If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 5

Ephesians, Volume 1

Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6, that we are in a spiritual battle against the devil and his schemes, so we need the "Believer's Bank" found in Ephesians 1:3-14. Here we learn that God has lavished His riches on us and made us holy and blameless. If you are one of His, is your life showing others that He chose you?

Todd WagnerJul 30, 1995Ephesians 1:3-14

Father, thank you for an opportunity to worship you, to laugh together, to just enjoy being in your presence. I thank you that I really sense that here. I pray that you would always protect us from going through the motions. I pray that you would protect us from trusting in beauty of worship or beauty of each other, but that we'd always keep ourselves humble and focused on you. We are encouraged now as we go to your Word. I pray, Father, that your truth would be hidden in our hearts that we may not sin against thee. In Christ's name, amen.

This week, one of the things I did have a chance to do (in fact, it was Friday) is climb a mountain that was some 14,000 feet high. One of the things that's fun about doing that is it takes a while to hike up and hike back down. You have a chance to share in some good conversations. I had an opportunity on the way back down to talk to a friend about some stuff he had been going through and some struggles he had been having. We talked a lot about the tension that we sometimes feel as people who are attacked by one who accuses us and makes us feel unworthy.

We are studying in Ephesians, chapter 1, what has been affectionately called the believer's bank, the Christian's checkbook. We talk a lot about different times we're in spiritual battle. I can tell you, I could probably do a four-week, six-week series on spiritual warfare, and at the end of it, just kind of be able to say, "You know, I really don't know where that's going to leave you." It's something I'm not really sure I have a good grip on. I could read a few more books, teach a few more lessons on it, and still admit that it's a struggle. It's something awkward that's before us.

Whenever people go to the book of Ephesians, one of the places they become most familiar with is in Ephesians, chapter 6. Turn there very quickly with me and look at what it says. It starts in verse 10, which is the place we think of as the armor of God. It addresses this idea of spiritual warfare. It says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."

Whatever you think about the spiritual warfare that's out there, whatever you think about Satan, however you envision him, you must know this: the Scriptures say we are in a battle. It says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Again, whatever you make of those verses, know that you are in a battle, and that battle is against the Devil and his schemes. He seeks to destroy you. He seeks to accuse you, to make you feel unworthy before the King, even as Ziba, the false servant of Mephibosheth, sought to make him unworthy before King David.

It says then in verse 13, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." That is what we're about. That's why we're going to study Ephesians, that we may be able to in everything stand firm. We're going to teach in this passage, but tonight, the next line is what's going to launch us back into finishing what I believe if you could only have one sentence in your Bible, this is the one I would select.

It says this: "Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH…" This is what I would say if we were teaching on spiritual warfare, and we'll get there. Whatever you make of it, I don't believe that it's a power struggle that we're against. We're not to go and whip out big weapons and chunk stuff at these enemies we cannot see. I believe that it is a battle for truth. Jesus said it's the truth that'll set you free. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6 that you need to stand firm in everything, and you do that first by girding up your loins with the belt of truth.

If you will, that's what's going to keep you from having your spiritual pants fall down. It's truth. There are so many of us who really don't even know what truth is. We kind of take whatever the latest thing down the pike is. Usually, it's a gnawing, accusing voice that says, "You're not worthy. You're not loved. You're not good enough. You're not really a Christian, and if you are, you won't be tomorrow. Jesus will not be faithful to you because you have not been faithful to him."

Have you heard those words lately? My friend had, and I can empathize with him because I hear those voice all the time. All I can do is go to what I believe is the Christian's checkbook, the believer's bank, and draw from it the great riches that God has promised me. That's why we've hung out so long in chapter 1, verses 3-14, to be reminded of all that God has given us.

Look what we have so far. It says in chapter 1, verse 3, that you've been blessed with every spiritual blessing. That pretty much covers it, doesn't it? You've been blessed with every spiritual blessing. It goes on from there. Not only have you been blessed with every spiritual blessing, but you've been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. It's an amazing thing to be chosen.

When I first started this book, my friend Greg said, "Hey, Todd, when you teach about this idea of being chosen, whatever you say, say this. Talk about when you were a kid and they were getting ready to pick their sides for football or for a baseball or softball team, whatever it might be. Remind them how good it felt to be chosen." Do you remember that?

You know what was an awful feeling? When you weren't really chosen, you were the only one left and you were kind of sucked into the whatever team was left. That's not what it says. It says, "You were chosen." You are a first-round draft pick; he went right after you. You've been blessed with every spiritual blessing. You've been loved. You have been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. Not only that, but we've studied that we have been made holy and blameless before him.

I got into kind of a weird conversation. In fact, it's the first time I've ever been in it, but somebody asked me what my favorite Greek word was when I was in Colorado. I said, "Well, my favorite Greek word is typhoō, which is one of the words in Greek for pride, which literally means wrapped in smoke, which is a great picture of a person who's prideful. It's somebody who's wrapped in smoke, and one day, God's going to blow away that pride, and you're going to be exposed for what you really are.

I have another Greek word that I'm now classifying as one of my favorites because I was studying Ephesians 1 with y'all. It came right down there where it said that we've been made holy and blameless before him, and it's the word for before. It's really a compound of three different Greek words. We've studied it, but it's a good reminder for us now as you launch out of here, and this is what I shared with my friend.

Listen to me. When you're in this gauge of feeling worthless, and when you're in the middle of being attacked, you need to remember that the Scripture says that you have been chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that you have been made holy and blameless before him. Do you remember this? This is not for a command for us to be. That will come in chapters 4-6. This is a promise of what God said is accomplished as you've been hidden in Christ. That you've been made holy and blameless in him.

The three Greek words which are put together, they're not very important how you pronounce them, but the idea is of a deep, penetrating gaze. To look down into is what the three words literally mean. That's the word for before. It means that when you are before God and he can look through you with those penetrating eyes…

Have you ever heard the illustration? When you stand before the Lord, somebody is going to pull out a videotape that says "Todd Wagner." He's going to punch it in, review your life, and give you a grade. He's going to know everything you said, everything you thought, everything you whispered, and everything you dreamt, and you will be judged according to it." That's a bunch of bullhonkey.

What this Scripture says is that when you are put before him, he's not going to pull out a tape that says "Todd Wagner," or whatever your name is. He's going to pull out a tape and say, "Wait a minute. It says your name is written in the Lamb's book of life. You are in him, and you are holy and blameless before him." When he looks down into you with a deep, penetrating gaze, do you know what he's going to see? He's going to the see the pledge, the promise, the seal that we're going to study tonight: the Holy Spirit, which is evidence that you are his son.

That's good news. When Satan attacks you, and when he gets on your back, and he starts to tell you that you are not worthy, you need to go to this place and say, "Wait a minute. I've been blessed with every spiritual blessing. I've been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. I've been made holy and blameless before him. I have been predestined to adoption as a son." We studied that. We looked at Mephibosheth as an illustration of it.

Do you understand that in Roman law from which Paul wrote, when it says that you are an adopted son, that not only did you have every right that a normal son or a normal daughter had, but in fact, in that law, you had more rights? It was harder to not give an adopted son his inheritance that it was his normal son because the lawmakers of the day felt like you had no option as to who you invited into your family through natural means. But when you adopted somebody, you chose them. You are really responsible for them, and you must fulfill your parental privilege to them.

When it says you've been adopted as sons, you are not an afterthought; you are deeply loved. He chose you. I love the story of the young lady who had just delivered their little one. The mother and the father were both blonde, and the child had dark hair. They were sitting there, and the daughter said to her mother, "Mom, this is kind of confusing because our baby has dark hair, and both John and I have blonde hair. It doesn't make sense."

The mother looked at the daughter said, "Well, you know, your father has dark hair." The daughter looked back at the mom and said, "Well, Mom, I'm adopted." The mom responded and said, "You know, I always forget." I think that's the way we're going to feel sometimes. We're going to feel like we're a stepchild, that we weren't really loved. We want to go, "We're just adopted," and Jesus says, "You know, I always forget." God says, "I see you as my own son, my own flesh and blood, that I chose before the foundation of the world."

When you're attacked, when you're accused, if you trust Jesus Christ, you need to know you've been blessed with every spiritual blessing. You need to know that you've been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. You need to know that you've been made holy and blameless before him. You need to know that you were predestined to adoption as sons.

You need to know, like we studied last time, that you've been given redemption through his blood, as Mephibosheth was given redemption through the blood covenant of Jonathan and David. That's an encouraging thing: redemption through his blood. At the very end of verse 7, you see all of this has been given to us according to the riches of his grace.

We reminded ourselves as we began our study that it wasn't out of the riches of his grace. This wasn't just a small portion of what God could give us out of his abundant riches, but these are the riches he has given us according to his wealth. That means if he had it, he gave it. He didn't give you some, that's out of. He gave it to you according to, that you lack nothing in him. That is why it is said that you have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ because you've been given according to the wealth of God. There is nothing that you lack.

That's where we pick up our study tonight in verse 8. It says, "…according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will…" What is a mystery? A mystery is simply something that you cannot know unless it is revealed. If you read a mystery book and you know the answer before you get to the end, it wasn't a very good mystery. God had a wonderful mystery.

If I would have asked you, long ago before you trusted Christ, what it was that made you in right standing before God, every single one of you would have given the same answer because it would have been hidden from you what the truth was. You would have given a works-based answer. You would have missed the mystery that God has chosen some, that God has loved you enough to allow his Son to come and to pay for your sins. In that and that alone you become right before him. It's a mystery that until Christ had come had been concealed.

Don't miss this. In the Old Testament, men and women were saved the same way that you and I were. They were saved by faith, by grace through faith, just like you and I were. They had faith that the things they were going through, and as they were obedient to God's Word, that God would somehow provide a way for them to be saved. We look back with faith that God has provided a way; it was through the sacrifice of his Son. They looked forward.

"Hey, we know that the blood of bulls and goats can't take away sins. We know that this is a ritual that God wants us to go through in order to remind ourselves of our guilt and that there needed to be innocent blood that will be shed. We have faith that if we're obedient to God, seek his ways, and follow his Word, he will save us." They were a covenant community that had been saved by faith even as you and I were. It was a mystery to them how God was every going to accomplish this.

Paul gets so excited in the New Testament to say, "Hey, the mystery has been revealed. The curtain has been pulled back. Now you can know that this is the truth, this is the way." It says right there in verse 8 that he gave us all wisdom and insight. Those two words have this idea: that you have wisdom, that you have the ability to now see and have an understanding of ultimate things. You have been given the gift to have wisdom, to understand the essential and ultimate things: life and death, heaven and hell, righteousness and sin.

You understand those things now; you did not formerly do that. "You formerly thought with a mind that was not spiritually appraised," Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. Let's take a look at this. Just a little bit back there to your left. When you get to chapter 2, look at verse 6 with me.

This is what he writes: "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory…" In other words, God was not jumped by Jesus being crucified. He wasn't jumped by Adam sinning in the garden. He knew that it was going to happen, he knew the cost, and he went for it from the very beginning.

He said, "This will happen, and I will make sure it happens so that I can redeem man to myself and elevate them to a spot that's even greater than where I initially planned them to be." He says, "This wisdom, you could not have known." It's "…the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…"

Jump down to verse 12. It says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God…" Do you know what that's saying? "Christian, listen. If you understand this stuff, don't get all cockeyed and walk out of here with a strut. You need to realize that it's a gift that the scales have fallen off of your eyes."

The apostle Paul knew this better than anybody. This guy was a terrorist. He walked around killing people who served the living God. One day he was on the way to Damascus, and he had papers to kill and eliminate all Christians who were there. One the way, he was blinded, and scales came on his eyes. I think physical scales which were symbolic of his spiritual blindness. He said, "Go to this man who is going to teach you spiritual truth so the scales can fall off your eyes, both literally and spiritually speaking. You have eyes, Paul, but you do not see."

Paul realized that, all of a sudden, he had been given wisdom and ultimate things. He did not understand righteousness and sin before that. He did understand life and death before that. He did not understand heaven and hell before that, but the wisdom God gave him was a gift, that he began to understand these ultimate things.

Look what he writes in verse 16, the culmination of all of this. He says, "For WHO HAS NOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ." That's an amazing thing. Do you think you understand ultimate things if you have the mind of Christ, if you have the very mind of God? That's what the Scriptures are.

God does not just leave you out there to have some interpretation of what the truth is. Some of us studied this morning about the New Age movement and how people in the New Age movement are constantly seeking to regain their god consciousness which they believe was lost. Now the ultimate way back to truth, enlightenment, and encouragement is for you to come to understanding, to actualize the goodness and the godness that is within you.

We talked about the Hare Krishna who believe that if you chant the Hare Krishna chant… Have you ever wondered why they sit there in circles with their tambourines and go, "Hare Krishna, Hare Hare Krishna," and whatever else they keep saying? They believe that if they do that 1,726 times a day, they will attain an altered state of consciousness. No kidding, right?

If they do this 1,726 times a day, they will get this altered state of consciousness, and if they do get this altered state of consciousness, then they can climb up the spiritual ladder and surpass dust and surpass plant life and surpass being a woman and surpass being a man and surpass being a brahma bull to being a spiritual person.

If they get to be a spiritual person by chanting the Hare Krishna chant 1,726 times a day, then they can get out of the loop of reincarnation and karma which takes, they think, 84,000,000 lives before you can get ahead of the bull and gain again your god consciousness. If God doesn't give us revelation, it's a mystery, and we'll make up some pretty hairy stuff.

That just happens to be where the Hare Krishna went. That's not as popular in our society as others. Most of us think the way you do it is you climb another ladder. It's not 84,000,000 lives you're reincarnated through, it's 84,000,000 tasks that you do and 84,000,000 tasks that you don't do, and maybe you'll get a passing grade. See, it's a mystery that salvation is a gift of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul says, "You've been given all wisdom and insight." The insight that he speaks of here is, first, the objective knowledge of truth.

The second is subjective knowledge. Wisdom, sofía, is that objective knowledge of ultimate things. The next word, insight, is the idea that you've been given an understanding of things in everyday life, that you now think not in only differently in terms of spiritual things, but you've been given insight into how to relate to this world. You now will be a different people, a better people. You will not, as you live this way, incite hate amongst one another, but you will invite love and seek it out. I'll tell you what; that's a different way to live.

Turn back with me now again to 2 Corinthians this time. Look at chapter 5. Second Corinthians 5… Look at verse 11 with me. Paul says this: "You're going to have some wisdom and some insight. If you have that insight, this is how the world is going to see you." It says this: "Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men [that they should also have that wisdom], but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences."

** ** In other words, "I hope you come to see us for who we really are, even as God, as he looks at us before him, knows that we are truly his. I hope that as we live before you, you will see that we are truly God's." Look what he says: "We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, that you may have an answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart."

Paul is saying, "Watch the way I conduct my life with insight." That's what he's saying here. "Watch the way I live amongst the pagan, that my life will be different." Here's why: he says, "For if we are besides ourselves [in other words, absolutely crazy], it is for God…" There are only two ways you're about to find that a Christian should be seen by the world.

You should either be seen as absolutely insane, out of this world, that you take spiritual things too seriously, that you really make an effort to worship with other believers, that you sacrifice in order to love, and you're just a little bit too far out there on the Christian limb. They're going to think you're crazy.

Paul says, "If I am crazy, it's for God. It's so that others might know I have been radically changed because something radical has happened for me: God has died. So if I am beside myself, it's for God." But look what he says next. "…if we are of sound mind, it is for you." In other words, if we are wise and make good decisions, it is evidence that now I think with insight. Now I think with a mind that has been renewed, a mind that doesn't bring war but brings reconciliation.

I got a call from another friend of mine who I went to college with. This guy has trusted Christ, and he's now living in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, working at the Limbaugh law firm. He called me to tell me about his life and how it changed. They called me Honus when I was in college, and he said, "Honus, you won't believe this." He shared with me his conversion.

He said, "I have to tell you something. If we would have just observed your life…" I was humbled when I heard this because I didn't do a wonderful job of living with wisdom and insight as a college student. I pray that you can relate and give me mercy, but for whatever reason, God allowed them to see the way I lived in college as insightful.

He said, "Listen, we all knew. We used to talk about you. We used to say that if we could act and think like Honus did… A lot of us are coming back and starting think that way now, but you thought that way since you were 18. How did you do it? How did you know?" I said, "John, how do you know now? So many other guys we went to school with are still living the life you lived when you were 18 to 21."

He said, "Brother, I don't know. It's just grace." I said, "That's how I knew when I was 18, when I was so full of wisdom and insight. It was grace, pure grace." Someone would say, "Not very much grace, Wagner, as we go back and review the videotape…" But there was some grace there, and people observed it. It was the mystery, back to Ephesians.

If the world sees you, it should only be one of two ways: hot or cold, full of craziness because you're sold out for the Lord or full of insight because you make such sound decisions full of integrity and truth. Look what it says now, in verse 9: "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth."

What is this "administration suitable to the fullness of times"? This is a picture of the day when God will bring the entire world together again in him. It is what we commonly call the millennial reign, when Jesus Christ himself will come back and fulfill the promise that he made to David in 2 Samuel, chapter 7, that we looked at. He said, "David, there will be one from your heritage that will reign on the throne of Israel forever."

We see that the lineage of Jesus Christ is traced back to David. We see he is called the son of David. He is the one who will reign forever over all the earth. We see in Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 3, that Jesus Christ is heir of all things. There's going to be a day when all things will become reconciled again to Jesus, and they will see him again as the head. We know that he already is the head, he's just not acknowledged as the head.

Christian, what you are is a picture of that day. That's what Paul means when he says in verse 10, "…with a view to an administration…" It is literally with a view toward the dispensation, the time when God will work in this way, when he will reign as the only one in control. There will be no Congress, no Senate. There will be no judiciary. There will only be the executive branch, and there will be the executive man, and he will be a divine, righteous dictator.

All things, both material and spiritual, will bow before him. There will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I think some will do in a fleeting moment before they go where they've chosen, and other will be brought to him. The creation, it says, will be reconciled to him.

It says in Romans 8 that the world, creation, groans in looking forward to that day, and so do I. Don't you, when evil is dealt with justly, quickly, and permanently? During that thousand years, we find that, right now, there's all kinds of chaos. It says in the beginning of the book… In Genesis, chapter 1, it says the world, as God went out over the deep…

We find in other places that the Scripture describe it as formless and void; it had no order to it. It was full of chaos, and it was empty. God came in chapter 1 of Genesis and spoke order into it and replaced nothingness with something and made it good. There's going to be a day when this chaos we're in, this confusion we're a part of as chosen people, as saved people in the midst of a fallen world, is going to be made right again.

God's going to speak order one more time. He's going to take Satan and the fallen angels, and he's going to cast them and bind them, it says, for a thousand years. He's going to gather the nations before him, the sheep and the goats. The goats will be cast away into eternal judgment, and the sheep will be gathered to live with him for a thousand years and reign. All of the elect from the Old Testament and the New Testament will return with him and will reign on this earth for a thousand years.

This, Paul says, is what we right now are a view to. We are a testimony that there will be a day when God will come back and reconcile all things to him. Once again, he'll be the head, and that will be the beginning of, if you can say that, the eternal state. At the end of that thousand years, Satan will be loosed, there will be one more great rebellion, and God will judge that forever. He'll finally destroy Satan and cast him into the lake of fire and all the evil ones with him, both man and demon. Then he'll create the eternal state, where everything, again, will be reconciled.

This last week, we were in Colorado, and one of the things we did is worship outside. I can remember as we sat there, as we were singing songs, I thought, "What would you do if you were a deer and all of a sudden, you heard this noise you had never heard out of a jam box?" I thought about all the animals that must have gathered around us in the mountains.

We were singing our little hearts out, and Rich Mullins would pop his head in and sing some, then we'd throw in some stuff from Songs from the Loft and Amy Grant, she'd sing some for us. We'd listen to some tape of Rejoice Africa and they would sing a song. The last song we listened to was "Instruments of Peace," which Kurt loves. It's a song about how we are going to be people who are instruments of peace, and all things are going to be reconciled to Jesus Christ.

I thought about how we had made an announcement early in the week that there was a bear that was visiting our campsite on a regular basis, and how we needed to be careful with our cubs lest that bear eat them. I thought about the day when we're not going to have to worry about a bear eating our cubs, eating our kids.

There's going to be a day when the little marmot that's out there isn't going to have to worry that he gets back in before the mountain lion finds out where his home is. There's going to be a day when the lamb will lay with the lion, the white will lay with the black, the Jew will lay with the Gentile, and there will be love because all things will be brought out of chaos and confusion into order in Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you this: can you think of a people who exalt the Lamb of God in worship, who are obedient to his commands, who live under his authority, who acknowledge his lordship, and who worship him forever? I want to tell you who that is: that's the church. Can you think of a people who love those who are his enemies? Can you believe and think of a people who reconcile with those who seek to do harm? I want to tell you who that is; it's the church.

You are a preview of that time that is to come. Paul says, "That's no small thing for you to be that snapshot that God walks around and goes, 'See this? Isn't this glory? Isn't this good?'" People ask me what heaven looks like. I want to say that it should look like the church. Can I say that about your household? When people see your life, is that a view of heaven? Is that a view of peace? That's what Ephesians 1 says it ought to be because you've been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

It says in verse 11 that we have also obtained an inheritance; we've "…been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…" We've obtained an inheritance. I told you already about that. The inheritance is not ours, it is Jesus Christ's, and God has invited us fully into it. I could go through the list again. I'll wait until the end to do it one more time, but I'll add to that list which includes being blessed with every spiritual blessing that you have obtained an inheritance. Guess whose it is? It's the Son of the King. It's God's inheritance.

Look what it says now. It says, "…to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory." What Paul is saying right here is there's a we; there's a change in pronoun. He's talking about himself as a Jew. He's saying, "All this happened that we who were the first to hope in Jesus Christ, meaning those who were around him, the Jewish people who first saw him, who first acknowledged him as Messiah, that we are people who are going to now live for the purpose of singing praises to him.

There is no second-class Christian, which is what you are. You guys were the second to trust, but you're not second-class Christians. There's no JV Christian." Paul is saying, "We, the Jews, who were the first to trust in Christ according to his glorious riches now share in this with you." This also was a mystery, and we're going to study about racial reconciliation in Ephesians, chapter 2.

It's all over there. It says Christ broke down the dividing wall, and that wasn't, like I said, just between us and God. It was between factions of people who were here. It took away the confusion, the hatred, the chaos that was here, and he allowed us to start to love and see with a love that the world, frankly, cannot understand. That's what he says.

Look at verse 13. It says, "In Him… Look at the change in pronoun from we. "…** you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise…"** We're going to spend some time here. He says, "You've been given what we've been given. You have the Holy Spirit, just like I have the Holy Spirit." There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; it is the mystery of the gospel."

Paul wrote about it in Romans, chapter 1. "I'm not ashamed of the gospel. It's the power unto salvation, for the Jew first and also to the Greek." We're all the same. We're all part of the family. It's interesting, in Ezekiel, when he has a vision in chapters 40 through 44 of his book about the temple that's going to be rebuilt, one of the things that lacks, and there are a number of them, in Ezekiel's temple he has a vision of that was different from Solomon's temple is what's called the dividing wall.

It's called the wall of the Gentile, where any Gentile who would walk beyond that point through a gate, there was a sign posted over it that said, "Any Gentile who goes forward from here takes his life into his own hands, and his death is his own." When you look at Ezekiel's vision of the temple, that dividing wall that keeps the Gentile from the court of the Jew is gone because everybody has equal access now to the Father, even as he originally intended.

Now look at this. In the midst of the sovereignty of God and all that he's accomplished for you, tucked right in the middle of that is the responsibility we have. If you ever think that predestination, being chosen, election, all of those confusing things that we spent a number of weeks on… If you ever think that means you don't need to evangelize, if you ever think that you're not personally required to have faith, read this little verse Paul tucks in there in the midst of this long sentence.

He says, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth…" What do you think was happening? Somebody who understood about election, predestination, and being chosen, somebody who understood that, i.e., Paul, was committed to preaching. He was committed to evangelizing because like he says in Romans 10, "How can they trust unless they hear? How can they hear unless they have a preacher? How can they have a preacher unless the preacher is sent?"

If you ever think, as you read this and you struggle with it, that the idea of God's supremacy, which is a must, eliminates man's responsibility, you're not reading the Scriptures. They are at animosity with one another; I cannot reconcile them. I fall down and worship before him, and all I know is I believe what the Scriptures teach, and I must believe in the sovereignty of God. I must believe it is he who does the work which allows me to have every spiritual blessing, but I must also believe it is he who calls me to respond.

As I traveled from town to town that long drive, I'd drive up and I'd see towns that would say, "Clayton, this far. Claude, this far. Dalhart, this far." I thought about a guy I heard say one time that when you get to heaven, there's going to be a sign as you enter into that new city that's going to say, "All who are willing may come." It will say, "Heaven, population [whatever]. All who are willing may come."

As soon as you pull by it, if you do what I do often and glance back (I don't know why I do that, but I glance back), once you're inside heaven, you glance back at that sign that says "All who are willing may come," once you're in there, it will say on the other side, "Welcome to heaven, those of you who have been chosen before the foundation of the world." That's a good picture.

If you're out there tonight, I'll say one more time, and you struggle with the truth of Ephesians, chapter 1, where God says, "It's my work. It's my glory. I did it, and here's why," then you need to know that he calls you to come tonight. Once you're in heaven, you fall humbly before him and realize that the reason you're there is because he graciously chose you and gave you wisdom and insight to reveal the mystery which you could not know unless he clued you in.

Look what he did when he gave it to you. It says, "Once you believed, you were given the one called the Holy Spirit." There are three things the Holy Spirit is; I'll give them to you very quickly. He is a seal, he is a seal, and he is a pledge. Let's talk about them. A seal is that which kings would put on letters. They'd take wax, and they'd put it over some package that contained a letter. He'd take his signet ring, and he'd seal it with his signet ring. Anybody who broke that seal before it got to its destination was worthy of death and would invite judgment upon himself.

God's saying, "I'm putting my seal on you, and anybody who tries to break that seal or takes you before your destination, I, personally, will have a little to do with him." He said he has sealed you with the Holy Spirit, that he has ensured that his mark is on you, that you will not fall short of where he intends you to get. You are a letter that will be delivered.

They used to seal cattle with a brand; that was a seal. They used to brand slaves with a brand; that was a seal to mark ownership. It was to grant security that you could not be confused as to who you were. It was to create authenticity. That's what the Holy Spirit does to you. It makes you secure that you are God's. It grants his ownership over you, and it authenticates that you are his.

Romans 8:16, if you want to read a little verse that will tell you what you need to be about, says that the inner testimony of his spirit bears witness that you are his son. You might be out there thinking, "Well, what's that feel like, Todd, that his Spirit bears witness with my spirit that we are his?"

I'll tell you what it is for me. It is the wisdom and insight of Scripture. It is the verification that I look in his Word and go, "Yeah, I believe that is true." It is when sin rears its ugly head in my flesh that his Spirit says, "That's not who you are, Todd. You're no longer a slave to that. You can choose now, if you'd like, life. You can choose to make me Lord because you are mine. You're my son; let me be your Daddy. Listen to my voice. Don't listen to the evil voice which leads you astray." The Holy Spirit has been given to you as a seal.

He's also given to you as a promise. We won't go look at these, but look at Joel 2:28. It was the great day that was promised in the Old Testament, that one day his Spirit would not just come upon you and leave for a moment, but it would indwell you. It says it would not only indwell only the priests and the prophets, but it would indwell sons and daughters, that everybody would have this Spirit.

It's the promise of the new covenant, which Jesus in John 14 told his disciples that he must leave so they could have the Spirit. It's what he told them in Acts 1:4 to wait for. He says, "Don't leave until the promise comes to you." That's why the day of Pentecost was such an amazing day. That's why Peter said, "It's amazing. These guys aren't drunk; they're full of the Spirit."

God has indwelt every individual believer. He's the fulfillment of the promise that indeed this mystery has been broken open, and God has given what he said he would. He's the seal to give you security, ownership, and authentication, and he's a promise fulfilled.

The Holy Spirit is also, it says right there, a pledge. The word for pledge, literally, is a word which means… In the King James, in fact, some of you out there are still reading it, it will say not pledge, but it will say, "who is given as earnest of our inheritance." Those of you in the real estate business will tell you that an earnest is what you put down on a home to show that you're serious about it, to go forth of the contract. If you back out, you lose your earnest. It's gone.

It's also, by the way, what was used as a word that came to mean an engagement ring in the Greek language. Now, girls, this is complete biblical authority for you. If a guy gives you an engagement ring and walks, you say, "Buddy, this was the earnest. I'm out of here, and I get the diamond." You now can turn to Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 14, and say, "Hey, sorry. I don't know how much you spent but it was too much." I'll back it up, right here, and say, "Listen, brother, that was the risk. When you said, 'Let's go,' she went, and now you lost it, all right?"

Let me ask you a question. Is God going to lose his Spirit? I think not. He wants that diamond back because you're his. The engagement ring thing works. It's an evidence that he has betrothed himself to you. You are the bride of Christ. He's going to come back one day and wed you. He's not going to leave his Spirit here; that's his diamond. Maybe in the rough, but it's his diamond. He's going to come back, and that pledge which he left, he's going draw home and wed you to him.

It says he's "…given as a pledge of inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." That redemption that Paul speaks of there is not a redemption from sin; that was taken care of at the cross. When you hear salvation in the Bible, I'll give it to you quickly, it's always thought of in three different ways.

There is what's called justification, which means you've been made legally right before God, that you've been justified before him, that there is no longer guilt. If you would, you have been freed at that point from the penalty of sin. Death is no longer yours because you've trusted in Christ. It says in John, chapter 5, verse 24, you've passed out of judgment and into life. You've been justified. You are right before him because you are in Christ, and before him you are holy and blameless.

The second part of salvation is what we are struggling in the midst of right now. It's called sanctification, where as a son, I have been adopted, and now he is my Father. I am no longer a slave to the god of this world. Daily, I am delivering myself with the truth of God's Word as I let the truth set me free, and I am renewed by my inner man day after day. I am delivered from the power of sin; it no longer enslaves me. I can choose to live for him. I must, that I might be proper view to an administration of the time that will come.

Then you have the third redemption, which is all part of salvation which happens, that it talks about in the Scriptures in the past tense, meaning it's already perfectly accomplished. At this day, when because you've been marked with the seal, that his Spirit testifies to your own spirit, because the promise has come, because it is a pledge, you will be redeemed, it says in verse 14, as God's own possession, and you will be taken out of the very presence of sin. That is called glorification. That's the redemption that Paul says you as a Christian can hold to.

Yes, you struggle now amidst the chaos of the world, but that chaos is ending in your life personally, and as Christians gather together in their communities, and one day, at the millennial reign when our King returns completely as he binds evil and reigns rightly over the world as a righteous dictator in the executive branch, we will be delivered from the very presence of sin in our glorified state.

Now the next time you are attacked, I told you chapter 1, verses 3 through 14 is one sentence. If you could only have one sentence in your Bible, I would recommend this one highly because it tells you again and again that you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. It tells you that you've been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. It tells you that you have been made holy and blameless before him. It tells you that you have been predestined to adoption as sons and all the immense gain that comes with that.

It tells you, as we have studied tonight, that you have been given redemption through his blood, that you have been shown, it says in the Scriptures, the mystery of his will, that you are no longer ignorant but full of wisdom and insight, and finally, that you have obtained an inheritance, a pledge, a seal, a promise which is sure.

Do I believe in security? You bet because Paul did, because Jesus did, because it's God's Word. His Spirit is in me testifying it, and the third thing which gives you assurance you are his is the fruit you bear in your life because you are a view to an administration which will come. Is that true of you? Are you bearing the fruit that's evidence that you know him as King, that's evidence that he has chosen you?

Why did he choose you? He chose you according to the kind intentions of his will. He chose you that you might glorify his name, the Scripture says. Let me read you what John Stott says about this very thing as warning as we leave. You need to know this. He says, "Here then are the 'how' and the 'why' of God's people, who are also his 'heritage' and his 'possession.' How did we become his people? Answer: 'According to the kind intention of his will.' Why did he make us his people? Answer: 'For the praise of his glorious grace.'"

You saw it three different times, didn't you? I told you you could break that passage, 3-14, down a number of different ways, and every time you finish, the work of the Father, the work of the Son, the work of the Spirit, it says he did it for the praise of his glorious grace. How did he do it? According to the kind intention of his will. Why did he do it? To the praise of his glorious grace.

He says, "Thus, everything we have and are in Christ both comes from God and returns to God. It begins in his will and ends in his glory. For this is where everything begins and ends." Now listen to this. "Yet such Christian talk comes into violent collision with the man-centredness and self-centredness of the world.

Fallen man, imprisoned in his own little ego, has an almost boundless confidence in the power of his own will, and an almost insatiable appetite for the praise of his own glory. But the people of God have at least begun to be turned inside out. The new society has new values and new ideals. For God's people are God's possession who live by God's will and for God's glory."

Is that you? The brand and the seal that God has put on us is not on the outside. It's on the inside which bears fruit on the outside. Or are you still absolutely concerned about your own little glory? Is that why you cling to the idea that you trusted Christ according to your own brilliance? The Scriptures strip you of that because you, little man, are not the one glory is ascribed to. It is the God who loved you and chose you and saved you. Let's pray.

About 'Ephesians, Volume 1'

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.