4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Eph. 1:4
God’s eternal election is the basis both of our calling and of all the benefits that we receive from him… The timing of our election shows that it had to be free and could not have depended on any works of ours. …
Holiness and blamelessness are the fruits of election…. Those who are not elect retain their natural disposition, which cannot change except by divine intervention…. This verse is also a reminder that there is no room of licentiousness among the elect, because holiness of life is tied to the grace of election… Nor does this mean that we attain perfection in this life. We have the goal set before us, but we do not reach it until our race is done. Why do some people think of predestination as a useless and even poisonous doctrine? No doctrine is more useful, as long as it is handled properly, as Paul does here. It reveals the infinite goodness of God and gives us our knowledge of his mercy…. Election is the ultimate proof that we cannot claim any righteousness for ourselves.
Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Galatians, Ephesians (Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic; 2012) p. 241.
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12. Fourth objection: the doctrine of election destroys all zeal for an upright life
To overthrow predestination our opponents also raise the point that, if it stands, all carefulness and zeal for well-doing go to ruin. For who can hear, they say, that either life or death has been appointed for him by God’s eternal and unchangeable decree without thinking immediately that it makes no difference how he conducts himself, since God’s predestination can neither be hindered nor advanced by his effort? Thus all men will throw themselves away, and in a desperate manner rush headlong wherever lust carries them….
But Scripture, while it requires us to consider this great mystery with so much more reverence and piety, both instructs the godly to a far different attitude and effectively refutes the criminal madness of these men. For Scripture does not speak of predestination with intent to rouse us to boldness that we may try with impious rashness to search out God’s unattainable secrets. Rather, its intent is that, humbled and cast down, we may learn to tremble at his judgment and esteem his mercy. It is at this mark that believers aim… Paul teaches that we have been chosen to this end: that we may lead a holy and blameless life [Eph. 1:4]. If election has as its goal holiness of life, it ought rather to arouse and goad us eagerly to set our mind upon it than to serve as a pretext for doing nothing. What a great difference there is between these two things: to cease well-doing because election is sufficient for salvation, and to devote ourselves to the pursuit of good as the appointed goal of election. Away, then, with such sacrileges, for they wickedly invert the whole order of election.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville, Kentucky; Westminster John Knox Press; 1974) p. 960-961.
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