When Were We Chosen?
I appreciate I haven’t done justice to the reality that those united by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ are actually God’s possession. I do think it’s time to move on, to consider the next part of this verse.
Things I have posted have already alluded to this, but I haven’t yet delved into an unpacking of this verse and the concepts triggered by the words in this passage.
One of the ways we can do this is by employing some journalistic questions.
These questions don’t necessarily find their answer in Colossians. One thing this demonstrates is that the concepts embedded in this verse resonate throughout the body of Scripture.
The first question relates to when, and its object/subject relates to the word chosen, and/or the concept that those united by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as God’s possession, are chosen by God.
To be more specific, let’s ask the question is “When were God’s possession chosen?”
We find an answer in another of Paul’s letter, his letter to the Ephesians.
To the church in Ephesus, Paul writes:
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 in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Ephesians 1:2-4)
It’s the first part of verse four that gives us the answer to our question “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” God’s choosing us is pre and supra-historical. It is before history, before the creation of the world. It is above (or outside) history, independent of historical events. The first historical event in the history of the world is it’s creation (or foundation). God’s choice comes before the first events that the bible records. We don’t get an insight into how or when or where this divine counsel took place. But somehow God decided upon a people to be His own possession.
As previous posts will indicate, my focus has been (thus far) have been on Colossians 3:12 and the proposition God’s chosen ones.
The Sunday Sermon
Preached yesterday by Peter Reynolds, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Manurewa, the sermon was based on 1 Peter 1:1-2.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Today’s daily prompt is Fence.
I thought I could combine my continued thinking about Colossians 3:12 with today’s daily prompt.
God is the Fence
I am thinking about the word fence in terms of it being a verb. Speaking of Psalm 139:5, and speaking it back to the Father, I would say “You fence me in”. Popular English translations translate the word צַרְתָּ֑נִי as “hem” as follows:
“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5, ESV, NIV)
I get the idea of a shepherd protecting his flock from wolves and raiders who would seek to drag the sheep away from the protection of the flock and its shepherd.
Because we, as Christians, belong to God, having been purchased by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we are His precious possession (Titus 2:14), He has a vested interest in keeping us from being snatched away.
The Apostle John records Jesus’ teaching on the Father and Son’s dual role in keeping/preserving us.
My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:27-30
The hemming in process (which is constant) comprises of a fence built by the hands of God – Father and Son. This fence is ever in place, it is impenetrable, no one can scale it, no one can break through it. If treasures in heaven cannot be affected by moth and rust, how much safer are treasures in the hands of heaven’s Father?
He owns and possesses us as an ongoing act of His love. He will not give up what He owns and possesses and so nothing in all creation will separate us from His love – that is, for those who are called by Him, according to His purpose, for His glory.
Continuing to think about the treasures contained in Colossians 3:12, hearing the Scriptures being read in church this morning gave additional fodder for thinking about God’s choice.
As part of our service of worship this morning at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Manurewa the following scriptures were read.
Psalm 65:1-4 was read as a call to worship. Verse 4 I thought particularly pertinent to the theme that emerges from Colossians 3:12. Psalm 65:4 reads (ESV):
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
The reality in this verse is that there is none who God choses that He doesn’t also bring near; and that there are none He brings near who He doesn’t also cause to dwell in His courts; and that there is none who He causes to dwell in His courts who He doesn’t also satisfy with the goodness of His house. The goodness of His house is the holiness of His temple. The holiness of His temple is the presence and power of His own Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ Jesus – the one in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
This morning’s sermon was preached from Romans 8:28-39. Verses 29-30 I thought particularly pertinent to the theme that emerges from Colossians 3:12. Romans 8:29-30 reads (ESV):
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s choice is God’s predestining. Those He predestined are those He chooses. Those He chooses are foreknown by Him. For God to know, in this sense, is more than just an intellectual awareness – rather, it is an intimate acquaintance that is pre-historic, supra-historic. This pre and supra historic, intimate acquaintance proceeds His work of creation. All that to say that God’s intimate acquaintance with those He has chosen goes before (and lays a foundation for) all that He subsequently made. God had us in mind before and as He executed His great creative acts as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2.
“God’s chosen ones” – that’s the first part of this passage in Colossians 3:12 and following. This is the introduction of the indicative – it focuses in on who we are. Below are some thoughts about the idea that those to whom and for whom Paul is writing need to lay hold of.
God’s chosen ones.
God’s – His, belonging to, possessive
chosen – deliberate, intentional, decided upon, selected, elected, special
ones – more than one, individuals
“a. Therefore, as the elect of God: The new man is elect of God. This means that God has chosen the Christian, and chosen him to be something special in His plan. “Elect” is a word that frightens some, but it should be taken both as a comfort and as a destiny to fulfill.”
Guzik (on Colossians 3:12)
“the elect of God — There is no “the” in the Greek, “God’s elect” (compare Rom_8:3; 1Th_1:4). The order of the words “elect, holy, beloved,” answers to the order of the things. Election from eternity precedes sanctification in time; the sanctified, feeling God’s love, imitate it [Bengel].”
Jamison, Fausset, and Brown (on Colossians 3:12)
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) Reflection: Thinking and praying about my sermon for a funeral service I was again reminded of the awesome privilege of being allowed into people lives, and […]
I’ve been reading Colossians. Last night I read Colossians 3:12-16. In it, I found some instructions. These are sometimes referred to as imperatives. But before mention of something to do (imperative), there is a strong statement of identity. These identity statements are sometimes referred to as indicative. This passage contains both instruction and identity statement. Sometimes there’s a fight like it’s imperative vs indicative.
I’m not sure it’s a fight. I think the Word of God contains instruction and identity statements in perfect harmony. But what comes first?
This passage in Colossians answers that question by introducing the reader to what’s going to be a list of imperatives, but then inserts a very profound statement of identity. It’s hard to assume what Paul was doing as he wrote these words – or to question the Holy Spirit who inspired him to do so, but it’s almost like Paul leaves the starting blocks intent on instructing the Colossians on what they are to do (put on/put off), but is then reminded (prompted?) to remind the Colossians of who they are.
Is it not easy, especially when we have other people in our cross-hairs, to launch into what we ought to be doing as we walk with Jesus? I am learning that it’s not wrong to, standing on the authority of the Word of God, give directions to fellow followers. We consider the important place the 10 Commandments hold in the canon of scripture and we’re quick to point out what it is the Lord requires of us. But done in isolation, I am not sure we really echo the Holy Spirit’s intent.
Rather, it’s like we’re called to be before we are called to do and our doing is inseparably built on our being.
I think I am going to spend a few days thinking about how this is presented in the following passage. That may or may not lead to further blog posts. Spending time chewing over relatively small portions of Scripture never equates to an exercise in futility.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16 ESV)