Sermon August 16, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1456

August 16, 2020 Ephesians 1.11-14

Dr. Ed Pettus

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

 

“To the Praise of His Glory”

 

11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 

  • To the Praise of His Glorious Grace

In my last sermon a couple of Sundays ago, I preached on the first eleven verses of Ephesians one and today I want to continue the similar main theme running through the first fourteen verses of chapter one. In the last sermon titled To the Praise of His Glorious Grace, I spoke of the blessings we have in two main areas, redemption and forgiveness. That all people in Christ have been saved in Christ and been forgiven in Christ. It is all about being in Christ and having Christ in us. You will notice today’s title is To the Praise of His Glory. Both titles come directly from Paul’s emphasis that all that Christ has done and all the blessings we have received in Christ are all for the sake of the glory of God. It is not all about us, not about me, not about anything else except to show the glory of God in all that God has done for us in and through Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit. We are here and we are created and we are redeemed for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Imagine our life through that goal for a moment. Imagine our lives through this understanding about our life and our purpose. Imagine thinking about this purpose daily, moment by moment. To God be the glory.

This is why the reformers penned one of the central tenets of the faith as soli deo gloria, glory to God alone. The Shorter Catechism begins with the question: What is the chief end of man? That is, what is our goal for life? Why are we here? What is our purpose? The answer: Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. We do not use the word glory much anymore, except in the church. Of course, the way many words are misused and abused in society, I think it is a good thing that glory has been protected and reserved for church use only! When we think of the term glory, we know of many uses in the scriptures. We use it as a noun and as a verb. As a noun we understand glory to be the honor due to God. It is who God is! We experience God’s glory in His attributes of goodness, power, righteousness, love, grace, and in so many others – they all point to God’s majesty or glory or awesomeness! We also use glory as a verb, to glorify the Lord. We glorify God or give glory to God through praise and worship. In one sense the verb form is why we were created – to glorify God. Isaiah 43 says: “bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (43:6-7 ESV).

Paul writes to the church at Corinth that glory is not only about praise and worship but about everything we do! “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). In our focus today, Ephesians 1, Paul repeats this refrain of glory to God in two places in fourteen verses: verses 5-6, “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” In our reading for today in verse 12, “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” and verse 14, “...the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Everything else Paul lifts up or our edification is about bringing glory to God. In the sermon from verses 1-11 it was the glory God gave us in all the benefits of being in Christ and the same holds true for the verses we read today.

 

  • In Christ – An Inheritance

Every believer in Christ will receive an inheritance, and, by the way, to the glory of God! Have you ever inherited something? Some here probably have. We sometimes see where children of wealthy parents receive a great deal through inheritance. We have also heard or seen where a parent will leave everything to charity or some families end up fighting over the inheritance. In Christ, we have the greatest inheritance imaginable. Twice Paul speaks of our inheritance. The inheritance is through Christ, 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, and it is guaranteed through the Holy Spirit, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

What shall we receive? Better said, what have we already received in Christ? This is the nature of this inheritance, we are already living off what we have received in Christ and there is still more to come. First we are predestined to something. I do not want to argue the merits or shortcomings of the doctrine of predestination, but Paul says here that this inheritance is predestined according to God’s will, not a legal will like we might have for ourselves, but His will as in His purpose for us. God has willed us to have all these great blessing in Christ.

 

  • God’s Will

Back in verses 7-9 we read that God has made known to us the mystery of His will. The core of that mystery is Christ Himself. Ephesians 1.7-9, “according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.” It is His will that we are in Christ. It is His will that we have received forgiveness, redemption, obtained an inheritance, and everything else Paul reveals to us in this letter. Now I feel like I need to talk about God’s will in a way that differs from the way we normally do. We often have said it ourselves and hear other talk about finding God’s will for one’s life. We tend to frame it around whether or not God’s will is to take this job or marry this person or attend this school. I understand that kind of thinking, but I think the Bible spells out God’s will for us in this way, that God has ordained a purpose for us in this, that whatever job we take, whatever person we marry, or whatever school we attend, we bring glory to God in those decisions. The will of God for our lives is Jesus, plain and simple. This is His revealed will for us. Everything else, yes, should be bathed in prayer when making decisions, but I do not think there is a will that we hit or miss with jobs and schools and spouses or other life decisions.

Take one of the most popular texts in the Bible on this topic, Romans 8.26-30,

 

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The will of God is the Spirit interceding for us in prayer. The will of God is to work things out according to God’s purpose (will). The will of God is that we become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The will of God is that we are justified and glorified! This is God’s will for our lives. God’s will for our lives is to bring Him glory in whatever we decide to do everyday.

 

  • Sealed in the Holy Spirit

Every bit of this life is sealed in the Holy Spirit, 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Back in the day the king would close an official document with a seal, a wax or a clay seal. You heat the wax and take the king’s signet ring and mash it into the wax to give it the official seal. This is the significance of God’s seal upon our lives. He has sealed us by the Holy Spirit. Think about that for a moment in light of a signet ring. We are marked by the Spirit. We are officially signed in like a vital document. We have the signature of God upon our lives. We carry with us the seal of God. This is God’s will for us and it is all to the praise of His glory.

 

  • To the Praise of His Glory

The last point in the sermon is about God’s glory. I wanted to begin and end here because this is where being in Christ begins and ends, all to His glory. One could argue that the whole Bible is about God’s purpose to bring His people to redemption in Jesus Christ and all the benefits we have seen in just these first fourteen verses of Ephesians. That purpose, that will, reveals God’s glorious grace. We are a people united with Christ and in that union we partake of the divine nature as 2 Peter 1 says,

3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

God’s will for our lives is found in what He has granted or willed for us, life, godliness, knowledge of Him and all to His own glory and excellence. His will is that we partake of the divine nature which is done through and in Jesus Christ. It is us in Christ and Christ in us. You in Christ and Christ in you. One of the most amazing verses of Scripture on this is from Paul who wrote to the Galatians, “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (4-19)! Imagine our lives in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in each one of us. This is the will of God to His glory, that Christ be formed in you, in us. And to that end we are called to foster that formation in one another. My next sermon will speak more to that issue.

If there is one thing that world needs to see in our time, it is the glory of God. If there is one thing the world needs to hear, it is the glory of God in the good news of Jesus Christ. We may not know how to address all the problems in the world, but God does, and He asks of us to do all things to His glory. When we reflect God’s glory in our lives, we may not know or see its effect, but we will be doing His will. Christ is already here, in our lives and we are to press on to live in Christ daily, to become united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. We are to trust in Him and obey His commands knowing fully the grace that has been given us. We know the love of God in our hearts and only though Christ can we influence and persuade others to come and see what God has done. This is the hope that glorifies God and this is the life God has given us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 
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