Gracious Resolution | Ephesians 1:3-14

October 5, 2014 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: GRACE | Before the beginning to after the end

Topic: Gospel Passage: Ephesians 1:3–1:14

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GRACE | Gracious Resolution
Ephesians 1:3-14

Introduction | Series and Sermon
Good Morning! We regularly preach straight through books of the Bible. We are taking a break for the next five weeks to do a topical series on particular doctrines of God’s Grace. Specifically how people are saved by God the Father’s planned grace, through the work of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is called GRACE, before the beginning to after the end. We are preaching these doctrines out of Ephesians Ch1-2 with the churches in our 3 Strand Network.

Why the series? There are numerous topics, doctrines, and ideas which faithful, bible-believing, historic orthodox Christians have disagreements about. We have no interested in dividing with or distancing ourselves from other churches, Christians, or traditions, however it is necessary for us to distinguish what our church, and the network we’re affiliated, believes the bible teaches and how it informs how we live. As a church we want to have a God-centered Theology. This may sound simple but it’s not because of sin, we buck against this. We have to move the target from our story and glory to God’s story and His Glory.
It starts with understanding why we were created? Most of us believe we were created or born as a gift to the world, this is called pride. Others of us are in some spectrum of despair because we believe our lives serve no purpose. Our existence is random, events in our world and life appear random so we believe God is acting randomly in response, if we believe in God at all. When we ask why God created we first recognize, He didn’t have too! God is eternal and has existed eternally in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s called the trinity. God didn’t create out of any insufficiency or any need relational or otherwise. Simply put God wasn’t missing something and He wasn’t lonely. He created out of an overflow of who He is and all that He has done, is doing and will do is completely intentional to display His glory.
Isaiah 43:5-7 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. 6 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

We exist for God! And His glory. God is for us, but he doesn’t exist for us! God is about God and that is what we want. Why? Because He is perfect. Let’s not be fearful coming to difficult passages and ideas, but let’s try to see how they display God’s character and glory for our joy. We are looking at God’s character in light of His power and holiness that he has chosen to reveal to us. Yet we still question God, and often He is exceedingly gracious to us giving responses to our questions. At certain points God when asked or questioned just says “IAM” not “IAM now let me explain every detail and you can then judge if you like my thought process and how I choose to operate and then can give me feedback and we can form a more collaborative plan.”
Deut 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
There is a lot that God has revealed to us about who He is, how he has chosen to work and how we are to respond, and there are some that He hasn’t. We have to be comfortable with some level of mystery and stop being uncomfortable with what He has chosen to reveal in His Word.
Isaiah 46:9-10 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
God is clear, He was at work before the beginning and He will be at work after the end. This includes, and is specifically applied to, what we call salvation, from our sin back to God. Salvation is not the begging of a process, it is the consummation. Think of salvation like a wedding. Before a wedding happens there has to be some form of initiation to establish a relationship, engagement planning, all before the big day. After the great ceremony and celebration follows marriage, intimacy, longevity, fruit, life, all AFTER.
Most of us who would call ourselves Christians would say we experienced salvation (trusting in Jesus) this way. We were going about our lives making a series of choices, at some point Jesus was presented as the means of saving us from the wrath of God for our sin by his death on the cross. Given yet another choice in our lives we decide to accept Jesus who stands at the door and knocks on our hearts and we let him in. We then hope and work like mad to try to live up to the new standards we begin to see in the Bible constantly wondering is what we decided real and how bad would we have to screw up before God would decide he didn’t love us enough to save us anymore. Cycles of pride and despair continue was we walk away and “come back to rededicate our lives to Christ”. We come to the end of our days worn out haggard and desperately pray forgiveness again hoping against all hope that we make it into the heaven we’ve been promised and we can finally have some assurance on what eternity looks like. Sounds exhausting, it doesn’t sound like Good News, and frankly, while peppered with some biblical language is simply not how the bible teaches what the gospel is and how salvation is worked out.
If there is one big idea I want us to have and hold onto throughout this series it a theme shown and said countless time in scripture summed up in a simple phrase found in Jonah 2:9 Salvation belongs to the Lord. It means there is another order, a better order, a more biblical order of how salvation is worked out and it is in play far before our lifetime and far beyond our experience and so much closer to giving us the hope and strength we need. Ordo Salutis (All adapted from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology p.670)
1. Election – God’s choice of people to be saved based on no foreseen merit of their own, but solely on His gracious good pleasure as sovereign king of the universe.
2. Gospel Call – Someone proclaiming and someone hearing the attractive message of the Gospel
3. Regeneration – Being born again as we move from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive.
4. Conversion – repentance, seeing your sin turning from it and placing your faith in Jesus.
5. Justification- Where we move from being guilty sinners before God to right legal standing.
6. Adoption – No longer alienated by our sin we are brought into full membership in God’s family.
7. Sanctification- Both being clean and being made clean; living lives which look more like Jesus.
8. Perseverance- Sustained faith that actually causes us to remain a Christian, until…
9. Death – The end of this life and the beginning of the next where we go to be with the Lord.
10. Glorification- Final removal of all sin when we receive a perfect resurrection body.
Humility needs to define our pursuit of God’s truth. Any study of God’s word, of theology, that doesn’t lead to great humility before God and others has completely missed the point! It should ALWAYS lead us to greater reverence before God and greater patience and kindness to others, particularly to our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you have spent more time arguing or debating doctrine with Christians then sharing the gospel with unbelievers you have completely missed the boat. Let us be a people defined by humility.
As we look at these first verses in Ephesians chapter one we will be looking today at Election.
Ephesians 1:3-14 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Election | God’s Plan for Grace
We will be returning back to a few of these verses over the next few weeks looking at different themes but there are clear repeated words and themes that point us to Election. Predestination x2, His will, making known the mystery, his purpose, plan, sealed, glory, praise. All of it points to God’s plan for grace.
What does it mean that God Planned for Grace? Grace is unmerited favor. Meaning you do not DO anything to deserve it. This means God had/has a plan to bless His people. It means God has a plan to save sinners. When sin entered into the world God wasn’t surprised. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit didn’t get together and say “Who saw this coming; we better come up with a plan quick!” NO! We see God working, God owning salvation, God’s will, God’s purpose, leading to both His glory and our praise.
All of this was part of a plan from the beginning rather than a response to the effects of random causes. It means we see a God who is in charge and in control over his creation. God is sovereign over everything.

There is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of God’s sovereignty. - CH Spurgeon

We struggle with a God who plans because our imperfect plans are constantly failing, and being revised.
We struggle with a God having a plan we’re not in control of because we recognize how selfish we would be if we were in control. Yet when a great philanthropist like Bill Gates gives and we admire it because of his “others” focus. We struggle with a God who plans, and executes his plan to perfection, because we don’t get to see all played out. We assume, only seeing part, that we would make a better plan. We struggle with a God who plans most of all because we have one great value that trumps everything else; our free will, our choices, our decisions, our ability to choose the course of our life and our world. And so we choose independence, we choose we know best, certainly better than God. At our heart the only thing we plan for is our sin. Our will is sin, God’s will is Grace. We see the plan of the Father, the price the Son paid, and perseverance ensured by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 3-6 | God the Father’s Plan
Before the beginning there was a plan…. A plan of redemption and a plan of blessing in Christ Jesus. This plan is very specific in what it purposes to accomplish. That we should be holy and blameless before him, NOT that we already are, or will one day choose to be. He knows we need a plan to be holy and blameless because we aren’t. We sin! In the garden Adam and Eve were opposed to God and things look bleak. Yet God still had a plan. His plan is great and perfect because it accounts for our sin and it prepares for us a place of restored relationship. It says we are adopted into his family (more on this in two weeks) but God’s purpose in election is to lead to praise and blessing as we find ourselves in Christ.

As members of His family verse 11-12, because of the work of Jesus we find ourselves “obtaining an inheritance” that is GRACE! Unmerited favor! When God works ALL things according to the counsel of his will, meaning knowing everything God purposes His plan to glorify Himself will lead to our un-coerced praise. God didn’t make you a robot, he made you person who when His plan for your salvation is worked out would naturally lead you to responds with praise. When we truly praise something it is always out of a response to how that thing makes us feel. God planned to deal with our sin, God planned for our joy.

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is true! AND he’s not waiting for you to get started executing that plan. It started before the world was even formed. It didn’t require you to initiate, God initiates. When God the Father has a plan it doesn’t get revised. It doesn’t get rolled out with various degrees of execution. Well this part of it worksd well, this part didn’t, back to the drawing board. God doesn’t change his plan not because He’s stubborn and inflexible, like we are when we refuse to adapt to changing circumstances. God’s plan is so effective and his will so power that they never meet obstacles it can’t overcome or circumstances it needs to adjusts or conform to.
When God’s will collides with obstacles, circumstances or people in opposition to it, it is they that are shattered and changed, not God’s will.

Verse 7-10 | God the Son Pays the Price
When we see the cross we see the greatest opposition to the will of God to be with His people. Here is God with His people in the Son Jesus Christ, and they murder him. Yet at the same moment we also see the perfect plan of God working itself out to bring God’s people back to Him. What a beautiful paradox!

Revelation 13:8 talks about the elects’ names being written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Did you catch that? The Cross, Jesus Christ the sinless/spotless lamb of God dying in our place for our sin, was the plan from the beginning! God richly pays the price for our sin because of His grace so that we could be reunited with Him! God knew exactly what was necessary for us to return to him. God has a better plan for our sin then we do. So as Jesus entered into history, on mission to save his people he knew what the plan was from the start. Jesus told his disciples why he was their and what the purpose of his death on the cross was.

John 10:14-15 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Jesus is a shepherd with specific sheep. Jesus didn’t go to the cross wondering if the father’s plan was going to work. He knew what he was doing was purchasing salvation for the elect of God. There were names in his mind; faces in his sight. I am purchasing you and you and you. There WAS NO DOUBT!!
Verse 12 -14 | God the Holy Spirit’s Preservation
What is maybe one of most exciting parts of God’s plan is the role he gives to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will seal those saved by the Son on the cross. Those who believe in Jesus Christ alone are given a guarantee of the inheritance and that we will be delivered to the Father in all Glory by the Spirits power and not our own. This is incredible to consider our eternal relationship with God is not dependent on the strength and perseverance of our will and our faithfulness but of the God the Holy Spirit. God’s plan gives us a sense of peace and security that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion Phil 1:6
More on this in a few weeks. God’s plan has a play book we see played out very clear in Romans 8.

Golden Chain | A word on the word foreknowledge
Romans 8:27-30 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Yes God searches hearts, He see the darkness and hardness of our hearts and the Holy Spirit interceded FOR us according to “our free will” NO, according to the will of God! God has a purpose in the plan that hits big themes of calling, adoption, sanctification (looking like Jesus), perseverance and glorification.

What about free will? You have to ask yourself if you believe God values His purposes and will over yours. If God didn’t value His will over ours, would our will and purposes ultimately be better for us then God’s.
Adam and Eve had complete freedom of will and they with the BEST circumstances imaginable freely choose sin and rebellion over God and obedience. We have complete freedom to choose, everything BUT God. That’s next week. It’s not really grace, unmerited favor, if God just “knows” we’re going to choose us so he chooses to bless us. That is merited favor! You did x I’ll bless you with y.

Doesn’t this verse teach God predestined everyone who he foreknew would choose him of their own free will? This word “foreknowledge”, doesn’t mean God was looking into the future and seeing who would choose Him and saying “Oh he’ll choose me, I elect him, she’ll answers the call, I’ll predestine her.” That is not a God centered view of election. God elects, not us. God is not a middle schooler sending out a note with a “do you like me? check yes/no” he’s not looking into the future hoping some of us will see his great gesture of Jesus dying on the cross and waiting with baited breath to see if anyone likes it. God doesn’t just “foreknow” decisions, He foreknows people!! When God foreknows a person or people He knows them deeply with a covenant love not just a knowing of facts about them or preview of what they will or will not do.

Election | For Comfort
There are no surprises there are no accidents. There is not a stray molecule outside of God’s authority.
It also means before the creation of the world God planned and prepared to make people conform to the image of His son there is actual hope that we are not doomed/condemned to remain as ourselves, in our sin. It means we are we know where we’re going and what it’s going to be like when we get there.

There is a God who made everything in the universe and before he made it all, he knew you in all your mess and imperfection and he planned for you to be a member of His kingdom by paying the price of your sin (deserving death) with the death and blood of His royal Son Jesus, makes you clean and blameless before a holy God and so you could obtain an inheritance which includes all the riches and glory of heaven. Now tell me that isn’t attractive….

You need not fear, even though mountains fall into the sea….God doesn’t have problems, only plans. There is never any panic in heaven. God is faithful, his plans do not fail. – Corrie ten Boom

Election | For Mission
If God has elected everyone he is going to save, why would we “be on mission” and share the Gospel? Someone was used by God as part of His plan to draw you to His son Jesus. If you’re in Christ God planned for your salvation, meaning there was no chance He was not going to find you and bring you back to him, no chance you could run far enough or hide effectively enough that he would not find you. If you are in Christ, you/we are now called to be active parts of God’s plan to save sinners. How do I know? Jesus tells the disciples to “go!” He doesn’t say and I hope it works out and a few people become disciples, see ya! He says I am with you always to the end of the age so be on mission seeking and saving the lost.

Acts 18:9-10 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.

God’s elect are out there! We get to be on mission knowing the limit of the mission success is only limited by the exceeding grace of God! Salvation belongs to Jesus, Trust Jesus!


More in GRACE | Before the beginning to after the end

November 9, 2014

Gracious Restoration | Ephesians 1:11-14

November 2, 2014

Gracious Renovation | Ephesians 2:4-10

October 19, 2014

Gracious Redemption | Ephesians 1:3-10