Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
So this Saturday I went to women's Bible study, and we listened to a sermon by Paul Washer on the above verse. He made some really wonderful points which I wanted to share with you. Of course, there is no way I can say it as eloquently as he does, but hopefully it'll be some encouragement for you.
Some Christians believe that God started loving them when they became a Christian - this is an incorrect understanding. Other Christians believed God loved them from the moment they were born, but this is also an incorrect understanding.
The truth of the matter is that if you are a Christian, God's love for you knows no beginning just like it knows no end, because God's love is eternal. Our human love has a beginning; you can remember when you started to love your husband or wife or child. God, on the other hand, has always loved you from eternity past. Personally, this blows my mind.
The verse above clearly states that if you are a Christian, God has chosen you. You might think that you chose God, but the Bible clearly states that it is God who chooses some and not others. I don't fully understand why He elects some and not others, no one can or does understand, but the Bible teaches this very clearly. For example, God chose Abraham to be his servant. God chose Israel to be his people. And likewise, God chooses his church.
In order to understand election, Paul Washer points out that it is vital to understand the nature of the human condition. Humanity is fallen and completely depraved. Actually, the most fitting description for humanity is evil. And this is what the Bible teaches (Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:19; Romans 3:10, to name a few verses). It's a harsh reality to face, but a very true reality all the same.
3 Truths About Humanity
1) Humanity is radically depraved, and moral depravity affects every aspect of our being (Rom 6:6; Romans 6:12; Romans 1:21). We are depraved in the body, mind and will.
2) Humanity is capable of the most horrendous evil. The reason why we aren't completely wicked and evil all the time is because of something called "common grace" which is given to us by God. God in his sovereignty, grace and love actually restrains the evil of men. This is done partly through something that God gave every human being - a conscience. God wrote his law (Thou shall not lie; thou shall not steal, etc) on our hearts so that we might know him. If God was to take away his common grace, then humanity in its evilness and wickedness would destroy itself in a matter of days. The only reason why there is good in the world is because of God's grace.
You may ask: What about the good atheist, will he be judged? Well the truth of the matter is the atheist is only "good" because of the gift of common grace to him from the very God that he denies.
3) Humanity is hostile towards God and the will of God. Humanity is at odds with God because God is good and humanity loves evil; therefore, humanity refuses the reconciliation offer made by God. People cannot come to God on their own. Then, you may say, that is unfair and people should not be held guilty. But you see, the reason people cannot come to God is that they freely choose not to, because they hate God, who is good and hates evil. Humanity are not the victims, but rather are enemies of God. Hell is moral because humanity is immoral. The only reason that humans at times appear moral is because of the restraining hand of God.
But do you know what the amazing part of this is? Despite how depraved we are, God still chose to offer us a way to be reconciled to him through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus, unlike us, was not depraved and did not have a sinful nature. He lived a perfect life, always loving and obeying God. And because Jesus was both fully man and fully God, he was able to take the punishment we deserved. That's what happened on the cross: Jesus stood in our place and took the punishment for our sins, for our evil nature, and not only this but three days later he rose from the grave, conquering death, so that we too may have eternal life. How amazing is this - that God would save you and me, who are so sinful and evil. And Jesus did it ALL. There are no works or good deeds we need to do to pay for our sins, because God completed salvation on the cross from start to finish. All you need to do is repent (ask God for forgiveness from your sins and wicked nature), and put your faith in the work that Jesus did. If you do this, God promises he will give you a new heart, a heart that loves him and wants to please him instead of loving darkness and trying to please itself.
And if you're already a Christian, this is what really blew my mind: keeping in mind that God loves you with an eternal love, and then thinking about how utterly and completely depraved you were before God rescued you. Read Romans 5:8 -
...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Mind officially blown.