“Now that you know God — or rather are known by God…” ~Galatians 4:9
Paul is using Old Testament language in this passage. “Known by God” is the same phrase used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the way God knows Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, and the nation of Israel. The Bible says they are all known by God. And that phrase is mostly used of very important people at very critical junctures in the story. To be known by God is to be chosen by God. It’s God acting on your behalf. It’s God choosing through no merit of your own — you’ve done nothing to deserve it — to bless you and work in you and through you in his salvation story.
The point is that God is the prime figure. He’s the main actor, the initiator. God determines the appropriate time for his Son to come (Galatians 4:4). God sent his Son (4:4). God sent the Spirit into our hearts (4:6). God made us his heirs (4:7). Paul is pointing to what happens when you are grabbed by God, when God’s attention is focused on you.
The Bible is consistently clear on this. Salvation always begins with God, not you.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law… Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 3:11-24
People don’t seek God; God seeks people. Humans are so caught up in their sin, they’re so in love with their sin, they don’t seek holiness and righteousness on their own. God always has to make the first move. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
“The one who loves God is known by God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 8:3
In Genesis 18, God promises to bless Abraham and make him a great nation and save all people of the earth through his family. Why? “For I have known him.” God speaks to his people through the prophet Amos and reminds them, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; you only have I chosen.”
God promises David that he will be king and that all David’s enemies will be defeated and that David’s family will reign on the throne forever. And David’s a little shook up. This is overwhelming news and David feels sort of inadequate. And he prays to God:
“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with people, O Sovereign Lord?” ~2 Samuel 7:18-19
What David knows about himself and about the throne, what David knows about God, is confusing and incomplete. Who am I that this is happening for me? Why am I so chosen and so blessed?
“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord.” ~2 Samuel 7:20
The answer is simple and profound and comforting. You know me. You chose me. That’s first. And that’s more than enough.
I’m a little confused on what is meant by being chosen by God. Does He choose everyone or just some? If everyone, then what is the significance of His choosing? If He chooses everyone, and some are saved and some or not, then I cannot see any effect of His choosing.
If He only chooses some, why only some?
In the Old Testament, it seems that God chose a certain people, based on his love and grace, through whom he would eventually bless the world. Within that people it seems that God chose certain individuals from time to time to work in and through by his Holy Spirit for his ultimate redemption purposes. Now, with the coming of Christ, all people are chosen! All people are equally chosen and blessed by God with no regard to nation, ethnicity, culture, or language! What a tremendous thing! And all those who accept this choosing — God never forces himself on anybody — are filled with his Spirit just like those select few in the Old Testament. The fact that, now in Christ, God chooses all people IS remarkably significant!
Thanks. I believe I understand your point that in the past God chose certain ones, but now chooses everyone. One point that seemed vague to me was what it is that differentiates between those who receive God’s Spirit and those who do not. I had thought you might be saying that the difference was in whether we were chosen by God. I now see that since we are all chosen by God this fact of being chosen does not explain why some receive the Spirit and some do not. What explains the difference is something we do (rather than something God does) which is to either accept or not accept. It is the acceptors who receive the Spirit and the non acceptors who do not. Let me know if I am still missing something.