Predestination-Freewill Dyspepsia (P7)
The Salvation Moment is The Individual Election Moment

 

When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family? Is it eternity past, the beginning, or the salvation moment? Depending on what verse you read--and more importantly, how you read it and synchronize it with the rest of Scripture--you could come up with different answers. Some scriptures seem to say eternity past (Eph 1:4, 2Ti 1:9) or "the beginning" (2Th 2:13) is the individual election moment (whatever "the beginning" means). Some seem to say the salvation moment is the individual election moment, like the parable of the wedding feast (Mt 22:1-14), which says those with the right garment--the righteousness of Christ--get chosen and accepted into God's party.
    How do we sort this out? Since Ephesians 1:4,5 loom large over this subject in many Christians' minds, I will start there. Then we will work our way through other scriptures relevant to this subject.


God's Family Planning
 

Ephesians 1:4,5 (NKJV): ...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.
 

    This passage can be segmented into three statements conveying three truths:
 

  • He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. God predetermined to have a family, an "us".

  • ...that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love... God predetermined the characteristics of that family.

  • ...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. God predetermined how He would acquire that family.
     

    First and crucially, realize the entire context (verses 3-12) is not individual-focused. The entire context is about the collective of God's family, which is why first person plural pronouns are used twelve times in the context: "our" and "us" and "we". There is no wording here whatsoever that says God handpicked one individual for heaven and handpicked another individual for hell. There is no wording here whatsoever that says God handpicked specific lost individuals to become saved individuals. Those who make these individual-focused claims have to smuggle outside words and preloaded ideas into the text, instead of microscoping the exact words Paul used, only the words Paul used, and letting the meaning emanate organically from those words.
 

(1) God predetermined to have a family, an "us".
   
In the first segment of verse 4, Paul said, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world." This tells us, in the eternal state before the world was created, God chose to have an "us", He chose to have a family. The prepositional phrase "in Him" means God chose to have this family through the second person of the Trinity--through the person, work, and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    The first segment of verse 4 is communal and Christological. The entire context, verses 3-12, is communal and Christological.

 

The "In Him" Disaster for Absolute Predestinarians
    Absolute predestinarians say Ephesians 1:4 is about individual salvation, that it proves God handpicks individuals for salvation or lostness. That opinion creates a disastrous and insurmountable hermeneutical problem for them, which they have been unable to resolve and will forever be unable to resolve.
    If, as predestinarians say, Ephesians 1:4 is about individual salvation, that places individuals "in Him" (in Christ) before the foundation of the world. That would mean we were saved and in Christ before the world, because saved and in Him are synonymous Biblically. And that would mean we were saved by election, not Christ and His blood at the salvation moment in real time. As you can see, this intended or unintended train of logic is filled with serious theological problems, two especially.
    One, it states or implies that we are saved by election, not Christ and His blood at the salvation moment in real time. It makes election the conceptual and functional center of salvation, and Christ merely an accessory to salvation. In correct soteriology, Christ is the conceptual and functional center of salvation (and all of God's purposes). Ephesians 3:11 says (ESV), This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. Hard predestinarians, knowingly or unknowingly, substitute "election" for "Christ Jesus our Lord" in this verse.
    Two, the opinion states or implies that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world. That would mean, once again, that we were saved before the salvation moment in real time (saved and in Him are synonymous Biblically)--before being drawn, before conviction, before being called, before faith, before repentance, before confessing Jesus as Lord, before the born-again experience, before justification, before the sealing of the Spirit, before all that happens in that one salvation moment. This is a disaster theologically, because Ephesians 2:12,13 say no one, absolutely no one, is in Christ before the salvation moment (ESV, underline mine): ...you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Romans 8:1 says the same (NKJV, underline mine): There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... Before the salvation moment every single human being is under condemnation (Ro 5:18, Jn 3:18), after the salvation moment, no condemnation and in Christ. Colossians 3:3 speaks similarly. As a result of the salvation moment, our new existence is now hidden in Christ in God (NKJV): For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
    Ephesians 1:4, then, cannot mean we were in Christ before the foundation of the world. That would brazenly contradict a massive New Testament doctrine that states we are placed in Christ at the salvation moment, and before that, we were separate from Christ, without God, and under condemnation. (See also Isaiah 59:2 regarding this separation from God.)
    If Ephesians 1:4 is about individual salvation, that means we were in Christ/saved in eternity past, then we somehow fell out of Christ and became unsaved and separate from Christ and without God, then got re-saved and re-inserted into Christ at the salvation moment. This runaway train of logic, whether intentional or unintentional, is a theological disaster for absolute predestinarians and their individual-focused interpolation of Ephesians 1:4.

 

Predestinarian Word-Smuggling
    Predestinarians say Ephesians 1:4,5 are about individual salvation. The embarrassing inconvenience for them is that there is no wording here whatsoever that says or implies God handpicked one individual for salvation and another for lostness. The entire context (v3-12) never says God handpicked specific lost individuals to become saved individuals, and furthermore, the context does not explicitly mention salvation until verse 13. Predestinarians have to smuggle outside words and preloaded ideas into the passage, instead of microscoping the exact words Paul used and only the words Paul used. They do this same type of word-smuggling in Romans 9 also, smuggling in "salvation" to replace "mercy" and "going to hell" to replace "harden", instead of microscoping mercy and hardening in and of themselves and resisting assumptive leaps.

 

Summary
    The first segment of Ephesians 1:4 is telling us this: in the eternal state before the world God chose to have an "us", He chose to have a family. Hence the twelve first person plural pronouns throughout the context (v3-12). The prepositional phrase "in Him" means God chose to have this family through the second person of the Trinity--through the person, work, and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fairly simple, fairly easy to understand, every word and phrase accounted for, no smuggled in words and ideas from outside the text, no runaway trains of logic, no theological disasters.

 

(Appendix) Ephesians 2:12 says, before the salvation moment we were separate from Christ and without God. How does that fit and reconcile with verses that say God knew us before we were born?
    Regarding this question, the verse most people have in mind is Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV): Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Other verses similar in nature are Psalm 139:13-16, Luke 1:15, and Galatians 1:15. How do these verses reconcile with Ephesians 2:12, which says, before the salvation moment we were separate from Christ and without God? How could He know us in that state? The answer is twofold.
    First, God can be separate from us in our unsaved state yet still know us "from afar". Psalm 138:6 says this exactly (NKJV): ...the proud he knows from afar. In our unsaved state our #1 sin and characteristic evil was pride--self-will, self-rule, self-reliance, self-first, etc. He knew us before we were born and in an unsaved state, yes, but He knew us from afar. He did not know us intimately or salvifically. Isaiah 59:2 carries the same concept. God said Israel's sinful state was the cause of the separation between her and He, and yet, He maintained some level of interaction with Israel until her Assyrian exile. He knew rebellious Israel, but "from afar".
    Second, the above scriptures all have to do with being known in advance for a service, not intimately or salvifically. In Jeremiah 1:5, God foreknew Jeremiah for a prophetic ministry. In Psalm 139:13-16, God foreknew David for what his body and soul were intentionally designed for service-wise. In Luke 1:15, the Holy Spirit filled John even from the womb--not in a salvation sense, not in an intimate knowing sense, but in a ministerial sense with the Spirit and power of Elijah. In Galatians 1:15, God foreknew Paul for an apostolic ministry.

 

(2) God predetermined the characteristics of that family.
   
In the second segment of Ephesians 1:4, Paul said (NKJV), ...that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love...
    
This segment tells us God predetermined the characteristics of the family He would have: morally like Him ("holy and blameless") in a love relationship with Him ("before Him in love"). Beautiful! Like Him in character and madly in love with Him!

    This is not the only verse telling us something about the predestined characteristics of God's family. He preplanned for us to be more than just morally godly and in love with Him. He also preplanned that we would be a family with heavenly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. 1Corinthians 2:7 says (KJV), But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. This verse says God wanted His family to have supernatural wisdom, but it also says He ordained this characteristic before the world, identical to Ephesians 1:4.
    Ephesians 1:4 (the second segment) and 1Corinthians 2:7 have the same message: before the world, God predetermined the characteristics of the family He would have. Ephesians 1:4b says His family would be morally like Him and in a love relationship with Him; 1Corinthians 2:7 says His family would have heavenly intelligence.

 

(3) God predetermined how He would acquire that family.
    In Ephesians 1:5, Paul said (NKJV), having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself...
    This segment tells us God predetermined or predestined how He would acquire that family: adopt a remnant of humanity through the person, work, and mediation of Jesus Christ.
    Once again, tune into the explicit wording and the context. This verse is not individual-focused and not about individual salvation; it is about God's big-picture strategy of adoption to acquire a family, through Jesus the Middleman.

 

Overall Summary & Conclusion
    Ephesians 1:4,5 is about God's family planning. The passage can be segmented into three statements conveying three truths (NKJV):

 

  • He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. God predetermined to have a family, an "us".

  • ...that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love... God predetermined the characteristics of that family.

  • ...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. God predetermined how He would acquire that family.
     

    Our original question in this chapter was, When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family? Is it eternity past, the beginning, or the salvation moment? Ephesians 1:4,5 do not answer that question for us; it is a communal and Christological passage, not a passage about individual salvation or the individual election moment. We must keep searching other scriptures.


The Pre-Time Grace Promise
 

2Timothy 1:9 (NKJV): who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
 

    Paul says here, God's grace for His future family was provided in Christ before time began. How is this possible? How did He provide grace for us in Christ, in eternity past, considering absolutely no one is in Christ before the salvation moment, as Ephesians 2:12,13 and Romans 8:1 say?
    He made a promise. That pre-time, pre-world grace took the form of a promise. The promise was the provision of a Savior. God made a promise to humans that did not even exist yet and had not even fallen into sin yet, a promise that a Savior was already provided. We see this in 2Timothy 1:9's twin scripture.
    2Timothy 1:9 has a twin--Titus 1:2. Titus 1:2 tells us precisely what is meant by the grace given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (NKJV): in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. Pre-time grace = pre-time promise. Read 2Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 together and a clearer storyline emerges: the grace given to us in Christ Jesus before time began was the promise of eternal life, i.e., the promise of a Savior. What was graciously promised in eternity past became manifest in real-time through the Incarnation, 2Timothy 1:10 says (ESV): ...and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus... After the Incarnation, what was graciously promised in eternity past became manifest in real-time through the preaching of the gospel, Titus 1:3 says (NKJV), ...in due time manifested His word through preaching...

See how 2Timothy 1:9,10 and Titus 1:2,3 are identical twins?

 

Summary & Conclusion
   
Our original question in this chapter was, When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family? Is it eternity past, the beginning, or the salvation moment? 2Timothy 1:9 does not answer that question for us; it is not about individual salvation or the individual election moment. It is about the grace given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, and Titus 1:2 tells us that grace took the form of a promise. That promise was the provision of a Savior, the promise of a way back to eternal life with God--before humans were even created, before humans even fell.
    We must keep searching other scriptures for the answer to our question, When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family?

 

Other Scriptures about the Pre-Time Grace Promise of a Savior
    A Savior--and with Him, and because of Him, eternal life--was promised before time began. Two scriptures add color and detail to 2Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2.
    In Hebrews 9:14, we are told the second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, offered Himself in eternity past as Savior and Mediator. He volunteered for the job before the grace promise was decreed, as the basis and impetus of the grace promise. Hebrews 9:14 (NIV): How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God... Because the pre-time promise was an absolute certainty, a foregone conclusion, Revelation 13:8 says (Young's Literal Translation), ...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.


Chosen from the beginning...of what?
 

2Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB): ...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
 

    The meaning of 2Thessalonians 2:13 comes down to the phrase "the beginning" and what beginning it refers to. We will also look at the phrase "for salvation".

 

"The Beginning"
    The New Testament uses the phrase "the beginning" in at least nine different ways. It uses "the beginning" in reference to the beginning of the world, or creation: Matthew 19:4,8, 24:21, Mark 10:6, 13:19, John 1:1,2, 8:44, 9:32, Hebrews 1:10, 2Peter 3:4, 1John 1:1, 2:13,14, 3:8. It uses "the beginning" in reference to the beginning of eschatological birth pains: Matthew 24:8, Mark 13:8. It uses "the beginning" in reference to the beginning of Paul's physical life, Acts 26:4, or anyone's physical life, Hebrews 7:3. It uses "the beginning" in reference to the beginning of Jesus' miraculous signs: John 2:11. It uses "the beginning" in reference to Jesus Himself, calling Him "the Beginning": Colossians 1:18, Revelation 1:8, 3:14, 21:6, 22:13.
    "The beginning" is also used in reference to important phases in the gospel's progress in the first century. The gospel had multiple frontier moments or "beginnings" in the first century. Four such beginnings are emphasized.

 

  • The beginning of the gospel proclamation through Jesus, starting at the baptism of John: Mark 1:1, Luke 1:2,3, John 6:64, 8:25, 15:27, 16:4, Acts 1:21,22, Hebrews 2:3, 1John 2:7. Key verses as follows, all underlines mine. Mark 1:1 (NASB): The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Acts 1:21,22 (NASB): ...all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us--beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us... Hebrews 2:3 (Literal Standard Version): how will we escape, having neglected such great salvation? Which having received [that] spoken through the LORD [from] the beginning, was confirmed to us by those having heard.
     

  • The beginning of the gospel proclamation through the apostles, starting at Pentecost and Jerusalem: Acts 11:15,16, Luke 24:47. Acts 11:15,16 (NKJV): ...the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' Luke 24:47 (NKJV): and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
     

  • The beginning of the gospel proclamation in Europe, via Macedonia, via Philippi and Thessalonica: Philippians 4:15, 1Thessalonians 1:7,8. Macedonia was the first province, Philippi and Thessalonica were the first cities. Philippians 4:15 (Young's Literal Translation): ...ye have known, even ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the good news when I went forth from Macedonia... 1Thessalonians 1:7,8 (ESV): ...you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere...
     

  • The beginning of the gospel in an individual's life, i.e., when they accept the gospel and begin the Christian life: Hebrews 3:14, 5:12, 6:1, 1John 2:7,24, 3:11, 2John 1:5,6. Hebrews 3:14 (NASB): For we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end. 5:12 and 6:1 (Young's Literal Translation): ...ye have need that one teach you what [are] the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God, and ye have become having need of milk...Wherefore, having left the word of the beginning of the Christ, unto the perfection we may advance... 1John 2:7 (YLT): Brethren, a new command I write not to you, but an old command, that ye had from the beginning--the old command is the word that ye heard from the beginning. 2:24 (NASB): As for you, see that what you heard from the beginning remains in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 2John 6 (NASB): And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you are to walk in it.
     

    The above data tell us the phrase "the beginning" is used in nine different ways throughout the New Testament. You can see, then, how we have to be extra careful in reading 2Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB, underline mine): ...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
    God chose the Thessalonian Christians from the beginning of what? The beginning of the world? The beginning of the gospel through Jesus? The beginning of the gospel through the apostles? The beginning of the gospel in Europe? The beginning of the gospel in each of you Thessalonians individually? See how we have to slow down, back up, and not hastily stamp our own impression of "the beginning" on this verse? With all these options to choose from, which is the correct meaning?

    Context, context, context. The context of 2Thessalonians 2, and 2Thessalonians as a whole, and 1Thessalonians also, tell us which "the beginning" Paul is referring to. We need only to look for clarifying, corroborating information in these two letters.

 

The Beginning of the Gospel To Them/The Beginning of the Gospel in Europe
    In 1Thessalonians and 2Thessalonians, Paul never once mentions the beginning of the world, the beginning of time, the foundation of the world, or any other eternity past language. It would be astonishingly irresponsible, therefore, to say 2Thessalonians 2:13 means God chose the Thessalonian Christians from the beginning of the world or the beginning of time. And yet, absolute predeterminists would have you ignore the context and content of these two letters and tell you "the beginning" refers to the beginning of the world or the beginning of time. This is incorrect and irresponsible. So I say again, in 1Thessalonians and 2Thessalonians Paul never once mentions the beginning of the world, the beginning of time, the foundation of the world, or any other eternity past language. It is hermeneutically impossible for 2Thessalonians 2:13 to mean what absolute predestinarians wish.
    On the other hand, there are plenty of mentions and implications, in both 1Thessalonians and 2Thessalonians, that 2Thessalonians 2:13 is referring to the beginning of the gospel to them (the Thessalonians), which was simultaneously the beginning of the gospel in Europe. In Acts 16, God turned Paul away from continuing to evangelize and church-plant in Asia. God explicitly commanded him to penetrate a new frontier: Europe, via Macedonia (the first province), via Philippi and Thessalonica (the first cities). Notice in the following verses Paul's own words about the beginning of the gospel in Europe, via Macedonia, via Philippi and Thessalonica. Philippians 4:15 (Young's Literal Translation): ...ye have known, even ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the good news when I went forth from Macedonia... 1Thessalonians 1:7,8 (ESV): ...you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere...
    Paul is telling us in these two verses exactly what he meant in 2Thessalonians 2:13: "God chose you, Thessalonians, from the beginning of your Yes to the gospel, which was simultaneously the beginning of the gospel's advance into Macedonia".
    It is for this very reason Paul devotes two entire chapters, 1Thessalonians 1 and 2, to reminiscing and harping on the beginning of the gospel to them. In 1:6,9, 2:1,13--four times in these two opening chapters--Paul specifically points out and emphasizes how they accepted the gospel when it came (the beginning of the gospel to them). Paul does it again in 2Thessalonians. In 1:10, 2:15, 3:1--at least once in every chapter--he again specifically points out and emphasizes how they accepted the gospel when it came (the beginning of the gospel to them).
    Absolute predeterminists say "the beginning" in 2Thessalonians 2:13 refers to the beginning of the world or time, with zero corroboration from the context of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. On the other hand, seven times in both letters (1Th 1:6,9, 2:1,13, 2Th 1:10, 2:15, 3:1), Paul reminisces, points out, even harps on, the beginning of the gospel to the Thessalonians, i.e., their acceptance of it. The phrase in 2Thessalonians 2:13, "God chose you from the beginning", therefore means, "God chose you, Thessalonians, from the beginning of your accepting the gospel, which was simultaneously the beginning of the gospel's advance into Macedonia".
    2Thessalonians 2:13 indicates the salvation moment--the beginning of the gospel in an individual's life--is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses that individual to be in His family.

 

"For Salvation"
    Here is our verse in question once again, 2Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB, underline mine): ...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
    Does "for salvation" here mean the total package of salvation--salvation from the penalty of sin (justification), salvation from the power of sin (transformation), salvation from the presence of sin (glorification)? Or does it mean only one of these dimensions? Or does it mean salvation in an extremely practical, non-soteriological sense, like being saved from bad weather or saved from a problem or saved from some danger?
    Some interpreters have proposed "for salvation" means salvation from the eschatological wrath of God just mentioned a few verses earlier (v10-12), also mentioned in 1:7,8, also mentioned in 1Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9. (The eschatological wrath of God is the wrath He pours out on the earth in the very last days, described in the book of Revelation. The eschatological wrath of God is different from the eternal wrath of God, which is manifested in Gehenna/hell/the lake of fire.) This is a strong argument. The eschatological wrath of God is indeed mentioned in the immediate context, the book context, and the companion book context. Furthermore, 1Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9, and 2Thessalonians 1:7,8 tell us explicitly we will be saved from that last-days wrath to come.
    I think this proposal is correct, but only partially correct. I see other aspects of salvation in the immediate context of our verse in question. For example, in the very next verse Paul writes (v14 NASB, underline mine), It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase "He called you through our gospel" hearkens to when they first heard the gospel and experienced the salvation moment. The phrase "obtain the glory" refers to glorification, the final dimension of our salvation package (Ro 8:17-21,30, Php 3:21). In the next verse after this, Paul writes (v15 NASB, underline mine), So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us... The exhortations to "stand firm" and "hold to the apostolic traditions" refer to the practical transformation dimension of salvation.
    And so, in the immediate vicinity of 2Thessalonians 2:13 we see salvation from the eschatological wrath to come (v10-12), salvation at the salvation moment (v14), salvation at glorification (v14), and salvation from the power of sin or practical transformation (v15). The only understanding of "for salvation" that is true to every piece in the immediate context is a comprehensive one. Therefore, "God chose you from the beginning for salvation" means salvation from the penalty, power, and presence of sin, which He will begin to punish through His eschatological wrath in the very last days, which they will be saved from also.

 

Summary & Conclusion
    Our original question in this chapter was, When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family? Is it eternity past, the beginning, or the salvation moment? 2Thessalonians 2:13 indicates the salvation moment--the beginning of the gospel in an individual's life--is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses that individual to be in His family.


Chosen, Accepted in the Garment
 

The parable of the wedding feast, recorded in Matthew 22:1-15, also seems to convey that the salvation moment is the individual election moment. You can read the parable on your own, however, the part of the parable that is relevant to our topic is this: those with the right garment get chosen by God, the right garment is the righteousness of Christ imputed at the salvation moment. In other words, the salvation moment--the moment an individual is clothed with Christ--is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses that individual to be in His family.
 

The Garment is the Righteousness of Christ
    Garment is a consistent metaphor in Scripture. One who is not in a saved relationship with God through Jesus is clothed in "the garment polluted by the flesh" (Jude 23 NASB). Those who are in a born-again relationship with God through Jesus "have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal 3:27 NIV). In our daily life and moments, so we can grow and transform practically, we are told to continually "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh" (Ro 13:14 NIV). This practical growth dimension is the idea in Revelation 3:4 also (NIV): Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
    While the garment metaphor is used to illustrate both dimensions of the righteousness of Christ, the positional and the practical, the parable of the wedding feast is focused on the positional. The positional righteousness of Christ is given at the salvation moment (imputed, credited), while the practical righteousness of Christ is grown throughout the daily Christian life over time. In the parable of the wedding feast, an unsaved person accepts the call to come to the Son, and as a result he/she is instantaneously given a wedding garment, and as a result he/she is chosen, accepted, welcomed inside. The one without the wedding garment came to the Son in his own clothes, his own righteousness, and for this reason was rejected and not chosen. He refused the king's provision, which was a free wedding garment for anyone willing to come to the Son's party on the Father's terms. (This part of the parable has historical precedent. Kings and wealthy men in that region at that time would provide garments for their guests for major events they hosted; see 2Kings 10:22.)

 

Zechariah's Prophecy about the Coming Garment
   
Read Zechariah 3.
    In a remarkable experience between Joshua and an angel, Zechariah writes that Joshua's "filthy clothes" were taken off and replaced by "fine garments", representing the full removal of his sin (v4 NIV). Just when we think this experience is only about Joshua, the Lord says (v8 NIV, underline mine): "Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch."
    The Lord Himself says this profound old garment/new garment experience for Joshua was "symbolic of things to come"--he would not be the only one to experience the old garment/new garment blessing. In the very next phrase He says, "I am going to bring my servant, the Branch"--Jesus the Messiah. Put it all together: the Branch or Messiah is coming (His first coming) and will bring with Him a new garment for whosoever is willing to be like Joshua. In that day, whosoever will can have an old garment/new garment change like Joshua.
 

Many are Called, Few are Chosen
    Absolute predeterminists say this means God has already unconditionally preselected a few out of the many that hear the gospel. However, as they do with many passages, to their shame, nowhere in this parable does Jesus say the few chosen are already unconditionally preselected by God. As they do with many passages, to their shame, they must smuggle in outside words and ideas into the passage and manufacture a meaning that is not articulated in the text. You know what is articulated in the text? Those with the right garment were chosen, accepted in the Garment, accepted in the Beloved.

    Praise to the glory of His grace, because He accepted us in the Garment. Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV): to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved

 

Summary & Conclusion
    Our original question in this chapter was, When is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses a specific individual to be in His family? Is it eternity past, the beginning, or the salvation moment? The parable of the wedding feast indicates the salvation moment--the moment an individual is clothed with Christ--is the individual election moment, the moment God chooses that individual to be in His family.