TEXT: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1.3-6).
The science of heredity and now the technology of DNA is way over my head, but maybe even one as unlearned as I have picked up some basic knowledge to be able to integrate it into the teachings of scripture.
The above text indicates there are folk who were blessed by God the Father through Jesus Christ. They were chosen before the world was laid to be holy and blameless in Christ, they were predestinated unto the adoption of children, and they were made accepted in the beloved Son. These blessed people are identified using the pronoun us. The text makes no sense unless we understand that God had specific people in mind who were chosen, predestinated, and made accepted. If you are one of the blessed us this scripture applies to you, but despite the fact you have a common bond with others in this class you are also a unique person. There are events in your life that make you different from the others. You have specific biological parents, and your birth was at an exact time and place. These alone make you unique. You inherited certain traits from birth. You are identified by names given to you: first, last, and probably middle. In your life you have done and will do certain things at particular times and you have experienced and will continue to experience specific happenings as long as you live. The text may be identifying a particular group but if you can relate these verses to yourself you certainly see that God’s love was special to you as an individual among these people.
Consider for a moment the hereditary aspect of you being you. Your physical existence commenced with your biological father’s seed germinating the egg produced by your biological mother. You continued to develop in your mother’s womb as a fetus until you were born. Without this union between your father and mother, you would not be you. All your genetic features, including your gender, were inherited from the sexual union of your mother and dad. So, someone seeing you as a baby for the first time might have commented that you had your mother’s nose and your dad’s ears. But it goes deeper than this, doesn’t it? You may have some characteristics that are found in your grandparents as well. Therefore, it would be true to say that without your biological grandparents your parents also would not be them so you still would not be you. Where can we stop with this? Let me try to make this as simple and brief as possible. From the standpoint of genetics you are what you are as a result of all of the unions of males and females in your family line going all the way back to the first human male and female. Yes, you are the great, great, great many times over grandchild of Adam and Eve.
Let’s carry this thought even further. If your ancestry is European, suppose for a moment that during the Black Plague one of your most distant grandparents died of that plague. You exist today only as a result of the fact that this distant grandparent lived long enough to continue to procreate the family line from which you came. If this did not happen you would not exist today. The same thing would be true if your distant grandfather had been killed during the War Between the States prior to procreating the next generation. The fact he lived to continue the line through which you came allowed you to be you. We can cite example after example to illustrate the same truth. Think of it. Hezekiah was 25 when he became Judah’s king and he ruled for 29 years (II Kings 18.2). Do the math. This means he died when he was around 54, but 15 years before that time he was told he had a sickness unto death. After his tearful prayers God had Isaiah sent to him with the report that his life would be extended 15 years (II Kings 20.1-11). Again, do the math. This means he had the sickness when he was around 39. Now his son’s name was Manasseh. He was 12 when he became king after his father’s death (II Kings 20.21-21.1). Do the math one more time. Had Hezekiah died right after his sickness Manasseh would have not been born to continue the kingdom that commenced with David, his ancestor. All of this should prevent one who professes faith in the Lord from denying there is a specific time for people to die. What an awful thought that one of God’s elect could be kept from existing simply because someone in his family line died too soon to take the line to the next generation.
Look at this from another aspect. It is clear that in order for you to have the biological parents you have they had to have been brought together at some point in time and place. If your mom and dad never crossed paths you would not have existed. The same would be true for your grandparents. Your parents could not have existed without them. Thus, this would also have prevented your existence. This same line of reasoning can be said regarding your great, great, great grandparents many times over going all the way back to when God created man, male and female.
So, for you to be you we must conclude not only that each person in the family line from which you came had to live long enough to maintain your line, but also all members of your line had to have been brought together in time and place to allow your generation to continue.
In theory, there are a host of many things that could have taken place to keep you from existing. I will mention just a couple more. Suppose, for example, someone in your family’s line had been incapable of producing children. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, faced that situation for many years until when she was 90 years old she gave birth to Isaac (Genesis 17.17; 21.1-3). Think of this. Had not God performed a great thing in her old age, not only would there not have been an Isaac, but also there would not have been a Jacob, and if not a Jacob there would not have been a nation called Israel, and, perish the thought, since He came through the line of the patriarchs, the Word would not have been “made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Matthew 1.1-16; John 1.14). He in whom God’s people were chosen would not have existed as man all due to Sarah’s barren state. A single inability to produce a child anywhere in your family chain would have prevented you from being you. What an awful thought that one of God’s elect, or even Jesus Himself, the Savior of sinners, could be kept from existing in the flesh simply because someone in the family line was incapable of continuing the line to the next generation.
Here is another situation to consider. A woman during her years of reproduction produces the egg from which each child comes. Of course, in multiple births more than one egg can be produced. If fertilization does not occur within the short number of days this egg is available for reproduction it will never result in a conception. The woman will simply produce another egg during the next cycle. Look at the implications of this. You were conceived as a result of your mother’s specific reproductive time cycle. Had that not happened you would not be you. Any brothers or sisters you have may have the same parents, but they are not you. The reproductive time cycle was different for them. A different genetic arrangement produced them. It gets even more complicated when we look at the role of the male. In lovemaking he produces many sperms that can potentially fertilize the egg, but only one does. Had a different sperm germinated your mother’s egg, you still would not be you. Here is an example of the point I am making. Occasionally, a woman gives birth to paternal twins. This is due to the fact she produced a second egg that also germinated. These twins may have been conceived and born about the same time but they are genetically two different people. Although these children were born as a result of the same lovemaking session the genetic results were different. This appears to be the case regarding Jacob and Esau. Esau was “red, all over like an hairy garment” (Genesis 25.25). In that these were characteristics stated specifically of Esau but not of Jacob I am left to conclude the two were not alike. Considering all of the infinite genetic possibilities that could have occurred throughout human history down to the present time, isn’t it a wonder that you turned out to be you? What an awful thought that one of God’s elect could be kept from existing simply because something happened differently in the process of reproduction.
We have been contemplating the role heredity plays in you, as one of God’s elect, being born into this world as no one else but you. This alone should be enough to convince the believer that Paul was right in speaking about the God “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1.11), and it should add to our understanding of the words of the poets of Athens; words by the way that Paul endorsed: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17.28).
Heredity is only a part of the story but can we not draw the general conclusion from it that believers really do not have the option to suppose the universe is governed by a combination of a sovereign God on the one hand and chance and freewill on the other? Random things can disrupt the whole. When it comes down to it everything in Creation from the smallest particles to the greatest things, animate or inanimate, are disposed as God sees fit, or else nothing is really settled in the universe except by random chance. You don’t have wiggle room here between these two extremes. It’s either one or the other.
Concerning the subject at hand your existence results from God determining the genetics that made you to be you or else you are what you are based solely upon the random chance of genetics. For my part, I’ll side with God.
Marvel at Paul’s words: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! FOR WHO HATH KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HATH BEEN HIS COUNSELLOR? OR WHO HATH FIRST GIVEN TO HIM, AND IT SHALL BE RECOMPENSED UNTO HIM AGAIN? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans11.33-36).
David K. Mattingly