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Calling: Side A

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Sermon on Ephesians 1.1-14

Title:  Calling: Side A

Theme:  By God’s pleasure we share in the adoption as heirs of God.

Goal:  to encourage the congregation that it is by God’s pleasure that he adopted us as his heirs.

Need:  We sometimes miss the opportunities to celebrate our adoption as God’s heirs.

Outline of the Passage

1Paul,

an apostle

of Christ Jesus

by the will of God,

To the saints

in Ephesus,

the faithful

in Christ Jesus:

2Grace and peace

to you

from God

our Father

and the Lord

Jesus Christ.

3Praise be

to the God and Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has blessed us

in the heavenly realms

with every spiritual blessing

in Christ.

4For he chose

us

in him

before the creation of the world

to be holy and blameless in his sight.

5he predestined

us

In love

to be adopted

as his sons

through Jesus Christ,

in accordance with his pleasure and will—

6to the praise of his glorious grace,

which he has freely given

us

In the One he loves.

we have redemption

7In him

through his blood,

the forgiveness of sins,

in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

8that he lavished

on us

with all wisdom and understanding.

9And he made known

to us

the mystery

of his will

according to his good pleasure,

which he purposed in Christ,

10to be put into effect

when the times will have reached their fulfillment

—to bring all things

in heaven

and on earth

together under one head,

even Christ.

we were also chosen,

11In him

having been predestined

according to the plan

of him

who works out everything

in conformity

with the purpose of his will,

12in order that we,

who were the first to hope in Christ,

might be for the praise of his glory.

13And you also were included

in Christ

when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation.

you were marked

Having believed,

in him

with a seal,

the promised Holy Spirit,

14who is a deposit

guaranteeing our inheritance

until the redemption of those who are God’s possession

—to the praise of his glory.

Sermon Outline

Praise Because

He chose us

He predestined us

We are redeemed

Congregation,

  Does this sort of prayer sound familiar?  Thank you Lord for health and strength, for food, shelter and clothing, for family and friends. Thank you for freedoms of our country.  Thank you for good weather.  Amen.

          When we pray, we have so many good things to be thankful for.  We ought to spend time thanking God and praising him.  It’s important that we don’t wait until October.  Everyday is our thanksgiving day.  We didn’t earn it.  God gives blessings. 

          If you haven’t prayed a prayer of thanksgiving like that, don’t wait.

          But let’s not cop out too soon in our praise.  Meeting our physical needs, the basic needs of our human existence pops to mind first.  And perhaps that’s because of the state of life many of us find ourselves in right now. 

Our life differs immensely from the days of Paul, who wrote the passage that we read this morning.  For one thing, can you imagine if the whole writing letters period of time never happened?  Most of the New Testament was written originally as letters.  Ephesians is a letter sent to a new group of Christians in Ephesus and the surrounding areas.  If Paul could just Text them on his Blackberry, we wouldn’t have a New Testament to tell us about Christ.  Makes you think that perhaps God was thinking when he sent Christ during the time that he did.

What we hear because it is actually written down as a letter for us, Christianity in Ephesus has just blossomed in the time before the letter was written to them.  Many of the people hearing this letter read in a gathering of Christians would be fresh and new in the faith.  Their discovery of Christ’s love for them would still be like a couple first infatuated with each other.  The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in them heightens the excitement for them.  They are overflowing with celebration at what God has done in their spiritual lives for them.

Paul, writing this letter to the Ephesians knows that they are eager to praise God.  They want to praise in ways far deeper than for just the gifts of physical life.  And that praise is an important message for us as well.  Praise God that he has been loving you since before the first foundations of the world were laid.

 

The first part of the Book of Ephesians, Paul gives his version of the typical greeting in the day.  Paul Greets the people in the church like this: Ephesians 1-2 1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Traditionally we begin our services with a blessing like Paul uses in his letters.  That’s where it comes from.

When in seminary we had a great New Testament professor.  A Canadian named Jeffery Weima.  He was a harsh grader.  He would lock out students that came after class started.  He taught us to look for things in Paul’s letters that differ from each other especially in the opening and closing parts to the book because it gives away what some of him primary concerns are when writing the book.

IF we compare this opening to all the other letters of Paul one thing stands out in particular.  Even in the greeting he sets out the context for what he is going to say.  Verse 1 says, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God. 

Before he even writes anything at all, we know the will of God occupies an important part of it.

The very first point he begins to make in the body of the letter shows up in verse 3.  First word, “Praise be . . . .”

 

First PRAISE GOD.  That’s what we started talking about already.  Giving our thanks and praise to God in all the places that we ought to.  Paul makes for a good example for what we ought to give praise for.

Look down the passage Praise God…………  Verse 4 says, “FOR,  or Because.  Here’s a humongous reason that we often miss so many opportunities to praise God for.  “4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  Verse 5 continues with the point.  5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”

          He chose us and he predestined us.  Two incredible things God has done for us that should move us more often to pure praise and glory of God.

 

          Well what do they mean?  By God’s will.  Because it just gives him all the pleasure in the universe, he chose us and predestined us.  If you reflect on that for a little while, I hope it makes your hairs stand on end because this is just amazing.  Because God wanted to.  Because it was part of his desire, he picked you out to be his child. 

          Predestination is one of those million dollar words that sounds big and fancy, but Paul explains himself with the analogy of adoption.  Verse 5 says we were predestined to be adopted as his sons.

          What feelings move a family to explore adoption?  I can only imagine because I have never been through the process myself.  Some of you here don’t even have to.  I imagine the feeling being one of…. well we have love to give yet.  We want others to share the love that we have right now.  We want to give so much to a new little child.  And when it comes down to the decision, you chose the child, not because you know they are going to be a good kid.  Not because you know they are going to take care of you when you get old.  Not because you thought they were just sweet enough to be your child.  Its because you want to love.  In Love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his will.

          The trouble is that not only do we not deserve to be God’s child.  We can’t be God’s child.  You might be able to adopt a puppy, but only to be your puppy.  You can’t adopt a puppy to be your child. 

          God is HOLY.  The reason we have problems here in this world is because we are not holy.  We are sinful.  We are not holy.  And Holy God cannot adopt unholy people and expect for it to be a real adoption as God’s children.  Not unless the all powerful God does something to make us holy as well.

          That’s why the next main clause ought to give us reason to thank God beyond anything he offers us in this world.  Verse 7.  How do we become adoptable by God.  It is through Jesus Christ7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

          This chosing before all time is no joke or mistake.  It’s the reality.  God choses us because he wanted to.  Not from anything we do or deserve.

          And to make it so that we aren’t part of some adopt a pet sort of adoption.  God adopts us as his lapdog so that he isn’t lonely.  To make it so we are adopted completely as children we need to washed clean of anything unholy.  That is the blood of Christ.  The blood makes us children.  The blood that Jesus shed on the cross is how God made us holy children.  Children that he could love because he wants to love.  Children that he can shower with blessings that we thank him for in our prayers.  Children that can inherit eternal life and share a perfect forever with God.

          This is called unconditional election.  You can read more about it in Romans 8 or in the doctrines of the church called the Canons of Dort. 

Unfortunately, we see many Christians today giving up the chance to pour out their praise to God for this awesome gift, and I think we can all understand their hesitation.  What about FREE WILL?  Didn’t God create mankind with a free will to make up our own mind? 

Some of could stand up and cheer saying, God is all powerful.  He controls all things.  He has our lives in his hand.  But then when we say, well what about free will.  Oh yeah.  God is all powerful.  He works out his will no matter what.  Except when it comes to me.  I decide my stuff.  The rest is all up to God.

Oh… this is so tough.  But we have to have a role in redemption don’t we?  Otherwise, who cares.  The application of a message about God’s chosing who he will love is not so we can go out and get wasted and say… if was meant to be, God will make it happen. Might as well live large.

No.  There is more to it.  That’s why I called this message, redemption: Side A.  Its kind of like those old audio tapes.  You reach the end of the tape.  Side A.  Then you flip it over and continue the tape on side B.  Same tape.  Different sounds.

Side A.  When you look at redemption from the side of God’s will, he is all powerful.  He is in control.  He choses who belongs to him because he is God and that just fits his power and his nature.  And it fits his awesome love.

Next week we will flip the tape over and listen to side B.  Redemption looking from the side of how we are involved in it.

But hopefully as together we look at a passage like Ephesians, it can inspire us.  The message is a message of love and assurance.  He says, as sure as you are sitting here, a part of the Christian community.  As sure as you have faith in God.  You can feel it deep in your heart. God, because it pleased him, chose you.  Shed Christ’s blood to have you.  And adopted you to be his child.  That God of the universe chose you.  Can their be a better reason to praise? 

AMEN

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