First, God sovereignly chose his people to make them holy.
Paul says, “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). The purpose of God’s election was to set a people apart, to make them holy. But once again, that would be impossible if not for Christ. God didn’t choose a people whom he would simply command to be holy, though he does command us to be holy. No, he makes us holy through Christ.
Ephesians 5 says:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Christ was a lamb without blemish or spot, so God was willing to accept him as a sacrifice on our behalf (1Pe 1:19). Our sin was applied to him, and his righteousness is applied to us.
The more we learn about salvation, the more we might feel somewhat conflicted. It becomes quite clear that we have absolutely nothing to boast about concerning our salvation. It’s humbling. God did this, and God did that. We offer nothing but our sin from which we need to be saved. At the same time, there is nothing more precious to God than the people for whom he gave his Son.
Second, God sovereignly chose his people because he loves them.
Paul says, “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons” (Eph 1:4-5). God was motivated not by obligation. He didn’t owe us anything but his wrath. Rather, he was motivated purely by love, agapē. The disposition of his heart was one that moved him to show us compassionate sacrifice even though he was under no obligation to do so.
In the next chapter, Paul writes, “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” (Eph 2:4-5). Again, his motive was love. Just don’t ask me why he loves us. I won’t have an answer.
Third, God sovereignly chose his people to become his children.
It’s a shame that adoption is often treated as a secondary aspect of our salvation. We talk a lot about election, predestination, irresistible grace, and so on, but adoption is rarely included in our systematic theologies or creeds. One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about the 1689 Baptist Confession is that it includes a chapter on adoption:
All those that are justified, God conferred, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put on them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.
More than citizens, servants, disciples, or even friends, God has chosen us to be his adopted children. The Baptist Confession alluded to this passage, but Romans 8:15-17 is worth reading in full:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The teaching of adoption is such a beautiful concept. Imagine that a man has to make a choice between saving a rebellious, ungrateful child who is not related to him, who hates him, or saving his own son. God chose the rebellious child. He chose us.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:31-35)
God has made us his children. He has adopted us into his family. What a beautiful thought. But the question does arise, why did God do all of this?
Forth, God sovereignly chose his people for his own glory.
To the praise of his glorious grace (Eph 1:6). Everything God does or has done is for his glory. After all, he is God.