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Saturday, March 16, 2013

His Great Love # 2

God's Beloved

Chosen in the Beloved

Here, in this letter to the Ephesians, right at the beginning everything is put on that basis. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love" (1:4). An alternative rendering to that is, "He chose us n love before the foundation of the world that we should be holy." "Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in Whom we have our redemption." (this is the R.V. reading of Ephesians 1:5, 6).  It is all in the Beloved, in the Beloved. Do you catch the emphasis? It is not just that He chose us, or that He chose us for this or that. It is where He chose us. Nor is it just that He chose us in Jesus Christ; He chose us in the Beloved, giving the character and the quality of the basis of our relationship to God. That being so, our very existence in relation to God is a love existence, a love relationship. It is what Christ's relationship was to the Father that is ours; and you know how in the New Testament this very word "beloved" is frequently used concerning believers. [Note: let it be clearly understood that nothing said here or elsewhere means that the unique and exclusive  nature of Christ as "the only begotten of the Father," the eternal Son, is infringed or overlooked. The peculiar nature of the Person of Christ is preserved and jealously preserved. We are here dealing with our calling in Christ.] Paul was tremendously fond of using it. Here he says it inclusively - "in the Beloved," but again and again he will say to the saints, "beloved of God." That is not just a pleasant thing said. We can use that language to one another, we can address people in those terms; but Paul was not just saying a nice thing, calling them beloved of God to make them feel comfortable.

For him, the whole doctrine of grace was wrapped up in that. He comprehended the eternities past and future in that; "in the Beloved," "beloved of God." If you think that is just language and words, do remember that Paul's horizon, his whole world, beyond which for him there was nothing, was what he so frequently called "in Christ." You have little need that I remind you of the way in which Paul used that phrase. I have managed to find 128 occasions in Paul's writings alone in which he uses that phrase, or what corresponds to it. "He chose us in Him." "In Whom we have our redemption." Now you go on and see all that be has to say about "in Christ." It is in the Beloved.

Union with God in the Beloved

Now, what does that mean? As I see it, it means that the sum of Paul's ministry, which was the outflow of his own life and experience and understanding, was and is union with God in Christ, and that, living union, organic union. I would have to take you back to the Old Testament again to indicate how much that was so in the terms used. We saw in our previous meditation the terms used by God concerning Israel, calling Israel His child, His son, His daughter, His betrothed, His wife. All these are organic, vital conceptions. It is not the relationship of one brick to another in a building, inanimate, cold, however closely connected. It is the throbbing life of a love union, so strong and deep that Paul will cry in one of those inexpressible utterances of His "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ/" (Romans 8:35). Then he tabulates and catalogues all the things that do effect separations - life and death, things present, things to come, and all the rest, and he says, But none of these "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." The union is so much a part of Himself that it would be dividing God and dividing His Son.

I am not stepping over now to the obligations and responsibilities of this love where we are concerned, but at once you will glimpse something when I quote that  passage from Corinthians - "Is Christ divided?" That is only one way of saying, that you cannot divide Christ, you cannot make Christ into parts without destroying His very Person. So this love makes for such a oneness with God, of an organic and vital character, that to separate would be to destroy an organism. Oh, that we had a right conception, God's conception, of the Church and of relatedness! What a tremendous statement that is - "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life," nor this and that and that (tremendous things) "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38, 39). What a pity it is that the chapters should have been broken there (Romans 8 and 9). We need to read on to get the full force of it. But we must not be too detailed now.

Paul's whole conception and unfolding of the purpose of God from eternity is in this little phrase "in Christ," "in the Beloved." Here, in the Letter to the Ephesians, you have the summary of it all. He goes right back before ever we were formed, and before ever this world existed in its present order - before the recreative activity of God. It was back there God chose us in the Beloved. Looking right down through all the ages, He chose us in Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

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