Today, before we pray, we will look at some qualifiers in this passage and elsewhere in Scripture. What do I mean by qualifies? They are simply statements in the Word of God designed to let the reader know the promise is not meant for everyone. It is a blanket divider that separates those who are predestined to hear and understand, and those who are not. Let me show you how this plays out in Ephesians 3:1-2, which reads:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you – Ephesians 3:1-2.
Paul begins by describing himself as “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles” and then goes on to divide the Gentiles into two camps (Eph. 3:1). One, those who “have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you” (Eph. 3:2). And two, those who have not heard. Or, by implication, have not heard and believed. So Paul is saying the “dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you” only means the Gentiles who have heard of this or have had their spirits quickened to the truth. It is a truth proclaimed for everyone, but applied to only some. Just like salvation and so many other aspects of the Christian faith.
Not Everything is for Everybody
Consider the following examples:
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them (My sheep) eternal life, and they (My sheep) shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them (My sheep) out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). Note the qualifier. Not all sheep belong to Jesus and not all sheep hear His voice. Only His sheep hear His voice and are given the promise of eternal life and eternal security. All created sheep, in this case, humanity, is divided into two categories: Those that are His and those that are not. And all the promises of eternal life are reserved to only one category— those that belong to Him.
When speaking about the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus divided those following Him into two categories: Those who love Him and keep His commands, and those who don’t. He said, “If you love Me, (then) keep My commandments. And (the result of loving and obeying Him) I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). Of those to whom Jesus spoke these words, some received the promise and some did not. Why? Because of the qualifier, the requirement that must be met. Some of those who heard this statement loved the Lord and obeyed His commands and received the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). And some, who did not love Him but were there for some other reason, did not receive the promise. It was not universally applied to everyone. There were conditions that had to be met.
Then again, in His seven letters written to the seven churches in Asia Minor Jesus once divided those following Him, by the use of a qualifier, into two categories by using the phrase “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). In other words, some will understand the true impact of His message, and some will not. These statements were spoken to everyone but did not apply to everyone. Some heard and embraced “what the Spirit says to the churches” and some did not. The message proclaimed to everyone was, obviously, only meant for a few. Just like the “narrow gate” and “wide road” that leads to either eternal life or destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). People are divided into two categories. Always. Those who approach Christ on His terms, and everyone else. It is just the way it is.
Time to Pray
But for us, we have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). We have been granted the supreme privilege of being called sons of God and heirs with Christ and of being able to cry out “Abba, Father” to the Creator of All (Rom. 8:15-17). And we are not of those who consider the message of the cross foolishness or moronic. For us, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:18).
So when you pray today, remember what you have already been given. Remember who you are and what price your Father paid for your redemption. Remember, no matter what the world may say about you and your failures, shortcomings, or sins, you have been predestined, chosen beforehand in Him, to “adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Eph. 1:5). And finally, remember you were chosen by Him simply because He wanted you. Or, as Ephesians 1:5 states, “according to the good pleasure of His will.”
Now, armed with a boatload of things to be thankful for, spend some time with Him in prayer focusing on these very verses. And enjoy Him today.