children, Christians, should do everything they do – even such mundane things as eating and drinking – to the glory of God.[1Cor. 10v31]”




Facets of salvation.


  1. 1:3-6. Past.

                     The Father’s electing –



  1. 1:7-11. Present.

                     The Son’s redeeming –



  1. 1:12-14. Future.

                     The Spirit’s sealing   –




  1. The Author of Election

     (The sovereign God)


  1. The Timing of Election

     (from eternity past)


  1. The Objects of Election

     (us – the saints)


  1. The Benefits of Election

     (adoption as God’s children)


  1. The Purpose of Election

     (the glory of God)


  1. The Responsibilities of Election

     (.. to be holy and blameless..)


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