It is hard to believe, but this is the 14th post in this series. In case you missed any of the previous posts, here is the link to navigate to those: Who Am I? Table of Contents.
Today, on this Good Friday (isn’t it Good indeed!), we will learn about another part of our identity in Christ. We have been chosen. You could word it, we are chosen, but I thought it would be best to describe our identity this way for a few reasons.
First, I think it is more powerful to describe our “chosenness” in the Perfect tense form. If you have never taken a foreign language class this verb tense is, well… foreign to you. I am a native English speaker, but the English language has no exact counterpart to the perfect tense; especially the Greek perfect verb tense.
Here is how one Greek Textbook describes the Greek Perfect with an English equivalent:
“The English past tense indicates that something happened in the past, whether it was continuous or undefined. ‘I wrote’ means I did something previously, but it does not say whether I completed my writing. When you use the helping verbs “have” or “has,” the action described was done in the (recent) past and the statement is accurate up to now (I have written). The English present can describe an action with current consequences (It is written). This is close to the Greek perfect.”¹
What am I trying to get at here? Before I answer that allow me to define what the Greek perfect verb tense means.
“The Greek perfect describes an action that was brought to completion and whose effects are felt in the present. Because it describes a completed action, by implication the action described by the perfect verb normally occurred in the past. For example, if we say that ‘Jesus died’ that is a description of a past tense action. If we say ‘Jesus has died’, then we might expect the verse to continue by spelling out the present significance of that past action (Jesus has died for my sins).”²
If you didn’t understand all of that then understand this: The Greek Perfect Verb Tense describes an action that was done in the past, but the results of that action are still felt in the present. Do you see where I am going? We have been chosen by God.
Do you see where I am going? We have been chosen by God. Perfect tense. Not past, meaning it is completed. No, we have been chosen. Past event with the consequences still being felt in our lives today. The past action of God choosing us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world is still felt today (Eph. 1:4-5). Now, in that verse in Ephesians, Paul uses the past tense verb form, but I think it is still relevant to say that because God chose us in the past it therefore affects how we live now and who we are now. So, even though the perfect tense is not used in this verse, the action of the verb “to choose” is still felt today.
Let me illustrate using the words of Christ on the cross since it is Good Friday. I will paraphrase what William D. Mounce once said. When he was hanging on the cross and about to die, Jesus cries out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The use of the Greek word here written by the Apostle John has a great significance for the Christian. The word that John uses means “to complete” or “to bring to perfection.” On the cross, Jesus had done the work that God the Father sent him to do. Can you guess the tense of the verb used in this passage? That is right, the perfect tense! “The perfect describes an action that has consequences at the time of speaking. Jesus could have used the past tense ‘The work is done,’ but there is more, there is hope for you and for me. Because Jesus fully completed his task, the ongoing effects are that you and I are offered the free gift of salvation so that we can be with him forever. Praise the Lord that it is finished!”³
So, I am not saying that the Bible uses God’s choice of us in eternity past in the perfect tense. If it does, I have not found it in my quick search yet. What I am saying is that I am using my title to describe an event that yes, happened in the past, but the benefits of that past action are still being felt in the present!
Your identity in Christ, my identity in Christ, and anyone else’s identity if they are in Christ, is that we have all been chosen. Not by works that we have done, are doing, or could do. We are chosen in Christ. His finished work accomplished what we could not. If you are in Christ you have been chosen by God. You are Christ’s sheep. He is your Shepherd. Follow the Good Shepherd’s voice to green pastures! He has led you there by his death on the cross! He has opened the gate that we might go in!
I cannot explain why God chose me. What I can say is that his choosing me somehow glorifies himself!
¹William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, 25.1 pg. 223
²William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, 25.2, pg. 223
³William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, Exegetical Insight, pg. 222