God’s Vision for Us
Ephesians 1:1-14 June 5, 2005
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:1-14 (transline reading)
[The verses from 3 to 14 are all one sentence in the Greek. It could be called a doxology because it recounts what God has done as an expression of worship to honor him. It is Trinitarian, speaking first of the blessings we have through the Father (v. 3), then of those that come through the Son (vv.4-13a), and finally of those through the Holy Spirit (vv. 13b-14). In all, Christ is referred to ten times in verses 1-14.]
Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
To the saints being in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace (1 of 12) to you and peace (1 of 7) from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the One having blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and without-blemish in His presence
In love, having predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself, according-to the good-pleasure of His will,
For the praise of the glory of His grace, which He graciously- bestowed-on us in the Beloved One,
In Whom we have the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He caused-to-abound to us
In all wisdom and understanding having made-known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good-pleasure, which He purposed in Himself
For a stewardship of the fullness of times, that He might sum-up all things in Christ, – the things at the heavens and the things on the earth; in Him,
In Whom also we were allotted an inheritance
Having been predestined according to the purpose of the One working all things in accordance with the counsel of His will,
So that we the ones having previously-hoped in the Christ might be for the praise of His glory;
In Whom also you, – having heard the word of truth, the good-news of your
salvation, in which also having put-faith – were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Who is a pledge of our inheritance, until the [final] redemption of His possession,
For the praise of His glory.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the major points:
(v. 3) “Bless” - We approve God in praise. God approves us in grace. Not spiritual vs. material but all Spirit enabled.
(vv. 4-6) “Chosen and Adopted” – Can’t separate election from sanctification.
(vv. 7-8) “Redeemed and Forgiven” – Along with the understanding of what God has done for us.
(vv. 9-10) “Mystery” – (S. Rom. 16:25-26) Both new and consistent; hidden and yet unveiled. The glory of God is in revealing what was there all along.
“25 ¶ Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—” (Ro 16:25-26 NivUS)
(vv. 11-14) We have been claimed as God’s portion – branded by the Spirit.
These grounds for praise are still and always true whether life circumstances deal good or ill. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven. Ground your praise in eternal things that can never be taken away.
So these blessings of God form a continuous unbroken thought as they flow from God the Father, through God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit to those who believe.
Why is this significant? It is because this is God’s vision for us who are the church throughout the ages, and his vision will be accomplished.
Consider first of all that God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent – in fact, God is omni-everything.
So if God is omni-everything, his vision is perfect, missing nothing, more than able to be accomplished.
This passage speaks of the blessings of God which come to us as we make his vision our vision. This is our purpose – for the praise of his glory (3 x in vv. 3-14).
The blessings of God are reasons to praise God.
As God’s vision is accomplished, as we submit to his vision and become part of it, he is glorified – and this is the chief end of man, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
And as God is glorified, we ourselves are glorified in him. This then is our purpose, our blessing, our vision.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Pr 29:18 AV)
These are the things that God is intentional about. In fact, there is nothing about God that is not intentional. If he is omni-everything, then he is certainly able to carry out his intentions – his vision, if you will.
So if God’s vision is as if it is already accomplished, we have hope. We have hope because his vision for us is good. His vision for us is good because God himself is good. And good always triumphs over evil in the end.
But, you see, that is our problem. We seem to quickly loose sight of the end – and then we lose hope, and evil gets some new air for awhile – because ‘without vision the people perish’.
We must continually return to our purpose – God’s vision for us – again and again.
For God to remind us of his vision for us is always to lay down the foundation for proceeding in that vision – to take further steps toward accomplishing its reality.
ILLUS.: Take a look at this short video about “Missing Purpose”, Sermon Illustrators, vol. 2, no. 2:
Unlike many of the other letters Paul wrote, his letter to the Ephesians doesn’t focus on any particular problem in the church.
Because of this, then, it focuses on a unique opportunity – the opportunity to progress in divine understanding of the broad dimensions of God’s divine and eternal purposes, grace, and goals for the church – his vision.
You have probably discovered in the Christian life that God’s economy dictates that we cannot go on to bigger and better things until we learn what he is teaching us in the present.
He has a habit of repeating lessons until we learn them, and until we learn them there is no foundation for progressing onward and upward.
It is like building a skyscraper. Donald Trump plans to build one of the world’s tallest towers in Chicago. But each succeeding story cannot be built until the one under it is in place.
This is in contrast to a message I brought some weeks ago on the letter of Jude, the brother of Jesus. He was intending to write to help the people grow in their salvation, but instead decided to write about just contending for the faith itself that was under attack. He felt he could not take them further until he was sure the ground under them was solid.
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NivUS)
But here Paul feels the Ephesian church is ready to go on. This is what we desire for all the churches, especially for our own Mayfair Bible Church as we approach our centennial celebration this summer. It is time for us now to progress beyond anything we have seen in the past 100 years.
Would the Ephesian church always be in this position of being able to go on further? No, it wouldn’t. You recall later in Revelation 2:4-5
“4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Re 2:4-5 NivUS)
No matter where we are, it is always possible to fall. Vigilance must be maintained. I heard a statistic recently at Pastor’s Conference that the average life of a church is 40 years before it becomes ineffective and must disband, reorganize or regroup in some manner and essentially form a new church with new vision.
If we consider 40 years a generation, it is a sad comment if we cannot pass the vision of our time on to the next generation or revamp it or give it up in some way that they can make it their own.
It has been brought to my mind at Pastor’s Conference that God does not micro-manage his church. Christ gave us the vision and the tools and then left us to carry out how it was to be accomplished. He left us a truckload of lumber and left us to figure out how to build the temple.
He didn’t give us the form in which we were to do church – just the function. The method isn’t sacred, just the message. It is not the means of worship, but the worship itself that is timeless. He gave us true freedom – to worship him in Spirit and in truth.
Mayfair has been here for 100 years now and I dare say some of our vision remains rooted in the past and needs revitalization and renewal. I believe in some ways that is being accomplished, but more must be done to ensure success.
None of what a church does can successfully remain just for the ones that formed it. Everything a church does must also embrace the future with hope because none of us last forever – only the church lasts forever. A 1950’s method will die with its decade – it may be nostalgic, but dead to being effective in the present time.
But if we want our church to last forever in this place, we must flow in the Spirit with people and times as we empower the ones the Spirit brings to embrace their vision built upon what our past vision has accomplished as we submit it all to God’s vision for us. We don’t want the love here to grow cold.
To the praise and glory of God, Mayfair has endured beyond several generations by remaining faithful to the living and saving Word of God, but we now stand at the crossroads of new vision that the last 100 years now demand of us. How is that vision now coming into view?
We must begin with what we know beyond doubt to be sure/unchangeable/eternal. What are the things we will never sacrifice no matter what changes? We must recount them as the foundation for the future.
I believe this is where the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians comes in. It speaks of the hope that is our sure footing for the future by recounting the blessings we have received – blessings that span past, present and future.
By the way, I don’t believe Jesus’ Revelation challenge to the church in Ephesus was to return to the way they always did things (do the things you did at first), but to return to the foundation of blessings that enabled what they did, and would continue to bless what they did, just as long as they loved him with the same passion they once had – to realize again their blessings so they could respond to them.
Their sin was that they had lost their vision.
The lack of hope is the death of vision which is the life of the church and its reason for existence. It is the vision of Christ’s kingdom which cannot be accomplished without his continuing blessing. It is the power of a dream.
What is your dream for Mayfair Bible Church?
- Is it to complete the construction of the new CE addition that was never completed in 1953 and permanently solve the inherent leak problems of a flat roof and to provide additional useable space for a gym for youth ministry, for instance?
- Is it to hire a qualified part-time youth pastor couple to live in the Utley House in order to provide a viable youth ministry to the youth of our neighborhood?
- Is it to begin a daytime senior’s Bible study during the day to minister to the needs of those who no longer feel able to come out during the evening programs that are offered?
- Is it to begin a discipleship class that new believers will actually come to because our church has witnessed people coming to faith through our ministry and they hunger for Christian maturity through the Word of God?
- Is it to become financially independent of our felt need to depend on the rental income from another space-sharing church to be able to become a true local multi-cultural church under one administrative and organizational structure?
- Is it to develop additional qualified leadership for a broader base of spiritual insight, support and accomplishment?
- Is it to progress in technological presentation methods like getting a video projector so we can use the screen instead of the TV for videos, powerpoints and teaching?
- Is it to see 20, even 30, people turn out for prayer meetings that will shake the foundations of hell and loose the power of God on behalf of the saints to change the world before Jesus comes?
- Is it to see a mighty outpouring of love and conviction unto salvation for all those whom the Spirit would bring into the kingdom through our ministry?
- Is it to see a mighty renewal through the Spirit of our own faith toward the glorious works of God through his church and its witness of his power?
- Is it to see a consistent positive attitude of hope that sees past the deceptive times of spiritual darkness when Satan attacks us and the weakness of our own flesh degrades us?
- Is it to have a means of God-glorifying worship that attracts and holds the young as well as the old?
[The things that used to bring and hold people in a church 30-40 years ago were (a) denominational affiliation, (b) teaching, (c) worship. But now they are (a) worship, (b) teaching, (c) relationships.]
You may have other dreams for Mayfair Bible Church that I haven’t thought of – dreams that honor God, dreams of his vision for us that we can own more fully, dreams founded upon what he has already accomplished for us in Eph. 1:3-14.
Dreams can have a habit of becoming reality, if they are held firmly. Watch this short video about “The Power of a Dream” (ILLUS.: Sermon Illustrators, vol. 2, no. 1) as we end this message today. Your vision of God’s vision can become true.