“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
(Continued from Part 1)
The person who struggles with electionism will say Scripture proves that God decides who He’ll love and who He’ll hate based on, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated,” but that’s not Paul’s point. His argument is the defense of his ministry to include the Gentiles. This extremely arrogant group of non-believing Jews–his own family and friends–he wanted them to understand God will have mercy on whomever He wants. They’re no better than anyone else.
The clay doesn’t get to tell the Potter what to do with the clay, and if the Potter wants to use different lumps of clay however He sees fit, the clay needs to remember who controls the shaping of everything (see Romans 9:18-25).
We are created. He is Creator:
“And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25)
The bottom line is, God wanted to include the Gentiles and the Jews were salty about it. They thought they were God–or at least could boss Him around and tell Him who to pick. Nope.
The Hebrews were correct about a couple things:
Yet God now has the “audacity” to bring in the Gentiles by grace through faith? Yes. That’s exactly right.
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people” (See Romans 9:25)
“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.” (See Romans 9:30-32)
Many of the Jews were working, not believing. Many of the Gentiles were now believing, not working. To the Jews this was extremely heretical, such is the same for many of today’s devout church-goers who focus on the “sinners.” The stumbling block of Jesus Christ was now tripping up zealous, legalistic Hebrew people who thought their “amazing” behavior caused them to be right with God.
Sadly, for them, faith was now the end of the Law for all who would believe in this stumbling block! (See Hebrews 9:32-33, 10:1-4).
“Paul, you need to be killed for such blasphemy! We are to meditate on the Law day and night! We are to love the Law as David did!” (See Psalm 119:97).
“I’m sorry, but you must repent from your dead works toward Jesus.” (See Hebrews 6:1).
In Romans 10 and 11 he goes on to explain how important it is that his kinsmen turn from their disobedience of refusing to believe in Jesus. Why? Because they have been cut off from God–ouch. Of course, they can be grafted back in, but they must repent from the Law toward the Son of God. Trampling on the Spirit of Grace and looking to temple sacrifices for forgiveness would not end well for them (see Hebrews 10:26-29).
An even bigger slap in their face was that Paul was saying the Gentiles who have believed are now included rather than them.
How many legalistic, Bible-thumping, unloving church-goers would be furious if you told them, “A prostitute who believes Jesus has forgiven them is just as holy as Jesus.”? (See 1 John 4:17). Now multiply that by 100 and you’d get a taste of what Paul was facing. And to be clear, not all church-goers are like this. Only those who see their church attendance and church work for righteousness are. They will be included with those whom Jesus rejects at heaven’s gate. “I never knew you,” will be the last thing they hear before hell (see Matthew 7:21-23).
Paul opens up his letter to the Romans informing them that no unbelieving Jew or Gentile has any excuse not to believe. The Jews had the Law, which showed them their need for a Savior, and we Gentiles had our consciences. Both parties are without hope apart from Christ (see Romans 2:12-15).
Let’s jump to Romans 8:29-30 to see the cusp of predestination:
“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.”
This passage is proof that God predestined all of us who will believe in Jesus to grow and mature in Him! We have a calling which is to bear the fruit of the Spirit! (See Galatians 5:22-23). Eventually we’ll be completely glorified in our physical body (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-58), but for now, we’ve been glorified in our soul and spirit. We’ve been preselected to do this as believers on earth. God can see the beginning from the end and He’s already worked this plan out. He’s not controlling this plan but working it through us with us in relationship. Collectively, as a church body, God is conforming our actions and attitudes into the image of His Son.
With this foundation set about predestination from Romans, Ephesians 1-3 can easily be deciphered through the Spirit. Once again, Paul is explaining the same mystery to those in Ephesus as he did to the Romans:
God has released the gospel onto the entire world, not just the Jews.
As we look at these Bible verses, keep in mind, when he uses the word we he’s referring to the Jews. When he uses the word you it’s directed at the Gentile Ephesians (or formerly Gentiles if they’ve believed). When he writes us he’s pointing at the new creation, not Jew or Gentile but those who have believed in Christ for salvation.
“he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace (See Ephesians 1:4-5)
All of humanity was predestined to have the opportunity to believe Jesus after He was crucified, buried, and resurrected. It’s about being in Him, in Jesus, His actual Spirit. This is the mystery which was not revealed until the gospel was released onto the Gentiles through Paul. Paul was the first Jew to reach out to non-Jews with the good news. This mystery was the will of God all along. The apostle to the Gentiles unraveled this enigma that both the Jew and Gentile could now join him in Christ:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In 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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7-14)
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” (See Ephesians 2:1)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
I’ve underlined being rich in mercy because those who see the first few chapters of this epistle as God hand-selecting people to be saved, let me ask, how could such a God be rich in mercy? He couldn’t. There’s no mercy in such a twisted view of predestination.
Because God is rich in mercy He included those who were close to Him–because of the first Covenant–as well as those who were far off and had no Covenant with Him. This would include me, as I’m not of Jewish descent:
“remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13)
We Gentiles weren’t there at the base of Mount Sinai, promising God we’ll do everything written in the Book of the Law (see Exodus 19:8, 24:7). The Jews were, yet they failed at holding up such a promise to God. The hostility of the righteous requirements of the Law–perfection or bust–were now torn down! (See Matthew 5:48, James 2:10, Galatians 3:10). The same 613 commandments which alienated us from non-Jews, that curse was banished through Christ! He brought us both together as one!
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off (Gentiles) and peace to those who were near (Jews). For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (See Ephesians 2:14-19, my notes added in parenthesis)
So today, my friends, know this: Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (see John 12:32). This has happened at the Cross! Nobody can come to Him unless God draws them–so He drew you! (See John 6:44). Before Christ this was still a mystery! But now the final Piece who brought peace has caused the predestination puzzle to be solved!
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for your predestined plan to give me redemption through the opportunity to believe in Jesus. What a merciful and graceful plan! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear people have enjoyed what they’ve just read, yet still, for others this is hard to believe. I ask that you open up their minds to the truth of your gospel. Let them know that if you pre-picked certain people to be saved, then all the passages in the Bible about evangelism, warnings of hell, and believing, would be worthless. After all, you’d have everything rigged so we should just eat, drink, be merry–and HOPE you picked us. And Dad, for those who arrogantly “feel picked,” remind them that they too must believe in Christ, no matter how they feel. But for those who DON’T feel picked, let them know they have the chance to believe right now. Today is their day of salvation! They get saved, once! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!