Praise to God for His Redeeming - Ephesians 1:7-10
Ephesians 1:7-10 Redeemed through Christ 20201025 The Redemptive Work of Christ Perfectly Unites All Things in Him Life has its ups and downs but throughout all of it God is in control. His word is so instructive for us for this purpose and for so much more. As I just mentioned life has its ups and downs and I want to start with sharing a story that has a major down but it leads to one of the reasons why the book of Ephesians is so special to me. Twenty years ago, on June 3rd 2000, four years after Vanessa and I had started our relationship, and almost two years after we were married. We separated. It was extremely difficult as you might imagine, it was a down time in life for sure. Separation is not what two individuals who have become one through the covenant of marriage ever hope to have to endure. Although we had been anticipating and preparing for the day of my departure to Virginia for Officer Candidate School it still didn’t soften the hurt. We were going to be separated for 10 weeks. In the years to follow, because of my military career, we were separated many more times. During that first time apart, our normal routines were completely changed. Not only were we not together but my freedom of time vanished and with that my regular time of studying God’s word. We were told by military veterans that this would be the case. My wife, being the wonderful companion that she is, did something for me that I was able to truly count as a treasure while away. She had taken one of her senior pictures, some of you may be familiar with senior pictures, and on the back of the photo she wrote out Ephesians 6:10-20. Can you picture this in your mind? A stunning photo of my wife on one side and a wonderfully instructive and encouraging passage on the back. Just thinking of it brings a smile to my face. I treasured the whole of that photograph, the image of my wife on the one side, the Scripture written in her hand writing on the back. It was her love being lavished upon me in the most perfect form for where I was at. You see, while I going through my training, although I had my Bible, there were days that the only Scripture I was able to read was Eph 6:10-20. I was a warrior in training in the USMC and yet I was rightly being reminded by my bride and my sister in Christ, that I was already part of God’s warrior elite – completely dependent upon him for everything. Even to this day I frequently pray through the armor of God as I depart my house to go put on the uniform of our nation. I do this knowing that my spiritual preparedness is of greater importance than any other. The Holy Spirit has used Paul’s letter to Ephesus to impress this upon me. Our prayer as elders is that while we work through this first section of the book slowly and deliberately that we as a church would comprehend more fully how blessed we are in Christ. And as we comprehend God’s blessings that the way we live would be impacted. So, today we are continuing to look at God’s blessings which we started a few weeks back. Just as a review, first we covered v4 He chose us for holiness, last week was vv5-6 He predestined us for adoption. This week we are looking at vv7-10 Where we will see we are Blessed by God because He redeemed us through Christ. Next week we will look at vv11-12 and the Blessing that He gave us an inheritance and the following will be vv13-14 He sealed us with the Holy Spirit. These are vital reminders for us because ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve broke God’s command and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. FCF: The ongoing struggle for humanity has been trying to turn away from the devil’s deception, the devastating effects of sin, and trying to recreate peace between us and God – to restore unity. Because of our sin, our depravity, this struggle has led, and continues to lead, us further away from peace rather than closer to it. By working through our section of Scripture today we will see how God’s blessings have undone the work of the devil in Christ – specifically in terms of his redemptive work. Cosmic Battle Plan 1. v7a “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,…” We start with the blessing of redemption because it is the way God worked and the way he continues to work. Redemption was God’s plan to undo the devastation of sin. Our sin had the proper impact of removing us from a right relationship with Holy God. Nothing our ancestors could have done and nothing we could do would restore our relationship with God. Nothing! 1. Just consider the first Passover to grasp what I’m saying. In the way of background (Exodus 7-12), Moses was sent by God to bring his people, Israel, out of Egypt and the Egyptian king, the pharaoh would not listen to the voice of God. His heart was hardened and because of this many plagues were brought down upon the land. The final plague was to be the death of the first born of all in the land in every household and of all the livestock. 2. In conjunction with this plague the Lord instituted the Passover for his people Israel who were being held captive in Egypt. The Passover is where every house was to select a perfect sacrificial lamb, a one-year old lamb. They were to kill the Passover lamb and place its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their house. Then as the destroyer (Ex. 12:23) passed through the land, he would be prevented from entering the houses with the blood of the lamb. 3. When you consider this you have to ask the question what was so significant about the lamb? The answer is that it was a picture pointing to what was ultimately going to be needed. God’s judgement poured out on sin is death. And church we praise God for his justice. The sacrificial lamb, which God commanded, showed that a price could be paid, but it was the price of the lifeblood of a living creature. This was a picture being forever imprinted upon the Jewish people as they awaited the day for a more perfect sacrifice. 4. You see friends, we have all been foolish and have sinned against God. This passage mentions trespasses, and we have all done this. Trespass here can carry the connotation of offensive sin or a false step but either way the result is estrangement from God. This is what our sin does. It is the same pattern witnessed from the beginning. Adam and Eve sinned and what happened? Their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. They hid themselves with fig leaves. They hid themselves from God. God subsequently removed them from the Garden, estrangement from God. But consider that God did not remove them without making a promise of one who would come. One who would eventually rise up and crush the head of the serpent and defeat the source of corruption which had entered into God’s good creation. 5. Here in v7 Paul is drawing our attention to the One who did rise up. In Him, in Christ, we have redemption, this means forgiveness from our sins! How is this possible? It is possible because of the perfect blood of Jesus. He gave himself over for this purpose – to accomplish his cosmic battle plan to defeat sin and death. Not temporarily but permanently. Transition: As we move to our next section none of this was done by accident or apart from God’s perfect plan. It was in keeping with his plan that we now turn our attention to look at his abundant grace. Copious Grace 2. vv7b-8 “…according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight” 1. Beloved our God is so good. He blesses us beyond measure oh how he blesses us. The goodwill of God is abundantly showered upon his redeemed. 2. The language is so powerful that it is not only upon us but it is literally into us – God is infusing us with his grace. He did this with His entire divine wisdom and rational capacity engaged 1. Here is where I want to draw out an important aspect of the passage for our day to day living as the redeemed. 1. God’s goodness – his grace has been lavished upon us. We have been inundated with his goodwill and because of this we know what grace is! Therefore, we are to put this characteristic on display. It is a quality we possess and it is for the world to see. 2. Paul says it this way in 1 Thess 3:12 “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,” 3. We have been immensely blessed and we are in turn to be a blessing to others. To one another here in the body and very importantly for the witness of Christ to those who are outside of the community of believers. 4. If we take our que from the passage that we are working through we start out by forgiving one another. Saints we have received forgiveness and we are to be so enthralled by the beauty of this gift from God that we share the gift with enthusiasm. Do you think you will have an opportunity to grant forgiveness to someone in the church this week? What about someone outside of the church? 5. Just a practical tip, one that I’ve learned the hard way. Don’t demand certain phrases to be used to trigger your ability to grant forgiveness and in a similar vain don’t require an exact phrase or term be used to accept forgiveness when someone offers. I’m thinking of the phrase “I’m sorry” but it could just as easily be “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” 6. Remember we have been lavished with God’s grace, it has been poured out in abundance and for that reason and from that position we should be exercising forgiveness. In the middle of this pandemic lets be infectious with forgiveness. Maybe you can use that as a spiritual reminder when you start to think of disease put a Biblical spin on it a think of how you can grant forgiveness because you have been forgiven through the blood of Christ. Transition: Much has been revealed in God’s word and we continue to see more of his mystery as we continue. Clearly Revealed 3. vv9-10a “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,...” 1. The veil has been lifted church. Heb 10:19-20 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,” 2. The mystery that Paul speaks of is no longer a mystery. He is writing in such a way as to say what the prophets proclaimed is now known in Christ. 3. This was the plan, this was Jesus’ plan, his way of stewarding what belonged to him – namely his church. The church has arrived because Jesus willed it to be, because he built it, and because he paid for it with his precious blood (Acts 20:28). 1. Church we are not crushed by the governor of a state we are not destroyed by a political party. 2. Think about it beloved. The church has survived horrendous emperors, dictators, tyrants, evil monarchs, socialism, communism, all through the ages. The blood of those martyred for their faith will be vindicated by Christ at the appointed time. 3. Are you currently beside yourself over the political environment we find ourselves in? I’m not advocating for us to aid in the destruction of civility in our nation but rather that we would recognize that the church belongs to Jesus. It doesn’t require freedom of religion or freedom of speech protections to survive. The life blood of the church is the living blood of Jesus Christ. 4. I sense that this is a place of real struggle, it pains me, and we should rightly be grieved over the ongoing erosion of religious freedom. Brothers and sisters make your laments known here within the church. Let us pray together, let us pray as the Spirit leads, let us pray for all God’s purposes to be fulfilled as he oversees the fullness of time. 5. Let us pray for boldness to make the mystery of the gospel known throughout our land! 6. This is how Paul says we do this in 1 Cor 4:12 “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 7. And what do we as servants of Christ and stewards of his mysteries do? We do as Christ did. Peter wrote in 1 Pet 1:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” Transition: This is what we must do to work with God in the way he brings us together. Coming Together 4. v10b “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” 1. As we narrow in on this last section of our passage this morning I want you to see the completeness of what God is accomplishing. In my meditating upon these handful of verses over the past few weeks the Holy Spirit invariably kept brining me to – unite all things in him – unite all things in Christ. 2. This has been the plan from the beginning. The cosmic battle plan was to defeat sin, Satan, and death through the blood of Christ. Forgiving sins and trespasses. 3. The abundant, the copious grace of God has been lavished upon his chosen ones. 4. Through the outpouring of His grace he clearly revealed the mystery of his will – all of this being set forth in Christ as the plan for the fullness of time. 5. And here it is all coming together. These terms are packed with significance. 1. Unite – we will start with unite. I love this idea. It is to be a subordinate element to a single primary element. To be a subordinate element to a single primary element. This is God’s plan. To take us as subordinate elements and to join us with him through the blood of Christ. The blood which was given by grace to forgive us of our trespasses. And as we are joined with him we become part of his single primary element – we become members of the family of God. 2. In concert the unite is paired with all things. 3. All things – just as you would expect this is encompassing the full quantity. Not one who is to be part of God’s family will be excluded. But there is more dear brothers and sisters. 6. With the uniting of all things comes the quantifiers of things in heaven and things on earth. As Christ works to unite all things at the fullness of time. A time which has begun I believe because the mystery has been revealed. The gospel has been made known and is why we join together as we do is it not? Celebrating being part of the family of God awaiting the completion of his work when all things in heaven, the place where God dwells, and things on earth, the place where we exist is brought together in unity. 1. “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:20) 7. This is all meant for us as a group of believers. Have you noticed the pronouns throughout our section here? As has been the case throughout our journey in Ephesians the pronouns are first person plural – we. Additionally, the possessive adjective Paul uses is “our.” I bring our attention to this church because here in the American church in particular, we individualize so many of our experiences that it impacts our corporate identity. 1. We are taking our time working through these verses to savor God’s good blessings for us and it cannot be overlooked that he intends us to act in concert with one another as we live out our faith side-by-side. But how do we do this? 2. Jason suggested a prayer and fasting day on November 7th. I get excited to see such an event being planned and I hope it gains some traction. It is special pray gatherings, the planning of missions trips, community groups, Sunday mornings that spill into the afternoon. And I hope you are thinking of more. Fellowship with one another is vital to our being connected as a body. 3. When have you felt most connected as the body of Christ? One poignant memory for Vanessa and I was when we sat behind our house with Ben and Natalie and wept over the terminal cancer diagnosis of Vanessa’s mom. 4. I have heard the trembling in Seth’s voice when he has spoken of standing next to the DeHart family as their property burned. 5. But we have had joyous baptism celebrations and work parties, rafting trips, and recently backpacking adventures. The point is that we are to be living as the redeemed! We have redemption and it is to be enjoyed forevermore dear saints – united together! Transition: Church this is how God continues to show us his blessings. He redeemed us through Christ. Conclusion In the beginning I mentioned the significance of Eph 6:10-20 in my walk with the Lord. In that passage Paul reminds us that a spiritual battle rages on and that we are not excluded from the effects of it. In order for us to get to the place in chapter 6 where Paul’s writing can have an impact on our day to day living, we have got to grasp these wonderful blessings that are ours. The blessing is that He redeemed us through Christ. The way this has been seen as a truth for us to grab a hold of and to live by as we have worked through verses 7-10 is that The redemptive work of Christ perfectly unites all things in him. As we are washed over by the redemptive work of Christ. As we embrace our forgiveness through his shed blood. We give ourselves over to the unifying work he is doing. We are blessed by living a Holy Spirit indwelt life for God’s glory giving ourselves over to his fullness of his plan uniting all things in Christ.