Greg Laurie — Why God Chose You?
The title of my message is, "Why God chose you"? Ephesians chapter 1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints," you might underline that phrase. "To the saints that are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ". That could just as easily be translated "In the heavenlies". "Just as he chose us" underline those two words. We will come back to them. "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption". You might underline those three words or four words. Predestined us to adoption. "As sons by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved". Please underline those words accepted in the beloved. We are coming back to them. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace". Now we will stop there.
So now Paul speaks to these believers and starts off by saying, "To the saints that are in Ephesus". I have pointed out before that saint is just another word for believer. Saint is not a word to describe someone who has been acknowledged by the catholic church or who has performed certain miracles. No. A saint is a believer. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are a saint. You have just been sainted. You don't have to call me Saint Gregory if you don't want to. I am a saint. Now it is interesting. "To the saints that are in Ephesus". Now in some of the ancient manuscripts of the book of Ephesians there is a blank space instead of Ephesus. So it is Paul the apostle writing to the saints in and there is a blank spot. Some believe because of that this was a circular letter. In other words it wasn't meant only for the Ephesians but it was meant for many churches. Certainly we are benefitting from it right now.
You could just as easily say, "Paul an apostle by the will of God to the saints that are at harvest". You could even personalize it and put your name in there. It is God's letter to you. Look at verse 3. "Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ". Notice it is has. Or if you have a king James Bible hath which means it is done. It doesn't say that one day he will. It is saying he has already done this. A lot of times as Christians we are asking for something that God has already given us. It would be like someone giving you a gift for your birthday and as you are holding the gift you then said, "What are you getting me for my birthday"? "Uh why don't you open the box I just gave you"? "I just want to know what you are getting me". What? Are you an idiot? Open the box. We can be that way. "God when are you going to give me this"? God says, "News flash. You have it. Check your balance. It is already there".
For instance we ask God to give us more love. "Lord I need more love". Yet the Bible tells us in Romans 5:5, "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit". It is already there. Just start loving. Don't pray for an emotion. Just start doing it. Get it. So you know that person. I get so upset when I see them. I need more love. No. You need to do more loving things. Just go and do something out of your comfort zone like saying, "How are you. I love you. You look great". Or you know do a favor for them. Do loving things and the emotions will catch up?
This is certainly true in marriage. Sometimes those husbands and wives that we love so much then they start getting on our nerves. Those things-the things that once drew you together because opposites do attract. Right. Now drive you crazy. You could not find two more opposite people on the face of the earth than Greg and Cathe Laurie. Everything is different about us. Cathe is neat and I am messy. Cathe is cute and I am fat. You know how it is. The things we watch on tv. The things she wants want to watch are not the things I want to watch. All right. So that is ok. So love. And we will get to that later when we talk about marriage. Or you may pray for peace. "Lord give me peace". But Jesus says in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you".
We pray for happiness and joy. Yet John 15:11 Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full and overflowing". We ask for strength. Yet his word tells us in Philippians 4:13. "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us". Then 2 Peter 1:3. "God's divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness". You have all of the peace, all of the love, all of the power that you need so just start using it. Take hold of it. That is what is being communicated here. Now we are going to come to a very big subject. I am going to talk about something the church has discussed and debated for 2,000 years. I am going to resolve it right now. He said jokingly. I am talking about predestination.
Listen to this. God chose you before you chose him. Jesus said, "You have not chosen me but I have chosen you". Before there was a planet called earth, before there was a garden called eden, before there was a man named Adam and a woman named eve God decided in the counsels of eternity to choose you. And to choose me. Well of course the first question that comes to my mind is why. Why would God choose me? What goodness or merit did he see in me that he would choose me to be his child? I hope you are not disappointed in the answer I am going to give you. The answer is there was no merit or goodness that caused God to choose you. It is clear that despite your best intentions or high opinion you may hold of yourself that has nothing to do with it.
All you need to know is God did it before you were even born. The Lord chose you. Ready for the answer. He chose you because he loves you. Why? I don't know. Just roll with it. This is a good thing. You say, "I don't understand it". Nobody understands it. Anyone that thinks they do is either or lying or delusional. It has been said, "Try to explain divine election and you may lose your mind. Try to explain it away and you may lose your soul". See it is very important that we understand this is something that the Bible teaches. Now we might ask the question how. How did God choose us? What was the basis for his choice? I don't have an answer for that particular question.
Now some, those who would be of the reformed persuasion, calvinists as they are sometimes called believe in something called irresistible grace. Irresistible grace. That effectively means that God chose you before you chose him and you are going to believe in him no matter what. That has already been settled and decided. You couldn't even resist the grace and the pull of God if you wanted to. And then some of the same persuasion would believe in what we might describe as double predestination meaning that God chose some people for heaven and he chose other people for hell. It is sort of like. Ok heaven. Heaven. Hell. Hell. Heaven. Heaven. Hell. Hell. Heaven. Hell. Really? I don't believe that. I reject that completely that God chose certain people to go to hell. I think this contradicts what other scriptures teach.
Along these same lines they would believe in what is called limited atonement. That simply means that Christ only died for the elect. He only died for those that he chose ahead of time. I don't believe in that either. I believe that Christ died for the whole world. I believe the grace of God can be resisted. That is why the Bible tells us to not resist the Holy Spirit. He can be resisted. God has given us a free will. Scripture is clear in pointing out that God gives us a choice in the matter. Of course the definitive verse is John 3:16. "For God so loved the world". It doesn't say for God so loved only the elect or chosen ones. "For God so loved the world that he gave his `only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life". Whosoever. It doesn't say so when the elect who cannot resist his grace believe. No. Whosoever. This is an open invitation to all of humanity. Whether we like it or not the Bible teaches both predestination and freewill. We will talk a lot about the why of predestination. We will talk also a lot about the what of predestination.
But I think what we miss and that is so important is what did he predestinate me for? Why did God choose me? What am I predestinated for? The answer is right here in Ephesians 1. If you are taking notes you might write this down. Number one. God predestinated me to be adopted into his family. He predestinated me to be adopted into his family. Look at verse 5. "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will". God chose you to be adopted into his family and to become his child because God wants you to walk in fellowship, relationship, and friendship with him.
Number two. God predestinated me to be holy and without blame. To be holy and without blame. Look at verse 4. "Just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world". Why? "That we would be holy and without blame before him in love". This is the outgrowth of your relationship with God. Holiness speaks of your inward purity. Without blame speaks of your outward condition of purity. So he wants you to have a pure heart and he wants you to be pure in your actions. If you are really a Christian and you know what it is to walk with Christ, it should affect you in the things that you say, the things that you do, even in the things that you think. If it is not affecting you in your lifestyle and your choices then we have to wonder if you really even understand this to begin with.
See you were like a slave on the open market for sale. You were chained up to a tree. There were no takers. The auctioneer called out. Nobody wanted you. They wouldn't pay full price. They wouldn't pay half price. Along comes Jesus. He takes one look at you and he says, "I choose you". So he pays the price. He pays full price. He doesn't try to get a deal. He pays full price. He says. "Come on". You say, "Wow. I can't believe you did this for me. I am going to be the best servant ever. I will serve this master. I will go wherever he wanst to go. Where do you want to go master"? "I want to go down to the courthouse". "Ok master. Here I come. What are we doing to do there"? "Actually I am going to adopt you as my son". "What"? "I don't want you to be a servant like you were before. You can serve me voluntarily but I want you to be my son. I want you to be my daughter. Let's drop those adoption papers and you can bear my name now. Christian. Because you follow me and I live in you and you are in Christ".
When we mess up and we sin as followers of Jesus we are ashamed. Sometimes we may feel as though we lost our position. I am no longer his son. I am no longer his daughter. I am not worthy. Listen. You never were worthy. So get over the worthy thing. You will never be worthy. You never were worthy. It is not about that. It is about the fact that God loves you and he chose you. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love him because he first loved us". Listen. The more you know about God's love for you the more you will grow in your love for him. So just take a while and soak it in.
Now we come to point number three. God chose us that we might become more and more like Jesus every day. Again. God chose us that we might be more and more like Jesus every day. Romans 8:28-29. "We know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son". A lot of times people miss the big picture of that verse. Everyone knows Romans 8:28. But they forget that after Romans 8:28 is Romans 8:29. That is the whole story. Romans 8:28. "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God".
Verse 29. For whom he did foreknow, he also predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son" so we have things happen in life that make no sense to us. We say, "God I don't know why this is "Appening but Romans 8:28. "All things work together for good". That is ok to quote that by the way. I am not making fun of it. But then as a little time goes by. Something happens. You realize that the bad thing resulted in a good thing. You are saying, "Lord you are so good. It all worked out". There are times in life when something really bad happens and you quote Romans 8:28 and you don't see how it is working together for good. You don't see any good. You just see pain and more pain.
I know this from personal experience. When the Lord called our son to heaven it was just like where is the good here? But then I thought of verse 29. "For whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son". See God's end game with you is to make you like Jesus. God's end game is not to make you happy. It is to make you holy. That comes as a revelation to some of us. We just thought God was there to make us happy. Well he wants to make you holy. But the great thing is happiness is a byproduct of holiness. You know if you live a holy life you will be a happy person. But if you don't live a holy life you will be the unhappiest person around. So what this means is everything is in play still.
So for those things in your life that don't make sense just hang on. Maybe they will make sense in a year or in ten years or maybe they will never make sense this side of heaven. But when you get into God's presence on the other side it will all come into focus and you go, "Now I get it". You see. But God chose you that you might be more like Jesus every day. Fourth and finally. God chose us that we might bring forth spiritual fruit. God chose us that we might live spiritually fruitful lives. Jesus said in John 15, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give to you". What does it mean to bear fruit? It means to bring results out. The Bible says, "By their fruits you will know them".
When someone is really walking with Christ you will see the fruit. What is the fruit of the Spirit? According to Galatians 5:22 the fruit of the Spirit is love and it is joy and it is peace and it is patience and it is longsuffering. So if you are a follower of Jesus those should be the earMarks of your life. People should be able to see that in you and see that in me. Here is something else God has done for you, and I don't want you to miss this. This is really big. Look at verse 6. "To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved". Say that after me. Accepted in the beloved. What does that even mean? It means that right now I stand before God and you stand before God as a follower of Jesus completely acceptable. When I see you I see Jesus. And I love him and I love you. We are related. You are my son. You are my daughter. That is the way it is.
Now I don't want to come off like a shrink here but. Maybe you had a cold distant father. Sometimes men you know they want to be strong. They don't want to show weakness. They won't affirm their children. They might affirm someone else's children first. But you they say, "You should try a little harder. You could do a little better". You don't remember your father ever saying, "I am so proud of you and I love you so much. You are the best". Maybe your father never did that. So because of that you sort of brought that along with you to your relationship with your Father in heaven. I don't know if I please God. I don't know if I am good enough or if I am worthy enough.
Hey news flash. Your Father in heaven is not like your father on earth. Maybe your father on earth was awesome. If he was, great. Even the awesome father on earth doesn't come close to the awesomeness of your Father in heaven. Don't think of your Father in heaven the way you think of your father on earth. Know that he looks at you with love. He looks at you with approval. He looks at you with acceptance. Oh cool. So I can go out and do any sin I want. No. You are missing the point. Remember he chose you that you should be holy before him. Some people say, "God loves me the way that I am". Yeah. But he doesn't want to leave you that way. Some people will live in sin and say, "God loves me the way that I am and God accepts me". You are misunderstanding it because if you know anything of God choosing you and loving you it should cause you to want to live a holy life and bring honor and glory to his name and bear spiritual fruit.
So God chose us and it is a great thing. Maybe some of you are wondering in closing how do I know if I am chosen. I have got the answer. You ready. How do you know if you are chosen? It is very simple. Believe in Jesus Christ and you just proved you were chosen. Don't believe in Jesus Christ. I guess you weren't were you? You see there is God's grace. But it can be resisted. There is God's offer of forgiveness. But it can be turned away. Now the ball is in your court. You cast the deciding vote.