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As we continue our look at Ephesians 1, we learn that true riches are not found in the temple to Artemis but in Jesus Christ. You are either in Christ, or you are in trouble. We often view this statement as narrow, but the question is not really whether it is narrow, but whether it is true. And truth is always narrow. As we study election, it should produce humility, gratitude, and worship; create absolute security; not impede evangelism; and evoke responsibility as we live like we are part of the elect.
What He Has Done to Make Us One
Our Radical Problem... Our Right Response
But God... By Grace
I Pray You Believe It
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 5
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 4
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 3
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 2
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 1
Intro to Ephesians: The Call to Make a Difference in a Godless Culture
If I could only have, as I said last week, one sentence from my Bible, I would choose this because, in the English text that you have, they punctuate it to kind of separate the thought. In fact, where they typically punctuate it is at the break points between the work of the three different parts, the past, present, and future.
We told you there are a number of ways you can look at Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 3 through 14. You can look at it from a Trinitarian point of view, where you see the work of the Father in verses 3 through, I guess, the end of verse 6; the work of the Son in 7 through 12; and then the work of the Spirit in 13 and 14. Our Bible punctuates within those breaks, but in the Greek text, it is not punctuated. Paul intended for this to be a sentence that was a run-on that just smothered you with the hope of your riches.
We talked about how this book was primarily sent to the people in a town called Ephesus and how Ephesus was the place of the temple of Artemis, the goddess Diana, according to whether you are Greek or Roman. This temple stored all the great riches of the day. The great art treasures were in this temple that was larger than the Parthenon that was in Greece that was in Athens.
I told you this domed idolatrous center of pagan worship was bigger than a domed stadium today. You could've played football in there. Our beloved Cowboys could've gotten their tails kicked by our hated 49ers right there in the temple of Artemis. What Paul was doing as he wrote is, he said, "Let me tell you something. If you want to know where true riches are, it is not up the hill about a mile and a half at the temple of Diana. True riches are in you, Christian. True riches are in Christ."
You're going to find this little phrase that we're going to start to look at tonight a little bit, in Christ. You're going to find actually the name of Jesus mentioned some 15-plus times in the first 14 verses of this book because you're going to find that riches come in Christ, and I will tell you that, if you are not in Christ, you are in trouble. This week, I had a chance to sit and have a good discussion with a friend of mine who's a Muslim, and we were visiting for an extended period of time. I talked about how, if you are not in Christ, you are in trouble, and they struggled with that.
I shared with them. Very simply I said, "I know that seems unfair to you. I know it seems narrow, but truth is always narrow. You have to decide: is it right that God says, 'In this is riches?' You do not need to look at the world's views. You don't need to go and pop from temple to temple to see where true riches are. It is one place. I've made it known. I've had the entire calendar pivot on his death and resurrection. It is Jesus Christ, and 'in him is true riches.'"
It's my prayer, as we study Ephesians, that you may know his riches; that you may know your glory, his glory; that you may know the wealth of his love toward you. We started last week in looking at this little section in Ephesians, and we began and really started in verse 3, which is the beginning of that long sentence that goes all the way through verse 14.
If you will, what he does is he praises God for 11 verses, 3 through 14. He just lists the praises that are true of our Father who is in heaven. It was a great passage of study on Father's Day. Then we're going to get to chapter 1, verses 15 through 23, and he goes from a praise, all that is true, to a prayer that you would believe it. A great time to do that song we just did tonight again would be when we begin to study verse 15 because all Paul does is just dumps on you truth.
One of the problems when you're starting to get encouraged by somebody who you think ought to encourage you… Certainly, if God sent one to you, you'd think that person ought to encourage you. Paul was an apostle, as we found out in verses 1-2, of Jesus Christ who was sent to this church and others like it, and he was there to encourage them.
Like most of us who get encouraged a lot by those who God has given us… Maybe it's your pastor. Often, it's your parents. When you get praised by your parents, it feels good for a while, but after a while, you're, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're supposed to say that. You have to say that. You're my mom." You know? "You have to say this haircut looks good when you know it looks terrible. You're my mom."
You know, maybe the church had the same attitude. Paul went on and on and on about how cute they looked at their first day of church, and the people maybe started to tune it out, so Paul wanted to say, "Now listen, I pray you believe what I just told you is true because, if you believe what I just told you, your life would forever change. You would no longer be one who struggles in your wondering what you need to have a life that's filled with hope because you would just go and withdraw from the riches that you already have deposited in Christ."
We started in verse 3 last week, and we saw that very first word blessed means literally to speak well of. It comes from two words, eu and logeo; to speak, which is logos, and eu, which is well…to speak well of. The only one (we looked at last week) who can truly be eulogized, truly spoken well of, is the God of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
We talked about the things this Father had done for us, the Blessed One who had blessed us with every spiritual blessing, every bestowable benefit. That's the idea of blessing right there. When it says that he's given you every blessing, there's nothing that you lack. We went to 1 Peter and looked at that. There's nothing that he could've given that he did not give…every bestowable blessing.
We went from there, and we read further, and we got down to this little place where it said he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and the heavenly places are those places that are not seen. The reason we have hope is because we do not yet see. You no longer hope for what you have.
I do not hope that God will grant me a beautiful wife who will love me and serve me and share life with me and give me children because I have that. It takes nothing to hope it. I have it. In fact, if I went home every day and said, "Oh, I just hope that God gives me a woman someday I can share my love with," I'd come here with two black eyes every week because I'm already experiencing the hope. Some of you guys are deep in hope even as we talk right now, and you're going, "Oh, how I hope."
Really what Paul is saying right here is we have to hope because the true riches we have, have ultimately been deposited not here but in the heavenlies, in the unseeable places, but we know they're there, and there will be a day (Paul writes about it in Romans, chapter 8), when we will hope no more. Hope will not be something we have because we'll be experiencing the full truth of our riches that we already own that by faith we hold onto now in hope.
We have those in heavenly places, and there is one of the first times you have that phrase, in Christ. Our riches are in Christ, and if you are not in Christ, you are in trouble. Now is that narrow? People will all the time ask you, "Hey, is it too narrow, is it too unfair to say that, if a person is not in Christ, they're in trouble?" They'll say, "How arrogant, Christian, for you to say that."
What I always say to people who tell me that I'm narrow when I hold to the fact that there is only one way to God through Jesus Christ and that, in fact, Christianity is not just one of the many ways up the mountain of religion that, when we get there, whether it be through the Buddhist path or the Confucian path or the Muslim path or the Hindu path, ultimately we'll all end up as we spiral up the same mountain and be with the same God…
I say, "No. My Bible says, my Lord says, there is only one way, and unless you walk through this one gate and unless you identify yourself as in this one man, you will fall short of your intended place of rest. You must be in Christ." I say, "Truth is always narrow." You know that truth is narrow.
When you fly in an airplane, you pray you have a narrow pilot, that you believe this pilot thinks it's important that he land on the runway that is assigned to him by the air traffic controller. You believe he thinks it's important to be narrow in his training, that he lands on the two wheels in the back and then the one wheel in the front and not on his wing. You believe that it's important that he believes that truth is narrow and that he lands on the belly and not the back of the plane.
You want to believe that you have a narrow doctor, and when he goes in to remove your kidney, he believes the kidney is always located in the same spot and he doesn't want to start exploring around the Achilles tendon and work his way up. See, truth is always narrow. The question is, "Is it true?" not "Is truth narrow?"
Our society, as you know, is moving more and more away from this idea of there being just one way to do it. They think, "Hey, what you must do is understand that everybody has their own interpretation. Everybody has their own spin on it, and you don't be so dogmatic, so hateful, so bigoted to say your way is the right way." I would say that's okay unless we've been given a divine standard, unless there is a standard, and it makes sense that there is.
I'll say this again. The philosophy of the world has always failed because, although they say we must tolerate all, what they really say is that, "No, we don't tolerate everything. The one thing we don't tolerate is intolerance." Really what they're saying is, "I really want life to be just kind of, 'Let me life on my terms.'"
By the way, if living life on their terms means violating your terms, then you can't infringe on them, but if you're living your way and your terms violate on their terms, then they have a problem. What it's really going to turn into is this Darwinistic idea again of the survival of the fittest, and you will eventually go to war, and the strong will survive.
There will always be a standard. The question is: whose standard will it be? What God says is, "It's going to be my standard. Without my standard, there I will be havoc. There will be constant fighting. It will be constant killing. It will be the way of Cain. When things don't go well, you just go and slaughter that which offends you and get rid of it. If you have a problem, kill it and go for it, and if you get killed, then at least you're out of your misery." The hope of tolerance and acceptance is really a guise that just welcomes you to, eventually, destruction.
Truth is always narrow. What you must decide, if you're out there tonight and you don't believe it's important for you to be in Christ, is not, "Is truth narrow?" and is not "Are Christians bigots?" but "Are Christians right?" I would point you simply to one event in history, which if you can refute, I will walk out of here with you, Bible in hand on the way to a fire. That is the resurrection.
That's why it is the pivot point of our faith, and that is why many a man has come to give themselves to this Jesus who we read about tonight because they studied the resurrection and they found it was not an event in history they could refute or that they could dispose of. In fact, they say there's more evidence for the resurrection than there was that George Washington was the first president of our country, and you don't find many people disputing that.
You find men like Frank Morison, an atheist who wanted to dispel Christianity forever, who went and sought to investigate the resurrection and expose it, and he wanted to write a book mocking all Christians, and in fact, he ended up writing a book called Who Moved the Stone?, the first chapter of which is entitled "The Book That Refused to Be Written." The book is not a testimony of the falsity of the claims of Christ. The book is a testimony of how this man came to trust in Jesus.
You see Josh McDowell, and you see others who did the exact same thing. Paul wrote, "If Christ is not raised from the dead, then we above all men are fools and we above all men are to be pitied." That is why we make a little special note of Easter, because it is the day which reminds us that our hope, which is placed now in the heavenlies, is not in vain, that we will see him again because he no longer sleeps in the tomb but is seated at the right hand of God, and he offers us some things we're going to study tonight.
When you look at what the Scriptures say about in Christ… You know my mother-in-law was visiting me this week, and I tease her all the time because she and her husband are constantly going on cruises. They are the cruising-est people I know. I keep trying to explain to her that these cruises aren't free and that this is infringing upon my inheritance which is surely to come.
I sit, and I talk to her, and I say, "Now Jean, you can't be going on all these cruises. You know, why don't you just go down to Padre and get a hotel room or something. Cruises are a little extravagant." You've seen the tee shirts: "We're Spending Our Daughter's Inheritance" (or our son's inheritance).
It reminds me of a cartoon I saw one time. There was a lawyer, a pompous lawyer who was gathered by a bunch of greedy relatives, and the lawyer was the attorney representing the rich old man who died. They gather, and the lawyer pulls out the will, and the will states this, "I, Art Flakendorfer, being of sound mind and body, spent it all."
See, we don't have that with Christ. What you have, in fact, is this. You have Christ, and what this little passage tells us is you have Christ, who first wrote us into his will. He chose us before the foundations of the world. Actually, God the Father wrote us into his will then, that Christ died that the will might be brought to effect. No will is introduced until the one who wrote the will is dead or deceased.
Our Christ wrote us into that will. He died that the will might be in effect, and then he raised himself from the grave that he might then be an advocate, it says if you will, in heaven, our lawyer, our attorney to make sure the terms of the will are executed properly. That's not a bad in-law to have, one who writes you into the will, then ends his life that you might benefit from what the will would introduce, and then raises himself from the grave to make sure people fulfill what he intended to happen in the will. That is what you have in Christ.
When you see this little phrase, and you're going to see it again and again… In fact, let's just have some fun going through it. You're going to see it sometimes in reference to in Jesus, in Christ, in Lord to his name or his title. Other times, you'll see it with a pronoun or a possessive in him, in whose. Look at some of the things we have here. We've already read what we have in verse 3. "…every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…"
Just in verse 4, it says, "…as He chose us in Him…" Verse 5: "…He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ…" Look at verse 7. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight…" Let's see down there in verse 11, where it says, "…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose…" Let's see. Where is it again? In verse, I think 13, it pops up. Yes, it says, "…you were sealed in Him…" With reference to the Holy Spirit.
You're going to have this reference again and again to the godhead…in him, in Christ, in whose you have been blessed. Now looking at verse 4, we started this idea last week about something which troubles a lot of believers and especially nonbelievers. It's the idea of election. The words in the Scripture you have before you are that he chose you. We began to just kind of dabble in that a little bit.
We want to wrap that up tonight, make it really clear why he has to choose us, give an illustration of it, tell you what you should learn from election, and then sing praises to him for it. The word choosing, the fact that he chose you, might cause you some problems. That has a little bit to do with the way it's translated. Let me give you the way. In the Greek, it's a little clearer. The word translated in the Greek for chose is this. It's chose.
Let me describe it to you. It means he chose you. It was something that he did. There's no other way to go with it. It is that he chose you. You might say, "Well, wait a minute. I have a problem with that. I chose him." I'll say, "Well, you did, but it was after he previously chose you." You might say, "No, I decided for Christ." I'll say, "That's right. You did decide for Christ, after he decided for you."
We're going to look at this, and we're going to talk about election. We're going to get into this idea of foreknowledge more specifically, and we're going to get into the idea of predestination and how it all meshes out. What about this idea of free will? Let me just say this with you. One of the problems with talking about free will of man is that the words free will never appear in your Bible, so it's difficult to be very authoritative about free will.
I will tell you this. The Scriptures do give you attention, and it's attention that, if you miss, you're going to be disobedient to what the Lord calls you for. He makes it clear that he alone is taking the initiative in this relationship, and he makes it clear why that has to be. It's according to the kind intention of his will. It's not according to deeds which we have done in righteousness, as it says in Titus, but it's according to his mercy.
In fact, you're going to look a little bit later with me where it says, "…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" The word grace in Greek is charis. It is the word which we get charity from. What is a charity? It is something you give to that which doesn't deserve it. Guess what you are? The church is God's biggest charity. Grace is getting something you don't deserve. You are a charity. It is charis in the Greek.
We get to this kind of, "Wait a minute. I can't be that bad, can I?" The Scriptures just don't let you off the hook. It just says, "Yes." A guy named George Whitefield used to say, "Left to himself, man is half beast and half devil." Spurgeon came along behind him and said he wondered if both beast and demon were not slandered in that analogy. He talks about the depravity of man. You have illustrations all around you.
If we were not chosen in him… Let me tell you what that means. It means you were chosen in him before the foundations of the world, just like it's written in verse 4. That idea, and Spurgeon said it well last week… We'll repeat him. He said something like, "It's a good thing that God chose me before the world was founded because, if he would've waited until I was here to choose me, he would not have chosen me." That is true.
He says that he chose you in him. See, those were an inseparable thing. Let me tell you this. When God, in his mind, before the world was ever created purposed (we're going to look at this) to join you with his Son, his only begotten, he decided that he would adopt you to the inheritance that only his Son deserved.
In him, you would have, as you took shelter in that Rock of refuge, the psalmist writes, to which we may continually go; as you climbed into that ark to pass away from the coming judgment; as he wed you to him, he chose you in Christ; as you covered yourself there in his blood, you received his work, his righteousness, his riches, his right standing before God.
Nowhere do the Scriptures simplify the mystery of election. It just kind of leaves it out there. I would tell you to beware those who do simplify it. It's one of those things that is far out there, far beyond anything we can comprehend. It makes sense to me that my God can do that which I cannot comprehend.
One guy said this. "Theorizing about God this way is like an isosceles triangle trying to theorize the Great [Pyramids of Egypt] into the two dimensions of the printed page." What he means is this. An isosceles triangle…all it can think of is the two dimensions of black and white, just what's on a piece of paper. It knows it's an isosceles triangle. It says, "All triangles and all things of this shape must look like me. If I am an image of what the Great Pyramids are, then the Great Pyramids cannot be three dimensions because I'm only two dimensions."
It would be just as futile for us to try and limit God to our understanding as it is for an isosceles triangle slapped on a piece of paper to try and theorize the Great Pyramids of Egypt. They can't do it, and we can't do it. It is one of those things that is hidden forever, and the Scriptures never try and simplify it for us. It just lets us dwell in the mystery of it.
It says that you are in Christ. That's a better place to be than where you formerly were. Where you formerly were, the Scriptures say, is in Adam. Paul does a lot of writing on this in Romans, chapter 5. In Adam, see, what you were is a child who was identified with rebellion. In Adam, you were a son and a daughter who incurred the full judgment of God that was going to come.
One expositor said it this way, "In Adam, you little bird, have fallen from the nest. You cannot get back. Not only can you not get back, but you don't want to get back." Salvation is not you drowning and God throwing you a life preserver. Salvation, the Scripture says, is you drowning and not believing in water, not even believing in getting wet, and not believing it matters, and you're a little ticked off that some guy keeps crowning you in the head with a life preserver. That's salvation.
According, it says, to his glorious grace, God saw to it that those who he chose before the foundation of the world in Christ would come. It says that, all that he gave to Christ, he would lose not one. When you understand how far God went to you… I told you a story last week about a little boy who the elders ask how he got saved. He said, "I did my part, and Jesus did his part," and the elders thought they had him. I'll repeat it again because it's worth doing.
They said, "Well, what was your part?" He said, "My part was sinning, and then my little legs ran as fast as they could as far as they could, and my rebellious heart tried to hide from him, and he found me." See, another little boy was asked, "Hey, how'd you find God?" He goes, "I didn't find God. God found me. God wasn't lost. I was lost."
The Scriptures make it really clear, and catch this. Where most people have a hard time with election is that they go, "Now wait a minute. Why did he choose some and not choose everybody?" That is the wrong question. The question is: why did he choose any? Again, there's the illustration I wrapped up with last week about the idea of a person coming here and seeing these people who are dying. They're limping. They're losing their hair. They're wearing glasses.
He says, "Who are these people, and what's happening to them." I say, "They're dying." Then he says of these people again, "Well, wait a minute. Where are these people going?" I'll say, "They're going to the heavenlies to be seated at the right hand of God because that God loved them and sent his only Son to die on the cross for their sins that they might freely receive all the riches that go with Christ."
He would say to me, "Wait a minute. That must be an amazing group of people. They must have cried out for a number of years for God to send his Son." To which I would say, "No, they didn't. They blasphemed his name. They mocked him. They cursed him, and he came anyway." To which the person would respond, "Great is the God of the Christian." To which they would respond with verse 6: "…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Do you see what election does? What election does is it puts you in the right place. It puts you below half beast and half demon, and it makes you fully despicable in the sight of God because here's the truth. The truth is not that men are generally good moving toward God, and they can't just quite get there unless God grabs their hand and pulls a few over the rest of the way.
A truer picture of who we are is that it says in Romans 3 that no man seeks God. Jesus himself said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…" That means that you guys are not just neutral toward Christ, that I'm not just neutral toward Christ. I am antagonistic toward him and to submitting to him, and I want to flee from him, but God loved me. He chose me. He called me out from is what it means. He selected from. See, the question again is not: why did he choose some? The question is: why did he choose any?
I don't know that response, and more than that, I don't know why he chose me, but I know he did because the scales have fallen off my eyes. I have turned to him in faith. I have asked his Son to be the provision for my sins, which he said would put me then in Christ by faith and through his grace and that I would then get the riches that are due me as one who he chose before the foundations of the world. How much credit do I get for that? I get none.
I don't lie in bed at night and go, "Son, I am brilliant. I've figured this out." I lie in bed at night, and when I hear the sirens outside my door and I hear the gunshots and I go outside and the swing is stolen and the garage is graffitied, I don't go, "Why aren't these guys as intelligent as I am? How come they haven't figured out what Christ has done for them?" I am humbled to believe that the reason I do not go the same route is because, before the world was ever created, he chose me. Why do I believe that? That's what the text says.
The question is not: Is that too narrow? Is that too difficult for me? The question is: Is it true? It says, "…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless…" Do you know what that means? It means you weren't always holy and blameless. It means you were unholy and blamable, but in him, you became holy and blameless.
Even before you were ever here, you were not holy and blameless. God, if you will, knew we would rebel against him. He knew the cost of creating us, and he did it anyway, and we're going to find out the reason he did it is going to come up. We're going to find out, it says, "In love He predestined us…"
Let me show you one other thing, though. The exciting thing about this is that it says that he chose us that we should be holy and blameless, not because we would be holy and blameless or not because we were holy and blameless but so that we might be, that we could be, that a self-centered people would become other-centered again to the praise of his glorious grace.
Matthew 5:16: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." And praise him that God would take self-centered humanity, seeking out comfort and selfish provision, and turn them and turn their hearts so they would not look to raise up themselves but to serve others. Is that what marks us as a church? Is that what marks us as a people? See, he has called us for that purpose.
Now by the way, this is not an exhortative text right here, where it says that he called you, chose you that you should be holy and blameless. This is not an exhortation here. That comes in chapter 4. What this is, is doctrine. This is a statement of fact. When it says that you should be holy and blameless before him, that is three words in the Greek. Basically, it means this. There are three words. One means down. One means in, and one means to look.
That's the way the before him is translated. It means down, in, and to look. It basically means this when you put the words together, that you should be holy and blameless before him when he looks down into your deepest recesses of your soul, that he would not see one who he wants to judge, that he would not see one who he wants to destroy but that he would see one who is holy and blameless. Why? You are in him, and he sees not you but the work of Christ because you are in his riches, you are in his work, you are in his blessing, you are covered in his blood. You are adorned, if you will.
The righteous works of the saints are really the righteous works of Christ. We do what we can, if you will, to add to it, but all that adding to is nothing more than expression of our thanks. Let me say it again. There is not a command that appears in the first chapter of this book. All it is, is a lavishing praise on you, and when it says you should be holy and blameless before him, he chose you that he'd see you this way because he knows that, if he didn't determine that would happen, he'd never do it, and he'd have to judge you.
He chose you to be righteous, holy, and blameless before him. It says, "In love He predestined…" Now that word right there, predestined, comes from two words, pro and horizo. Horizo is where we get the word in English, horizon, from. It means to mark out or to set boundaries. When you go out and you look as far as you can see, your eyes can only see to a certain point.
There is a boundary, and you call that the horizon. Then pro means before. He says that he predetermined a boundary. That means he made a boundary. You're going to find out that, before, in Romans 8… In fact, flip there to Romans 8 with me because it's going to get another idea. Turn back to your left. You're going to find out what he predestined you toward.
By the way, the idea of predestination in our Scripture is only used when it applies to the chosen. You never find predestination as it is applied to those who are not of the elect. It is only those who are chosen that God proorizō that God predetermines or sets out boundaries. I'll tell you about some boundaries God may have used in your life that he might bring you to adoption as sons.
Look what it says in Romans 8:28, a very familiar verse. It says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…" If you will, those who have confidence in God. "…to those who are called according to His purpose." That's the same idea, those who are chosen out from according to the purpose of God.
Now catch this. In verse 29: "For those whom He foreknew…" That word is the word proginōskō. We say, "Prognosis." It is the word which means before having knowledge. It is a predetermined love. A predetermined purpose. It is synonymous in many ways with proorizō, where he marks out certain things because he's decided certain things, and the two of those work together because he foreknew you. He determined before the foundation of the world.
Again, those who make foreknowledge simply the fact that God found out in the future who would choose him and he chose them and called it foreknowledge, those who believe that God shot a bunch of arrows against the barn and went and painted bull's-eyes around them and called that foreknowledge, those who find out what you would say about God and rubber stamped that and called that election mock what God intends for us to get when he shows us what election is.
We are a rebellious people who choose to mock him, to blaspheme him, to run away from him as far as our little rebellious hearts and feet will take us, and he woos us back. What he does is he proorizō. He predetermines certain events in your life that would cause you to come to the truth that is your need.
Some of you came through a heartbreaking relationship. Some of you came simply through the preaching of the Word, that he would have you in a place where you would hear the gospel, or maybe you grew who up in a family where your mother and dad loved you in such a way that you believed there was a God in heaven who died or thought, "There's no way my parents could treat me the way they do because I know my friends' parents don't treat them that way," so that was one of the proorizō God used in your life to bring you to him.
For others of you, it was through financial disaster. For some of you, it was through sickness. Whatever it might have been, if you are part of the elect, part of the foreknown, part of those who are called according to his purpose, God used something to bring you to him, and apart from God using that and calling you, you would not have come.
Look what it says back there in Romans 8. It says, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…" In other words, that many would follow after Christ and be righteous and blameless, holy and blameless before God. "…and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified…" Meaning made right legally before him "…and these whom He justified, He also glorified."
It is so sure, our hope, Paul says, that he writes this in the past tense. It is a done deal. Where is all this? Most of it is in the heavenlies. It is positionally there, and we are in the process of progressively working it out and becoming more like Christ now, but we know it says in Colossians, "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
In other words, you will look like him finally on this day. Because you already have the fullness of his riches and you already are adopted as his son, but you hope for the day when this is actualized. Today, what you do is you progressively, through the power of his Spirit, conform more and more to his image, and one day, you will be positionally completely in Christ and completely without sin and holy and blameless, not just in truth but also in experience today.
Go back to Ephesians. The idea that he predestined you was for this purpose, that he might bring you into the fullness of the riches which he chose for you to experience. Again, this is difficult, and all I want to say to you is that it's what the Scriptures teach. We'll try and show you why. "…He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…"
We often think God had to do this, that he did it out of justice. He did not save you out of justice. He did not save me because he should. He saved me according to his mercy. Titus 3:5 simply says this. "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…" Then it says, "…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…" Which means he made me new, that I might not be unholy and blamable, but I would be holy and blameless.
See, I was one who said, "If I was not made new again, if I was not born again, if I was not made alive in the Spirit by the work of a new covenant which was introduced by the blood of Christ (all that truth which has gone right over my head, which it did mine so many times, and it continues to be something I wrestle with), how did he do this? Why did he do it? Why did he choose me?"
The question is not: why did he not choose somebody else? The question is: why did he choose me? You see, God is not obligated to save one, and he saves many. What we do is we kick and scream at him.
Here's an analogy for you. If there was a guy who came in here tonight and said to us, "Listen, it is not good for you to play with gasoline and matches. I would discourage you from pouring it on yourself and pouring it around this building and then having a match fight like a third grader." Then we went, "You know, it really doesn't matter if we have a match fight or pour gasoline or drink gasoline, for that matter. Thanks for coming, but please walk back across the street to that fire department."
Then he left, and we just got into a wild brawl, throwing gas on each other, mocking truth, licking matches, saying, "What an idiot that guy must be!" All of a sudden, up in flames we went. Now how many of us deserve to have that guy risk his life to come back in here and save us? Not a one. We have chosen to rebel against what we know to be true, and the Scriptures make it clear that all men know there was a standard because they violated it in their own conscience.
They have never seen the law. They may have never seen God's Bible, but we know what's right and wrong. It's burned in our hearts. That is why, in every society in the world, if you walk up to greet somebody and they say, "Hi, my name is Antonio Plavita," and you go, "Hey!" and deck him and drop him right there, they're going to go, "Wait a minute. That's not acceptable in our culture."
If you go down to Guatemala, and you walk around the huts and the houses down there, and you walk around, and you're kind of hungry, and you just think, because you're a visitor, you can just go over and slaughter Herb's goat or Bill's chicken, they're going to go, "You know, that's not acceptable in our culture."
In fact, there's not a culture in the world where it's acceptable for you to kill another man's animal without his permission. There's not a culture in our world where it's acceptable for you to go up and inflict harm when harm is not deserved. Why? God has given us all a sense of right or wrong. The question is not: is there right and wrong? The question is: where do you want to draw the boundaries? God draws them very specifically.
If we mock his revealed truth, not a single one of us deserve to be saved. If that fireman would come in this room and he would sit and he would look and he would choose to save some, he'd have to make a decision. We'd be all burned, and we'd be all marshmallows waiting to be kept in the fire so long we drop and are gone, but he'd have to save some. He'd come. It's his job. That's what he was created to do. That's what he was trained to do.
He would come in here, and he would pull out some of these foolish, rebellious pyromaniacs. He'd get them out there in the street and resuscitate them, and when he'd come out, not a single person would go, "You idiot! What did…? Why did you choose him? For what reason did you save him? Do you know there are over 600 people in that room right now? Who are you to go in there and choose these seven and save them?"
The question would not be: why did you not choose the other 593? The question would be: why did you choose any? They deserved death. They were idiots. They rebelled against all knowledge, wisdom, and truth. That's us, yet God loves us enough to sacrifice even his own Son in saving us from the fire, that in him we might have life. You see? You know what that does? That moves you to verse 6, and that's where we stop this week.
That makes you go, "Why did he do it?" He did it for one reason. "…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" That people would go, "Great is the God of the Christian." Let me give you four things that election teaches you. First, election produces in you humility, gratitude, and worship. See, there is no such thing as a proud Christian. In Corinthians, Paul writes this. "What do you have that you did not receive?" Nothing. He says in another place he writes, "If you want to boast, boast in Christ."
See, if you understand election… The people who really struggle with it are folks who kind of think, "You know, hey, God didn't choose me. I'm just working my way to be good enough for him." That's real pride, that you think you could ever do something long enough, well enough that God would go, "I need that man in my kingdom." A humble man goes, "There's nothing that would ever earn me God's favor. Except by his mercy, his charis, his charity toward me, he adopts me as his son."
What should that produce in you? A humility toward those who mock you, a humility toward those who hate you, a humility toward those who steal from you. It should invoke in you a gratitude toward God that, in everything, you give thanks, believing that you don't know how it works out, you don't love the circumstances but you love the one who is sovereign behind them, and you worship him. The second thing election should do is election should create absolute security.
A question people ask all the time is: wait a minute, you know, is it true that, once saved, you're always saved? I don't like that phrase, by the way, too much, but it's true. I'd say it a different way. If God does a work in your life and you respond to that work and you trust in Jesus Christ and by faith believe that his grace is going to do a work in you through the blood of Jesus Christ, then you are saved, and it is evidenced as you then begin to have that truth take root in your life and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, that he chose you before the foundation of the world.
If he chose you, he says that, "All the Father has given me, I lose not one." Ephesians 1:3-6 says, "You are secure because the Father sovereignly selected you." You are secure because the Son sacrificially died for you. He sacrificially saved you. You were sovereignly selected. You were sacrificially saved, and you are finally secure because, as we're going to find out in verses 13-14, you are certainly sealed by the Holy Spirit.
Do you know what election does? It removes forever the question of whether or not you can lose your salvation. It's not yours. It's God's work that you've responded to. There's a tension. Catch this because you're to respond to it. You kind of go, "Wait a minute. How do I catch that? How does it nix it? I'm going to go, "The Bible never relieves that tension. It draws you to your knees in worship."
It tells you to respond to the offer of love that God tonight through charis, through charity to you, offers you. The question is: will you accept it? I don't know whether you're one of the elect or not. It's not my business to find out. God never tells me. He just tells me that the one, the God who sovereignly selects… Actually, I'll give you the third thing it does. Election does not remove evangelism.
It's the same God who sovereignly ordains the means who ordains the method. I'll repeat what I quoted from Spurgeon last week. He said something like, "If I believed what you believe, that God elects some and does not elect others and leaves them to their own course and does not determine the boundaries that they might turn back tho him… If I believed what you believe, I would not preach like you preach." Spurgeon was a zealous preacher, calling all men to come to Jesus, which is what I'm going to do tonight.
See, the Scriptures never give you the opportunity to say, "I'm not one of God's elect." It just says, "Come, all who are weary, and I'll give you rest." The same God who sanctions the means, election, is the one who sanctions the method, the preaching of the Word, because how can they believe unless they hear. How can they have faith unless they hear God's Word? That's why he says, "Go tell them God's Word, that they might us this method to accomplish salvation, and the means of that is not going to be anything you do. It's going to be what I do as I work efficaciously in their lives."
The third thing that election does is it does not remove evangelism, and the fourth thing is that election evokes responsibility. Election evokes responsibility. We're going to get, when we get to chapter 4… All this being true, that you should be holy and blameless, is going to go then from the doctrinal truth to the exhortative text, where he says, "You should be holy and blameless."
Second Peter 1:10 says this. "Make your choosing, your calling and election, sure." Why? If God has called you and elected you, it says, "You will have this happen." If he has put his seed in you, then you will bear his fruit. Peter exhorts them in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verse 10, to make your calling and election sure, and what election should do when you realize it is, if you're one of the elect and you claim to know Jesus Christ, then you should begin to look like one who has been elected.
You're always elected to a purpose in the Scripture. The purpose you have been elected for is for the cause of his glorious grace, that you might worship him and that others might glorify him as they see you change. All the riches we have and all the truths of election and predestination and foreknowledge that are out there are difficult for us, for sure.
The Scriptures throw them out, and they say, "If you understand this, you'll be humble. You'll be worshipful. You'll be grateful. You'll be secure in Christ. You'll know there's no way the flood can get to you because you're in the ark that God has given you to deliver you from the wrath that is sure to come, that in Jesus, you have riches.
It will make you one who is quick to go out and share this opportunity for some to be saved from the destruction they've already lit by hiding in the same Jesus you're in. It will then spur you on to work out your salvation with fear and trembling that you may not lose the reward which waits, that you would make your calling and election sure."
We're going to close just with singing this song that talks about the fact that this Jesus is the one who we're excited about, that being in Christ is incredible. The offer of love that he's given us to be in him is something we ought to respond to. Let's pray, and then we'll sing to the praise of his glorious grace.
Father, thank you for the truth that's out there, and it is awkward. Admittedly, this is not something that makes a lot of people feel comfortable, but we do know this. It makes sense that there is nothing that man, once he has chosen to turn from you… All of us have. Whether it be in Adam or in our own minds, we've all turned from you. There is none that does righteousness, not one. All of us, like sheep, have turned astray.
Each of us has turned to his own way, but we thank you that the Lord has caused the inequity of us all to fall on him, Christ, the Son, the Beloved in whom we have been redeemed (which we are going to study next week and all that it means). Because of that, Father, we have been given a hope that, one day, what you have said is absolutely true in the heavenlies now will be true in our experience then.
May we be so convinced of the doctrine, the logic of it, the grandeur of it, the mystery of it, the humility which it evokes in us of it, that we only get to chapter 3 at the very end of it and respond, "What can we do in response to a God who loves us this much, who saves us from certain deserved destruction?"
May we then respond full of grace and truth, desiring to live our lives in any way in response to thanks back to you. We thank you for what Christ has done in our lives, that he has chosen us. We don't know why. We just confess we don't deserve it, and we give praise to your glorious name because we've received your gift of charity to us. In Christ's name, amen.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 1:1 through Ephesians 2:22.