Monday, December 5, 2011

Eternal Vital Union in Christ Jesus


THE GLORIOUS BLESSINGS AND PRIVILEGES
OF ETERNAL VITAL UNION IN CHRIST JESUS
By James Battersby

Preached in the Church of St. Mary, Aldermary, Queen Victoria Street,
On Wednesday, April 2, 1884.

            “I Knew a man in Christ.” -  2 Corinthians 12:2.

          You have heard the chapter already read whence my text is taken. I have selected these few words, because they either contain or suggest as much as we shall be able to get through in the time allotted to us. The apostle’s words in this chapter are very closely connected with the latter part of the preceding one. He had spoken of glorying; “If I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern mine infirmities.” Then he says in the opening of this chapter; “It is not expedient doubtless for me to glory;” but then he says that no one should rob him of this privilege under the circumstances: “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” The apostle had had both. He had a vision, and a very remarkable one, when he was on his way to Damascus, Syria; and then it was that the Lord was pleased to reveal Himself, not only to him but in him.
          “Visions and revelations.” Here we might enlarge, but we forbear. Then he introduces the words of my text, “I knew a man in Christ,” and a very remarkable man he was. He does not tell us in these words that he refers to himself, yet we gather from the connection that he does. The time when he knew him was fourteen years ago, or more; he could not tell whether this man was in or out of the body, so great was the glory. This man was caught up into the third heaven, and we are told that this third heaven was Paradise, the place of the departed blessed, to place whither the thief was taken on the day of his departure. The Lord promised Paradise to him. “I knew such a man;” whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell. God knows all about the man; how that this man was caught up into Paradise, and heard words unspeakable, or words that he could not utter upon earth. Now he says, “Of such an one would I glory; yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities.” The man that he would glory of was the man in Christ, for a man has really nothing to glory of out of Christ. “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forebear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.” Then he relates a circumstance which he felt by sad experience to be a very trying one: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.”
            There are various opinions about this “thorn in the flesh,” and hence it is well for us not to go far from the general teaching of God’s Word in forming an opinion about it. Some have thought that Paul suffered from headache; some, an impediment in his speech; some, that he was blind or suffered partly from blindness. All sorts of ideas respecting this thorn in the flesh have been propounded, and it is not for us to say whether these ideas are right or wrong. We venture to mention one thorn in the flesh that no saint on earth has ever got rid of yet – that is, the corruption that remains in him. This thorn is spoken of in Romans 7: “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” And yet these was something good in him, even the new spirit of holiness, but in his flesh there was no good thing. He never boasted of that corrupt man – never!
          Now it strikes me, without going into particularities, that a common-sense view of this passage is that the thorn is the corruption of nature, and that Satan is the messenger that operates upon this corruption, making it prick and sting, and often bringing a person into captivity by it. Hence he says, “The messenger, Satan, was given to buffet me.” God does give Satan sometimes great power to annoy the saints; as, for instance, in the case of Job. And often he intrudes himself into the company of the servants of God. You remember how he accused Joshua, the High Priest, but the Lord was there to stand by the side of His servant. He buffeted our Lord in the wilderness. Now we are told why Paul should have this thorn, and Satan to work upon it: “Lest he should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations which he had;” and he prayed to God three times that it might depart from him. Well, now, the Lord did not take away this thorn, this corruption of nature, nor Satan who operated upon it, for He had something else to magnify in this servant of God: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”  As to say, “Hence, Paul, there shall be a battle in thee as long as thou livest. There shall be the old man and the new man in constant conflict. I will show thee that the new man, strong in the strength which God supplies, shall conquer and overcome the old man of the flesh.” This satisfied Paul; he had nothing more to say except this: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ, the love of Christ, the grace of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for “when I am weak then am I strong.” When I am made to feel my weakness in deed and in truth, it is by the power of Christ; and then it is that I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
          Now, without enlarging any further, I shall direct your attention more specifically to the words of my text. Paul is the man, the man in Christ, that we are about to speak of; but it is equally true of any man that is in Christ. Therefore, the first thing that I must touch upon is the union that is brought out, or manifested in our text: “In Christ.” What a wonderful expression! And then, secondly, what are the blessings and privileges of being united to Christ, or having a standing in Christ. And then, in the third place, what are the evidences to my own soul that I am standing in Christ.
                   Paul says, “I knew a man in Christ.” He had got some proof on this point that the man was in Christ. Now, with regard to this union, or being in Christ, I hardly need say that it is one of the deepest doctrines in God’s blessed Word. I do not propose to enter into it fully, as it would take too much time; however, there are some few things respecting this union, or being in Christ, that we must touch upon, and that we cannot possibly pass over.
          Union! Well, there are many earthly illustrations of union. I speak now of earthly union. Persons may be share-holders in a company, and sometimes they find out to their sorrow that they are in union with those whose burdens they have to bear. This I admit is a very imperfect definition of union. I need not, however, go on with these earthly unions.
          Union with Christ is illustrated in God’s Word. You have the vine and the branches; the husband and the wife; the human body, the head and the members; and there is one which is a perfect illustration of real, vital union between Christ and His church which we shall have to touch upon, but this is not an earthly, but a heavenly union. The illustration of the vine and the branches, you will remember, is in John 15. Judas went out, and then our Lord delivered this parable: “I am the Vine, and ye are the branches. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit. But if a branch abides not in Me, it is taken away, and cast into the fire and burned.” Now it strikes me that this parable refers to Judas and to the rest of the disciples. There is such a thing as being professionally in Him. Now you will see at once that this parable deals with the question of union. The branch, Judas, was professionally in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many Judases in the professing church; there always have been, there are now, and there always will be, wheat and tares in the visible kingdom of heaven to the very end of this dispensation. This merely professional man is to be taken away. Here you see that this illustration is imperfect. A branch may be taken away from the vine and burned, but not from Christ and burned. But the illustration answers the purpose of our Lord, which is this, that those really united to Him do bring forth fruit to the glory of God the Father; and hereby His disciples are proved and made known.       
          The second illustration is that of marriage – that the husband loves his wife, and the wife is to be obedient to her husband. This is to set forth the union, the mystical union which is betwixt Christ and His church. Now this illustration is imperfect; but it does show this, that as a husband loves his wife and as a wife obeys her husband, so Christ loves the church and the true church obeys her Husband. Now you know that there may be a separation between husband and wife – either the one or the other may die – but this can never happen between Christ and His church; therefore there is imperfection in this illustration. Everything taken from the earth to illustrate spiritual and eternal things will fall short to some extent, and consequently an illustration must never be pressed beyond that which is designedly intended on the face of God’s Word.
          Notice another illustration (I Cor. 12:27): Christ is here spoken of as the Head. Then Paul says to the Corinthians, “And ye are members of His body, and ye are members also one of another.” Well, the members of the body and of the Head are needed to make up one perfect man – the one perfect man, the one Christ mystical. There is one feature we must notice in this illustration before we point out its imperfection. It is intended to set forth the sympathy and feeling between Christ and believers. Now, if you will look at it rightly, you will see that it is in the head that you have all the senses. The head feels, sees, hears, tastes, and smells. The body does not. The body only has one sense in common with the head, that is, feeling; and hence you will see at once the design of the writer in this illustration. It is to bring out the feeling, the sympathy, and the oneness of the members with the Head. They cannot see without Christ the Head; they cannot hear and understand without Christ the Head; they cannot “taste that the Lord is gracious,” – the things that be of the Spirit of God without Christ the Head; and they cannot scent the good things of God without Christ the Head. Now this illustration also fails in another respect, because a member from the human body may be cut off, and yet the human body may live. There is a failure in all earthly illustrations in setting forth the union, the inseparable union which eternally exists between Christ and His church.
          I will now give you an illustration without a failure, but we shall have to go to heaven for it. Turn to John 17, and as we shall read our hearts will be moved to feel that we are with Him in heaven. He prays that His disciples may be one, even as He and the Father are one. Can there be any separation between the Father and the Son? Only here, then, you have perfection of illustration. “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me.” Here is perfection of love – here is the perfection of union; and hence it is that Christ prays to His Father, saying, “I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, the glory which Thou gavest Me, for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” And when Thou lovedst Me, Thou lovedst them in Me. They and I are one; one in nature, one in spirit, one in Life, one in union, to appear before Thee. See this point more fully brought out in Hebrews 2. Now I have given you one perfect illustration to show you the eternal union which exists between Christ and His church. Paul said, “I knew a man in Christ.” God grant that we may have such a blessed evidence.
          Secondly, consider some of the blessings and privileges of being in Christ. Now, what would you call some of the blessings of being in Christ? I will mention some that the apostle himself gives us; and this, I think, is the best way of knowing what he meant. He tells us in Ephesians 1:6, “Accepted in the Beloved.” Is not this a blessing? The Beloved is the Lord Jesus Christ, and my standing ground before my God in heaven is in Him. Now this is a blessing, for he tells us so in the very chapter, that it is one of the “many blessings” which we are blessed “in heavenly places in Jesus.”
          There is another blessing also connected with being in Christ. Do you know that all who are standing in Christ before God are as He is? Isaiah says (45:25), “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” You have been singing about it this evening, and a glorious theme it is, not only to have it in one’s head and one’s mouth, but in one’s heart also. Those taught of the Spirit of God know these things for themselves. Then, as Christ is righteous so are all in Him, for they are one with Him.
          There is another glorious truth in connection with this: “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The standing ground of believers is in Christ, and to them there is no condemnation. To those not in Him, they “are condemned already, (John 3:18). God will not condemn His elect; Christ will not condemn them; the Spirit will not condemn them; the law cannot condemn them, for it has been fully satisfied. The world may try and Satan may try to condemn them, but God has said by His servant, “There is no condemnation.” Is not this, then, a blessing to the man in Christ?
          Notice, again, another blessing, for it is in connection with these. A man that is in Christ is a sanctified man. I do not undertake to speak of all the phases of sanctification now, but of that sanctification in which a man stands and appears holy before his God. And hence in the opening of the first epistle to the Corinthians you will see that they are “sanctified” by God the Father “in Christ Jesus.” They are holy, or set apart in Him. Now, when a man knows and realizes this for himself, is he not the very man to live holily and godlily and righteously in this present world?
          Then again, we are told in this very epistle (verse 17), that “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature,” or “new creation.” He then shows us in what sense he is so; “Old things are passed away;” old ceremonialism, old formalism, old doings, and everything of the creature that he relied on for acceptance before God has passed away, and “behold, all things are become new,”- new in Christ Jesus, a new creation, new thoughts, a new righteousness, having done with the old rags of self, and now clothed upon with the beautiful garments of Jehovah-Jesus. “Behold,” says God, speaking to His servant John, “Behold, I make all things new.” Now those who have thus passed from death unto life, and who know that their standing is in the Lord Jesus Christ only, know also that this is the truth of God as revealed in their souls, and as it was experienced and made manifest in the life and conduct of the great apostle.
          There is another blessing, which is this, that a man in Christ Jesus is preserved in Him, and underneath him are the everlasting arms of Jehovah. Yes, indeed; the child of God is safe and cannot slip out of the arms of Jesus; and this Jude sang long ago when he wrote the first verse of his epistle: “Preserved in Christ Jesus.” Is not this a blessing? Preserved in Christ, carried in Christ, and thus everlastingly blessed in Christ.
          Again, this union with Christ can never be dissolved; no, never. I shall give you one or two verses of the apostle, from Romans 8, to illustrate his own meaning. Verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of God?”  Who can? He then names seven things: “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things” –the bitterest things- “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” The he seems to gather strength and mount higher still, saying, “I am persuaded.” Who persuaded him? The Holy Ghost, to be sure! “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
          I have here mentioned a multitude of blessings bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus. No wonder that the apostle should glory of the man in Christ: “I knew a man in Christ.”
          Now, look again. I used two words in the second division of my subject, “blessings” and “privileges.” What are the privileges? Privilege will very nearly cover the same ground as the blessings, yet the illustrations will be different,
          One privilege is that we are made near to God in Christ Jesus. This is a great privilege. Hence the apostle says, “Ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh to God.”  By what means? By the meritorious means: “By the blood of Christ.” This is Christ’s own glorious work. A person brought near to God has this glorious privilege, - he enters into the most holy place by the blood of the Lamb. He speaks to his Father in heaven, and his Father speaks again to him through the Son of His love. What a privilege is this, to be able to draw near to God in Christ Jesus.
          Notice another privilege. What is it? Do you know that a man that is standing in Christ has the privilege of forgiveness of sins, and of the redemption of body and soul: his earthen vessel? “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Ephesians 1:7). What a privilege! We have not to wait until we get to the other side of the grave to know the fact whether our sins are gone or not. God has already told us in His precious Word, saying, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” They shall never be remembered against thee – no, never!
          Again; it is a great privilege to have so many promises as the children of God have in Christ. You will remember what this same apostle says in his second epistle to the Corinthians: “All the promises of God are in Him,”- in the Lord Jesus Christ. What? “Yea.” There is no changing of them on God’s part. They are promises made over and sealed to you in Christ. How important is union with and in Christ! When a man is brought into the conscious realization of God’s promises, he can say “Amen” to them all, that they are his. Is not this a privilege? We might gather up many promises, but we forbear; if you want to see them, see them in Christ. Many persons look into themselves more than into Christ. Many professors of religion - I mean Christians - never seem to get on at all. Why? Because they are always looking into the sink of iniquity which is a vital part of themselves; they like the flesh-pots of Egypt. O for God the Holy Spirit to give them a lift out of themselves, that they may see the beauty and the perfection which is in Christ Jesus.
          Again, it is in Christ that we have victory and strength, - strength to battle with the world, strength to battle with self, strength to battle with sin and Satan, and strength also to battle with the grave. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
            I shall not enlarge upon the second head of my subject; but try and gather up for yourselves what I have said. I have only mentioned a few of the privileges and blessings of being in union in Christ.
          Our third head is this: the evidences to our own souls of being in Christ. Paul says, “I knew a man.” He had the evidence, and this evidence of knowledge arose from experience. One of the first evidences of a man being in union in Christ is this, that he has the mind of Christ. I now speak experimentally. “The same mind in you which was in Christ Jesus.”  When this is the case, then my mind is brought into harmony with the mind of Christ. It is, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Humility and submission are difficult lessons to learn sometimes. Have you ever thought carefully over the words in Matthew’s Gospel, where Christ speaks of the revelation of Himself and of His Father to the believing soul? “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man to Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Now look and see what follows, for He has power to reveal His Father, and He has power to reveal Himself; hence He says to the weary, heavy-laden, broken-hearted, and contrite spirit, “Come unto Me, and ye shall have rest.” I am the Son of God, I am the Mighty One, I know My Father’s will. “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
“Learn of Me,”
and I will teach you. “Take My yoke upon you, for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” What a blessed state of mind to be brought into! Now read the passage of Scripture which I have referred to, and see whether I have given a correct idea of its meaning and beauty.
          Again; there is another evidence, which is this, walking in Christ. Hear what the apostle himself has said, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Helpless as a little child, yet walking in Him. He takes me by the hand, as it were, and leads me and guides me in my every step heavenward. Rooted in Christ, built up in Christ, established in Christ, completed in Christ, and abounding with thanksgiving in Christ. What a privilege!
          Again; notice another evidence. Do you know that to be in Christ, and to realize it, hoping in Him, makes a man very bold. Not bold towards God, but for God in a gracious sense. To be in Christ, and to realize it, makes a man very bold towards the ungodly and towards the children of God for Christ’s sake. Hence Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” Why not? “For it is the power of Christ unto salvation to every one that believeth.” “It is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness, and it is with the mouth that confession is made unto salvation.” Now, when a man realizes these things in himself he becomes bold in the Gospel, for he has got the best evidences in his own soul, and he is trying to show other persons that he has the evidences and proofs that his hope is in God. When the Lord gives light it is not to be put under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that persons may see it. Hence, “Let your light so shine before men,” that it may be seen by them. Ye disciples are the light of the world, in Him; therefore let the men of the world see your good works, and see that you glorify your Father which is in heaven, for the world never will. Be bold in letting your light shine, and fear not what man can do.
          Then, again, another evidence, is patience- waiting and looking for the Lord Jesus Christ. You know that the Old Testament saints were waiting and looking for a long time - some of them nearly four thousand years - before He came in the flesh. You may read that very remarkable chapter (Hebrews 11), in which are mentioned the worthies of the Old Testament dispensation. Their attitude was patient waiting and looking for Jesus. So now, under the Gospel dispensation, the child of God is “looking unto Jesus,” who is “the Author and Finisher” of his faith and of his salvation, “Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” But where is He now? “Set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What an encouragement to those who are looking unto Him, and waiting for Him whenever He may call them hence. It may be to-night that He may call some dear soul instantly away. Blessed are all they who are patiently waiting, watching, and looking for the Lord Jesus Christ. Can we rejoicingly say, “Come, Lord Jesus, come, and welcome me into Thine everlasting Kingdom of glory?
          Now there is another evidence which is this- rejoicing in the Lord.  You find in Philippians 3:3, “Rejoice in Christ Jesus.” “We are the true circumcision,” says the apostle, “which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Here are three marks: “no confidence in the flesh,” Some persons have a very great deal of confidence, both in their own and in the flesh of others. “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and that maketh flesh his arm.” But blessed is the man that puts his trust in the Lord, and that worships Him in the spirit, and who rejoices in Christ Jesus, and who has no confidence in the flesh of man.
          I will just mention another evidence. You know that Paul, when brought to know and realize the Lord Jesus Christ in His blessed fullness, thought very little of the things of this life, of himself, and of his Judaism; for he tells us that “all these things” he counted “but loss and dung for Christ.” He desires to be found in Him, not having his own legal righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ. This is God’s righteousness. He says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after.” I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press forward.”  No wonder that he was prepared to go to death, and to give up his life, if need be, for the Lord Jesus Christ. His motto was, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He was a runner, a wrestler, a fighter, a contender, a conqueror, and an overcomer, and one who entered triumphantly into the kingdom prepared for him from everlasting. He knew this man in Christ. God’s children have known and do know many things. Dear old Job said, “I know that I shall be justified.” (Job 17:13). My friends, can we take up these words and say, “I know that I shall be justified?” Job could say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Can we? He could say also, “I know that the Lord can do everything.” Can we?
          The servants of God in the New Testament knew a good deal. Our apostle says, “I know whom I have believed, and I know that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” He knew a great many things, did Paul. John says, “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know.” What did he know? He knew this, “that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” What knowledge! Paul and John knew the same thing. But Paul says again, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). We know; but this knowledge, you must bear in mind, is a revelation from God. “It hath pleased God to reveal His Son in me.” It is a glorious revelation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost in the sinner’s soul; it is Christ glorified in the sinner, and the sinner glorified in Christ, for they are and shall be glorified together. No wonder Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be reveal in us.”
            Now, what do we know about a man being in Christ, or a woman being in Christ? Paul says, “I knew a man in Christ.” God grant that we may know and realize for ourselves that we are in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior! Amen, and Amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Our Eternal Paternal Union with the Heavenly Father

The following article was written by Dr. Ronald Pound and can be found on the "Old School Particular Baptist Library".

Meditations
upon the Eternal Union of Our Heavenly Father or the
Eternal Paternal Union
With His Little Children
Preserved and Maintained
by
Our Lord Jesus Christ
John 17
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
By
More than One
John 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and   Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou
lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Foreword

In considering Eternal Paternal Union with the Heavenly Father, we do not minimize the glorious doctrine of unconditional election or eternal, vital union with our Lord Jesus Christ. Paternal Union is the reason why we are the elect of God. Our vital, eternal union with Jesus Christ arises out of our prior Paternal Union with our Heavenly Father and His interest in us, and His giving us unto our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal Paternal Union answers WHY God did elect us unto salvation. It is the cause out of which all in Christ blessings flow unto God's little children.

2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 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:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Consequences of Understanding Eternal Paternal Union

Eternal Paternal Union furnishes us with the answer to the Supralapsarian-Sublapsarian controversy, we are elected according to the Pre-Union of the Father with His little ones, I Peter 1:2. It further contradicts the Nicenian blasphemy of setting forth a Divine Being Who must do something in order to become the Father.
This concept rightly understood also enables us to conclude that the entire Holy Trinity is a Trinity of Self-Existent, Immutable Divine Beings Who act because They are, and not in order to become something They are not already. The Father acts like the Father because it is in His nature and relative property to do so. The same is true of God the Word and the God the Holy Spirit.

The heart and soul of John 17 seems to be in verses 6-10. The relationships therein presented unfold to us all the blessings we have from our Father in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Introduction

The main points of this study came from John 17 and Isaiah 53. Many of the thoughts expressed herein can be tracked back to gleanings from S. E. Pierce's "AN EXPOSITION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER, AS RECORDED IN THE SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL BY JOHN, IN TWENTY-TWO SERMONS:" London; 1812.
Brother Leroy Rhodes has secured most of Pierce's works and over the years has posted them on his church site at http://www.mountzionpbc.org/

Over fifteen years ago brother Leroy did copy, bind and send to me Pierce on John 17 with this warning, Pierce goes back and forth on the issue of Christ as the eternal God-Man. I have found this to be so. At once Pierce became one of my favorite writers and his John 17 became one of my favorite works. My house fire destroyed this old and valuable gift. Brother Leroy, partly because I keep begging him to do so, scanned this old work and placed it on his church site. Brother John O'Brien has placed it into MS Word.

Brother John would send me a chapter each time he completed it and we would discuss the contents. It was our joint goal to study this old and valuable work as freely from Nicenism as possible. We found many wonderful points and wanted to pursue them further. In our discussions we often enjoyed such topics as the Union we had with Christ in the essence of His eternal Being as God the Word, and His Mediatorial being as the God-Man Mediator of the Everlasting Covenant of Redemption.
Christ did unfold many other wonderful and glorious revelations about Himself and Our Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Father and the Elect and Christ and the Elect.

Christ Unfolds Several Revelations Concerning the Father

As we went further into John 17 and became aware of the Revelations that Christ Jesus gave to His disciples concerning His relationship to His Father and the Father's relationship to Him, this invited us further to consider the Father's relation to His elect, and His previous interest and propriety in them before He gave them to Christ. This enlarged our concepts of eternal and vital union.
 The Eternal Paternal Union  
However, the eternal and vital union of the Father with His little children BEFORE He gave them to Christ was almost, but not altogether, a new subject to us both. I had dealt with it several years before when Dr. R L Crawford and I would discuss the Supralapsarian position along with other high grace concepts. I shall now share some of these choice statements and then consider them in further parts.

Part One

S. E. Pierce Introduces us unto Eternal Paternal Union
S. E. Pierce made these remarks upon John 17:6, message six:
The Father's Possession of the Elect Prior to Giving Them unto Christ Secondly, to observe they were the Father's, before they were given unto Christ. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.
The elect are God's and Christ's, as they are given by the Father, to the Son. Our Lord had, at the second verse of this chapter, said to his Father, respecting them, As many as thou hast given me or him. And here he says, Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. He makes a high matter of this. They were the Father's; he had a propriety in them; they were chosen by him to grace and glory; they were set apart by him from all eternity. Our Lord styles them God's own elect. God's own elect, Luke 18:7. They were given by the Father to Christ, to be his Bride and Spouse; to be his members. The Father gave him to be their Head, and he gave them to be members, in him their Head. They were the Father's before they were given to Christ; they were the Father's, and then given unto Christ; they were given before Christ had manifested the name of the Father unto these men. As they were the Father's prior to the act of his giving them unto Christ, and the elect, that he should bestow them on Christ, as a vast expression of his love. And that he should give the elect to Christ, is very expressive of the Father's love to them. These acts are also to be understood as expressive of covenant transactions. In God's eye the whole election of grace is before him. In Christ's eye they are to him, what the Father holds them to be. The Father valued his Son, as God-man Mediator, very highly, or he would not have bestowed the elect on him, and committed them all to his care and management. The Lord Christ must have valued them highly, or he would not have undertaken their salvation. There is a mutual delight which the Father takes in the Son, and the Son, in the Father, and which is mutually expressed by their personal acts, in their transactions with, and to each other. Christ breaks out here in this address before us, Thine they were. They have been from everlasting in thy view; thou hast loved each and every individual of them from the days of eternity. I have been admitted to view them as they came up in thy vast mind, and have had an intuitive knowledge of all the love wherewith thou lovest them. It affords me a feast to see and read, the vast designs of thine heart towards them. Thy giving me to be their head, and bestowing them on me, is very delightful to my mind. As thine, thou gavest them unto me. As thy gift, I value them beyond all expression. To give myself for them, is most truly well pleasing to me. They are thy portion, and my portion; they are thine inheritance, and my inheritance; thou art my Father, and their Father; thou art my God, and their God.
The Eternal Union Between the Father and His Little Children
The eternal union between the Father and His little children became a very enriching subject and occupied our studies and meditations just as other precious subjects had done. We were drawn to consider the MOVING CAUSE OF the purpose of the Father in giving His little children unto His Only Begotten Son, OR the end results of our Eternal and Vital Union with Christ. This would enable us to have a much better understanding, we hope, of the entire being of Christ as the God-Man Mediator and our standing and interest Him, and His standing and interest in us.
Christ Reveals the Name Of Father
One important point here is that Christ revealed unto His disciples the New Name that most commentators have not enlarged and presented. Christ not only revealed the Eternal, Vital Union of the elect with the Father, but also, He revealed unto them the Father's new name. To our enrichment we concluded that this was Father. That we have a Heavenly Father and have had such a Father even in pre-creative eternity, and many others do not, became an overwhelming reality. How thankful we are that we are not of that number whom Christ said are of their father the devil.
Pierce continues:
I speak thus to thee in the hearing of these present, that it may be recorded in after-time to thy everlasting praise, and for the everlasting consolation of such, as shall be brought to the true knowledge of, and acknowledgment of thee. Thus our Lord prays for his apostles, and church, and believers in that, and every age; and the blessings of it is as effectual now, as it was then, and it will thus continue to be, to the end of time. Thus he describes the persons for whom he prays. The men which thou gavest me out of the world. He expresses fully and clearly the Father's act towards them, and to himself. They were the elect of God; they were selected out of the world; they were given to him; they had not been called and distinguished from the men of the world, from those who were laying in the arms of the wicked one, had they not been chosen before all worlds. The Father had not given them to Christ, if he had not chosen them in him before the foundation of the world. The golden chain of election contains Christ, salvation, effectual calling, manifestive and influential justification, evidential adoption, and eternal glorification, as most fully appears in the following scripture: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:30. The Lord Christ lays a mighty stress and emphasis on these words, Thine they were. As he is about to pray for them, he mentions the Father's interest in them. As he is about to die for them, he mentions this, as that which was sufficient to keep up his vast mind. Thine they were, carries in it the personal interest, propriety, and concern the Father must at all times have in them. His adding, And thou gavest them me, was expressive of his own concern for them. He valued them as the gift of his Father's love. And as the Father gave them to him, and he gave himself for them, in the everlasting covenant, and gave himself in the fulness of time to become incarnate, so now he most cheerfully gave himself for them, to be an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

Eternal, Vital Union with Our Father is the Cause of our Sonship

The eternal, vital union, paternal union, between the Father and His little children is the cause of our election unto salvation in Christ and our predestination unto the adoption of children according to the Counsel of the Father's will. Once this union is clearly understood it becomes obvious that the Father possessed us as His little children before He gave us unto Christ and that Christ is the preserver and maintainer of this eternal and vital union with the Father. We are not sons of God by election or predestination, but our eternal and vital union in and with our heavenly Father is the cause of our sonship. Election and predestination do arise from this eternal, vital union between the Father and His little children.

The Divine Nature and Fatherhood

The Father did nothing in order to become our Heavenly Father. He did not elect us or predestinate us in order to become our Father by either of these acts. He is our Heavenly Father because of His Divine Nature and His relative properties arising out of His essential Divine Being. Because He is our Father, He therefore elected us in Christ to preserve our eternal and vital spiritual union with Him. This union concerns our spiritual or inward man. The salvation of our outward man, or our house, 2 Cor. 5, arises from our being predestinated unto the adoption of children.

Predestination unto the Adoption of Children
He predestinated us unto the adoption of children in order to preserve us in our union with Him in a distinct way from our spiritual man. When the Father placed us into Christ we became the responsibility of Christ to keep and preserve and to furnish us with a total and complete redemption. This involves that not only our spiritual man, but our total and complete outward man as well. This is whole man redemption. Predestination unto the adoption of children involves our resurrection in our eternal bodies kept and preserved by Christ, in His body, waiting for us at the resurrection of the Just.
We now have the promise and pledge of this by the seal of the Holy Spirit upon us and His dwelling within us.

Christ Preserves our Union with our Heavenly Father
Being given unto Christ in the eternal Covenant of Redemption did NOT make us Children of God, in His sight, but preserves and maintains our union with the Father as His Children and saves us from the just deserves of our personal sins and the federal condemnation we had in Adam. 

The doctrine of Christ Jesus is unfolding so gloriously and so "uncommonly" (if I may use the term in relation to earthly religion) that rather than being the Root and Cause of our Union and Sonship, He is the preserver of our union and sonship.

He became as we that He might save us from the Adamic curse that befell us and to preserve and eternally maintain our union with the Great Three-One for all eternity. How deep the love of our God is towards us.

Pierce further makes these rich and wonderful comments in Sermon Nine:

You see what an emphasis Christ sets on election. He speaks it over and over that their persons were given him. He says, they were given him out of the world. That they were separated from all beside. That they were the Father's before they were his as Mediator. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. And here in my text, it is again spoken by Jesus, I pray for them which thou hast given me for they are thine. Our Lord also speaks of himself, as Head, and Mediator, and Saviour and Intercessor, as the gift of his Father's love to them. And he speaks of the Father's giving him words, all which he had given them. It would be blessed were we helped to enter into all these particulars: but I cannot. I see a glory in them. Yet I cannot declare it. Therefore shall leave it, for the Lord the Spirit, to create in your minds such ideas of subjects so infinite as these before us as seem good in his sight. And will proceed,
Secondly, to take notice of the emphasis Christ lays of the Father's propriety in these persons for whom he prays, they are thine.

Here I conceive all the elect must be included. As the whole body of them must be infinitely more near and dear to Christ, than this small number of them, the eleven apostles now present. For most certainly the whole number of the elect must be more dear to Christ than the single number and persons of these eleven  men. By which I mean our Lord's heart must be more engaged for the whole body, for his whole church than for these few members only. Not but the love of Christ is most firmly fixed on each and every individual member of his mystic body. I conceive even in this second part for his apostles, yet some expressions may be considered as including his whole church.

The Father's Interest in His Little Ones

But be that as it may, I shall aim to take notice of the emphasis our Lord lays on the Father's propriety in these persons for whom he prays. They are thine. The Father's everlasting love to their persons being the very motive in his vast mind, of all the blessings which he had bestowed upon them is taken into the mind of Christ and he is well pleased to make use of it in his prayer to the Father for them. Our Lord had a comprehension of all contained in his Father's love to the elect. He knew they were dear to him. He knew they were precious in his sight. He knew his Father's propriety in them. That such was his love to them that next to himself, they had engrossed all his heart. That he delighted in them. That he rejoiced in them. That he was well pleased to express his love towards them to the very uttermost. Under these views of the subject, Christ prays for them.

In the real apprehensions hereof he mentions it in his prayer on their behalf. It is with Christ an argument all-sufficient to carry all before it. We in prayer, especially when under the more immediate influence of the Spirit of God, are led to mention such motives and arguments with the Lord as we consider best suited to our necessities and to the relation we stand in to God, and he to us. So doth Christ. We have a full proof of it here. he knew his whole heart towards them. He knew the everlasting complacency of the divine mind in them and how the Father would be feasted and divinely satiated for ever and ever in the views and knowledge of his love to their persons and of the outgoings of his heart towards them, and our Lord therefore lays a great stress here whilst he is praying for them. They are thine. Thou art therefore bound to hear my prayer on their behalf. It cannot but be acceptable to thee that I am praying for them. It is only for the given ones I approach thee. It is for these my apostles I do so particularly intreat thee. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine.

Christ Prays for the Little Children According to the Knowledge
the Father Gave to Him

As they are thine, and the love wherewith thou lovest them is from everlasting to everlasting, and thou hast admitted me into the whole knowledge thereof, I therefore pray for these as thine. As those in whom is all thy delight, as those who are thy portion. As those who are thine inheritance. As those who are jewels. Thine Hephzibahs, they Beulahs who are as a crown of glory in the hand of thee the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of thee their God. They are thine. Thy treasure, they peculiar and beloved ones. They are all this by that eternal act in thine own minds towards them in election. They are thine thereby. This is all contained in these words, thine they were.

Christ's Emphasis Upon Election

And we may see from hence what great matter our Lord makes of personal, eternal, and sovereign, unconditional election. He saw so much into this grace as to plead it beyond all beside with his Father on the behalf of his people. He saw so much in it as to mention it just before he went forth to suffer and die for them. And here our Lord who had read the book of life opens it. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. It was the good pleasure of thy will to give them unto me. I received them as the royal gift of thy great love to me. I love them as thy beloved ones. I love them as my own social friends, partners, and companions. I love them so as to lay down my life for them. I refer back to thy love as the original and spring of all my love to them. Here I would rest it. I pray for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. If Christ here opens the Father's love and his own to the persons of the elect, and lays such an emphasis on their being the Father's by election, as they were his by gift, let us learn to study the order of truth as stated in the sacred word. It would be of great spiritual advantage so to do. The mind can never be too well acquainted with divine truth, nor the heart too fully established in the same. And to take it in, just as it is stated in the divine mind. Our Lord here and throughout the whole of this prayer, prays as having heaven opened and all in the mind and will of God respecting himself as God-man, Head, and Mediator, before him, and all which concerned his whole church also. When he began his prayer for his apostles, it was then, Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. And here again it is, I pray for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. If the Lord thus traces up grace to its original and ascribes all to the Father's eternal love, and choice of his people in him as their head from everlasting, let us do likewise. If our Lord speaks of the elect as given unto him, let us bless the Father for this. If our Lord lays the greatest emphasis on the Father's eternal election, (Eternal Union-REP) and speaks of it as the foundation of his interest and propriety in us, and the original of all other acts of God's grace towards and upon us, let us do so also. If Jesus Christ makes so much of election, and carries it beyond all other acts of grace, let us do so also, and prize it beyond salvation, it being the fountain thereof. As I have aimed to show the emphasis Christ lays on the Father's propriety in the elect, and in his apostles as such, for whom he prays, saying, They are thine: so I will proceed, (It is true that the Father did elect us unto salvation in Christ as Pierce says, and it is true that this is the Father's first act to us, but it is NOT TRUE that election is the root and cause of all these blessings, but eternal Paternal union is. Eternal Paternal union is first and election and all other divine actions toward us flow from that union. REP)

Thirdly, to speak of the mutual interest and propriety, Christ and the Father had, and hath in those persons. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine.
Personal Unions with the Elect

Our divine Lord throughout the whole of this his prayer, is pleased to give us a view and prospect of his personal union, relation, and interest in all his people and also the personal union his Father hath in them, and also his relation, and interest in them. Here he is speaking prayer-wise, and he says to his divine Father, and all mine are thine, and thine are mine. He is speaking here of persons, of the persons of his people, of all his beloved, of these his beloved apostles who were a part of the family who may be considered here as the representatives of the rest. For whom Christ had been praying. Before whom Christ was still speaking. And although he was addressing the Father yet what he said was of vast importance unto them, and also to the whole church of the living God. Therefore it was to be written. And it was written by our apostle that the church of Christ throughout all succeeding ages and generations might be the better for it. As these words are closely connected with the former, I will express the whole again, I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.

Past Acts

The Father's propriety in these persons, and his gifts of them to Christ, are spoken of as past acts. They were so. It was before the foundation of the world. Here in this part, viz.

Our Third Head in this Part of the Prayer

Our third head, we have our Lord speaking to his Father concerning the mutual interest and propriety his Father and himself had in the given ones. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine. All mine here, is to be confined to the persons of the elect. Those many whom he was united unto by an eternal bond of union which could never be broken. Even such to whom he stood in the relation of an Head unto. He was to them their everlasting father, (This is only in a redemptive form, for the Father continues to be our Everlasting Father, REP) their husband, their shepherd, their elder brother, their near kinsman, their redeemer, their friend, their guide, their saviour. In all these characters he stood closely and most intimately related unto them. They were his. He stood in near relation unto them. He had peculiar and singular propriety in them. He loved them as his social companions. As those whom he had delighted in from everlasting and in whom he would be delighting in to everlasting.

All Mine are Thine

The Lord here says of them to his Father, "and all mine are thine." He hereby expresses the mutual propriety the Father hath in them, equal with himself. All the members of Christ, all the sheep and lambs of Christ's flock, all the beloved of Christ, all for whom Christ became incarnate, all for whom Christ was now about to lay down his life, and make his soul an offering for sin, they were all the Father's as truly as they were his.

(This further destroys the concept of extreme dispensationalists and others that the Father has a separate people from the Son, and the Son has a separate people from the Father. This is not so, for the same people, the elect of God, are the Father's little children and the brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus. REP)

And the Father was as truly interested in their persons, salvation, and glory, as he was. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine. These words express the very delight of Christ in making this acknowledgment. And as they are founded on, and are a branch of the former Christ so it adds confirmation to all this. Because words, having just before laid an emphasis on these having been given him, and that they were in a very peculiar sense the Father's as he immediately adds, And all mine are thine, and thine are mine. It shows the truth of his claim in them, also his Father's original propriety in those whom the Father had given him before the world began. He having chosen them as members in him their head. It is also expressive of his peculiar joy in viewing his own interest in them. And in knowing the Father as deeply interested in these persons as he himself was. It shows his high valuation of them, as the Father's beloved ones. Whom he loved so as to predestinate them to all the blessings and enjoyments of eternal life. "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." They were the gift of thy love to me, and as such they are the beloved of my soul, the joy of my heart. Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me. And as thou hast loved me, so have I loved them. The mutual propriety I and thou have in these persons and in the whole election of grace, gives me real satisfaction. I view and review it with unutterable joy. All mine are thine. Therefore thou canst not but remember them with everlasting kindness. They cannot but be upon they heart as well as mine. Thou art as truly disposed to do them good, as I myself am. I most willingly lay down my life for them because of thine interest in them. They are the dearly beloved of my soul. "All mine are thine." Therefore, they are everlastingly secure. And thine are mine. I am one with them. I am united to each individual of them. I am well pleased in them as the portion and inheritance which thou hast given me. How far I have entered into the truth of the passage before us is not for me to say. Only I conceive what hath been delivered whilst it falls far short of all contained in these important expressions of our Lord's to his divine Father, yet I think all saints will allow there is a real genuine truth in what hath been delivered. An Oh! What a depth of grace is here. Christ's heart is kept up with knowing how his people stood before God as his elect. He is well pleased to mention this at the throne of grace. He opens indeed the will and counsels of his divine Father, concerning himself, and the elect, from eternity. He makes more of it than of his own life, and death, and prevalent intercession. And the reason is because as the cause is above and far exceeding the effect, so the Father's election of persons in Christ and giving these persons to Christ, is the very original of Christ's love to them. And his love to them is the fountain of all his mediatory acts on their behalf. Therefore, he speaks in such words and in such order as to lead us up to the Father's everlasting love, as the original of all the blessings we shall enjoy both on earth and in heaven. If our Lord thus views the subject and from it goes on to pray in prayer as he does to the close of the chapter, we learn from hence God our heavenly Father hath motives within his own vast and infinite mind for loving his people. Yes indeed he has. He loves us, because he will love us. This is true. Yet it is not the whole of the truth. For God cannot but love us. The reason is because he made us his own, in, and by his own act, in his own mind and will, by election. And the elect being the Lord's by his own eternal love and choice of them, he cannot but love them. It is natural for him to love them. He could as soon cease to be God as cease to love them. He loves their persons. He loves them in Christ. He loves them unceasingly. It is the good pleasure of his will so to do. If Christ, when he was going to be made sin and a curse, makes such use of election, as he supports his own great mind with considering the mutual interest and propriety he and the Father had in the persons of the elect, saying, And all mine are thine and thine are mine, let us learn here from to rejoice and be exceeding glad, that we are in God the Father's heart, as well as in the heart of Christ and shall be so for ever. I would here ask what must the views of Christ be of the eternal acts in the mind and will of God concerning the elect? If his vast mind surveys the thoughts of God in prayer, concerning covenant transactions, and rests with divine content herein, let us learn from hence how much it becomes us as his members so to do. And let us know from this that when the Holy Ghost is pleased to engage our minds in prayer chiefly this way, it is a very high favour done us. We should know it is also good and needful for us, especially in private to be much engaged in mentioning the deep things of God and the covenant transactions of the Three in Jehovah in solemn access to the Lord at his throne of grace, And all mine are thine, and thine are mine. We have, says our divine Lord to his Father, and our Father, to his God, and our God, mutual interest in these persons, in all blessings bestowed on them in the whole salvation wrought out for them. Our Lord had before said, chapter 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine. Meaning that as he is one in the essence existing, coequal with the Father, and the Spirit, so he spake nothing, did nothing, but from the Father, and the Son, would in his economical office, take of the things of the Father and the Son, and show the same to these elect apostles: so here in these words, and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, he speaks to a different purpose. The one respects things, the other respects persons. The one is spoken to the apostles, the other is spoken to the Father. May the Lord the Spirit leads us to right scriptural apprehensions hereof. It will be most truly beneficial unto us. I proceed to my next head to show lastly, how Christ was and is glorified in his disciples, in his people. In his churches, ministers, and saints. For all are undoubtedly more or less included and implied in these words, and I am glorified in them.

I will again recite the whole text, which contains two verses. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them.

Part 2

Helping S. E. Pierce Become Consistent

I have leaned heavenly upon S E Pierce and his remarkable study on John 17, but must differ over some points. Notwithstanding all the wonderful beauty and charms that Pierce brings forth in his words of praise, he misses the point here, John 17:6. He fails to note that this is the Father's eternal union or fore-union with His little children, and assigns it to election.

Fore-union is presented by the term foreknowledge. It comes from the Greek pro-ginoskw, and actually means to know in union and experience before hand. Ginoskoo describes the most intimate knowledge and union possible for men to experience and understand. It is used of Christ and His sheep, and of the husband and wife relationship.
Election unto eternal life springs from God's fore-knowledge or fore-union:

1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

God the Father's Fore-union with us, is the Ground and Cause
of our Election unto Salvation.

This is not merely a foreseeing of persons and their actions but an actual union existing between the Father and His elect children before creation. The Father also fore-knew Jesus Christ in addition to His elected family though in a different way and for a different purpose.

Ro 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Please note that this foreknowledge is of persons, not their actions, but the very elect themselves.

Please note further that we are not elected unto sonship, nor predestinated unto sonship, but to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son. At the resurrection we shall no longer bear the image of the natural man, but of the heavenly man, I Cor. 15.

The Origin of the Father's Eternal Union with His Children

This pre-creative union between the Father and His little children is bonded in love and arises from the Father's essential Divine Nature and relative property of Fatherhood. In His divine and essential nature and relative property of Fatherhood, His love caused Him to act on behalf of His little children. As His own little ones, He gave them unto Christ for their Salvation, Preservation and Maintainance.

Given unto Christ Because We were Children

The Father did not give us unto Christ in order to make us His little children, but because we were already His little children, He gave us unto Jesus Christ, His Only begotten Son. We were already His little children, in our spiritual being, in pre-creative eternity, but in time we fell in Adam. Therefore Christ, by pre-creative agreement with the Father, recovered us from the Adamic fall and engaged to set us before the Father as if we had never fallen in Adam nor committed any personal sins. According to the Covenant exchange between the Father and the Son, Christ has insured that we stand before God just as Christ does, without any fault or sins. We stand in Christ's righteousness and true holiness as a result of the eternal covenant of redemption.

1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Jude 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
1Co 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1Pe 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Predestinated unto the Adoption of Sonship

Being already God's little children, we are therefore predestinated unto the adoption of sons, and receive all spiritual blessings by Christ Jesus Who preserves and maintains us in our Father's special love and paternal union. Please note this predestination is not unto sonship, but unto the adoption of sonship. We are already God's sons in our Spiritual Being, but not in our creative natural being. At the resurrection we shall be changed and receive the fruits of Christ's generated body and bear the image of the heavenly Christ. This is our adoption, even the redemption of our body.

Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 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:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointรข€"heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Gal. 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

Not Sons of God by Election

I must beg to disagree with this statement. Pierce follows those Nicenian- Augustinian type of commentators who affirm that this union is an election union and therefore came about because the Father, representing the Holy Trinity, does something, He elects certain ones and by this makes them His little children according to His own will. I deny this.

Knowledge and Manifestation

Election does not make us God's little children, but eternal and vital union with the Father does. Eternal election is unto salvation and manifests our eternal and vital union with our Heavenly Father and with His only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The eternal union between the Father and His little children arises out of His Divine Being and Nature as their Father. The eternal union of the Father and His little ones does not arise because the Father does this or that for them, but just the opposite. Because He is their Father and they are His children, He loves them with an everlasting love and does not cast them away, but elects to give them unto Christ Who is the Representative, Preserver, and Maintainer of the Father's little ones. In and by Christ our eternal and vital union with the Father is maintained eternally and becomes manifested in time.

The Immutability of the Father in His Fatherhood

Our Heavenly Father did not do anything, such as elect or predestinate, inorder to become the Father, but He was and is already the Father and as such He did something, He chose or elected His little ones unto eternal salvation and predestinated them unto the adoption of sons that Christ Jesus might be the first born among many brethren.
Our Father could have justly cast way His little children for their personal sins, but He did not.
Isa. 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Deut. 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out  unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.