01 October 2017

BLESSED TO BE CHOSEN IN HIM (INTRO)


Book Of Ephesians

The keynote of this epistle is expressed in the opening of Paul’s letter. “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,” (v3) It’s the reminder we see in the old hymn song…..“Count your blessings, name them one by one,” an old gospel song urges us to, “count your blessings, see what God hath done.” The Apostle Paul takes stock in this letter of all that God has done for us through Christ. He begins by focusing on the nature of God rather than by listing each individual blessing. He begins by noting that God is worthy of being “Praised.”

“Blessing be to God” The word “blessing” is where we get the word “eulogy” and it means “to speak well of, a message of praise and commendation.” It declares a person’s goodness as a person shares at a funeral, a graduation or promotion at work. But! Our supreme eulogy, our supreme praise is for Him alone. "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Matt 19:17. When reading scripture we always need to remind ourselves that the gospel begins with God, not with us.

From cover to cover, the Bible is a book that reveals to us who God is. It begins in Gen. 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It ends with the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the supreme manifestation of God to us. Everything begins and ends with the Triune God, who oversees everything for His glory. If we are to know Him, He must reveal Himself to us, which He has done in Christ through the gospel. And because of the gospel we are have and are being radically transformed by God’s plan and purpose though the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ.

Think about this as we go through this letter! God’s Spirit has been given to God’s people so that through God’s word, God’s world might be brought to God’s Son.” This is the blessing of God’s Word. And it’s all because of Christ, that we are able to taste and savor this truth as God’s children. Why do I say this? It is the very element of our new life, and in it we have been brought into the enjoyment of unspeakable blessings which are here called “spiritual blessing”See this blessing should melt our hearts this morning! Goodness is God’s nature; this letter helps us to recognize the surpassing and humanly unattainable goodness of God. And nothing is more appropriate for God’s people then to bless His holy name because of His goodness. “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Rev 5:13

This is why we are blessed with “spiritual blessing” We know according to the Scriptures these spiritual blessings come from God which is consistent with His perfection and worthy of our adoration and praise. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:17-18. We are blessed with spiritual blessing because God is the source of all blessings. Goodness can only come from God because there is no source of goodness outside of God. This letter shows that we must be radically God-centered.

See, before this blessing came into our lives we were……

Dead in our sins, separated from God.
Foreigners who were lost.
We were darkened in understanding.
We were living in darkness.

But now though the gospel of Christ we have been brought into the blessing of His grace “spiritual blessing”.

We are alive with Him
We have been brought near
We are fellow citizens
We have learned about the truth of the gospel and we’ve put off the “old self” and put on the “new self”. Now we are “light in the Lord.” “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Eph 5:8

This letter has impacted many people, which demonstrates to us the power of God’s word. A man named John Mackay, who later became the president of Princeton Theological Seminary, when he was a fourteen-year-old boy in 1903, wandered out into the hills of the highlands of Scotland with his Bible in his hand, and read through the Book of Ephesians. According to his testimony it was a life-changing experience for him. He was gripped by the truth that he found in this book. Here is a message to you Young people! This reminds us that now is the time for you to do business with God. You don't wait until you go off to college, or wait until you get married and settle down and have children. Now is the time to do business with God. Now is the time to know Christ. Now is the time to know the living God, through Jesus Christ and the precious gospel. This is the power of God’s Word! What in the world did John McKay see in the Book of Ephesians? Well, he tells us. He says, “I saw a new world. Everything was new. I had a new outlook, new experiences, new attitudes towards other people. I loved God. Jesus Christ became the center of everything. I had been quickened. I was really alive.” This small letter of six chapters is filled with the riches of doctrinal truth and filled with the blessing to apply these truths into our lives! All because of the blessings we have in Heavenly places through the power of God’s word. It’s all because of Jesus! When we trust in Him as Lord and Savior we are placed in a marvelous union with Jesus Christ. As Paul says “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Rom 15:5-7. The unity the true church has is so much more than common agreement! It’s a unity of common life for the glory of God through Christ and the gospel.

Think about this as we begin this journey going through this letter to the church of Ephesus. And remind yourself what your “spiritual blessings” are and what they signify of your Christian life by being accepted into the Beloved. All the Lord has, those in Christ have. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” Rom 8:16-17

Christ’s riches are our riches.
His resources are our resources.
His righteousness is our righteousness.
His power is our power.
His position is our position.
Where He is, we are.
His privilege is our privilege
His practice is our practice.
What He does, we do.

We are those things, and have those things, and do those things by the grace of God, which never fails to work His will in those who trust Him. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Cor 15:10

A story to close! A rich man was in the habit of giving his wife an expensive piece of jewelry every year on her birthday. Every year he would phone the jeweler and say, “Send me your finest pearl necklace, along with your bill.” Or, “Send me your finest diamond pendant, along with your bill.” But every year the rich man would play a game with the jeweler. He would send the messenger back to the jeweler along with the original box, a note, and a check. The check was always written in the amount of several thousand dollars less than the price on the jeweler’s bill. The note would say, “Sir, I like the jewelry piece, but I do not like the price. If you will accept the enclosed check for a reduced amount, then please return the jewelry box with the seal unbroken.” For years the jeweler put up with the rich man’s game, accepting the reduced check, and returning the box with the seal unbroken. He still made a profit on the jewelry, even if it was a lower profit than he liked—and at least he was able to keep the rich man’s trade year after year. In time, however, the jeweler began to tire of this charade.

Finally the day came when the rich man placed an order for a lavish diamond necklace, and the jeweler decided he would not get clipped again. As usual, the jeweler sent the necklace in a box, along with his bill. Again, as usual, the box was returned with a reduced check for payment and a note. Enough was enough! The jeweler refused the check, kept the box, and sent the messenger away in disgust. When he opened the box to reclaim the necklace, he found that the necklace had been removed. In its place was a check for the entire amount of the jeweler’s bill. For years, the rich man had been sending the entire asking price of each jewelry piece—hidden inside the sealed jewelry box. In all that time, the jeweler had accepted thousands of dollars less than he could have received—because he didn’t open the box and look inside.

What is the point of this story? The hidden riches of Christ are available to you and me, but to find them, we have to open the Bible and especially the letter of Ephesians. It is here, in this letter, that we find the description of the riches we have in Jesus Christ. Remember “Count your blessings, name them one by one,” an old gospel song urges us to, “count your blessings, see what God hath done.” Why? “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,” (v3) These are the blessing that we will taste and savor as we go through a letter that changed the heart of a 14 year old boy on the hills of Scotland. A letter that reminds us of God’s goodness towards us when He changed our hearts though His gospel and grace through Christ alone.




CORRECTION FOR AUDIO SERMON! By grace alone is Sola Gratia - NOT Sola Fide as I said in my message. Sorry about that. God bless Pastor Mike

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