For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 English Standard Version (ESV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
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 for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…
Notice that Paul doesn’t say that God chose us to be in Christ. He rather says God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless. What God chose from the foundation of the world was that whoever is in Christ will be holy and blameless.
Suppose I conduct a conference at which I show a movie clip from The Princess Bride. You choose at the last moment to attend this conference. At the end of the movie clip you raise your hand and ask, “Mr. Boyd, when did you decide that we’d have to watch that silly movie clip,” to which I might respond, “Well, I decided that six months ago.” You then turn around and say, quite accurately, to the whole conference, “Mr. Boyd predestined us to watch this movie clip six months ago.”
But notice, I didn’t predestine that you individually would watch this movie clip. What I predestined is that whoever shows up at this conference would watch this movie clip. Now that you decided (even at the last minute) to be part of this conference, what was predestined for the whole becomes predestined for you. You are part of the “us” who was predestined to watch the clip.
So too, from the foundation of the world God predestined that whoever is in Christ would become holy and blameless in his sight. But he didn’t predestine certain individuals — as opposed to other unfortunate individuals — to be in Christ. This is left up to our choice. Now that you’ve chosen to be in Christ, what was predestined for the group becomes predestined for you. You, with Paul, can say “In Christ WE (who have chosen to believe) were predestined to be holy and blameless…”
I’m convinced this is what Paul is communicating in this passage.
Philippians 1:20 For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. NLT
I don’t believe most of us can make a statement like this. Most of us do not expect to never do anything that would cause us to be ashamed. We are not confident enough in our righteousness to believe that we could ever do it. From experience, we know that we mess up, that we sin. We seldom get to the point where we actually believe that we will be strong enough to not sin. Yet, Paul believed it was possible and he was not afraid to go out on a limb and proclaim it.
Paul expected to always be a bold witness for Christ. He based his hope on the fact that it was true of him in the past and he saw no reason why it would change. His passion for Christ was so strong that he simply couldn’t hold it in. He had to be a witness for Him. We should strive to be like Paul. Our love for Christ should compel us to be bold witnesses for Him. If we are not witnesses for Him, then perhaps we better re-evaluate our standing before God. We are bold witnesses for those things which excite us.
Paul’s passion was to always honor Christ, whether in life or death. It should be the passion of every believer’s heart. Do you honor Christ in your living? If you do, you certainly will honor Him in your death. Our expectation should always be that we would live honorable lives before God in Christ. Let us leave no doubt as to whom we are living for by the way we live our lives. In all things, honor the Lord in word and deed.