In 1:9 Paul says that he served God in the gospel of His Son. This gospel includes many wonderful items: sonship, designation, resurrection, justification, sanctification, transformation, conformation, glorification, and manifestation. In this message we shall consider a further item—the selection of grace. If we would know the gospel of the Son of God thoroughly, we need to see that God’s selection is included in it. This selection is the selection of grace. As 11:5 says, “So then at the present time also there is a remnant according to the selection of grace.”


In society, selection is related to birth, upbringing, education, and success in the world. Divine selection is absolutely different. We were selected even before we were born, in fact, before the foundation of the world. Human selection depends upon what people are in themselves. Those who are good, promising, or successful are likely to be selected. God’s selection, on the contrary, does not depend upon what we are; it depends entirely upon God and His desire.

In chapter nine Paul used the case of Jacob and Esau as an illustration of God’s selection. Before they were born, God had told Rebecca, “The greater shall serve the less” (9:12). God’s choice was made before the children were born, before they had done anything good or bad. This was so that the “purpose of God according to selection might remain, not of works, but of Him Who calls” (v. 11). Nevertheless, when he was in the womb, Jacob was struggling to be born first. It was of God’s mercy that Jacob was not successful. If he had succeeded, he would not have received God’s selection.

In a very real sense, we all are Jacobs struggling to be first. From our very birth, we have had the concept that we must struggle in order to gain something for ourselves. Even though we may fail again and again, we keep on striving. We are just like Jacob, the supplanter, whom God predestined to be second but who still struggled to be first. Praise God for the restraining hand of His mercy that has kept us from succeeding in our endeavors! He restrains us because He had already selected us long before we were born.


God’s selection is related to His predestination and to His calling. Of the three, selection is first, followed by predestination and calling. Firstly, God selected us. Then He marked us out, that is, predestinated us. Both selection and predestination took place before we were born. Then at a certain point in our life, God came in to call us.

Ephesians 1:4 and 5 prove that God’s selection and predestination took place in eternity past: “According as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blemish before Him, in love, having predestinated us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Before the universe came into existence, God selected us and predestinated us unto sonship. We need to exercise our spirit in faith to believe this word written in the Scripture. On the day appointed by God, we were born. Eventually, also at the time appointed by Him, we were saved. Even though we may have had no intention of believing in the Lord Jesus, we came to believe in Him, because we had been selected and predestinated by God. This is the selection of grace in which God’s mercy is manifested. As Paul says in 9:16, “So then, it is not of the one who wills, nor of the one who runs, but of God, the One Who shows mercy.”


If we look back upon our past, we shall worship the Lord. We shall realize that our steps have been not of ourselves, but of Him. Before we were born, He selected us and predestinated us and arranged everything related to us, including the time and place of our birth. Moreover, He appointed all our days and all the places where we are to be. According to God’s arrangement, I was born in the twentieth century. Furthermore, I was born in an area where it was easy to have contact with Christians. This was altogether of God. Furthermore, my life with the Lord proves that our way is determined by Him, and my experience testifies it is not of the one who wills nor of the one who runs, but of the One who shows mercy. Everything that happens to us is a matter of divine mercy.