Blessed in Christ with Every Spiritual Blessing

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

      11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:3-14)

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FC, SD, XI. Eternal Foreknowledge and Divine Election

(Tappert Edition)

4 At the very outset we must carefully note the difference between God’s eternal foreknowledge and the eternal election of his children to eternal salvation. For the fact that God sees and knows everything before it happens — what we call God’s foreknowledge — extends to all creatures, good or evil. He sees and knows in advance all that is or shall be, all that happens or will happen, both good and evil, since all things, present or future, are manifest and present to God, as it is written, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will” (Matt. 10:29). Again, “Thine eyes beheld my unformed substance, in thy book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16). And again, “I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me” (Isa. 37:28).

5 On the other hand, the eternal election of God or God’s predestination to salvation does not extend over both the godly and the ungodly, but only over the children of God, who have been elected and predestined to eternal life “before the foundation of the world was laid,” as St. Paul says, “Even as he chose us in him, he destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:4, 5).

6 God’s foreknowledge ( praescientia ) sees and knows in advance the evil as well, but not in such a way as though it were God’s gracious will that it should happen. To be sure, he sees and knows beforehand whatever the perverse and wicked will of the devil and of men will attempt and do. But even in wicked acts and works God’s foreknowledge operates in such a way that God sets a limit and measure for the evil which he does not will — how far it is to go, how long it is to endure, and when and how he will interfere with it and punish it. For the Lord God governs everything in such a way that it must redound to the glory of his divine name and the salvation of his elect, and thereby the ungodly are confounded.

7 The source and cause of evil is not God’s foreknowledge (since God neither creates nor works evil, nor does he help it along and promote it), but rather the wicked and perverse will of the devil and of men, as it is written, “Israel, thou hast plunged thyself into misfortune, but in me alone is thy salvation” (Hos. 13:9). Likewise, “Thou art not a God who delights in wickedness” (Ps. 5:4).

8 God’s eternal election, however, not only foresees and foreknows the salvation of the elect, but by God’s gracious will and pleasure in Christ Jesus it is also a cause which creates, effects, helps, and furthers our salvation and whatever pertains to it. Our salvation is based on it in such a way that “the gates of Hades” are not able to do anything against it (Matt. 16:18), as it is written, “No one shall snatch my sheep out of my hand” (John 10:28), and again, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

The comfort of such doctrine

45 This doctrine also affords the beautiful and glorious comfort that God was so deeply concerned about every individual Christian’s conversion, righteousness, and salvation and so faithfully minded about it that “even before the foundation of the world was laid” he held counsel and ordained “according to his purpose”how he would bring me thereto and keep me therein. 46 Furthermore, God wanted to insure my salvation so firmly and certainly — for due to the weakness and wickedness of our flesh it could easily slip from our fingers, and through the deceit and power of the devil and the world it could easily be snatched and taken from our hands — that he ordained my salvation in his eternal purpose, which cannot fail or be overthrown, and put it for safekeeping into the almighty hand of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, out of which no one can pluck us (John 10:28). 47 For this reason, too, Paul asks, Since we are called according to the purpose of God, “who will separate us from the love of God in Christ?” (Rom. 8:35).

48 This doctrine will also give us the glorious comfort, in times of trial and affliction, that in his counsel before the foundation of the world God has determined and decreed that he will assist us in all our necessities, grant us patience, give us comfort, create hope, and bring everything to such an issue that we shall be saved. 49 Again, Paul presents this in a most comforting manner when he points out that before the world began God ordained in his counsel through which specific cross and affliction he would conform each of his elect to “the image of his Son,” and that in each case the afflictions should and must “work together for good” since they are “called according to his purpose.” From this Paul draws the certain and indubitable conclusion that neither “tribulation nor anguish, neither death nor life, etc. can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:28, 29, 35, 38, 39).

50 This article also gives a glorious testimony that the church of God shall exist and remain against all the “gates of Hades.” At the same time it teaches us what the true church is, lest we be offended by the outward prestige of the false church (Rom. 9:8ff.).

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