Almost all of the problems with our theology come from having either too high a view of man or too low a view of God. Through the story of King David's undeserved kindness to Mephibosheth, we see a picture of our heavenly Father, who shows us even greater undeserved kindness. Will you place all of your trust in His grace?
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
We purposely have slowed down. We've really covered just six verses so far in four weeks. The reason is because we really wanted to deal with that issue. It would be so easy to blow over some of the words we've come across. I wanted to wrestle with them, show there's nothing to be afraid of.
There are some mysteries we can't solve. What that does is drive us deeper into love with our Lord and gives us security knowing we were sovereignly selected, sacrificially saved, and certainly sealed. It gives us an attitude of humility and worship. It gives us a great responsibility. It gives us a great obligation. We've looked at that, and we've got this thing as much under control as I think we can, this whole idea of God's calling and choosing us.
Let's pray, and then we're going to dive into an illustration. We're going to look at a few verses as way of review in Ephesians, and then we're going to give you an illustration of this in Scripture. Then we're going to pick up our pace as we move through Ephesians in the weeks to come. Pray with me that God's Word might be made known to us.
Father, thank you that you have not left us up here just to create wisdom for ourselves, but you have intervened in our world. You have used fallible man, and you have supernaturally worked with him without somehow violating his will to create a book that is sovereign and perfect.
You, being a God who can do what he wills, by very definition, have allowed us to have a book that is inerrant, that has been brought down through the ages, that is reliable and accurate, that science and archaeology and all the wisdom of men can only bow before in wonder and awe. We thank you that it is our privilege now to study that text and to see the glory of your truth which is hidden within. In Christ's name, amen.
In Ephesians, chapter 1, we're going to take a look at a couple of verses, like I said, that you've already read. Then we'll dive out to an illustration in the Scripture that I think will encourage us somewhat. There are really two errors men make. I shared with you that I was in Colorado with a couple of my friends about two weeks ago. While we were there and we got into discussions about spiritual things, again and again we'd come across a couple of areas where they were making a foundational mistake.
The mistakes always could be grouped in one of two places. They either had a too-high view of man or a too-low a view of God. Whenever you find somebody who struggles with the truth and the necessity of the blood of Christ on the cross, you're going to find those men struggle and those women struggle for one of two reasons.
They either think God isn't that holy, he's not that good, he's not that righteousness, he is not that offended at our sin, or they think we are not that bad, that corrupt, that depraved that we can't do a little bit to mend our wound and then find ourselves in good health before him. We're going to look at an example in the Scriptures today that shows us that, clearly, we are severely flawed. We cannot simply put a few stitches in, be healthy, and go on.
We're going to find out that we are not dealing with a normal one. He's a Sovereign one. We're going to have an easier time understanding that we're flawed than that he's great. The analogy that presents itself in the Scriptures that we'll look at today will use some terms that can at least visualize with us, that can cause us to empathize with the fact that men are not able to help themselves.
We're going to look at another analogy, another word. It's going to be a reference to a king. In America, we have a hard time with the idea of kingship. We often scoff at the idea of king. We elect our kings. If we don't like our king, we get rid of him every four years. We don't even have a king. It was anathema to our founding fathers.
They wanted to make Washington king; he wanted nothing to do with it. Our founding fathers then said, "We don't need a king to rule over us. We don't want a king. We want men who we can put in place. If we don't like them, we can get rid of them." We don't have the understanding and the benefit of the English mindset.
Those of you who saw the movie Braveheart saw the loyalty, the blind loyalty, the English had to the wicked King Richard and the things they would do because he was king, because he was the sovereign one. The things men would do to serve the king. We don't understand that you cannot come before a king's presence unless he summons you. To do so was a death sentence. When you appeared before the king without him willing you in his presence, you were done. Killed.
We have a hard time with that in America. We don't understand that. It is a foreign concept to me. I see them as a man, as I am, not as some noble because of his blood that makes him more right than me. In the Old Testament, we have a king. The people of Israel understood what it meant to have a king. We lose some of the thrill of that analogy because we elect and de-elect, or vote out, our king.
I am reminded of a scene in a movie which I saw before I trusted in Christ, and now I can go back and glimpse at every now and then. It's Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a movie I have to qualify like that, lest you decide I shouldn't be up here tonight. There is a part in that movie where King Arthur and his court are going along.
I love it because they are sitting there, and they come across these peasants. King Arthur asks where a certain castle is. The peasants kind of start to argue with him about why in the world they should pay him homage. He said, "I am your king." The person sitting there, the peasant, looks up and goes, "Why are you my king? I didn't vote for you."
King Arthur says, "We don't vote for a king. You just are one." The peasant said, "All right, then, I'm king." He didn't quite have the concept and frustrated King Arthur. That's a lot like we are. You go, "Okay, you're not voted into kingship. You just are one." "All right, then. I'm king." We all sometimes act like that. We're going to see that most of the mistakes we make in our theology, in our view of God, in how we can get right with him, come because we either have too-high a view of man or too-low a view of God.
In Ephesians there are four points I want to remind us of that will then make our way back to this illustration that's in the Scriptures. It's one of my favorites. What I did on the way to Colorado and back, and while I was up there, is I read through the life of Saul and David. I spent my time in 1 and 2 Samuel and was reminded of this great story. I want to dig in there with you tonight.
Here's what we have. There are a couple of things I'll remind you of. If you'll look in chapter 1 of Ephesians, let's start in verse 4 because there you'll see it. You're going to find these things. Watch the truth that has come true in Jesus Christ. You're going to see a type of that, an indication, a foreshadowing, of that in the story in the Old Testament.
Look what it says in verse 4. "…He chose us in Him…" Remember that. When did he choose us? "…before the foundation of the world, that we would be…" Here's the second part. "…holy and blameless before Him." I told you, that is not a command for how you should act. It is a statement of what God did. He made you, who were unholy and blame-able, holy and blameless in his sight because he hid you in him.
" In love He predestined us…" Here's the third. "…to adoption as sons…" How? "…through Jesus Christ to Himself…" Then here's the way he did it. "…according to the kind intention of His will…" Remember these phrases because you're going to see these very things happening in a word picture, or in an analogy of life, in the Old Testament. "…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Here's what I want you to catch in verse 7. Some new stuff. It says, "In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." Have we sung about that tonight? Just a little bit. "…the riches of His grace." It's through his blood.
The liberals would tell you it's through his teaching. That is not what you have in the Scriptures. It's not just through his teaching and being obedient to it, and that Christ was just a good man who said some good things and those who follow him will be a part of his caste system, will generally be like him, be accepted, and go where he said he wanted them to go.
That is not how the Scriptures say we are made right before God. It says we are redeemed, we have gained redemption, through his blood. Now some people are highly offended by that phrase through his blood. "Why is it so necessary for you guys to get there and talk about blood and someone innocent dying? That's such a negative thought."
A lady walked up to G. Campbell Morgan, a great preacher, once time and said that to him. She said, "I'm highly offended by this idea of blood and the necessity of shed blood. Why is such an awful thing talked about so often by you clergy?" He responded by saying, "I would agree with you that the shedding of blood is an awful thing. What makes it awful is the reason it had to happen. It's because of your and my sin. That's what's ugly, not the shed blood. It's the thing that caused innocent blood to be shed."
There was a guy who took a church in Washington DC. A couple walked up to him and said, "You're not going to preach too much about the blood, are ya? That last guy, that's all he talked about." The preacher looked at them and said, "No. There is no way I will preach too much about the blood." They walked away pleased until he stopped them about 10 steps away. He said, "My man, my sweet young friends, you understand that would be impossible for me to speak too much of the blood?"
You can't underestimate the significance, you can't overstate the sufficiency of, you cannot over-highlight the need for, the innocent blood that was shed. It takes you right back to the very first thing John the Baptist said. When he saw Jesus Christ he said , "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
If you remember, the very first lamb that was slain in the history of Israel was in Egypt. It was the Passover lamb. All who hid behind the blood of the Passover lamb, the judgment of God, death, passed over them. The firstborn of all who did not hide behind the blood of the lamb died. If you remember what we did, the picture of Passover is so crystal clear. I'm encouraged every time I'm reminded by it.
There was a door basin outside every little Jewish home in the nation of Egypt while they were imprisoned there in slavery. They slaughtered the little lamb they had outside the doorway, and the blood rushed into the door basin, the little doorwell, so it wouldn't rush into the home. So that rain would not rush into the home, there was a doorwell there.
The father would go out with a hyssop branch, a little bushy shrub, and he would dip the branch in the blood. It said that he put it first over the mantle. Then it says he re-dipped it, and he put it on the right post and then on the left post. Thousands of years before it was even a means of death. Thousands of years before another Lamb would come and would shed his blood on a shape in the same shape the Hebrew father made, in the shape of a cross. As he went out and marked on his door, he didn't even know it.
A little picture, in God's sovereignty, he was putting in the minds of the Jewish people, that there will be a Lamb who you can hide behind. That the curse of death, the judgment of God, will pass over for all who are…what? Who are in the blood. You have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, the freedom from our trespasses, according to the greatness and the riches of all his grace.
Let me show you an illustration of this in the text. Flip with me way back to the Old Testament to 1 Samuel. The very first place I want you guys to get with me is in chapter 20 of 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel 20, there's a guy named David whom we're going to become very familiar with in our little bit of our run through of these two books tonight.
David has a buddy named Jonathan. You are going to watch what Jonathan does. Jonathan was giving up the kingdom in this little story right here. He was giving up a kingdom for the sake of a friend. What happens is Jonathan and David enter into a covenant. Jonathan was the son of the king. He was heir to the throne of Saul.
Jonathan loved David. It says their friendship was deep. It said their love for each other was like that of, and David said greater than, a love of a woman because it was so pure. It was so intense. It is not a verse speaking of the acceptance of and that David and Jonathan were homosexuals. It was saying these two men shared a love that was so pure, so selfless, that David said, "Your love to me has been better than the love of a woman." It's a very high complement, coming from one who loved women like David did, all right?
What he's saying right here is, "Jonathan, you have been a faithful friend to me." Jonathan and David were in a discussion. David said, "Your father seeks my destruction. Your father wants to kill me." Jonathan said, "No! He can't want to kill you. There's nothing you've done except sooth him when he gets these headaches and when he gets tormented by evil as a result of the life he lived. There's no way my father could hate you."
David said, "I tell you, it's so. What I want you to do is go and sit before your father's table. If he speaks evil of me, if he's angered when I'm not there, tell him the reason I'm not there is because I've gone back to offer sacrifices with my family. If he is angry, it's because he intended to kill me. You must get word to me." It says in 1 Samuel 20, right here, that Jonathan and David entered into a covenant with each other.
When men would enter into a covenant, there were a number of different covenants in the Old Testament, but there was always some shedding of blood. The most common covenant was a covenant that involved these men who would take an animal, and they'd split the animal in half. I think I've shared this with you before. They'd put one half of the animal on one side, and the other half on the other side. The men would walk through the animal in the shape of a figure eight.
Those of you who are into math understand now, when you take an eight and you lay it on its side, when you study calculus, that is a sign for infinity. It is an eternal thing that will not end. What David and Jonathan did through this covenant they entered into with each other is they said, "I will be faithful to you to the very end. If I break this covenant which I have made before you, may what happened to this animal happen to me. May God split me in half if I'm not true to my word." Let's read what their agreement was. David says in verse 8 of chapter 20,
"Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is iniquity in me, put me to death yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father? And Jonathan said, 'Far be it from you! For if I should indeed learn that evil has been decided by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell you about it?'
Then David said to Jonathan, 'Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?' And Jonathan said to David, 'Come, and let us go out into the field.' So both of them went out to the field." They made an arrangement. Part of that arrangement ended up with this: Jonathan was going to say to David, "I have a way I will let you know if my father intends evil upon you." Look what happens in verse 14. Jonathan says, "And if I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the LORD, that I may not die?"
What Jonathan was saying is, "If you, indeed, are to be king, and I believe you are because Samuel anointed you, there's going to be a day when what you ought to do is kill the sons of your rival, who will be all the heirs to Saul, all his descendants." Jonathan is saying, "Hey, listen. I'm going to preserve your life. I'm going to let you know if the king wants to kill you, but when you're king, will you remember me and show lovingkindness to me?" He says in verse 15,
"And you shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, 'May the LORD require it at the hands of David's enemies.' And Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life."
Now catch this. There are a few pictures that are going on here. Jonathan and David enter into a covenant. David promises to be kind to all who are related to Jonathan because of the covenant David and Jonathan entered into. Notice this: Jonathan forsook a kingdom because of his love for a friend. Are you starting to see some pictures that are going to become crystal clear here?
Flip with me to 2 Samuel. There's going to be a story that begins to unfold where Saul's kingdom is unraveling. In 2 Samuel, chapter 4, you have the death of Saul, which has already happened at the end of 1 Samuel, and now there's kind of a struggle as to who is going to take Saul's place. One of Saul's sons was a guy by the name of Ish-bosheth. Ish-bosheth literally means man of shame. Ish is man. Bosheth is shame. Man of shame, it means.
Read chapter 4, verse 1, with me. It says, "** Now when Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died in Hebron…" Abner was the captain of Saul's guard. It is like when you kill the commander of the troops, the troops go in disarray. One of the descendants of Saul, one of the men who was potentially an heir to the throne, when he heard the commander of his father's army had been killed… It says,"…he lost courage, and all Israel was disturbed."**
What happens in verse 2 through verse 3 is some men go and they think, "Okay. What we have to do is make friends with one who probably is going to be the one who takes the kingdom. It's going to be David. They come, and they kill Ish-bosheth. All who now are a part of Saul's heritage are concerned for their lives because they see men are starting to bump them off in order to gain favor with this new man, David, who many think is going to be king.
Look what happens in verse 4. It says, "Now Jonathan, Saul's son…" Who had been killed in battle with Saul. "…had a son crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth."
Ish-botsheth means man of shame. Mephibosheth means he scatters shame. You're going to find a picture of yourself in one whose name means shame is scattered, that shame has been scattered from you because of who you're related to. Mephibosheth, whose name means he scatters shame, had become lame.
Why? Is it anything he did? No. Mephibosheth became lame because of the sin, the wicked dealings, of one whom he was related to by no choice of his own, Saul. People were panicked all around him, so his nurse picked him up. In her hurry to flee, she tripped, probably falling on the child (health care being what it was 3,000 years before Christ), crushed the child's legs, and he never could walk again. He was unable to care for himself.
You have a man who is now suffering. Some people struggle, by the way, with this idea. How are you going to relate to Mephibosheth in much the same way? We are people who are born into sin, the Scriptures tell us. I'm going to go ahead and dig right into the deep problem parts. People say, "That's not fair that I suffer because of a decision of Adam."
In Genesis, chapter 1, verse 25, it says Adam, like all other creatures, is going to produce according to his kind. When God made Adam, he did not make him a sinful being, but Adam chose to rebel against God. Because of the law of creation, that each creature produces after its kind, everybody who came from Adam was like Adam.
Adam was our federal representative. In Adam, we fell. Some people really have a hard time with that. You go, "You mean to tell me I'm going to suffer because I was in Adam? That because sin came through Adam, I am now a sinful being?" I will tell you that's exactly what the Scriptures teach.
I'll just share this with you. When I talk to friends, or when I'm sharing the gospel with people, I don't tell them the reason they're going to stand before God in judgment is because they're made and produced in likeness to Adam. They're going to be one who is born with a sin nature, and so they must be judged.
That's true, but what I'll say to them is, "Let's just let Adam alone for a second. Let's leave him out of the picture. Have you, individually, chosen to rebel against God? Have you ever made a decision or thought a thought that was not pleasing to God, or had an attitude that was not pleasing to him?" I've never met anybody who said, "No." I don't need to drag in this idea of Adam's representing them, although it is true.
We are born with a sin nature. It says in Romans 3 (like I told you in the weeks before) that there is none who seeks after God, not even one. There is none who would choose to escape the fire. We scoff at God. We are not drowning, and God throws us a life buoy and we grab onto it. Like I said, we're drowning. We don't care. We're angry that God keeps hitting us in the head with things to save us. We don't believe in water. We don't believe in drowning. We don't care. We are depraved.
There is not a single person who really does good. We'll do acts that, at different times, we go, "That's generally nice. That's generally good," but in comparison to a holy God, we just don't cut it. What I don't do with people, though, is try and convince them that the reason they're going to come under judgment is because they are a descendant of Adam. I let them pronounce their own judgment. They, themselves, have chosen evil.
The truth is it's because they're related to one whom they had no choice. This is important because when you get to Romans 5, you're going to see you're also related to another Christian through which you have no choice. He also chose you. His name is Jesus. The first Adam gave you an inheritance that led to death. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, gives you a heritage which leads to life.
Look what happens. Mephibosheth, who was a son of a wicked man who he died and suffered as a result of that, is now lame. Turn with me to chapter 7 of 2 Samuel. We're not going to read it but to tell you this: There is an eternal covenant God makes with the house of David. He says, "David, forever I will see to it that your kingdom persists, and that one day there will be one who is a descendant of yours, who will reign forever."
You'll find that's one of the reasons that in Matthew you find the genealogy of Jesus Christ traced right back to David. He was from the line of Judah. He is a son of David, and he has the right to reign in Jerusalem. He will be the one who fulfills this covenant which appears in 2 Samuel 7, which is called the Davidic covenant. He will reign forever. His kingdom will never end.
Look at what happens to David. Remember what Jonathan said? "When your kingdom becomes great, and there are no enemies before David, remember me." Let me show you in chapter 8 what David had done. Look at verse 1. It says he defeated the Philistines. Look at verse 2. He defeated Moab. He defeated Hadadezer, the king of Zobah, in verse 3. In verse 5, it says he defeated the Arameans. In verse 9, it says he defeated the king of Hamath.
It says up there in verse 13, "So David made a name for himself when he returned from killing 18,000 Arameans in the Valley of Salt." Now verse 14 of chapter 8 in 2 Samuel. It says, "And he put garrisons in Edom. In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the LORD helped David wherever he went." In verse 15: "…and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people."
Had David's kingdom expanded? Yes. In this little chapter, in chapter 8, you have the kingdom of Israel expanding from 6,000 square miles to 60,000 square miles. That's a pretty significant growth. That's a pretty significant kingdom. It is as great as Israel ever was. If there were ever a king to be feared, if there were ever a king who was great, it was David. That is why he continues to be revered to this day. Now look what happens in chapter 9. It says about 15 to 20 years after David's kingdom is firmly established…
"Then David said, 'Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?' Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, 'Are you Ziba?' And he said, 'I am your servant.' And the king said, 'Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?' And Ziba said to the king, 'There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.'"
In other words, the inference is this: "Oh, yeah. There's one, but man, King, he's no good to you. You have men of valor. You have armies beyond number. You have lands and riches. There is one guy. His name is Mephibosheth. He's lame. He is of no use to you. Let him be." But listen to what the king says.
"So the king said to him, 'Where is he?' And Ziba said to the king, 'Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar." Lo-debar means, literally, no pasture, or barren place. He is in a dark land. Do you remember the very first song we sang? We have been called from darkness; we have been called from shame. What that means is we have been called from Lo-debar, a place of no pasture. We are in a barren place, a world without hope. Look what happens.
Verse 5: "Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, 'Mephibosheth.' And he said, 'Here is your servant!'"
Now the reason he said that is because he knew he had a death sentence on him because he was rightly related to one who was an enemy with the king. He deserved to be slain before the king. Because of the acts of his ancestors, he was a threat to the king who was enthroned. He fell before the king's feet on his face, prostrated himself, and said, "Here I am. You can do with me what you want. It is right. It is what I deserve, and so I come."
"And David said to him, 'Do not fear…'" It's interesting, the one phrase Christ says in the New Testament as much as any other (I think eight times). He says, "Do not fear." Those are going to be the sweetest words you'll ever hear. I want to tell you what. There is going to be a day when you, who are in a barren place, a land that is hopeless, are going to be brought before a King. You are going to fall prostrate before him.
You know that King should kill you because you are a son of perdition. You are a son of one whom you are related to by no choosing of your own, a son of rebellion. Except for one thing. You were chosen by another one. You had nothing to do with being chosen by one who had a covenant with this king, Jonathan.
Through a blood covenant David had with Jonathan, that Mephibosheth knew nothing about, David was going to show kindness to this one whom he sent for. This one who was hiding. This one who thought the last thing he could do was come before the king. This one who, if the king did not send for him, could not come. Not only because he feared for his life, but because he was lame. He was unable to bring himself. There was nothing he could do to come and to please the king. That's a picture of us. That's a picture of you. It's a picture of me. It's a picture of grace.
David says to him, "Do not fear…" Christ says those words again and again. "Do not fear." When Isaiah was before the throne of God, the altar of God, it says God appeared before him. Isaiah threw himself down. He did the exact same thing. He knew that in seeing God, he deserved to die. The first words out of God's mouth were, "Do not fear." Those are some sweet words to come from a king when you have been brought before his presence, and you know death is a sentence you deserve.
He says, "Do not fear…" Now check this out. "…for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan…" Do you catch that? Does that sound like anything you read in Ephesians? Why is Mephibosheth being spared? I'll tell you why. According to the kind intention of his will, meaning the king.
Look what else he does. It says, "…and [I] will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul…" He says, "I'm going to make you holy and blameless before me. I'm going to restore you to where you rightly belong, as a holy and blameless citizen, one who was due all that was first given to you." That's exactly what's going to happen to you. He's going to make you holy and blameless before him.
I told you God did not intend for Adam to rebel against him. There's going to be a day that God will deal with the sin of Adam and will restore man to his rightful place, but he's not going to do it through Adam. He's going to do it through the second Adam, the one who through his blood you have been made a son. You've been adopted as a son.
Look what happens there in the next line. It says, "… [I'm going to] restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly." Remember what it says in Ephesians? It says, "In him, he has put us into the adoption as sons." Do you catch that? When you eat at the king's table… I'll tell you who ate at the king's table. Absalom. Gorgeous, long-haired Absalom ate at the king's table. I'll tell you who else ate at the king's table. Tamar, the son of the king. Beautiful Tamar.
I'll tell you who else ate at the table of the king. It was Amnon. Clever and crafty Amnon would eat at the table of the king and get all the king's food, all the king's blessings. Solomon would be there. Bathsheba would be there. Joab, the commander of David's forces might be invited to eat there.
They'd all be seated. All these royal and great men would be seated there. All of a sudden, you'd hear this little shuffling of feet. In would come little Mephibosheth, who would slide up to that table of the king, who should have slaughtered him. Mephibosheth would share in all that the king's sons would share. He would eat regularly at the table. Let me ask you a question? Did Mephibosheth understand grace?
See, gang? That is what Ephesians says for you. According to the kind intention of his will, he reinstated you. You became holy and blameless before him. He put you back as a coregent with him, to reign with him forever as he intended. He adopted you. He took you in him and made you one of his own sons, to share in the inheritance his own Son, Jesus Christ, deserved. It's a picture of grace. It is a picture of you.
It says in verse 8, "Again he prostrated himself and said, 'What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?'" You see, that is a right response to understanding how you were chosen. That is a right response to understanding what God has done for you. You should say, "What am I that God should regard a dead dog like me?" How much can a dead dog please his master? Not very much.
As I kid growing up, I'd listen to Dr. Demento. Have you ever heard of Dr. Demento? I can remember, I always wanted to tune my little radio in and get everybody out of my room so I could listen to the Top Five at Nine, the top Demented Five. One of them that was always in there was "Dead Puppies." Do you remember the song?
It said, "My puppy died late last fall. He's still [lying] in the hall. Dead puppies aren't much fun…" The song would go on. The other verses get a little bit more crass. I can't share them without my wife giving me a look when I walk in the door, so I can't share them. The point is that dead puppies cannot retrieve the ball. They are unable to please their master.
That is exactly what Mephibosheth says. "What am I that you regard a dead dog like me?" The answer is, "I'll tell you what you are, Mephibosheth. You are, by grace, by nothing you have done, a descendant of one whom I have a blood covenant with. Because I am a king who will not forsake my word, you get all the blessing I would give to Jonathan if he himself were here. Jonathan, whom I loved. Jonathan, whom I have a covenant with."
There's going to be a day when Todd Wagner will look before God. He'll say, "Todd, why should I let you into my heaven?" I'm going to look at him, and I'll say, "God, there is no reason you should let me into heaven. What am I that you should regard a dead dog like me? Except that I have a relationship with one whom you love deeply. In him, you promised me protection, you adopted me as a son, and you promised me all the glory that you loved and gave him. It is in him that I am not in trouble."
Mephibosheth, the one who scatters shame because he's in Jonathan, is a picture of grace. He's a picture of you. He's a picture of me. I get so encouraged when I look and see how God, throughout history, sovereignly has these things happen that we can go back and look. We can go, "You know what? I see a picture of me in this. I see how God is showing that there's going to be this King who will do this for us."
People have a wrong impression of who God is, and it's result of having a wrong view of God. They either have a too-high view of man, that they're not lame, they're not unable to please the master, or they have a too-low view of God, that he really isn't going to be righteousness, he really isn't going to be just, and he really won't go and kill his enemies. They don't really understand the need for this amazing grace.
There's a story Spurgeon used to tell about a minister in Edinburgh, a little township in Scotland. This minister would go, and he would hear about different folks in his parish who were struggling. He went and knocked on this one lady's door. He knocked and knocked and knocked, trying desperately to see if somebody would come that he might give to her, help her with her rent, and give her some food, but he could not make anybody hear.
He left, and a few days later he came across this woman. He said, "Janet, I came to see you. I came to help you. How have you been?" She said, "I've been evicted from my home. I'm suffering great horror. My family is without shelter." He said, "But Janet, I came to you to help you. Why did you not respond?" She said, "When did you come?" He said, "I came about noon a fortnight ago." She said, "Oh! I did hear you, yet I thought you were the landlord, so I did not respond."
There are some of you who are out there tonight, and the King is knocking on your heart. You think he wants to take something from you. You think he wants to tax you. You think he wants to take from you what isn't his. You misunderstand the knocking that is out there, so you lose the blessing. The horror that awaits you is so contrary to the blessing that would come if you'd just open the door to the one who knocks, let him in, and let him share with you the kind intention of his will.
People are messed up in their relationship to God for one of two reasons. How you see God affects how you're going to serve God. The poor view of God will affect how you respond to him, and it will affect your productivity for him. I'm not a guy who is now trying to please this God. I realize there is nothing I could ever do that would make me righteous before him. There's not a leash around my neck now, that God is jerking me around, making me study the Scriptures, making me pray, making me die to my flesh. It's because I understand what he did for me. It's the greatest joy I have to do anything I can to speak well of the King.
We don't have time to go ahead, but you'd find out Mephibosheth is a man who is loyal to David, even when David is chased off the throne. Even when David is away and people speak evil of him, Mephibosheth is one who mourns and acts full of longing for the king who one day will return. That's a picture of you and me. We are aliens in a land. When David was dethroned and Absalom was reigning in Israel for a while, Mephibosheth grieved. That's a very dangerous way to live, to mourn in the view of a tyrant. The tyrant knows you are not for him, that you must be for the previous king, so you're his enemy.
Gang, you and I are people who are hated by this world because we're not of this world. We are sober-minded. We don't live for the revelry of the moment. We live with a hope that one day our King will return. He'll be rightly put back in place, and he'll note we were faithful in his absence as evidence that we have a right relationship with him and responded truly to his statement, "Fear not." He will return to us all that David returned to Mephibosheth when he came back and reclaimed his throne.
If you guys understood, if I understood, what God had done, it would affect the way we receive him. We would not be afraid of his knocking. We would not be afraid of his calling. We would not be afraid of his leading. We would not be afraid of his command. If you understood what Jesus Christ did for us, if you knew the King, it would affect how you serve him, your productivity for him. It is in him, it is through him, that you have the forgiveness of your sins.
There's a story a guy who was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary when I took a class with him…Stanley Toussaint who, oddly enough, was lame himself…used to tell. He said it was a true story (I don't know) about a man who was extremely wealthy, he was extremely blessed, up in the northern part of the country where he was from.
This man had a woman who he dearly loved. He and this woman conceived. At the birth of their first child, the woman died and gave them a son, but he lost his wife. This rich man poured all the love he had into that son. He spent every waking hour with him he could. He left his business to build greater fortunes, which he already had enough of, just to love this son. The son took sick at the time he was 12 and died. Shortly after that, the father lost his will to live and died.
After he died, there was an auction held according to what the will stated, so that all his estate would be sold. All his estate would be auctioned off. All the town came to cash in on this man's great fortune. The will stated that the very first thing that was to be auctioned off was a painting, kind of a crude oil painting of the son during his sickly years. He wasn't a real pretty boy, much less when he was about to die from the disease that had stricken him.
It was an oil painting, and the auctioneer said, "We must begin with this. Who will bid on the son?" It was silent because nobody wanted that. They wanted the vast fortune that was behind him. Finally a little old lady worked her way up who had cared for the son when he was yet an infant. She said, "I will take him. I know the boy. I love the boy. I will bid on him."
For a very small fee, she bought the painting. As soon as she bought it, the auctioneer slammed his gavel down and said, "Auction is over." He said, "It is written into the will that he who loves the son gets all the wealth of the father." Everybody went away except the one woman who, because she loved the son, had gained all the love of the father.
Our Scriptures say the exact same thing. He who loves the Son, loves the Father and gains all the inheritance the Father gives to the Son. He who rejects the Son, rejects the Father and does not find forgiveness of their trespasses, does not find forgiveness of their sins, but stands in want before him. The question you have to answer tonight is…How are you going to respond to this King who calls you? You are unable to come, but for some reason he has you here. Through me, tonight, he calls you yet again.
He just says, "Come. Fear not, for I have made provision for you. Even though before you were related to one whom you had no choosing of, who caused you a curse on your family and death was certain. Now you have an opportunity, through no choosing of your own, to be rightly related to him by the way you respond in giving evidence that you are a member of this covenant community Jesus Christ's blood creates."
Will you come to him tonight? You see, he's not a very pretty man. He's an average Jew. He has holes in his wrists. He has a gaping wound in his side. But if you love him, you love the Father. If you love the Father, according to the kind intention of his will, he will make you holy and blameless in his sight. He will bring you, through him, to an adoption as sons that you may eat at his table regularly and get all the blessings of the Son. Will you come? Pray with me.
Father, I thank you that as we study the Scriptures, we are encouraged to see that throughout history, at Passover, throughout history, through the lives of David and others, we see pictures of you, types of you. We see you calling us and wooing us to yourself. You show us in many ways what kind of God you are, through men who have a heart like yours, like David, who you said was a man after your own heart, who was honoring his covenant, who will seek anyone of the household of faith, that he might greatly bless them.
Father, tonight, I ask that somebody would have a right view of you, that they would not flee from you because they have a wrong view of what you want. You don't want to destroy them. You want to give them greatness. You want to seat them at your table. I pray they would be more receptive to you because of this truth, and that they will also, then, be more productive for you, in right response to all you have given them.
Father, I thank you that tonight anyone who comes, prostrates themselves before the King, and says, "What am I that you should regard a dead dog like me? What am I, that you would love me enough to send your Son to enter into a blood covenant with you, to shed his innocent life, to forsake a kingdom that was his because of his love for me, that I might forever be rightly related to you?" you would then take that child, that person who would come and who would receive your offer of love.
You would make them forever a member of your family and forever under the blood of Jesus, and they would gain all the inheritance that awaits us according to what Paul has written in Ephesians, according to what Christ himself said when he was here, according, Father, to the kind intention of your will. We thank you for it. We give you all the praise, honor, and glory. Like it says, to the praise of your glorious grace, we sing again, "Amazing Grace." 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.