The Goal of our Destiny
The Goal of our Destiny
May 13, 2007
“Call on me. And I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” These words from Jeremiah say it all, don’t they? You want to know the God who chose you to be His child, don’t you? Call on Him and He will answer you and He will show you great and mighty things which you do not know!
Let’s pray: Lord, God of Israel, we call on you now. Open our ears to hear truths you want to speak into our lives this morning, truths found in the book Paul wrote to the Ephesians. Open our eyes so we might see great and mighty things which You have promised Your people. In Jesus’ name we commit ourselves to sitting at Your feet and learning from You this morning Father God. Amen.
If you have your Bible with you, please turn to the book of Ephesians and we will read chapter 1 and verses 4 through 6. If you don’t, please turn to the back page of your bulletin where all of this mornings Scripture is printed out for you. Beginning at verse 4: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. ”
One of the saddest feelings in the world is the feeling that your life is going nowhere. You're alive. But you feel like there is no point in being alive. You get a little daydream--a little flicker--of what it might be like to be a part of something really great and really valuable, and what it might be like to have a significant part in it. But then you wake up and everything looks so small and insignificant and pitiful and out of the way and unknown and pointless. You feel like you don’t belong.
We were not made to live without a destiny. We were made to be sustained by a meaningful purpose. We were made by God to have a future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We were made to be strengthened each day by this assurance, this confidence: that what is happening in our lives today, no matter how mundane and ordinary is a really significant step toward something great and good and beautiful tomorrow. God wants to show us great and mighty things. God wants to give us a future, a hope!
When that connection breaks down--between my present life and a great and good and beautiful destiny that God has for me -- I have three choices:
1) I can kill myself; or
2) I can numb myself (with alcohol or drugs or television or pornography or romance novels or computers or frantic work or frantic play); or
3) I can seek to reestablish the connection with God by finding what my true destiny really is. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
In “Kingdoms in Conflict”, Chuck Colson tells this true story: “In a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary during the second world war prisoners were forced to do nauseating work in a sewage plant. But it was work; and something was accomplished. Then the plant was destroyed by allied bombers. So the Nazi officers arranged for the prisoners to shovel sand into carts and drag it to the other end of the plant and dump it. The next day they ordered them to shovel it back into the carts and bring it to where they started. And so it went for days.
Finally one old man began crying uncontrollably; the guards hauled him away. Another screamed until he was beaten into silence. Then a young man who had survived three years in the camp darted away from the group. The guards shouted for him to stop as he ran toward the electrified fence. The other prisoners cried out, but it was too late; there was a blinding flash and a terrible sizzling noise as smoke puffed from his smoldering flesh. In the days that followed, dozens of the prisoners went mad and ran from their work only to be shot by guards or electrocuted by the fence.”
We were made to be sustained by a purposeful future. We were made to live in the assurance of a significant destiny. Without the prospect of a significant future, we lose hope. Our hope is in the Lord and the destiny He has for us.
I use the word destiny simply to connect this tremendous cry for purpose of the human heart with the word predestination in today's text, Ephesians 1:5. We focused last week on verse 4: "God chose us in him before the foundation of the world." A beautiful thought to know we are chosen by the Lord of creation, the only true God, to be in His family. This week we will continue to examine verse 4 and take up verse 5: "God predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ for himself according to the good pleasure of his will."
I want to establish in your hearts this morning--you who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and count him your Master and Savior and Hope--I want to establish in your hearts an assured destiny, a great and good and beautiful future, so that you don't ever have to sob over empty days or scream over futility or throw yourself on the wires because there is no future worth living for. And the way I want to establish this destiny in your heart and make it firm is by showing you two things in this text: the goal of your destiny, and the ground of your destiny.
1. First, let's focus our attention on the goal of our destiny. What are we destined for?
Verse 5 gives part of the answer: "God predestined us for sonship." Our destiny from before the creation of the world was to become the children of God. Isn’t that amazing! It never cease to amaze me that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Moses, now wants me to be counted in that league of patriarchs.
When God chose you, he had a purpose, and so he predestined that purpose to come about, first that you would become a child of God. That you would be part of his family. You entered that family at your second birth as Jesus described to Nicodemus in John 3, verse 3. Jesus said “…. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God … In John 1:12 we are told’ “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” We are to believe and receive. Do not say to me, “I believe”, for I will say to you, “Even the demons believe.” God says you must also receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He is the Way, the truth, and the life described in John 14:6. Have you done that? Can you honestly say this morning. “Yes, I am a child of God. I have received Him into my heart and life!. If you have any doubts at all, now is the day of salvation. Bow before the King of Kings and submit your life to Him. Then, and only then, will you become an heir of all that God owns and begin to be blessed with every spiritual blessing mentioned in verse 3.
So, to reiterate, the first purpose of predestination is to make you a child of God so you can be lavished with every spiritual blessing (v.3). But what are spiritual blessings, you may wonder. I’ll save that for another sermon. Suffice it to say at this time that spiritual blessings are the work of the Trinity: God blesses believers because of the Father’s electing, the Son’s dying, and the Spirit’s sealing.
Spiritual blessings begin with and are based on our election by God. (He chose us) God is the subject and believers are the object. And God’s object is to bless us. Blessing is God’s work just like salvation is God’s doing, not man’s. It is an act of grace, based on His will. You and I are responsible to believe and receive, but “God chose you to be saved. He chose you before you chose Him! As the old hymn says, “He sought you and bought you with His redeeming blood.’ You relented, then repented; relented from going the way of the world, then repented and turned to God’s way. This was achieved through belief in the truth” and receipt of His Son’s work on the cross. God the Father loves us that much! We get to choose to stop running, to repent, and to submit to God’s touch of grace. Whether you were dragged kicking and screaming, or submitted gently, you are now a child of God because He wanted you to be His, and because He wants to bless you by growing you into His likeness.
In Him indicates another purpose of election. The first purpose is to become His child. The second purpose of election is believers will be holy and blameless in His sight for eternity. What God has begun in the past will be accomplished and completed in the future. Christians are “holy”, that is, set apart to God. I’ll say more about this later. In addition, the purpose of His election is to make Christians “blameless.” This word amōmous, “ without blemish,” is used eight times in the New Testament (v. 4; 5:27; Phil. 2:15; Col. 1:22; Heb. 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14; Rev. 14:5). Now let’s look at that two word phrase “in love” at the end of verse 4.
What does the phrase in love modify? I believe it modifies the words “to be holy and blameless in His sight”. Love fits well with holiness and blamelessness, for this would denote a balance between holiness and love. God is love and believers, because of God’s electing love, should manifest love with holiness.
"He chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Why? For what destiny?) that we should be holy and blameless before him in love." That's the practical content of our destiny as God's children. We are destined to take on the character of God our Father, the character of holiness and blamelessness. That's our destiny. There is a parallel in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 that goes like this: “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men . . . so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” Love and blamelessness go hand in hand in Scripture.
God wants you to abound in love", in the combination with blamelessness and holiness Can you imagine holiness without love? They are integral, aren’t they?
That says to me that just as love is the pathway to holiness in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, so love is the pathway to holiness in Ephesians 1:4. And so to live in love and to walk in love is part of our destiny in Ephesians 1:4-5. God predestined us to be his children and that means he destined us to be like him--to be holy, to be blameless, that is to live in love to each other and to all men. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39) John 13:3 says “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” Are you known for your love? It is a defining characteristic of your Father in heaven and it should be a defining characteristic of you.
Your destiny is to be holy as your Father is holy, and that means that your very essence is to be love, for God, your Father, is love (1 John 4:8) and you are predestined to be like your Father. Right? Christ-like behavior is God’s goal for each of us.
Let’s keep moving along; now we’ll look at the ground of our destiny.
In verse 5 Paul says, "God predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ." Now to see what that means look at Ephesians 5:25-27.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify her (that is "make her holy") . . . that he might present the church to himself in glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and blameless.”
The same two words from Ephesians 1:4! In other words, the basis of your becoming holy and blameless before God is the loving self-sacrifice of Christ on your behalf. The ground of our destiny (to be holy and blameless in love) is the death of Jesus in our place.
This means that when God chose you before the foundation of the world, and predestined you to be his holy, blameless, loving child, he also predestined his Son to die. The ground of your destiny is not only that the Son of God died for you, but that God planned it that way from the beginning. The end was predestined and the means were predestined. Our holiness and Jesus' death.
But the ultimate ground, the deepest foundation, of our becoming blameless and holy in love is not the death of God's Son. Verse five points to a deeper ground, namely, the sovereign, free will of God.
Let’s look at verse 5 again. It says, "God predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ for himself according to the good pleasure of his will." The point of this text is to teach every believer this morning that we owe our adoption into God's family to the "good pleasure of God's will." We were chosen before the foundation of the world; we were predestined to sonship and holiness and love not according to what we had done, or according to what we understood, or according to who our parents were, or according to our race, or according to religious background, or according to where we lived or according to our work or our status or wealth, or according to what we willed. We were chosen and predestined according to the good pleasure of God's will.
And the point of the double phrase (not just "according to his will" but) "the good pleasure of his will" means God chose us and predestined us without any consideration of our merit, Just his own sovereign will and the merit of Jesus.
But that's not your highest destiny. Your highest destiny is described in verse 6. Why has God predestined us to sonship and holiness and blamelessness and love? Look at verse 6: "To the praise of the glory of his grace." Our holiness and our blamelessness and our love and our sonship are not ends in themselves. They exist for something greater: they exist to praise the glory of God's grace.
The ultimate goal of God in to be praised for His glory. This is the final goal of our destiny. There is no higher hope, no greater tomorrow, no more meaningful future, no more worthy cause to live for, than to reflect and praise the glory of God's grace for ever and ever.
The certainty of that destiny is grounded in the all-sufficient work of his Jesus.
The sum of the matter is this: the ground of our predestination is the good pleasure of God's will, the goal of our predestination is the praise of God's glory, and the link between the good pleasure of his will and the praise of his glory is the death of his Son. Do you fully comprehend what Jesus did for you on that crude cross 200 years ago? Do you ever wonder how it can be called “the joy of the cross”? What is joyful about dying an excrutiating death? Listen to Hebrews 12:2 “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross …” Christ died joyfully for us because He knew God’s eternal plan. He knew dying and rising on the third day would be our way of salvation He joyfully made a way for our joy.
If you are trusting in Jesus Christ this morning the roots of your joy were planted in the eternal counsels of God, and the branches of your life are growing into an absolutely sure and glorious future with God. There are no unimportant days in your life. You don't ever have to go to bed at night feeling that your life is going nowhere. You don't ever have to give in to the lie that you are not connected to an awesome purpose.
For God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world that you might be holy and blameless before him in love; he predestined you to sonship through Jesus Christ for himself according to the good pleasure of his will to the praise of the glory of his grace.
So, how does all of this apply to your life on a day-to-day basis. In Barclay’s Daily Study Bible, William Barclay says this: “Paul thinks of the purpose of God's choice. God chose us that we should be holy and blameless. Here are two great words. Holy is the Greek word hagios , which always has in it the idea of difference as well as separation. A temple is holy because it is different from other buildings; a priest is holy because he is different from ordinary men; God is supremely holy because he is different from men; the Sabbath is holy because it is different from other days. So, then, God chose the Christian that he should be different from other men. Did you hear that? God chose the Christian that He should be different from other men! So, what does this mean?
Let’s go back to William Barclay: Here is the challenge that the modern Church has been very slow to face. In the early Church the Christian never had any doubt that he must be different from the world; he, in fact, knew that he must be so different that the probability was that the world would kill him and the certainty was that the world would hate him. But the tendency in the modern Church has been to play down the difference between the Church and the world. We have, in effect, often said to people: "So long as you live a decent, respectable life, it is quite all right; it is enough difference from the world around you. You don't need to be so very different from other people." But the fact is, a Christian should be identifiable in the world. We should stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.
It must always be remembered that this difference on which Christ insists is not one which takes a man out of the world; it makes him different within the world. It should be possible to identify the Christian in the school, the shop, the factory, the office, the hospital ward, everywhere. And the difference is that the Christian behaves not as any human laws compel him to do but as the law of Christ compels him to do. A Christian teacher is out to satisfy the regulations not of an education authority but of Christ; and that will almost certainly mean a very different attitude to the pupils under his charge. A Christian workman is out to satisfy the regulations not of a Trades Union but of Jesus Christ; and that will certainly make him a very different kind of workman, which may well end in him being so different that he is expelled from his union. A Christian doctor will never regard a sick person as a case, but always as a person. A Christian employer will be concerned with far more than the payment of minimum wages or the creation of minimum working conditions. It is the simple fact of the matter that if enough Christians became hagios, different, they would revolutionize society. “
This should be our goal, corporately as a body of believers, and individually as Christ’s representatives here in Cut Knife. Let’s revolutionize our society. Let our light shine and be the salt of the earth
I pray that these words from Hebrews chapter 13 and verses 20 and 21 strengthen and encourage you this week as you walk in holy obedience: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”