Sermon August 2, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1455

August 2, 2020 Ephesians 1.1-10

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“To the Praise of His Glorious Grace”

 

 

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

 

 

  • Blessings in Christ (Chosen) 3-5

 

The first thing that strikes me in the passage is the number of times Paul refers to being “in Christ” or a derivative of “in Christ”, “through Christ” or “before Christ” and so on. First he addresses the church as a people in Christ, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:” This is a defining address of a new identity for the church at Ephesus. They are a people faithful in Christ. Their lives and their very being is defined by being in Christ. I’m reading a book about union with Christ and the author says that faith is finding your identity in Christ (Union With Christ, Rankin Wilbourne, pg 135). This may be a critical understanding that combats today’s “selfie culture” where everything is about me, from Meghan Trainor’s song that says “If I was you I’d wanna be me too” to Kanye West who once said, “I’m nothing, if I can’t be me.” We used to talk about people going off to find themselves. Now we live in a culture that chooses all kinds of things that have never been choices, one day someone can be a man and another day a woman. It’s a choice, well, as if it were a choice. But the Bible shows us that our real identity is not is self-determination; it is not about self at all except that we are to die to self. I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2.20). Our real identity is in Christ and Christ in us. This is where we find life and meaning and purpose and everything promised us in Christ.

We have been given blessings in Christ. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In Ephesians 1.3-5 we see a multitude of blessings: God chose us in Christ (vs 4) and this was before the foundation of the world. The blessing of being chosen is that we are deemed holy and blameless in Christ (vs 5). This is not anything we have done. It is not something we find by looking into our self or finding ourselves, but it is bestowed only by God in Christ by His own choosing. And that is not all, for God has also chosen us for adoption to Himself as sons through Christ (vs 6).

Blessed in Christ. Chosen in Christ. Holy and blameless before Christ. Adopted by God through Christ. Every one of these blessings is according to God’s purposes. It is His work. It is His plan and purpose for His chosen people and it is all to show us that real life is about being in Christ. Our lives are hidden in Christ (Col 3.3) which means we have a particular kind of relationship with Christ. Sometimes we talk about a personal relationship, a friendship, and the Bible reveals a multitude of ways we are related to Christ. Sheep to shepherd, servant to master, disciple to teacher, and yet Jesus calls the disciples His friends. There is a certain intimacy with Christ that did not exist between people and God prior to Christ.

 

Why so much talk about being “in Christ?” Paul writes “in Christ” we have this, “through Christ” we have that…the list is extensive covering all that we need for faithful living. Being in Christ means we do not have to be anxious about the things of this world. When we come into Christ we are all set to be holy, blameless, adopted, given grace, and in the last part of our outline today, redeemed, forgiven, knowledgeable. In a sermon to come we will also see that we are given an inheritance, marked by God, and living for the praise of God’s glory.

We have all this before us, it is ours, given by God to those in Christ, but you see, it is for those “in Christ.” Holiness, grace, knowledge – this list of who we are or what we have in Christ gives us renewed hope. We have so much in Christ that enables us to overcome our anxieties, to hope beyond the things of this world, to help us deal with the events in our lives, to discern God’s will. Those who are not in Christ have nothing but worries. The things of this world concern the minds of those who are not “in Christ.”

 

  • To the Praise of His Glorious Grace 6a

 

I have set up the sermon outline to show a hinge between verses 3-5 and 6b-10. That hinge is verse 6a, to the praise of his glorious grace. Every blessing we have been given is because of God’s glorious grace. It’s all about that grace! (No trouble! ...for you Meghan Trainor fans) Every blessing in what it means to be chosen of God and every blessing that we will see in the following verses about being redeemed in Christ comes from God’s grace and leads to the praise of God’s glorious grace. We do not deserve the blessings God has given us. But all was made possible by Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ. It is all gifted to us.

God does all this, the holiness, the grace, the redemption, and the forgiveness, all is done for us so that others may see the glory of God. Three times Paul refers to the “praise of God’s glory.” Verse 6a, to the praise of his glorious grace. Verse 12, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Verse 14, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 

When people ask us about our actions, when others are curious about why we do and say what we do, we might respond, “for the praise of God’s glory.” I think we sometimes forget all that God has done for us in Christ partly because there is so much! We cannot comprehend the vastness of what God has done. But we don’t have to keep all these things in our minds all the time in order to praise God, just offer our praise to His glory and live to glorify Him and to live in Christ.

We can constantly give praise for what God has done in Christ. The Psalms give us examples of why we praise. That praise is found in the form of doxology…

 

Praise the Lord, (why?) for great is his steadfast love (117:1),

I will extol you, O Lord, (why?) for you have drawn me up (30:1),

I love the Lord, (why?) because he has heard my voice (116:1),

O give thanks to the Lord, (why?) for he is good (136:1),

Extol, bless, praise, laud, declare, meditate, proclaim, celebrate, sing God, (why?) [for God] is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (145:1-8).

 

Now, in Christ, we have even more reasons to live to the glory of God and to praise Him daily. In Christ we are chosen and redeemed!

 

  • Blessings in Christ (Redeemed) 6b-10

 

In the section following God’s glorious grace we find more blessings in Christ. Verse 7, redemption through Christ’s blood which is the forgiveness of sin, once again all because of God’s grace. This redemption and forgiveness have been made known to us as His mysterious will in verse 8. The revealed mystery is the gospel of Christ. It is the proclamation of the cross where Jesus took the sins of the world upon His shoulders. It is no longer a mystery at least in that now we know Jesus saves us. It is still quite mysterious all the spiritual dimensions of the cross, but now we know God’s purpose for our salvation.

As we are struggling to make sense of much that goes on in the world, this is a word from God we need to hear again and again. In Christ we are chosen and redeemed. In this good news we share a deep relationship with Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and before Christ. While we are separated in certain ways from one another during this time of COVID19, we might consider again our life in Christ who has promised to be with us to the end of the age. In Him we will find companionship, fellowship, hope, life, love, presence, and all the blessings given in Christ to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

 

 
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