19 November 2017

FROM THE MORGUE TO A MANSION PART 1


Eph 2:1-10 (Part 1)

Man by nature has a big problem and it’s not with one another, you spouse or a friend or even an enemy domestic or foreign. Man’s biggest problem is sin, and in that sin, God see’s us as dead to Him. It’s one thing to say about someone you knew well and the relationship broke apart for whatever reason and your bitter and resentful and you end you saying “That person is dead to me” Though that’s not a nice thing to say but that’s nothing in comparison to how God looks at creation apart from Christ and His saving work. Man’s basic trouble is not being out of harmony with his heritage or his environment, but being out of harmony with his Creator. God sees creation; you and me before Christ came and took up residence in our lives….. As deadI remember going with a friend from the Moosehorn Church who was a mortician/funeral director and I would go for the ride and help him load and take the body to Winnipeg to the Coroner’s Office and when you go to a place like that there is no escaping or doubting if these people are truly dead. The smell, the look and even the feel of a person as you put them in the zipper bag for shipping…. there is no doubt to the fact that they are dead. One of the first indications of physical death is the body inability to respond to stimulus. A dead person cannot react, they are no longer responding to light, sound, smell, taste, pain or anything else. He or she is totally insensitive to the reality that they are dead.

This is how God sees you or saw you, before the gospel penetrated your life.

Dead by definition is…. “no longer alive, passed on/away, expired, departed, gone, no more; emotionless, unemotional, unfeeling, impassive, unresponsive.”

The bible says those who are dead spiritually are….

A Being without a spirit “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:26

Incapable of motion “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last,” Rev 1:17

Ignorance of all human affairs and absent of human passions “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.” Ecc 9:5-6
  
And most of all….. 

The inability to glorify God “The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17. That’s big problem and Ephesians chapter two clarifies that truth and reality. Before Christ saved us we were dead and God saw us as dead. Sadly though good intentional people fight the fact that God is the one who does the saving and they believe they played a part in their salvation. If that’s true then the Bible is lying that you were completely dead…..I guess you and I were only a little dead. The Bible declares the opposite! “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Cor 5:4. We face a sad predicament that we are not morally good and we are not neutral when it comes to our natural state. To quote Miracle Max in “The Princess Bride”We were not mostly dead.” We were totally dead. And we need a miracle that only God could perform.” Paul is very clear about our inability and man’s true state as it lines up with God and His perfections. We are, and were once dead! In order to have eternal life we need resurrection from the dead!

Why?

Apart from Christ, we were spiritually dead (v1-v3)

The wages of the penalty of sin is death! Our biggest problem isn’t that we cannot make meaningful relationships with other people, but that he has no right relationship to God. “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Eph 4:17-18
  
Paul begins with our pre-Christian past. The picture is not good “And you were” talking about the gentiles, but includes everyone in (v3) “all and then others”. This is the biblical diagnosis of our sinful nature. Paul describes who we were before Christ saved us from our sin with these three descriptions.

“We were dead” (v1)

This is referring to our previous state. Now we need to understand….. We were not dead because we had committed sin, but because we were in sin/sinners. “Trespasses and sins” do not refer simply to acts but first of all to the sphere of existence of the person apart from God.

“Trespasses” draws attention to acts of sin which means to slip, fall stumble or go the wrong way. In the spiritual realm is referring to “missing the mark”. As Paul wrote “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom 3:23. Naturally the world speaks opposite to this biblical truth. The world tells us that “We are basically good and if we just believe in ourselves, then we can do anything.” While a spiritual dead person may do some amazing things, they still are dead because they are not connected to the Vine. John MacArthur said this in his commentary on Ephesians “Throughout history people varied greatly in their levels of human goodness and wickedness. But in relation to achieving God’s holiness they are equal failures. This is why the good, helpful, kind, considerate, self-giving person needs salvation as much as the multiple murderer on death row. The person who is a good parent, loving spouse, honest worker, and civic humanitarian needs Jesus Christ to save him from the eternal condemnation of Hell as much as the skid row drunk or the heartless terrorist. They do not lead equally sinful lives, but they are equally in the estate of sin, equally separated from God and from spiritual life.”  We are all guilty of trespasses and out natural state before the gospel is we are all dead.

We were disobedient (v2-v3a)

Paul expresses how we were just like our parents disobeying God and followed after the pleasures and schemes of this present evil world. Our utter deadness to spiritual things was evident in our behavior, because we walked according to the course (age/period) of this world.

“We followed the world” an unsaved person is controlled by the influences of this present world system.

The natural man values what this world values over what God values, and these are contrary to His Foundation standards and plans for His creation. The values of this age are affected and consumed by the attitudes, habits and lifestyles of this present culture. Paul warned Timothy and the church about this “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Tim 3:1-5. The Apostle John wrote this as a warning “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. According to these verses we desperately need rescuing from this present evil world.


“We followed Satan” 

In the gospels Satan is ruler of demons and the god of this age John 12:31. Apart from Christ, Satan has always been our master! Why? Look what Paul writes “Now at work in the sons of disobedience” referring to how Satan’s works on unbelievers. They are not completely possessed by Satan but they do live in a world of darkness in which Satan has a strong swaying influence in the life of the unbelief. This is why Paul mentions this again in chapter five “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Eph 5:4-6. The influence of Satan because we are spiritually dead apart from Christ and saving work.
  
“We followed after our sinful desires” Paul calls this fleshly desire and the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts. What are those strong fleshly desires and inclinations of the flesh? It’s anything that is contrary with God and His perfect will for our lives. It’s the complete opposite of finding God and His grace. Its passions like: Anger, sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, jealousy, strife, dissensions, and drunkenness as it written in Gal 5:16-21. In the letter to the Romans such things or lifestyle is contradictory to God and the gospel. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8:5-8. Living according to flesh is living on dangerous ground with a holy God, especially when He sees creation as spiritually and completely dead. Outside of Christ and in our dead state this is where we get the doctrine of “Total Depravity” This means all aspects of our being have been infected with the deadly disease of sin. Not only are we completely depraved we are also have “Total inability” this is, morally we are not capable of responding to God apart from grace. As David Platt said “The fact is we do not want to respond to God. But Oh, how we need God’s grace.” Why? This leads me to the third point Paul is trying to remind the church of which they were before Christ and the grace of God in the gospel.
  
Apart from Christ we were doomed (2:3)

“by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” We were born of sinful parents into a sin cured world. We were born possessed of a bent and inherently sinful nature, and exposed to God’s wrath. The disobedience of this world is destined to wrath and sadly many people then and today do not see the course they are on. Reason? Blinded by truth, lovers of self and the pleasures of this world and they hate God. And most of all they are incapable and completely dead to God and things of God. The spiritual state of fallen mankind is they are dead and unable to save themselves from this future wrath. See no one can make or manipulate God in the end to say “He will change His mind when he meets me.” Our spiritual state could not be more tragic and hopeless apart from Christ. The same state a person who is lifeless lying on a stainless cold table awaiting coroners examination. And as the Hebrews writer said “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31. We need to understand our spiritual state before Christ saved us. God is holy and He will not sweep sin under the rug. Many people think God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and in the New Testament He is a God like Mr. Rogers who says “Won’t you be my neighbor”.

Know this! God will judge and destroy sin and sinners alike because He can only do what is perfect and just. The good news for us is that He takes dead people and brings them back to life. The good news is that God poured out His flaming wrath on His Son. Jesus drank the cup of my wrath so that God could raise me from the dead. You do not raise yourself, God is the one who breaths into these dead bones and makes us alive to be with Him for all eternity.

As R C Sproul said “God just doesn't throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive. Apart from this grace a person may be present and walking amoung us, but they are dead until God gives them life. We saw this truth in the life of the prodigal son “And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:23-24
  
Jesus drank the cup and we drank grace.  He took our helpless state and made us alive with Him through the gospel. And we will see that next week as Paul draws our attention to this depravity in order to magnify the mercy and grace of God in saving us from our helpless and dead state. And He does it with two sweetest words in the Bible “But God…”


12 November 2017

FOR THIS REASON THE CHURCH PRAYS


Eph 1:15-23

On Monday I was going through my Facebook feed and I came across a post by the Gospel Coalition and prayer one of their distributors written out about the tragedy from last Sunday’s Church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Here is what he wrote…“Heavenly Father, not again. Not another unthinkable act of wickedness . . . so soon, too soon. We begin this day with heavy hearts, fearful hearts, and angry hearts. Our hearts break for the family of believers at First Baptist Church, the community of Sutherland Springs, and those living in the greater San Antonio area. We share their shock; we enter their pain. Father, show us how to love in the place of so much loss. Show us how to pray in the face of such great evil.

We grieve for families who lost children and siblings, parents and friends. We grieve for a small town subjected to such a huge tragedy. We grieve for a church whose worship of Jesus was violated with gunfire and death. We grieve for ourselves; and we own our feelings of vulnerability and confusion. And we hope. Evil doesn’t get the last word; Jesus does. His cross defeated evil. His resurrection routed death. His love trumps hate. His reign anchors our hope. His peace centers our hearts. His compassion moves us forward. His return will complete the Story. Hallelujah.

Father, with tears on our cheeks and hands raised in praise, we trust you. Lead us in these coming hours and days. May we grieve with hope, lament with peace, and love with abandon.
So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’s triumphant and tender name.”

It is times like this the church is stirred but not shaken by such evil and wickedness. It is times like this the church is tested, tired and stretched out of our comfort zones. It is times like this we are reminded to pray without ceasing for others over ourselves. The universal cry of the true church is prayer! Prayer is a vital support system for the church locally and globally. Prayer plays a huge part in the church whether we like the outcome or not. Prayer drives the body of Christ into unity and submission, praying for those affected. Prayer is powerful and life changing that the world mocks at and no nothing of or about the power of prayer.

As one young lady twitted after the shooting “Yeah prayer really helped all those people in CHURCH.” Did prayer help? Does it help the church? Answer: Yes it does, because it drives the true church to stand together and support one another around the globe for people that you and I don’t know. As Paul said “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph 4:4-6.

Can you imagine the universal cry of the church Sunday afternoon? Imagine if you could hear what God heard that Sunday afternoon by His children around the globe in sorrow of this tragic and senseless act of hate. The essence of this passage is a great reminder for us to go deeper and grow deeper in our love for Christ and this is Paul’s prayer. A prayer that should be universal of the true church as the prayer I read to you at the beginning of my message.

Think about it! We are plugged into the very power of God by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit found in the gospel. (v15) As we come to this passage there is something we can see at first glance! Paul says “that you may know” (v18) It’s like they are missing something! They have what they need, but there is something missing. Paul expresses through his prayer they would get to the next level or stage in their Christian life. See, they had the basics truth of the gospel down pat, by what we read in the opening remarks here in this passage. “I heard of your…” But if we look carefully we see something else…. Paul’s desire for them to grow deeper in love with Christ, his desire to see them discover the amazing beauty and intimacy that found in Christ alone. His prayer is a selfless prayer which in essence should be a universal prayer of the church! Paul prays that they would come to fully understand and appreciate those blessing that they received in the previous passage.

Eph 1:3-13 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He chose us….He predestined us …He has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness….He lavished upon us….we have obtained an inheritance…In 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,”

That’s why Paul starts his sentence in (v15) with “for this reason”

It’s for this reason I hear of your love for Christ 
It’s for this reason I hear of your love for one another 
It’s for this reason I hear of your love for the church 
It’s an amazing to stop once and while and reflect upon the beauty of the gospel, 
And the implications of the transforming work it does to individuals and the church as a whole.

Paul writes this prayer to encourage them as a church as they begin their pilgrimage walk home into the Kingdom. Paul finds great joy in this because there change displays a genuine transforming work found in the gospel. Not only are they exercising faith in Christ, but they are also displaying that love towards one another. This is evidence of saving faith and transformed hearts. R C Sproul said this in his commentary of Ephesians “throughout the ages the church has understood that the most significant manifestation of true faith is love. Faith without love is not faith, only speculation or knowledge or more intellectual assent.”

Where have we seen this in the gospels? Jesus said “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” Matt 15:7-8. Paul saw the evidence of change these dear people and it filled his heart with joy…….a change that he himself could relate toRemember he was a man who once hated and killed Christians, but God got a hold of his heart and changed him into a man who loved and wept over souls for Christ. The fruit of authentic faith is always displayed by love! Paul is expressing his joy and delight as he writes this prayer to the believers of Ephesus. He writes them to remind them that this is only the beginning to something amazing! You’re on the right path, so keep goingBut, he prays, that the Lord would reveal more of Himself to them as they make their pilgrims walk. This prayer is a great minder to all of us! And something we should be praying as a family for one another. 

FOR THIS REASON THE CHURCH IS A LIFELONG PURSUIT OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH CHRIST. (v17-v18)

It will take you the remainder of this life into the next [eternity] to grasp the supreme excellence found in the God who loved us and gave us His Son to die for our sin. But it’s a pursuit that is not wasted and it something we need to be praying about for one another. Ask yourself this question! What does it mean to know someone more personal or intimate? Joshua Harris wrote a book “Dug Down Deep” and this portion of scripture reminds me of this book! Joshua said “digging down and building on the rock isn’t a picture of being nominally religious or knowing Jesus from a distance. Being a Christian means being a person who labors to establish his beliefs, his dreams, his choices, his very view of the world on the truth of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished—a Christian who cares about truth, cares about sound doctrine.”

This is and should be an ongoing process for every believer. As the Apostle Paul said “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death,” Phil 3:10. Look again what Paul prays for (v17-v18) “having the eyes of your heart enlightened that you may know” (v18) Emotions have a significant place in the Christian life, but they are reliable only as they are guided and controlled by God’s truth. We can only come to that understanding when we know and understand that through His word.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col 3:16

This is required in order to fall deeper in love with Him and to have openness to His truth. As Sproul said “the whole Christian life involves an unfolding and enlarging of the heart’s openness to the things of God.”

Paul wants them to know the wonderful truth of……


Election
Predestination
Adoption
Redemption
Forgiveness
Wisdom
Insight
Inheritance
Sealing of the Holy Spirit

The more you know who God is… the more you fall deep in love with Him! Remember the encounter that Jesus had with the 2 people on the road to Emmaus? “They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke 24:32. The true depth of our love begins when God is the object of our devotion, adoration and reverence. The gospel of our salvation is the beginning to an intimate relationship with Christ through the written word. For the purpose of knowing Him more not only as Saviour, but as a loving God and Father who adopted you and me into His family.
  
FOR THIS REASON THE CHURCH IS LIFELONG CALLING TO UNDERSTAND THE KEEPING POWER FOUND IN CHRIST. (v19-v20)
  
The word Paul uses here is “power” a word from which we get the word “dynamite” and we all know what dynamite can do. It’s explosive upon impact! This is the same thing that came upon you, through the gospel and the keeping power of God in your life. God’s sustaining grace will always keep you and never let go. This power is only for Christians, for those who believe. The surpassing greatness of God’s power is given to every believer. IT’S NOT SOME…. super power so we can have some mystical experience, second blessing or some additional work of grace. When we were saved, we received all of God’s grace and all of His power, and that assures us of the realization of our eternal hope.

This is the point! Our eternal hope…is why we pray and most of all why we are getting ready to be with Christ for all eternity. As an illustration of this power of God, Paul points to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. We all know that dead people don’t come back to life. Yet, the power of God not only raised Christ from the dead, but also seated Him at the right hand of the Father. The position of power and authority, high over all rulers and authority and power etc. As Paul said “that every knee will bow before Him because of this great power!” This is the power of God that is working in you and for you, for us who are called to His hope, and receiving His inheritance among His saints. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that sustains you throughout your Christian walk and throughout eternity. This same power will raise you up and delivery you into glory to be with Christ, which is far better. Perhaps we, like the people in the church of Ephesus, we need to be reminded of these truths. Maybe you’re someone who right at the start, and need to begin with that faith in the Lord Jesus. Or maybe your love for God and His church has been weakening by your own tragedy, sin or lack of faith and you need to be encouraged and strengthened. That’s the power of prayer! So be encouraged and be reminded of this power that lives inside of you! 

FOR THIS REASON THE CHURCH IS A LIFELONG DISCOVERY OF THE AWESOMENESS OF GOD. (v21-v23)

How amazing is God? Words can’t describe the awesomeness of God. The scriptures declare “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Ps 8:1-9

Paul declares to us that the supremacy of Christ, the glorious One, is completely worthy of all our adoration and praise. To sit back and reflect that Christ fills the universe because He Himself is the “fullness of God”. Christ gets the pre-immense in our lives! To realize and find comfort that Jesus is supreme over your life and that he will bring it to completion one day because he is the all sustaining one. By definition supreme means? Highest in authority; holding the highest place in government or power. In the United States, the congress is supreme in regulating commerce and in making war and peace. In Canada we have our House of Parliament who governs over us. In the universe, God only is the supreme ruler and judge. His commands are supreme, and binding on all his creatures.

Christ reigns supreme over Heaven, earth, authorities, power and lords. Christ reigns supreme over kings, princes, ministers, presidents, angels, over the good and bad. Christ reigns supreme over pastors/elders, deacons, church staff, lay person in the church
  
King Jesus upholds everything under His power! And that should cause us or make us fall down in fear and reverence for Him. This should cause the church to wake up and realize who the head of the church is and why we exist as a body of believers in this lost generation. This should stir the church to get on their knees and pray for one another. That should cause us to stop and say personally “Who is really in control of my life?” Answer: It’s Jesus Christ our Supreme Lord!

I like what John MacArthur said about Jesus “He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine, and yet He healed more broken hearts than the doctors have healed broken bodies. This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and the lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords, and the healer of all diseases. And throughout history great men have come and gone yet He lives on. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him. This is our Christ the preeminent one.”

Make Christ supreme in your life! Which means….

First place in our families
First place in our marriages
First place in our professions
First place in our missions and ministries
First place in matter of the intellect
First place in time
First place in love
First place in conversation
First place in pleasures
First place in eating
First in play
First place in what we watch
First place in worship
First place in this church

A man and his wife were travelling through northern Texas on Interstate 40, and we pulled off at a rest stop. On a sign was a description of the area. One sentence caught the man’s attention. It read, "Traveling the high plains of Texas is an experience in immensity." How true it was for him! Stretching out as far as the eye could see was the vast open space of land and sky. Getting to know the infinite God can also be described as an experience in immensity. His love for sinners and the salvation He provides truly surpasses all knowledge and we will be forever be trying to get the foot hills of His presence to know him more. According to the bible it’s going to take a really long time! The bible calls it “eternity” but one thing for sure; it will be well worth it. So praise Him, grow in Him, trust in Him and love Him and worship Him. He is alive and sitting at the right hand of God with all power and authority and will one day come in great glory. Its God desire that every believer one day conforms to the image of the Son. “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.” Rom 8:29. That Christ would be supreme in our lives that he would get the glory though me and know as we grow in wisdom of our amazing LORD.

This is my prayer for you and me and this was Paul’s prayer some two thousand years ago for the church.

05 November 2017

SEALED BY SOVEREIGN GRACE


Eph 1-11-14

There are three important words we are going to see in this text, and it’s something that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds as we go through this passage about the inheritance we have through the gospel.

Predestined
Heard
Sealed

Three very important words that bring rest and comfort and blessed assurance to the promises given by God, HimselfWhy is that expression “By God, Himself” important to emphasize. See…..

I break my promises from time to time. (Ask my children and my wife) 
You break your promises from time to time. (Ask your family & friends) 
It is human nature to break promises. (It’s part of our selfish fallen nature) 
Governments/politicians break promises. (That’s a no brainier) 
Advertisers break promises (not as good of a product as they promised) 
Employers and employees break promises (The promises of wages or hours increased, to lack of production and unreliability. 
Preachers and church members break promises (say one thing and do another or nothing at all to help)

We need to understand! Some are made with the best intentions and others are made in order to deceive and exploit. And sadly all of us at some point in time find ourselves both making and receiving promises that, for whatever reason, do not materialize.

Here is where I say “But” But we can be eternally thankful that God’s promises are not like oursEvery promise He makes, He keeps. As the Hebrew writer said “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Heb 10:23. And just like Abraham, we should be fully assured that what God promises He is able and certain to perform. Paul penned these words “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Rom 4:19-21

How about after Abraham was blessed with the Son of promise“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." Gen 22:1-2. Then we read “Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.” Gen 22:5-8

Here is the beautiful part of God’s promises “Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD (pre-incarnate Christ) called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." Gen 22: 11-14

This was a picture or prelude to what would happen many years later when the Lord Jesus Christ would take our place from a promise that God made in the first gospel message. Gen 3:14-15 reminds us of this wonderful promise “The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Paul in this portion of his letter is reminding us about the many blessing we have in Christ Jesus. And these three words predestination, heard and sealed are important to understand the many blessing we receive from a holy God.
  
The divine perspective and grounds of our inheritance (v11-v12)

“In Him”…having been predestined” God’s appointed plan for the universe is to bring all things on Heaven and earth together. The goal of creation is neither chaos nor disharmony but unity, and the point of unity will be His anointed King.,The phrase “we have received or obtained” speaks of something in the future that is sure to happen. And it’s through Jesus Christ that we have received and await this glorious inheritance in Christ Jesus.

How has this happened?
How do we have such a future that awaits us? According to God’s sovereign purposes.

Sovereign means: There are no limits to God’s rule. This is part of what it means to be God. He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.Through God’s sovereignty Paul says we have been “predestined according to the One who works out everything in agreement with the decisions of His will.”  God’s perspective on how you entered grace…… You were predestined... "being predestined" According to His purpose... "the purpose of him" Upheld by His power... "who works all things" for His praise... "to the praise of his glory" This universe is destined for glory and Christians are predestined to participate in and witness to that glory. As Christians we are what we are because of what God chose to make us before any man was created.

As John MacArthur said in his commentary “ From eternity past He declared that every elect sinner, though vile, rebellious, useless and deserving of death who trusted in His Son would be made righteous as the One in whom they put their trust.”

As we’ve already seen “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (v4). Look what Paul writes “God…who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (v11). Let that sink in this morning! It’s a hard truth to swallow, but it’s so amazing to know God love extends beyond the Heavens and for us the recipients of this grace we will never be disillusioned. Because God never breaks His promises and He has had this plan from the beginning. Our inheritance with Christ is yet another of the amazing and magnificent blessings with which the Father has blessed us in the Son.
  
The Human perspective and the Guarantee of our inheritance (v13-14)

You’re perspective on how you entered grace…..You heard the word of truth and responded in belief. We know in the church there is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. A tension that, in man’s limited and imperfect knowledge, man is incapable of fully reconciling. Understanding that we know the truths are in perfect accord in God’s mind and that knowledge should satisfy us. 

Someone has pictured the divine and human sides of salvation in this way! “When you look towards Heaven you see a sign that reads “Whosoever will may come.” And after you enter Heaven you look back to that same sign and read on the other side “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”

Whatever God’s reasons for designing such humanly clashing truths, we should thank and praise His holy name for saving us. The dangers in not accepting the truth of God’s divine election is this…. Man-made systems of religion that rely on rituals or works or both, not only do not lead to God, but they can become great barriers to finding Him. The only way to come is through His Son. “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." Rom 10:10-11. Nevertheless the divine mystery of election will continue to causes a person to scratch their heads. But to the trusting believer such truths are but further evidence that Scriptures and the God of the scriptures are the works of God and not man’s. This is why God didn’t leave us alone after He saved our souls out of darkness into His glorious light! (v13c)

Then you were sealed by the Holy Spirit....A seal does three things:

It proves authenticity
It points to ownership
It provides security

See, we are a people who desire and strive after assurance and securities.
That’s why we lock our doors at night, wear seat belts and have air bags in our vehicles. We invest or put our money into the bank, or have RRSP. We want security and knowing we have security calms the heart, mind and soul. Why? Because we are fallible people who break promises, and at times are unreliable. When we buy an item such as an I Pod, PS4 or Jewellery we want some assurance or a warranty that if it breaks we can get a replacement of have it fixed for free. When you buy a car or home you want assurance that the car won’t break down after you leave the Lot or the roof leaks after you sign the dotted line to purchase the home. This is why we have insurance and pre-planned funerals to find comfort and rest knowing things are going to be taken care. When you believed God’s truthful message, the gospel that saved you, you were placed into Christ and stamped with a seal that cannot be broken, erased, deleted or tampered with.

This unbreakable seal is the Holy Spirit Himself and signifies God’s total approval of you! When He looked over all that He had done in you, He saw nothing flawed or inferior whatsoever, but all was as it should be. That seal tells everyone that you belong to God and no one can ever interfere with the package because of its seal! Even more, this Holy Spirit-stamp means the postage is pre-paid to get you all the way to your ultimate destination! So you can be sure that once your journey with the Lord began, you will make it all the way to the final destination…

“safe forever, home at last.”

This is where we get the doctrine of eternal security for the genuine believer! The doctrine of security of the true believer is fundamental to the character of God. Without realizing it, those who reject the security of the believer attack the very character of God. It’s either we are sealed and God is true, or we are not sealed and His Word is false. Two of the three references to the sealing of the believer are found in this letter that we are studying.

We’ve already looked at one of them here in (V13)

The second one is ….. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:30

The third one is found in 2 Cor 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

The doctrine of eternal security is gives us hope, rest and blessed assurance. It’s not to cause us to fight or debate God’s truth with the idea of making it fit our narrative or predisposition. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise of not just redeeming us, but keeping us and no one can steal or take that away from His redeeming grace on those whom He chooses.

Think about this for a moment! From God’s divine perspective our redemption has already been accomplished. DONE, nothing more needs to be done for you or me. All finished in Christ! The only thing that is left to do for us to be complete is “glorification” we are not there yet……but that is our end game. When He saved me, He sealed me and then He laid down a payment so there would be no question of my assurance of redemption and glory in His presences. 

If it is possible for a believer to lose his salvation, then God’s down payment is worthless.

If a believer can lose his salvation, God’s seal is without value.

When we think like this, what we’re doing is questioning a holy God. Because what we are doing is contradicting God’s truth, character and promises we have in His redeeming grace. God is the one who has obligated Himself. He didn’t say “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you something to get started and then let’s see if you make it.” If that were so were would all lose our salvation!

As John MacArthur said “If you could lose your salvation you would.”

This is why we are sealed on the day of my, your redemption. The Spirit of God is God’s down payment, God’s guarantee that were are His adopted children saved by and for His glory. And when God provided the down payment, He is on the line to keep His word. That’s our inheritance and like the old saying “You can take that to the bank.” This security of God’s divine electing grace doesn’t make me want to go out and sin.
  
What is does do……

It’s a reminder to me that the Spirit of God who indwells in me is the holy One of God, and grieves over my sin in my life. And my sin and your sin should do the same, especially when our sin was paid at such a high cost….the shedding of His Son’s blood. Knowing this truth this morning should cause our hearts to praise God for His goodness and should cause our minds to want to live for His glory. And to live a life that is pleasing to Him because a life that is emulating His grace and love of the One who resides in me. And through Him I might evidence the fact that I am destined for glory in His presence. All because we are sealed by sovereign divine grace through the gospel that saves.