“who is the downpayment of our inheritance, into the redemption of his possession, to the praise of his glory.”
Do you notice the language that is used here? Paul is writing that as Christians, because of the work of Christ, we have been redeemed into God’s possession. His possession? What exactly is that referring to?
In short, it is a reminder that when you have been redeemed from something you are also being redeemed to something else. No, we don’t become our own men and women. No, we don’t get to choose who we will serve. We are like a slave that has been purchased from one master and placed in the family of another master. Jesus’ work sets you free indeed (John 8:36), but not free from all things, free from sin and death, the greatest enemies that you face. But the believer is now brought into the household of God and given a new (and benevolent) master and thus, it is Him that we now serve.
This is one of those areas that the universalists and the Wesleyans tend to fall short in their theology. The universalist will argue that Jesus’ death applied to all of mankind, making the person free to be their own person and to live however they wish. The Wesleyan argues in his notion of “prevenient grace” that Jesus again dies for all mankind, giving us the ability to choose to enter his house and serve him if we desire.
Yet, none of that is what the Apostle Paul is saying here. He is clearly stating that the faith we are given is a downpayment (assurance) that we have been redeemed (halelujah!) into God’s possession. We belong to God and in turn, have an obligation to serve and follow Him: obedience to our new and greater Master and Lord. There is no middle ground and there is no matter of me choosing this or that. If I am redeemed from my slavery to sin and death, I now become a slave to Christ and to righteousness. This indeed may not be a popular notion in our age of rampant individualism, but is the language of the inspired text. Upon which will you stand as authoritative?