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Praise to God for His Choosing - Ephesians 1:3-4

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:02:21
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Ephesians 1:3-4 Praise to God for His Choosing 2020-10-11 Praise God for his choosing of you I like cheesecake. I mean, I really like cheesecake. I don’t remember the last time I had a regular birthday cake, because they’ve been replaced by the infinitely superior cheesecake. The more decadent the better! I like cheesecake that is so rich that it almost has to be consumed with a hot cup of strong black coffee, otherwise it would be overwhelming. Maybe you don’t share my same appreciation, but do you understand the sort of dessert I’m talking about? You take a bite or two, and you know there is no way you could make it through a large piece. It’s so rich, so decadent, that it needs to be eaten in small bites and small portions. Ephesians is like that. Last week Seth took us through two verses. This morning we’re going to cover two verses. Next week we’re going to cover two verses. The week after? All of four verses. Not that we’re going to take this same pace through all of Ephesians, but at least initially we’re going to savor and enjoy the richness, the decadence of these great doctrines presented to us in these 12 verses. Passage: Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed Be! (v.3) 1. Verse 3 serves as the heading for vv.3-14, which are comprised of one sentence in the original Greek. It is calling us to praise God and to recognize his many blessings in our life. Then through vv.4-14 Paul draws attention to 5 of these blessings in particular. Look with me at these blessings, and notice the height and depth to which Paul takes the Ephesians in acknowledging God’s blessings. 1. v.4 He chose us for holiness. This will be our focus this morning. 2. vv.5-6 He predestined us for adoption 3. vv.7-10 He redeemed us through Christ 4. vv.11-12 He gave us an inheritance 5. vv.13-14 He sealed us with the Holy Spirit 2. A few things to note about this passage, vv.3-14. 1. It is beautifully and undeniably Trinitarian. Vv.4-6 draw attention to God the Father in choosing us and adopting us. Vv.7-12 draw attention to God the Son in redeeming us and giving us an inheritance. In vv.13-14 we have the work of God the Holy Spirit in sealing us and guaranteeing us our inheritance. 2. Second, this is all done according to God’s purpose and will. This is spoken several times through this passage. According to the purpose of his will, according to his purpose, according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Why has God been so benevolent, so kind and generous, gracious and giving? Because he determined to be so. 3. Third, the end of all of this is that God would be glorified. This is another refrain we see repeated in this passage. To the praise of his glorious grace, to the praise of his glory, to the praise of his glory. God has worked this great work in us so that he would be glorified in it. This is our reason for existence. This is the mission of the church, to glorify God by knowing Christ more fully and making Christ more fully known. •Blessed be God! 1. v.3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” - The Greek word for blessed is the word we get our English word eulogy from, which is to extol or give praise. This is exclusive of God, who alone is worthy of this praise and honor. 1. Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” 2. 2 Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” 3. 1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 4. Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians on a high note of praise. This is a doxology, a hymn of praise to God most high. •Blessed are we! 1. v.3 “…who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” - This isn’t an exchange of blessing, where we bless God in exchange for his blessing toward us, and he blesses us so we bless him, and back and forth. No, God alone is truly the blessed One, and he is the source of all blessing. We merely reflect back on him, to show appreciation for his blessing. The blessing we give to God cannot be compared with his blessedness. 1. And what are the blessings that Paul gives praise to God for? Food, health, happiness, shelter? No, he dives into these great doctrines related to our redemption in Christ, and praises God for them. 1. Over the next 5 weeks, as we work our way slowly through this passage, and focus each week on an area that God has blessed us, I want to ask you, to challenge you, to encourage you, that we individually and corporately would draw special attention to each of these throughout our week during the week we learn about them. For example, this week make the fact that God has blessed us by choosing us for holiness your special focus this week. Perhaps choose some of your Scripture reading around that theme, give it special attention in your prayer times, in your journaling, and in your thought throughout each day. The following week make adoption your focus, and so on. Maybe, like me, you get into ruts of thanksgiving, where it isn’t lacking, but it does get repetitive and lacks freshness. Use these great truths to guide your thanksgiving. 2. Now, Paul tells us that these are spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Maybe that sounds to you like the possibility of something good in the far off netherworld, but which wouldn’t have much bearing on life today. I can understand how that thinking might be present, but let me tell you that you’re wrong. 1. We are predisposed to desire blessing, and we’ve been trained by experience and advertisement to desire material blessing. Certain material blessings are needful and necessary, but are they most satisfying? A cheesecake is really good, but not really satisfying. Bread may sustain us for a day, but it cannot satisfy internal and eternal needs, as spiritual blessings can. 1. They are spiritual blessings because they are administered to us by the Holy Spirit. He is called the Spirit of truth (John 15:26), the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4), the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17), and the Spirit of glory (1 Pet. 4:14). He works as an indispensable member of the Trinity, accomplishing the Father’s will. They are called spiritual blessings because they cannot be touched or handled like material blessings can. This is not, in any way, to make them inferior to material blessings any more than the beauty of a mountain morning, with all of its colors, sounds, smells, and feelings, would be inferior to a photograph or painting of that same mountain morning scene. Is the painting superior because it can be handled? Quite the opposite is true! The spiritual blessings have evident and undeniable proofs that they are real and powerful, even if we can’t hold them in our hands or hang them on our walls. 2. They are in heavenly places because their reality is in the heavenly realm, the dwelling place of God. Our sky directly above our heads, the universe beyond our atmosphere, as majestic as they may be, are dull and dim and small in comparison to this heavenly place of which Paul speaks. In 2 Cor. 12 he speaks about a third heaven, beyond our atmosphere or the universe beyond. He calls it “paradise”, and says that he “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” He writes that because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations of this third heaven, God gave him a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. Clearly this is a place of unsurpassed beauty and wonders. And this is the place that these spiritual blessings belong, where they exist. It would stand to reason that these spiritual blessings in the heavenly places are full of magnificence. Transition: So just what are these spiritual blessings in the heavenly places? The first, which we will deal with this morning, is God’s choosing of us. The Blessing of Being Chosen (v.4) •We are chosen by Him 1. v.4 “…even as he chose us…” - First, we are chosen by him. This is wonderful and praiseworthy! Even before the foundation of the world, which is before any of us were in existence, no matter how old your children might think you are. This teaching should liberate and encourage us. 1. It is freeing because his choosing of us was before we had done any good or evil, it’s not based on our performance. There are some who believe that God, in eternity past, looked into the future and saw those who would put faith in Christ, and so chose them for salvation. But Scripture doesn’t support this view, and it robs God of glory. It lifts some up as superior because they would choose Christ, so they should receive some credit and praise for making the right choice. But salvation is entirely to the praise of God. Our understanding of Adam’s fall is that it resulted in such a low human condition, so broken by sin, that there is no ability to choose God apart from God first choosing us (Eph. 2:5-9). Romans 5 teaches that, through Adam, death came in and spread to all and reigned and led to condemnation for all. 1. 1 Corinthians 1:27–31 “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” 2. So in this way it should also encourage us and give us confidence, because if it is God’s choice and God’s doing, he’s not going to fumble. If it were up to us, we’d drop the ball. But God who began a good work will be faithful to complete it at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). 3. JI Packer wrote, “The doctrine of election, like every truth about God, involves mystery and sometimes stirs controversy. But in Scripture it is a pastoral doctrine, brought in to help Christians see how great is the grace that saves them, and to move them to humility, confidence, joy, praise, faithfulness, and holiness in response. It is the family secret of the children of God.” •We are chosen in Him 1. v.4 “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” - How was God able to choose us, with the foreknowledge that we would be mired in sin and set against him? He chose us in Christ. God had a plan to redeem, which would be achieved and accomplished by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. God worked this out in eternity past, and saw us as righteous in the righteousness of Christ. 1. 2 Timothy 1:9 “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” •We are chosen for Him 1. v.4 “…that we should be holy and blameless before him.” - Lastly, we are chosen for him; that is, for God’s pleasure and God’s glory. We are chosen to holiness and blamelessness. It is both positional and practical. 1. Holiness - 1 Peter 1:15–16 “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” This is the positive aspect, that there is a life lived which is set apart and distinct from that which defiles, which chooses the good. 2. Blameless - This is the negative aspect, that there is the lack of wrong. There is nothing present which could bring blame. 3. Prior to God’s choosing of us we couldn’t choose holiness or blamelessness. We were free to choose whatever we wanted but, being depraved, we could only choose sin and misery. Romans 6:5-13 relates to us that we were united with Christ in his death and resurrection, so that now we can present ourselves to God and carry out righteousness. We can live holy lives, reflective of God, which brings him glory! Praise be to God! Conclusion: 1 Thessalonians 1:2–4 “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” There is much to wrestle through in these 2 verses this morning. Perhaps there are new ideas to you, or teachings you’ve heard before but aren’t settled upon. I want to press upon you this morning to put in the time, give it the attention. Even if these are doctrines you’re familiar with and settled in - put time in this week, and give attention to these. They are to the praise of God’s glorious grace! They are worthy of our attention, and will result in our greater appreciation and gratitude and will overflow in thanksgiving to God. Jude 24–25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
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