08 October 2017

BLESSED TO CHOSEN BY GOD PART 1


Eph 1:1-14

We are so blessed with spiritual blessing in heavenly places and it’s all because of Jesus Christ. We cannot fathom how blessed we truly are until we see the beauty of the gospel that saved our own wretched lives. Until we can see the glorious Christ who died in our place. Until we can taste the grace of His mercy, the One who called us out of darkness. Because our life apart from Christ was a life of darkness and for many years I enjoyed that dark night. Jesus said this “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John 3:19. This was my life until one day He illuminated the truth into my heart and I saw my sin for what it was…….”Evil” This is the power of God unto salvation, not my ability to get myself right with a holy God who has every right to destroy Mike Andrews.

This is the beauty of God’s calling! We have been chosen in Him! Now put your earthly reasoning aside and let faith listen to the revelation of this letter as we see the mercy and love that God has for sinners, who embrace the truth of the gospel. If you are a child of God, He chose you! Let that soak in for a moment. This is the nature of Election! Which we need to admit this is a great mystery…But God is God and we are not.
The focus of the opening chapter is not on what we must do, but rather on what God has done for us. In the first two chapters the new life of this “spiritual blessing” that we have in Christ is explained with power and beauty. 

We are going to look at this doctrine of Election that has caused commotion and fighting in the church for centuries. I’m here to tell you this morning that this is a beautiful expression of God’s love for sinners like you and me.

In the opening remarks of this chapter we see God is….

Perfectly loving (v4-v5)
Eternally sovereign (v5)
Gloriously gracious (v6-v8)

See we need to humble ourselves under this truth this morning. God can do whatever He pleases and whatever He does is always consistent with who He is. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Ps 115:3. The doctrine of “Election”  is beautiful doctrine and its found in (v4) “chose us in Him” This word indicates that God not only chose/elects by Himself, but for Himself to the praise of His glory.

Election is an expression of God’s love for His children.

God is sovereign and choosing is simply an expression of His eternal control over things. 
God is gracious in choosing is an expression of His grace for sinners. 
God’s wisdom in choosing is an expression of His infinite wisdom.

(READ EPH 1:1-14) I don’t want you to think that is some new word created by John Calvin one night in his study. Or this doctrine should be denounced because it stirs up conversations in the church. This doctrine is to remind us of the grace of God in salvation and where our worship is directed to. Encountering this doctrine should cue us the church to start worshipping. This word has been the foundation of God’s redeeming grace throughout the scriptures.

Election goes back to Abraham. “Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Gen 12:1-13
  
God chose to make a nation of that patriarch’s descendants. He chose Israel to be His people. He worked his purposes out through that one nation and in due course sent His Messiah as a Jew. God continued to choose, or elect, people in accordance with his purpose (Rom. 9:11), grace (Rom. 11:5), love (1 Thess. 1:4), and foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2). The “elect” can rely on God’s concern for them (Luke 18:7) and on their sure salvation (Rom. 8:33). “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.” Rom 8:33

Don’t scare away from this doctrine as some taboo thing that has hurt the church for centuries. Look at this doctrine with the eyes of Christ as receive it as a blessing from God, because that’s what it is 
“A blessing from God”.

 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deut 7:6

“For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.” Isa 45:4

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48


It is said that Lydia was saved when…..”…the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. “Acts 16:14
  
“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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Rom 8:29-30
“though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.” Rom 9:11
  
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” 1 Thess 1:4-5 

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2 Tim 2:8-10
So don’t shy away or tune out this word as some form of evil,

but embrace this doctrinal truth into your hearts and see the beauty of God’s grace. It’s a beautiful day when a child is adopted from an orphanage into a loving a family who’s desire is to care for them as long as they can. It’s just as beautiful to know of a loving God who chose to save a sinner who was once rebellious, a hater and oppressor of the truth. 

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Rom 5:8-11
  
So, let me explain this process of God’s divine election as it pertains to you and me in the opening remarks of Paul’s letter.


THE TIME OF OUR ELECTION

“He chose us in Him before the creation of the world.” (v4)

We go back to eternity past and we see that God was thinking about you and me. Not only thinking of us, but also loving us and planning to bless us long before we were born. What this means is that God’s redemption was no small thing. Redemption was no afterthought, no hasty provision to remedy the catastrophe of the fall. This reveals to us the heart of a loving God with an eternal great concern. A concern that Jeremiah said “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jer 31:3. Think about this statement! Eternal in its beginning and in its duration God has never stop loving, thinking about you with the redemption to adopt you into His family. If you cannot see that as a blessing then there something wrong and it’s not with God, it’s with us.

Do you see what Paul is saying to us? God chose us and purposed to save and bless us before He ever made us. Therefore God must have made us on purpose that He might save us. We were created for more than just this life/world. See election is the gracious purpose of God. According to the Scriptures…..He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies sinners. This is consistent with the free agency of man, and this is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy and unchangeable attributes. By this great act of God….it excludes boasting and produces humility. Again we must admit there is a mystery here but He is God and we are not! He purposed you and me and everyone that walks this earth before the foundations of the world. And He knew/knows who are His and who are not… before the foundation of the world. John penned these words “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Rev 17:8

Anyone whose name was not written in the Lambs Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. A gentle warning to us! If you are unhappy with what God says about election, it indicates that there needs to be an adjustment made to your submission to Him and to His purposes. He is the Potter and we are the clay. “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” Rom 9:17-21
  
This portion of Paul’s letter makes my heart melt that He called me out of darkness. Because if He didn’t….. my name would not be in that book before the foundation of the world. It is an awesome concept when one considers that those whose names are the Book of Life were put there before the foundations of the world. That is a blessing we have in heavenly places. One might ask the question! Is it fair that God chooses some for salvation and does not chose others? We need to understand that God is dealing with sinful human beings and He is not obligated to save anyone.

This leads people to ask! Why does God save some and not all? The question we need ask ourselves is “Why does God save any at all?” All God is obligated to do is to be just! We are the ones who were sinners and rebellious against God. We are the ones who turned our backs on God through the fall in the garden. God is not obligated to save any of us! And soon as its been pointed out that God saves some, someone cries “Not fair”

Was it fair for Judas Iscariot? The Old Testament says “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” Ps 41:9 The scripture even says that when Jesus chose Judas, he knew Judas would be the one to fulfil the prophecies of betrayal. Matt 27:9-10. God knowing chose him to fulfill the plan. And yet Judas was never coerced nor had some invisible hand forcing him to do anything. 

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng.” Ps 5512-14

Judas had every opportunity as the rest of the disciples and us to find forgiveness and grace. He heard the sermons and illustrations and parables about the unjust steward, the message of the wedding garments, the preaching against the love of money.

Judas listened to all of these lessons yet never applied one of them to his life. As John MacArthur said “He kept up his deceit.” He had every opportunity, even the opportunity when he pointed out Jesus in the garden. “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him.” Matt 26:48-49. Luke penned these words! “Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48. He acted freely on his own and he was completely responsible for his own actions. Don’t let this truth bog you down to miss the blessings of what Paul is telling us this morning. We have been chosen though the blessings of the gospel to taste and savor this truth for all eternity. And it’s all because of Christ and God’s perfect plan before the foundation of the world. He took on flesh and blood (humanity) becoming like one of us and taking our place in dying on the Cross for our sins is the only way that God could save us. And this was His plan before the foundations of the world. Someone might say “Can God be just in sending one to hell?” To which one theologian responded “Can God be just in sending people to Heaven?” Rightfully, sinful people should go to hell. That is the penalty for their sin. However, since all are sinners, how is God going to be just in taking anyone to Heaven? The answer to that question is that salvation is provided by grace through Christ alone! He has chosen us in Christ

THE CHRISTO-CENTRIC STANDPOINT OF OUR ELECTION

“He chose us in Him” this blessing towards us is related to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Sola Christus” in Christ alone. He has been from all eternity the central object of the Father’s thought, purpose and plans. His Son would come to this earth live amoung us, be rejected by many so that we could taste the blessings of electing grace. As Jesus said “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16. This is God’s purpose for redemption and restoration. This shouldn’t make us mad because we scream “free will” My free will was leading me to destruction. NOW! I can’t speak for you, but I’m pretty sure it was leading you there as well. Getting back to Judas, he saw Jesus as a means to an end to lining his pockets with the world riches. He had every opportunity to repent and believe just as you and me did. He would have seen and heard numerous appeals from Jesus for people to find rest in the Savior. And he would never embrace the grace that was offered to him daily leading up to His death. Only God knows the heart and that’s why God knows who are His before the foundation of the world. 

This passage does not negate the fact that since we are chosen we can sit passively by. Election and faith belong in the same sentence. I say that because (v13) we see man’s responsibility to this scandalous grace of the gospel. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him,” Eph 1:13. You may not understand this fully when it comes to God’s divine election and our free will. But we should fully embrace this none the less as we do with deity and humanity of Christ or the divine human authorship of the Scriptures. Someone once asked Spurgeon how he reconciled God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility to which he responded “I never reconcile two friends.” Another pastor was asked the same question said “That’s not my problem. That’s God’s problem. And for God, it’s not a problem.” What we are to do is just believe both truths and let God harmonize them. Election does not lessen the need to tell people about Jesus. We do not know who the elect are and according to the scripture we are to go into the world proclaiming the good news of the gospel. God is sovereign, we should assume that God has placed us where we are for the purpose of seeing others come to Christ though our faithful evangelism.

Our invitation should be “Come to Jesus! When you come, thank Him for drawing you to His Son and His amazing grace.”


1 comment:

Anne Lawless said...

So uplifting! To know I am chosen by God!