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God's purpose fulfilled in Christ

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God’s purpose fulfilled in Christ

A church redeemed



Doxology Hymn no 2:              “From all that dwell below the skies”

Call to worship

Bible Verse

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Psalm 95:6-8)


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)

Hymn No 332:                            “Songs of praise the Angels sang” (tune 110)

Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer


The Lord’s Prayer

Scripture Reading                     Isaiah 56:1-8

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Declaration of pardoning

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Hymn No 402:                            “O Jesus, full of truth and grace”

Offering and Dedication

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

Hymn no 59:                                “This is my Father’s World”

Prayer for others

Scripture Reading                     Ephesians 1:3-14



Dear brother and sister in the Lord,

When we come together to worship, we come to praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul in this first chapter of Ephesians teaches in no less than three verses what the end of our salvation is:  In verse 6, 12, and 14 he states this recurring phrase:  “to the praise of his glorious grace.”  God is concerned about his glory and the glory of his Son.  The Son is concerned about the glory of his Father.  And the Holy Spirit is concerned for the glory of both the Father and the Son.

This is the sole purpose of the church:  to bring glory to the Name of the God of the heavens and the earth.

The “how” of God’s glory

And so he starts this paragraph of this letter.  Let’s look at verse 3.

Praise 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. (Ephesians 1:3)

Let’s endeavour, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, to understand what this verse says, and why.

When you were a Greek, you would understand that the construction in the Greek language used by the apostle Paul here, is somewhat difficult to translate directly in English.  The word “to” in English expresses something of what one person does to or for another.  Now in Greek this word is not to be found in that verse. It doesn’t mean it is translated wrongly, but that ‘s the closest we get to says what the Greek says.  If we now paraphrase that expression, is might go like this:  “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is praise”. Or: is to be given praise.

The word used is made up of two words:  eu and logos, which is very loosely something like a good word.  We praise God by singing his praises and telling of his wonder and splendour and majesty. And we can only tell it because God is splendour and majesty and glory.  This is how He revealed Himself.  Our WCF states it like this: 

There is but one only living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection,  immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

But just further down the same verse we get the same word.  This time this word is used as of the Father because of something Jesus Christ did.  The Father, this holy and immense God who is glory and praise, this verse says speaks in the same terms of us in heaven.  This is a mind boggling thought.

Let’s think about it:  God created the world and said it is good, good indeed. But in Adam and Eve sin entered into this world.  Man rebelled against God and ever since distorted the beauty of the world through which God’s glory is clearly seen.  Destruction was brought into this world. As a result we see thorns and thistles, sweat on our brow.  We work, and never earn enough.  We toil, but never enjoy lasting satisfaction.  Everything we do is sin-stained and is a witness to our incompleteness.  We try hard, but still we achieve little.  Such is the state the world originally given to us to steward over.  And everything in and on it yearns for deliverance with the coming of the Lord.

And in the midst of all of this, God whose purposes cannot be frustrated by anything or any human being, be it a king or ruler or wise man, worked out a redemption.

Although He hates sin, and although He is holy and righteous, He worked out his purpose to redeem a nation for Him.  He did not forget us.  But in order for us to once again walk in the light of God, to enjoy his presence and grace, something “out of the world” had to happen.

We know the story.  It is the old, old story of Jesus and his love.  Jesus was obedient to do what God’s righteousness demanded.  Jesus was willing and able do fulfil what no one on earth could do, due to our fallenness and shame before God.  He took the punishment and penalty of the fallen humankind upon Him.  He died on the cross as a ransom for us.  He became the Lamb without blemish, slaughtered to buy redemption through his blood.  That satisfied the holiness and righteousness of God.

The result was our redemption by grace – free, at no cost.  We are declared free from the guilt of sin.  In Christ are we made holy; in Him are we sanctified and in Him are we glorified.

And this brings us back to the expression in verse 3: 

Praise 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. (Ephesians 1:3)

Because of the salvation brought about be Jesus Christ, God does now to us what we are supposed to do for Him:  we must praise Him, or speak a good word (or praise, because of his splendour and majesty) to Him, because He speaks a “good word” (or “blessing”) for and about us.

There is nothing good about us, apart from Jesus Christ.  The expression “in Christ” is used by the apostle 87 times in his letters.  In Ephesians only he uses it 16 times, of which 6 times in chapter 1. 

In Him, restored in righteousness, there is communication between fallen-but-restored man.  May we put it very bluntly and commonly:  Because of Jesus Christ, God and man are on speaking terms.

The “why” of God’s glory

The next few verses of this chapter deals with the “why” of God’s purposes:  A few very interesting and remarkable terms are used here.  These are wonderful doctrines of the Reformed faith, and unfortunately many churches shy away from these terms because it makes them uncomfortable as the very essence of these words would distract from human effort to be saved.  And because such a theology would place the effort for salvation of man upon man’s choice or contribution, there is no security in the sort of salvation.  It becomes something that you can loose.

But it is not what the Bible teaches. Our salvation does not begin with us.  It is neither given to us as something we must complete by making a decision or filling out of a membership card.  Of course it effects in our very human existence and it turns my life around which leads to conversion and a life of praise to God.  But it does not begin with me – thank God!

Let’s look at those words and try to understand what they mean. 

Verse 4:  He chose us in Him – in Christ.  Not in time, but before all time.  Not because God saw the possibility that we might repent and therefore be worthy of is grace.  No.  He chose us in Christ.  Without Him we are nothing.  He wanted us to be holy and blameless.  And although we fell in sin, we are redeemed by Christ to be the holy and spotless people of God.  if this was not the case, we must concluded that God is not sovereign and that his plan of redemption in not sure and secure.

He predestined us to be adopted as sons – in Christ. We fell in sin and grieved God more than words can tell or we ever can know, but God predestined us to be adopted as his sons.  This is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Why did He do this?  He is sovereign.  He wanted.  He is not accountable to anyone.  He does not need to answer the “Why” question.  Our text just says it is in accordance with his pleasure and will.  And He did it with one purpose:  to his praise (now another word is used:  doxa:  splendour, majesty as attributes of God.)

The” result” of redemption

Redemption in this context refers to the act of being set free like slaves were set free.  This came about by the blood of the sacrifice of Jesus, in the same, but better, perfect and more grandiose way the blood of lambs secured the forgiveness of sins to the people of the Old Testament.  Why?  That’s the way in which God would display his saving grace.  The “lavish” of the grace of God mentioned in verse 8 refers to the abundance, the plenty, the unsearchable sources of the grace of God.  It is excessive, more than enough, more than we can earn, deserve or ever will fathom. 

The further result is this:  In Christ we see the Kingdom of God unfolding.  He is the King of all kings. Through Christ God would gather a nation, a priesthood, new family together out of all nations, tongues and tribes.  And with this God has an unstoppable purpose:  We read about it in 3:10

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:10-12)



Hymn No 292:                            “Your hand, O God, has guided” (tune 536)


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Hymn 636

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