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Eph 1,1-14 Extravagant Grace for God's People

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The Riches of God’s Grace

Ephesians 1

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.

In love 5he predestined us 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.

7In 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.

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.

11In him we were also chosen,

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.

Having believed, you were marked 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.


Last Sunday we heard about the Theme

of the MC Canada Assembly from 1 Peter 2: 9-10:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people belonging to God,

that you may declare the praises of God

who called you out of darkness into God's wonderful light.

Once you were not a people,

but now you are the people of God;

once you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy."  

Today’s message out of Ephesians 1:1-14

continues on the same theme of God’s election of a people

to do His will.

Ephesians chapter 1 is such a rich text.

It has so many different layers,

and there is so much that one could harvest from these verses.

In today’s message we want to concentrate

on God’s generous and rich Character

as well as our Identity as People of God,

chosen and dearly loved,

included in God’s grand plan for the world.

Do you ever wonder about the purpose and meaning of your life?

Well, of course you do!

We all do!

It is one of the basic human questions that we all have…

to know the meaning of it all.

Why am I here on this earth?

What does God want from me?

What is the purpose of the church?

Why are we sitting here today

listing to another one of Pastor Ferd’s sermons?

What is it all about?

Who am I?

Where do I belong?

How do I fit into the big picture of God’s design?

In his letter to the Ephesians

Paul speaks to the question of the identity

and the purpose of the church.

And the central theme of the letter is

that all things are created for ultimate unity in Christ Jesus,

When the time is fulfilled.

In every age, people have believed

that there is a God who has a design

and a purpose for His creation.

We are also very much aware of a constant struggle

between the powers of darkness and powers of light.

Paul spoke of “principalities and powers.”

He said something like,

“In my inner Being are two forces that want to control me.

The one pulls me toward doing what is good

and the other pulls me toward sin and evil.”

We often feel caught and helpless.

Hostile forces do battle within our soul,

and we need deliverance.

An important theme in Ephesians is that

in Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood,

the forgiveness of sins – Praise be to our God!

In Ephesians Paul makes it clear

that the Church of Jesus Christ is the Body

where God’s divine purpose of unity finds full expression.

Sometimes that’s hard to believe

       When we see all the wrinkles and blemishes

       In the church – including our very own…

We are too often caught up in the small stuff…

the petty disagreements that we have with each other…

our own feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness…

our self-determination to carry out our own will

no matter what…

Paul tells us that the purpose of the Church

As a chosen people, holy and dearly loved,

is to grab hold of God’s purpose in the world

and to be co-workers with God

to bring everything under one head – even Christ Jesus.

In our divided world

we face an aweful lot of injustice.

The Church has a huge task to find ways

“to bring everything together under Christ”.

But, God also opens countless opportunities to us

       To make a difference for the God we serve.

Last Sunday we read together the Vision Statement of MCCanada: God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ

and, by the power of the Holy Spirit

to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace

so that God’s healing and hope

flow through us to the world.

This is our humble attempt to align ourselves as a church

       With God’s Mission in the world.

When we speak these words,

we affirm what the Apostle Paul

wants the Ephesians to understand.

But, we have to ask ourselves:

do we really live out God’s vision

in our daily lives

to bring healing and hope to the world?

Do we live out of our rootedness in Christ

and our identity as God’s chosen people?

What does it mean when Paul says:

He chose us in Him (ie Christ) before the creation of the world…

He predestined us…

He has adopted us as His sons and daughters…

Paul has been chosen by God to be an apostle by the will of God

He is very clear about this. 

His apostleship is not his own choosing;

this is God’s choosing. 

The focus is on what God is doing,

not on what we human beings are doing. 

God is chosing and forming a people

       To do his will in this world.

“In love, God predestined us to be

his adopted sons and daughters…

in accordance with his pleasure and will.” 

Furthermore Paul says, 13And you also were included in Christ

when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation.

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal,

the promised Holy Spirit,

Do you know what it feels like to be left out?

Well, here Paul says, “you were also included”.

       You are invited to God’s party!

God enjoys your company

And wants you to be part of what He is doing in the world.

God’s will is associated with pleasure. 

God’s will for your life and mine,

for the earth, is associated with a smile,

with pleasure, with happiness from God. 

Whenever you think of God’s will,

always smile inside,

because God’s will for your life is something good,

not something awful or something to be dreaded.

But there is another important message here for us.

God doesn’t only chose us and adopt us as His own

And give us an identity as children of God.

God also empowers us with His grace.

God gives us his unconditional affirmation and love and blessing.

He gives us recognition as His children.

“God has blessed us from the riches of his grace

which he has lavished on us in Christ Jesus”;

Paul sings “the praise of his glorious grace

which he freely bestowed on us in Christ Jesus”;

“that God might show us the immeasurable riches

of his grace and kindness”;

“I have been sent to preach to you the immeasurable riches

of his grace in Christ Jesus”;

“God who is rich in mercy,

out of the great love with which he loved us.” 

In a nutshell,

“God has blessed us with the immeasurable riches of his grace

which he freely lavished upon us in Christ Jesus.”

Now, here we get an insight into the Character of God:

The word “lavished” may be a strange word for some of us.

To lavish means to give abundantly, and generously,

without holding back.

This is a hard word for us Mennonites,

       Because we are a very frugal people…

We always look for ways and places to save

       And to get a discount.

Paul says:

There is no end to the extravagant luxury of God grace.

God’s grace is excessively rich,

It is too much...

That is what the word lavish means. 

The word, lavish is always associated with riches. 

These are the images that we see in the book of Ephesians:

the riches of God,

the riches of Christ,

the riches of grace,

the riches of mercy,

the riches of glory. 

We hear the word, immeasurable;

that is, there is no way to measure the riches of God’s grace. 

We hear the word, unsearchable;

that is, there is no way for the mind to understand

or absorb intellectually the grace of God.

And all this, not because we deserve it,

       Or because we have earned it…

But, rather because it is in God’s bountiful character

       To give us more than we can ask or imagine.

In the book of Ephesians,

it is as if the Apostle Paul is swept off his feet with euphoria

and exitement. 

More than any other epistle,

the book of Ephesians is full of feelings of euphoria. 

The mood of this letter reminds us of a young man or woman

who has fallen in love for the first time. 

When you fall in love for the first time,

Everything is so good, so high, so beautiful, so euphoric.

Or if you have a first child through birth or adoption,

there are those feelings of euphoria, elation,

its a thrill of a lifetime.

And so it is with the book of Ephesians. 

The Apostle Paul has experienced and seen

the riches of God’s grace,

the riches of his mercy,

the lavishness of God’s generosity,

and he is overwhelmed by it all,

and he uses words like lavish, abundant, immeasurable.

Such is the nature of God. 

Our God is lavish in his love,

lavish in his mercy,

lavish in his riches of goodness showered upon us every day.  God is not stingy or tightfisted. 

Though you and I may be stingy and frugal,

We may not want to show too much love or grace to others

At one time

For fear that we may run out of those good qualities…

Or for fear that the other person may get the wrong idea…

But in the Bible and the book of Ephesians,

we meet God’s lavish and generous grace to us. 

The whole creation is so luxurious, so lavish,

so excessive in its generosity. 


Because the whole creation reflects the luxuriousness of God,

the lavishness of God,

the excessive generosity of God.

And it is freely given. 

The word, grace, means gift,

and all of this is freely given. 

What did we do to deserve to be born? 

       And to be loved by God?

Absolutely nothing!

Grace is not earned. 

It is not deserved. 

We are not entitled to it

       By virtue of our existence.

But it is freely and excessively given

       By the God who has chosen us to be His people.

Paul is elated,

exhilarated, euphoric because he has seen

and personally experienced the lavishness of God’s love.

At a time when he was still persecuting the followers of Christ

       God extended his immesurable forgiveness to him

       The chief of sinners.

Paul knows that God has fully forgiven him,

that he knows his name,

that he has plans for his life here on earth

and for all eternity.  

All of these gifts and riches and abundant generosity

are freely given to you and me in Christ also.

Our minds cannot fully grasp

or even partially understand the gracious love of God. 

This same God, who has lavished his grace and mercy,

his love and forgiveness on us unworthy creatures,

he has revealed to us the mystery of His will.

He wants to bring everything in heaven and on earth

       Under the authority of the Lamb that was slain.

This bountiful God who calls us,

and equips us with the measureless gift of his forgiving love

his grace and mercy,

This God sends us out into our neighborhoods,

Our workplaces,

Our circles of families and friends…

To share the measureless wastness

of God’s forgiving and reconciling grace in Jesus Christ.

To God be the glory, who has called us,

       And has blessed us

       And given us an identity and a purpose

       As children of God.


Eph. 5:1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


 1Ihr seid Gottes geliebte Kinder, daher sollt ihr in allem seinem Vorbild folgen. 2 Geht liebevoll miteinander um, so wie auch Christus euch seine Liebe erwiesen hat. Aus Liebe hat er sein Leben für uns gegeben. Und Gott hat dieses Opfer angenommen.


23 Gott schenke euch seinen Frieden, meine lieben Brüder und Schwestern. Er gebe euch Liebe und bewahre euren Glauben an ihn, den Vater, und unseren Herrn Jesus Christus. 24 Gottes Gnade sei mit allen, die unseren Herrn Jesus Christus lieben, und schenke ihnen unvergängliches Leben.

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