Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In a lyrical song with liturgical overtones he offers praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” St Paul may well be quoting an early liturgical poem or hymn in these opening words of greeting. Modernists would have us believe that the ‘cosmic Christ’ or ‘Jesus as Son of God’ was a later interpolation of third or fourth generation Christians. Any simple reading of St Paul’s epistles show that the cosmic dimension and identity of Jesus Christ as God’s Son was fully developed in all of St Paul’s thought. This theme is not limited to one or two little verses that might have been interpolated later. The understanding of Jesus as the Son of the Father Almighty, and his role in the cosmic creation and redemption is woven through every aspect of St Paul’s thought.
So Christ is introduced to us immediately as the Son of the Father, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms. The supernatural vision of St Paul is also immediately clear. St Paul is a mystic. He sees that the ‘heavenly realms’ through Christ Jesus are present to use here and now. Heaven is here. The Gates of Glory are opened. Through Jesus Christ we are ‘blessed in the heavenly realms’ and have received every spiritual blessing.
Paul’s understanding of Jesus as the Cosmic Christ goes on and is amplified. Not only does he bless us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing, but he chose us before the foundation of the world. It is clear that St Paul understand Jesus Christ to have been pre existing with the Father from the foundation of the world. Elsewhere he teaches that through Christ ‘all things were created and have their being and in him all things consist.” This echoes St John’s understanding that ‘in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and without him nothing was made that was made.”
From the foundation of the world God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight. He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ. We are not predestined individually, but as the whole church. The whole church is to be holy and blameless in his sight and we are to be adopted as his family through Christ Jesus. This echoes back to the baptism of the Lord where he is recognized by the Spirit as being the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased. This is accomplished through his glorious grace which is given by his Son.
The whole passage may well have been a hymn, poem or sermon Paul used at a Baptism. So it is through the baptism that we receive this grace that makes us holy and blameless. It is through this baptism that we are adopted as sons and daughters. It is as we are baptized into Christ that we take on to ourselves that same cosmic destiny. In this sense we are predestined–not in the literalistic Calvinistic sense–but in the sense that God, through Jesus Christ, in his marvelous plan of redemption has brought about that fulfillment which had to come about simply through the natural course of God being God.
Because he is faithful and loving. He must redeem what is lost. Because his creation is good it must have the chance to return to what is good just as naturally as the sun must rise and water must flow downhill. There is no special predestination in this. Instead it is predestined because that is simply what God is like. It is what had to happen in some way or another or God would not be God. As such we are caught up in this plan and predestined to salvation because that too, is our natural destiny.
As sons and daughters of Adam and Eve we are created in God’s image and therefore out destiny is to return to him and thought we have fallen through original sin, we must one day return to our maker just as surely and naturally as iron filings are drawn to a magnet.
This truth does not negate our free will however. It is possible for us to rebel against our destiny. It is possible for us to continue the rebellion of our first parents. It is possible for us to turn our backs on God and go our own way, but if that is so, then our choice of alienation from God and our ultimate destination of hell will also prove to be part of his predestined plan for the whole world, for that horrible end also fulfills and completes and proves his love in a terrible and final way.
So in the end all shall prove to be part of that which brings praise to his glorious grace which is freely given in his Son.