D113 - All believers have been chosen before the foundation of the world
Matt 11:27b; John 1:13; John 10:4, 16, 27; John 15:16; Eph 1:4-5; 2 Thes 2:13; John 6:44; John 17:2; Rom 8:29
John 6:44 says,
‘No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.’
John 15:16 says,
‘You did not choose me, but I chose you.’
Rom 8:29 (NLT) reads,
‘For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’
This is confirmed in Eph 1:4 which said that God ‘chose us in him before the foundation of the world.’
This is a tough question because it touches on pre-destination, that is, our eternal fate had already been sealed even before we were born.
It raises the issue that if God has already chosen us, why do we need to go out and do outreach? And why do we need to pray?
It is also asking the same question as to why God chose Israel and not, for example, China, to be his chosen people? Some race finds it abhorrent that God should choose the Jews and not their race in order to carry out his task.
But who are we to question God’s wisdom? God chooses some and ignores others. God grants favor to a few and rejects the rest.
In Rom 9:10-13, the verses read,
‘when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”’
Here, God favored Jacob and rejected Esau. Why so? We know, of course, later in the story that Esau was a weak character who sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, for a good bowl of porridge (Gen 25:33). But was God aware of Esau’s character even before he was born? Even so, Jacob, being a perpetual schemer, was no saint either.
Further down in Rom 9:15, God says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ Those words are rather heavy duty.
It is one of those mysteries mentioned in 1 Cor 13:12,
‘For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
What we do know is that there are some people who are more pliable to the message of God than others. What we also realize is that prayers can shift God’s hands and draw people to him.God encourages us to pray without ceasing. See also B197 to B206 on prayers.
Our final outcome is in the hands of God. Hence, always know our position in the greater scheme of things, seek God and ask for his favor. See D14, God is to be feared.
D114 - Believers are known by our fruits
Matt 7:15-17; Luke 6:43-45; Luke 7:22; Luke 8:15; John 15:8;
Jesus told us to recognize false prophets by their fruits.
‘Every good tree bears good fruit but the bad tree bears bad fruit’ (Matt 7:15-17).
Luke 6:45 reiterates that a
‘good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good ….. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.’
When John the Baptist sent his disciples to check out Jesus, Jesus said,
‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heart: The blind receive sight, the lame walk ….’ (Luke 7:22).
Jesus was speaking about his good fruits and what they testified of him.
What is good fruit?
Is it not our character and what we do on a day-to-day basis? Does it not show whether we are obeying God’s words based on our actions?
And is good fruit also not related to what comes out of our mouth?
Eph 4:29, ‘Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.’
Believers are known by our good fruits.
Believers are saved for good works and are not saved by good works.
In Matt 6:21, it says,
‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’.
The Greek word for ‘treasure’ is thesauros or storehouse for precious things like a safe. Our heart is guided by where we store our treasure. If we look toward heaven as our storehouse, will we store gold and silver? Or will it be souls of men and women?
Other than our character, could the fruits highlighted represent that of souls won for Jesus?
‘Some men’s passion is for gold. Some men’s passion is for art. Some men’s passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.’
– William Booth, Founder of Salvation Army
D115 - Believers are not perfect (God still forgives)
Rom 7:15-20; Luke 13:6-9; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1;
Rom 7:15-20 shows the struggle that the Apostle Paul faced even as he tried to do good:
‘For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.’
Paul acknowledged in Rom 7:24 his own struggle and called himself out as a ‘wretched man’. Yet, he concluded on a positive note in Rom 7:25 and Rom 8:1 (NLT) –
‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ or Lord. So, you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.’
That is, despite our struggle with sin, we are not condemned because we belong to Christ Jesus. See D30 – Jesus became our perfect passover lamb
Effectively, Christians are sinners saved by grace and we are far from perfect. Those heroes of faith found in Heb 11, including Samson, were very imperfect
That is why in the Lord’s prayer, we continue to seek God’s forgiveness for our own sins,
‘Forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (people who sinned against us)’ (Matt 6:12).
God forgives us as long as we repent and turns back to him; even if it is seventy times seven times (Matt 18:22, Luke 17:4).
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
Christians must seek to obey God’s words and purposes in our lives and repent of sins every time the Lord reveals them to us or if we fail because of our human frailties. Thankfully, we are not beyond God’s forgiveness.
We see this even in the Apostle John’s letters to the seven churches in Rev 2 and 3 where the consistent theme that the Lord used to those five sinning churches was repentance.
Here is one example of the Lord’s message to the Church of Ephesus – Rev 2:5 reads –
‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.’ (Read also Rev 2:16, Rev 2:19; Rev 3:3, Rev 3:19).
Rev 2:5 shows that repentance is continuous.
Every time we sin or we are brought to an awareness of our sins, we are to confess and repent of them before our Lord.
James 5:16 which was written in the context of an ailment, suggests –
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
By confessing our sins to one another (very close friends/ family – Note: Not a priest nor a shrink [psychiatrist]), it has the powerful effect of releasing us from self condemnation and guilt as well as gaining forgiveness of sins from our Lord (see James 5:15).
See also S138 to S145, Unpardonable sins.
D116 - Good believers may even be misunderstood (or hated) by other believers
When Jesus was on the earth, the elites hated him. That was why they crucified him on the cross.
Good Christians may be hated by the elites and possibly even their fellow Christians. In fact, John 16:2 says,
‘They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.’
The Apostle Paul suffered tremendously and in the end he was treated as a criminal and martyred. 2 Tim 2:9 says,
‘For which I (Paul) am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal.’
Martin Luther, often acknowledged as the father of Christian reformation, was another hated Christian of the elites. He avoided execution because he had a protector, in the form of Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony (An ‘elector’ was a German prince who could take part in choosing the Holy Roman Emperor).
So was John Wycliffe, the man credited with translating the Bible from Latin into English, was another such man. He challenged the Catholic Church of his days which was demanding more money from its followers. He argued that the church was already very rich. In addition, he questioned their doctrines, including the proposition that the pope and the church were second in authority to Scripture. For that and more, he was severely criticized. Even though he died peacefully at home in bed because of a stroke, the Catholic Church exhumed his body some forty-four years later, burned his bones, and scattered the ashes in a nearby river.
D117 - Believers hold the privilege to know the mysteries of God's kingdom
Matt 13:11; Matt 16:2-3; Mark 4:11, 34; Luke 8:10; 1 Thes 5:4-5
Following his sharing of the parable of the sower, Jesus’ disciples came to him because they were perplexed; they wanted to know why Jesus spoke only in parables. Jesus expounded in Matt 13:11,
‘To you, it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given.’ This was reiterated in Mark 4:11, Luke 8:10, and Mark 4:34.
As believers, we have special privileges – we have the Holy Spirit in us and we have the Lord who will reveal future truths to us that the world will not understand.
When it comes to the end-times, many believers claim that no one could possibly know when Day of the Lord would be as 1 Thes 5:2 says,
‘For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.’
But these believers fail to also read on in 1 Thes 5:4-5 which says,
‘But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day (the Day of the Lord) should overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day, we do not belong to the night or to the darkness.’
Membership does have its privileges.
Believers do hold the privilege of knowing the mysteries of God’s kingdom.
D118 - Believers are not to be hermits
1 Cor 5:9-10; Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8
In 1 Cor 5:9-10, Paul was giving instructions to believers in Corinth ‘not to associate with immoral people’ but he made it clear that he was not asking the people to ‘go out of the world.’
A Christian is not to be a hermit but to be able to mix and mingle with people in order to bring the good news to them.
The mandate in Matt 28:19-20 was to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all the nations’ and not to stay at home.
The same is found in Acts 1:8 which is for followers of Jesus to go to ‘all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
The Gospel is not a private message but one that is to be shared with people around us.
D176 - When we become believers, we gain the rights to be children of God
John 1:12; Galatians 4:6-7; Ephesians 2:19; 1 John 3:1
John 1:12 says,
‘To all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’
Galatians 4:7 says,
‘Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.’
Ephesians 2:19 describes Christians as ‘fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God’ and 1 John 3:1 reads,
‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God.’
Romans 11:24 explains that we have been ‘cut from a wild olive tree and grafted into a cultivated olive tree.’
When we become Christians, we get adopted into the household of God and have become heirs through Christ with all the rights of children of God.
We change allegiance when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That assurance has given all believers an eternal hope, a hope which ‘we eagerly await for it with perseverance.’ (Romans 8:25).
D177 - When we become believers, we become aliens to the world
John 15:19; John 17:6-8; Heb 11:13
Jesus said in John 15:19,
‘If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.’
In John 17:6, Jesus called his followers as those
‘whom you gave me out of the world’.’
In other words, we have been ‘removed’ from the world to belong to Jesus.
Heb 11:13 reported how the Patriarchs felt, calling them out as
‘foreigners and strangers on earth.’
When we become Christians, we become aliens to the world. See also D141, Believers are hated because we become ‘aliens’ when we follow Jesus Christ.
D178 - When we become believers, we are given new titles (including saints and elect)
1 Peter 2:9; Eph 1:1, Col 1:2, Phil 1:1; James 1:2; Gal 1:2; Rev 5:10; Rev 21:7
When we become Christians, we are given new names. The names sometimes represent a characteristic of who we are.
James 1:2 mentions all of us as adelphos in Greek, or brothers (and sisters).
In Rev 21:7, we are called huios or a son/ descendant.
In 1 Peter 2:9, we are called
‘chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.’
It explains our privileges and responsibilities –
We are special because we have been chosen (the more accurate word should be ‘elect’) by God. And we are also priests too – acting as go-betweens for the people of the world and God.
Eph 1:1 calls believers ‘God’s holy people.’ We have been made holy through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus (Heb 10:10).
And we are also addressed as ‘saints’, or hagios in Greek, in Col 1:2. It means set apart by (or for) God/ Holy/ Sacred. In Paul’s Epistles, he always addressed believers, Jews and Gentiles, as ‘saints’ (hagios) – Col 1:2, Eph 1:1, Phil 1:1, Philemon 1:5. We, believers, are saints.
Sometimes, the word ‘elect’ is also used (Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22, Mark 13:27). The Apostle John commended the ‘elect lady’ in 2 John 1:1.
The Greek word is eklektos or chosen out/ elect/ select/ of those chosen out by God to render a special service to him.
We are a special people indeed as we have been called out.
The word eklektos was used to refer to Christians in the following verses:
- by the Apostle Paul in Col 3:12, Rom 8:33, Titus 1:1 (NB: In these verses, sometimes the translation would use the word, ‘chosen’ in place of ‘elect’), and
- by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 (In almost all translations, the word ‘chosen’ has replaced the more accurate ‘elect’), and in 1 Peter 1:1.
NB: We need to clarify that as some Christian leaders have been teaching that the term, ‘elect’, refers to only Jewish Christians. That is disingenuous, especially since Paul’s writings were to Gentile Christians and the word eklektos used by Paul referred to believers.
In summary, here are the titles given to Christians –
- Brothers (and sisters),
- Sons (and descendants),
- God’s holy people,
- Saints, and finally,