“To be chosen as the Beloved of God is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not competitive, but a compassionate choice. Our minds have great difficulty in coming to grips with such a reality. Maybe our minds will never understand it. Perhaps it is only our hearts that can accomplish this. Every time we hear about ‘chosen people’, ‘chosen talents’, or ‘chosen friends’, we almost automatically start thinking about elites and find ourselves not far from feelings of jealousy, anger, or resentment. Not seldom has the perception of others as being chosen led to aggression, violence and war” – Henri J.M. Nouwen
Is God partial and unjust? – This has always been an issue for people to accept that God would come looking for His people and select/elect some for showering His blessing while leaving out others. God revealed His name to Moses as “I AM” and in these three letters answers to various points regarding God are revealed. Since He is a God of the present and not of the past or the future, while being All-knowing and Almighty, apparently all past and future is also like present to Him. Thus all of the past and the future is open before Him and He knows who will accept Him as El-Shaddai and who will not, despite the fact that “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). And those who listen to the nature and God’s Word proclaimed to mankind, they are chosen and rewarded.
God has revealed Himself and spoken to us in times past through the prophets and since we did not pay heed to His word spoken thus, God decided to finally send His own Son to reveal Himself to us and to redeem us from ‘kingdom of darkness’ (Hebrews 1:1-2). But even the presence of God Himself in our midst in the form of His Son, taking human form, has not moved the hearts of many. “Satan, the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
How are believers blessed as children of God? – But God has granted a special blessing to those who saw the Light and “received Him (Lord Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). There are three important aspects to this verse- firstly, ‘receive’ and the Greek word used here is ‘lambano’ meaning “accept with initiative, volition assertiveness of the receiver”. Thus this believing and receiving is a willful and deliberate act of bold and forceful movement on the part of an individual through stepping forward by breaking the chains of darkness and unbelief exerting social pressure. The second, grant of right and the Greek word ‘exousia’ means “right or privilege, authority or power to act”. The right automatically provides the authority to speak in the power and authority of God Himself and this is what Joshua did commanded the sun to stand still at Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Aijalon and they stopped in their tracks (Joshua 10:12-13). Thirdly, the child is translated from “tecnon” which means a child, living in full dependence while willfully relying in glad submission.
Thus the overall message conveyed in this one verse is of a person who voluntarily asserts himself to step out to recognize Lord Jesus as the Savior and Son of God to receive the authority and power to use His Divine name to happily lead a life of absolute surrender and dependence on the abundance of God. It is not a passive act but an aggressive move of a believer to claim and appropriate the granted blessings.
What gives the ‘believers’ their right with God? – Lord Jesus’ coming to the earth as man has five stages of His already completed work and this is in relation to the seven days of creation process in Genesis 1. On the first day at God’s command ‘Light’ of the glory of the Son fills the whole earth and the first stage of the Lord’s ministry is to reveal God the Father to mankind. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). This is the first stage and Lord Jesus as ‘Light of the world’ has revealed God to all humanity for after we did not heed to God’s word revealed through the prophets, God has spoken to mankind through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).
On the cross our Lord made a triumphant declaration “Tetelestai” before surrendering His Spirit to the Father. This Greek word is the key to our blessings since this is the word that is used on all bills and cash receipts which implies that the ‘account has been settled with full payment made and received’. This utterance of our Lord on the cross confirms fulfillment of the debt that was owed to Satan by mankind as full compensation for redeeming the slaves of son that were under his control. God the Father could have settled this account some other way also but that would made Him an unjust God. The heavy price as compensation was the life of His Son and both the Father and the Son willingly did this due to their immense love for their creation.
Our Lord’s this declaration is made in the perfect genes and in Greek language the rules of grammar differ from the English language. The perfect tense in Greek is a combination of two tenses- Aorist and present tense and the action presented has two elements- the time of action and the kind of action. The Aorist tense represents the action related to a specific time or moment and the word “Tetelestai” translated as “It is finished” means completion of the process of redemption of mankind by the Lord through His sacrifice. This is Aorist tense completion of that moment while the perfect tense denotes a linear meaning, thus specifying a future element linked to the same act. Thus the settlement of account is not only for the past dues up to that moment but the process continues to ensure settlement for dues that accrue in future also till the agreement is annulled due to any reason. Since this is an act of God of His own volition this will continues to be in operation till the day of judgement. Thus all who believe on the Lord Jesus as their Savior will continue to be assured of the rewards of this declaration.
What is finished? – In the Old Testament innumerable prophesies are recorded about the sufferings of the Savior and the start is right after sin entered the world about His heel being bruised by Satan (Genesis 3:15). All prophesies concerning the Messiah were deemed to be finished with that declaration including everything about His body and soul sufferings and redemption work. Lord Jesus declared “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). In the Old Testament system the commandment was for offering sacrifices of a lamb, at least a year old and without blemish, was required to be offered every morning and evening at the altar.The lamb was an offering to God as propitiation of their sins which were transferred by placing of hands on the animal and was done for God to be with the Israelites and bless them. This sacrificial offering was a shadow of the real and final sacrifice on the cross that was to follow and John the Baptist pointed to this by pointing to the Lord as “Lamb of God” (John 1:36). God provided a ram to Abraham in lieu of the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:13) and in like manner offered up His Son as a replacement for us. Lord Jesus as ‘Lamb of God’ took upon Himself our sins and paid the price to redeem us from the kingdom of darkness. On the second day the earth was made habitable by God and through His sacrifice on the cross Lord Jesus blessed us with a new life as born again children of God.
The second stage is our redemption from our sins and this is completed by this word spoken by our Lord and our transgressions are transferred to Him and His righteousness gets placed on us. With this “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:13) and the sense of guilt and shame that Adam and Eve felt and hid themselves from God is gone. There is no more condemnation and hiding and we as God’s children can confidently present ourselves before His loving, kind and gracious presence. The High Priest could go into the ‘Holiest of all” the sanctum sanctorum of the Temple only once a year to atone for the sins of his people. The partition wall separating the outer holy area from the Holiest part in the Tabernacle or the Temple was 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and four inches thick, especially woven for this. This veil was torn from top to bottom once the declaration was made by the Lord. With this we are born again and ready to start a new way of life as the earth was made ready by God on the second day.
As per the Jewish tradition people in mourning used to tear their clothes from top to bottom and in that condition anyone could come closer to offer condolences or empathize. It is said that God tore the veil or His clothes of covering as an act of mourning over the sacrifice of His Son thereby giving us access to His presence. On the one side God mourns the sacrifice He had commanded while on the third day He rejoices at the resurrection and with that coming in of all His children into His presence.
The third stage is the resurrection of the Lord and King David prophesies this “You will not leave my soul in sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). With His rising from the dead we are assured of the same for us for our Lord opened the door for us also. On the third day God allowed all forms of vegetation to come up from the earth to sustain the new life to start and our Lord through His resurrection provides us the same blessing. The fourth stage is Lord Jesus’ ascension to heaven and our Lord assures us “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-4). Thus He not only guarantees our rising from the dead but also eternal living in the ‘Father’s house’.
When do we enter heaven? – Heaven is where God is and every religion aims to take the followers in to heaven in to oneness with God- atma or spirit of man becoming one with Paramatma or Supreme Spirit of God through union after death. Lord Jesus promises this union to all believers through the indwelling Holy Spirit- the third element of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit then leads and guides the believer towards sinless living through cautioning/convicting him/her about sin before, during and after commission of the act. Thus from prevention to forgiveness through repentance the believer is guided. The believer is also guided to understand and do the will of God “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God thus guides, leads and empowers us through His Holy Spirit given to every ‘child of God’.
Apostle Paul further clarifies this that God out of His great love for us made us alive together with Christ to get us out of our sinful nature and after raising us up together, “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Thus God dwells in us and provides us union with Him through the Holy Spirit and His Son in the heavenly places. Lord Jesus prayed for this oneness for all believers of the days gone, present and all who will believe in Him for ages to come. In His only recorded prayer in the Scripture He prayed to the Father “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:20-21).
The High Priest during Old Testament times, entered the Holiest of All only once a year with fear lest he may die and he had a bell tied to his robes with a rope tied around his waist. The moment the bell stopped ringing it was known that he has died and the others outside could pull him out. We enter into God’s holy presence with no fear but with confidence as a child goes over to his Father. By entering into God’s presence a believer is in heaven while living on the earth and has an assured place in the heaven above.
Lord Jesus as our Advocate and High Priest prays to the Father for showering His blessings on us and continuously intercedes for the followers. As Christians we are to be like Lord Jesus and in union with Him we are also to pray for others to seek blessings from God for them and here on earth do good to others out of love for God and our neighbors. On the fourth day God created sun, moon and the stars to light up the earth and our Lord fills us with the light of His glory through oneness with Him to lead others into that Light.
Fifth Stage is the Kingship of Lord Jesus and He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth and He commands us to move in the same authority (Matthew 28:18-19). The 70 followers sent by the Lord to preach the Gospel of His coming returned with great joy that even the demons obeyed them in His name. Lord Jesus corrected them to rejoice not for power over demons but for having their names written in heaven and gave power over serpents and scorpions (evil spirits) (Luke 10:17-20). Lord Jesus blessed the believers with power to bind the evil powers on the earth and they will be bound in heaven (Matthew 18:18). He forgave sins of others and the Pharisees and other leaders questioned His authority but He has passed on this authority to us also in that “If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any they are retained” (John 20:23). A child of God thus operates in his life with great power and authority of the Lord and must use this for the glory of God. We are the ‘children of God’ and blessed by Him with immense power and authority in Lord Jesus name. As children we look up to Him as Almighty, loving, forgiving and caring God ever willing to bless, heal and forgive us by clearing all obstacles in our way. The use of any authority is only vested in those who are adults and Apostle Paul warns thus “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father (Galatians 4:1-2). Until we grow up we are not in a position to use all this authority. But what are you doing with so much of authority if you are still acting in unbelief and not doing anything to expand this kingdom by telling others.
Maturity is in believing and acting in faith, only then does the power flow!