Eph 1_1-22 Triune God's sovreign salvation from eternity to eternity
Triune God's sovereign act of redemption
Anchored in eternity and sealed in eternity
Lord’s Day 3 December 2006, 6.30pm
The word of God in our midst
Call to worship
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:2-5)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Doxology Psalm 93: “The Lord is King” (Tune Rejoice 385)
Prayer of Confession of sin
Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel. (Isaiah 46:12-13)
Hymn No 250: “Before the Throne of God” (MP)
Prayer of Adoration, Thanksgiving and the Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 163: “Joy to the Word”
Tithes, offering and dedication
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Exodus 7:6-11, Ephesians 1:1-14
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As children, and maybe even today, when eternity is mentioned, we would take our left arm and stretch it out as far as possible to indicate one end of eternity; our right arms would be stretched out in the other direction to point to the other end of eternity. Because in your mind eternity has to begin somewhere, and it as to end in the opposite direction. That’s why I used the outstretched arrow on the screen. If this is our perception of eternity, of course we would have a problem with what we have in between. Eternity cannot be something beginning somewhere and ending somewhere; it is only time which has these limits to it. ; God’s eternal sovereign act of redemption is not limited by time, and it is not effected by time; however, it is effected in time. Not all things which God has ordained in eternity floats around in eternity, hidden from the eyes of man; God is eternal, and majestic, and great beyond description so that no human mind or insight can ever trace the thoughts of God. But there are certain things ordained by God in eternity, which have effect in time. Our salvation in Jesus Christ is one of those things.
It is this very idea of predestination that leaves so many people of God wonder about the grace of God. If God ordained certain people to be saved, how then is it possible for Him to make us responsible human beings, answerable to Him in terms of his grace towards us? Some argue that God called us from eternity to be his children and the He will see to it that we get in heaven; in the meantime we can carry one living and show no responsibility. But this is not what the Bible teaches: God’s eternal grace in Jesus Christ is not effected by time, but surely in time. The cross of Jesus is a historical fact; it happened 2000 years ago. Our salvation, although anchored in eternity, is effected in time when we hear the Gospel of grace and by the work of the Holy Spirit find the grace to understand and respond to it. For some it happens over time, while others come to the Lord on a certain date. Looking back, all understand that this act of grace of God is anchored in eternity; looking forward we need to understand that our salvation then is sealed in eternity. And for the moment let’s allow ourselves to point in one direction for the fact of God’s anchoring our salvation in eternity, and Him sealing it in eternity.
; God acts, man responds
Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to bless God. He uses the word we find back in eulogy. It is to speak well about someone. But to speak well about God is merely a response of man towards God who did a remarkable thing in all eternity: He spoke well of us.
When men speaks well about God, to bless, i.e., to praise, speak well of with ascriptions of praise and thanksgiving. When God speaks well of men, to bless, i.e., He distinguishes with favour, and act in man’s life and accomplish His purposes instead of allowing men to have their own way. When God blesses, His speaking is action, for God’s speech is energy released. When God is said to bless us (eulogize or speak well of us), He acts for our good as He sees our need and not necessarily our desire. Therefore, He blesses by intervention.
When God raised up his servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:26)
God sent His Son to bless us, to intervene in our lives with what He planned to do for us. That’s what Eph. 1:3 is referring to. God who blessed us with all spiritual blessings, is the One who intervened and acted so that our spirits might be made conformable to His Spirit.
; What did God will?
Our verse talks about the will of God. It signifies God’s His gracious disposition toward someone. This word is used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure. It begins with God and it ends with God; it’s final because it is anchored in the will of God. It is final. God executes his will for a purpose. When God purposes something, He always has the power to bring it to execution. There is a finality about God’s will, but there is not finality in regard to man’s will. Man may determine to do what he may never fulfil; not so with God.
; What did God determine from all eternity?
God determined to adopt us as his children. The word is used for an adopted son. Paul in these passages is alluding to a Greek and Roman custom. Adoption, when legally performed, put a man in every respect in the position of a son by birth to him who had adopted him, so that he possessed the same rights and owed the same obligations. Being a huiós, a son, involves the conformity of the child that has the life of God in him to the image, purposes, and interests of God and that spiritual family into which he is born. In eternity there will be a revelation by God which will indicate the measure of this conformity to God (Rom. 8:19). Adoption is the placing into sonship or legal heirship of those who are born of God.
; God’s act of adoption is to set us free
Apoluo (set free): To release, let go free, set at liberty, such as a debtor (Matt. 18:27) or persons accused or imprisoned (Matt. 27:15; Mark 15:6; Luke 22:68; John 19:10; Acts 4:21; 26:32; 28:18). Metaphorically, to overlook, forgive (Luke 6:37). The basis of us being set free is the blood of Jesus Christ. Our setting free means
; God set us free by forgiving us
Aphesis (forgiveness): This required Christ’s sacrifice as punishment of sin, hence the putting away of sin and the deliverance of the sinner from the power of sin, although not from its presence, which will come later after the resurrection when our very bodies will be redeemed. Sin is the cord whereby man is bound away from God. Man became a slave of sin because of the fall of Adam (Rom. 5:12; 6:17, 20), and thus in his fallen state is presented as a prisoner. In Luke 4:18, where the Lord Jesus declared His ministry on earth, quoted from Is. 61:1, man is presented, a prisoner of war, a captive. His captivity is due to the sin of Adam and to his own sin in that he continues in sinfulness. The work of Christ, therefore, is designated as deliverance from everything that holds man a prisoner away from God. However, setting sinful man free would have been a very dangerous thing if God did not simultaneously change man’s nature (2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:4). Man’s freedom is not one that permits him to continue in sin (1 John 3:6), but binds him in Christ. What Christ does is not simply to take man from prison and set him free, but also to change him radically, giving him power over sin.
; Echaritosen (accepted): God accepted us by declaring us people upon whom his favour rests. This is based on his grace as expressed in the One He loved. it takes us back to the message of the angels in the night the Saviour of the world was born:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)
; Why then did God set us free and save us?
The basis of this prior decree is “the good pleasure of His will.” The word rendered “good pleasure” means pleasure or satisfaction, that which seems good. Paul is careful to add that it is the good pleasure of God’s will, it is what seems good to God – not man. Similarly, in 1:11 foreordination is based upon “the purpose of the One who is working all things, an idiom for the entire metaphysical and physical universe according to the decision of His will”. It not as a impulsive, random or whimsical exercise of raw will or unreasoned impulse, but as the expression of a deliberate and wise plan which purposes to redeem those undeserving sinners whom God freely favours as the objects of His mercy.
Because it is neither possible nor permissible for us to pry into God’s secret counsel, it is not proper to be fixated with determining who the predestined are. Instead, we should contemplate the glories of what they are predestined to, i.e., salvation, adoption, or glory.
; The reaction of the saved upon God’s act of redemption
; Praise: The church does not have to wait for the time of fulfilment to confess God’s glory. It can do this already because it has already experienced salvation (Eph. 1:6). Thus praise is the church’s attitude of praise on the basis of the salvation which God has already given to it. It is to bless God, to speak well of Him because He speaks well of us.
We are called to use what God has given us to worship Him. Wisdom: God gave us the knowledge of how to regulate our relationship with Him as revealed in his Word and applied by the Holy Spirit. wisdom which is related with goodness.
Insight: to think, have a mindset. Prudence, good judgment, wisdom. The ability to govern one’s own life wisely; a skill and carefulness in dealing with one’s own resources as gifts from God.
Verse 13: The seal of the Holy Spirit
Hymn: “In Christ alone” (4 verses)
The Table of the Lord
Hymn: “Holy Child” (MP 236, 7 verses)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)