Lavish Gifts of God's Grace Makes Us Immeasurably Rich (Ephesians Sermon 3 of 54)
April 26, 2015 | Andy Davis
Redemption, Adoption, Predestination
Andy Davis preaches an expository sermon on Ephesians 1:5-10. The main subject of the sermon is how God bestows great gifts upon His chosen people in Christ.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians, chapter 1, and read along with me. As I preach through Ephesians, I think it is vital for you to see the things that I am saying right there on the page in the text, to understand how for the rest of your lives, you can go to Ephesians 1 to read over these words and find out, dear Christian brother and sister, just how rich you are in Christ.
This is a big issue in our world. The country of Nepal, where yesterday’s earthquake occurred, is one of the poorest in the world. I have been to some very poor places and seen some amazing poverty in my life. Some of the poorest people I have ever seen are in Haiti, in Port au Prince and the City Soleil there, the tent city; they seem to have almost nothing. I have also seen some incredibly wealthy places in my life; anyone who has been to Biltmore knows what I am talking about — I think they have a golden bathtub there. The gap between the two is something that I have seen with my own eyes, that I have experienced.
But we really do not have a fair sense of how infinitely more wealthy are the inhabitants of Heaven compared to anyone here on earth, how incredibly blessed we are and how rich is Almighty God; how Jesus, who, as 2 Corinthians 8:9 tells us, is infinitely rich, yet saw how infinitely poor we all were apart from His grace and descended from Heaven to earth to become unspeakably poor himself, that we might become immeasurably rich. That is the truth — God saw our poverty and sent Jesus to make us rich. How rich? I do not think we have a full sense of our wealth in Christ, but Ephesians 1 is a great place to start.
A number of years ago, my family and I went to Williamsburg. I was talking to one of the people there about how the place has been built in the pattern of Colonial Williamsburg. Since I am interested in history, I wanted to know how they knew what to put in the houses, especially those of the more wealthy residents such as the governor, wealthy merchants, and such. I was told they had inventory lists of the possessions of the wealthy members of the community. These lists were meticulous, going line by line, describing the the flatware, the porcelain, different things they had, in detail. From those inventory lists of wealth, they were able to reconstruct those houses, and now visitors are able to see accurate representations of how wealthy people lived in those times.
Ephesians 1:3-10 is an inventory list of our wealth in Christ — and we are very wealthy. We have the privilege today of going through this line by line to gain a sense of our immeasurable wealth, our richness in Christ. It begins in verse 3, which says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” This is where I ended last week: our blessings listed here in Ephesians 1 are spiritual blessings. They are kept for us in the heavenly realms. This is directly against the Prosperity Gospel, the Health and Wealth teaching. I am not saying that God does not bless us materially or give us things to enjoy — He does. But the wealth that is listed here is spiritual, in the heavenly realms, and we possess it. And God is to be praised and worshiped because of this wealth. We should give Him all praise and glory and thank Him that every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms has been given us in Christ Jesus.
Last week, we focused on the first of the spiritual blessings listed, which is election — God’s sovereign election (verse 4): “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” The source of every one of these blessings, our riches — we cannot say it enough — is God’s delighted grace. God is happy, delighted, to show us grace.
Gifts grudgingly given are no gifts at all. Do you want to receive a gift that is grudgingly given to you? That would be more of a burden than a blessing; I think it actually would hurt the relationship. You may or may not have been the stingy giver from time to time, but I think we have all encountered this person. Look at Proverbs 23:6-8: “Do not eat the food of a stingy man. And do not crave his delicacies. For he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you. And you will vomit up the little you have eaten and you will have wasted all your compliments.” The picture is of a guest sitting at the table of a wealthy but stingy man who, the whole time, is thinking how much the meal is costing him, how much that bite the guest is putting in his mouth right then is costing him. He is irritated and a bit grudging, and he says unenthusiastically, “Oh, you wanted seconds?”
God is nothing at all like that. He loves to be generous to us, delights in it, actually. In Luke 12:32, Jesus said this: “Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What is that saying but that God really enjoys making us infinitely wealthy? He truly enjoys it; it is a delight to Him.
The cost of these spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms is immeasurable. Every one of them is blood bought. We will going to talk about redemption by His blood in good time, but I want to go ahead to look at verse 7 now: “In Him we have redemption through His blood…” I would extend the phrase “through His blood” to all of the blessings. All of them are blood bought. All of them — expensive. But God was delighted, in an infinitely mysterious way, to pour out the blood of His Son to make you and me infinitely spiritually wealthy. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, it says “God loves a cheerful giver.” That is a challenging verse — brief, easy to memorize, but hard to live out, isn’t it? We should be cheerful in all of our giving. We should take delight in the persons that we are blessing, to find joy in their joy and say “I really want you to be happy. My happiness is bound up with you right now. I am happy to give to you.” God loves a cheerful giver.
Even better than that, God IS a cheerful giver, amen? He really delights in giving to His children. God does not give, as that text says, reluctantly or under compulsion. Meditate on that. God is not a reluctant giver of these spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms, He is delighted to give them. He is under no compulsion to give them, not forced or compelled in any way. He did not have to do anything for us. We were rebels; we were sinners; we had violated all of His laws. He did not owe us anything; not reluctantly or under compulsion has God given to us; He has done it freely.
So many verses in this section highlight the freeness of these gifts, how generous God is in all of this, how lavish, how happy He is to give, how much He is pleased to do this. Verse 4 talks about His unconditional love: “In love [verse 4, right on into verse 5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons.” It is a challenge to know where to position the words “in love.” Some translations position them with the rest of verse 4, and some position it with verse 5. In the KJV, verse 4 would read like this: “According as He hath chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” It cuts it there and says that God elected us to be these things: holy, blameless, and filled with love. That implies that we would be characterized by love and we will spend eternity filled with love, all of which is true.
Another way to cut it is to link it with predestination, describing God’s attitude or predisposition toward us in giving us that blessing; the ESV and NIV and many other translations do this: “In love, [God] predestined us to be adopted as His sons.” Either way, you cannot lose. We will be filled with love in Heaven; because He first loved us, so we are going to be filled with love; we are going to be swimming in a sea of love. And we will be perfectly characterized by love. Heaven is a world of love, according to Jonathan Edwards.
This use of the word “love” in Ephesians seems to refer to the Father’s love rather than our love. The Father set His love on us. He loved us from before the foundation of the world. His heart is drawn out after His elect, after His children. I quoted Jeremiah 31:3 last week, in which God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” — an eternal love, a timeless love. “I have loved you with a love that soars above history: before, during and after history, my love.” God’s love is immeasurable, the source of all of His blessings. He has made us incredibly rich because He loves us.
That love will never be taken from us no matter what our circumstances are. If you are a child of God, His love is set on you and will never be removed from you. Paul makes this very plain at the end of Romans chapter 8 — a glorious chapter — verses 38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Nothing is going to separate us from that love. You may be going through a really grinding trial right now, a terrible affliction, and Satan is whispering in your ear, saying, “This is proof, it’s evidence. God doesn’t love you.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Romans 8 makes that plain.
The delight that God has in us is unconditional. It was not triggered or sparked by anything in you. There was not a nature or attribute of yourself that drew God’s love out from His heart. This is the beauty of unconditional love. It is coming from His sovereign, settled, determined character, His grace. That is why He loves you — because He loves you — like God said to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:7-8. “The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you are more numerous than all other peoples. For you are actually the fewest of peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery.” In other words, boiling it all down, the Lord loved you because He loved you. You may think, “I don’t know if that gets me anywhere.” Friends, it gets you everywhere! It gets you to Heaven! He loved you because He loved you. It is from inside Him; it is a sovereign, unconditional love. The greatest display of it ever was in the cross of Christ, amen? Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The cross is a clear display. There is nothing in you that drew His love out; it was just something He did.
In looking at God’s pleasure — His delight and enjoyment — in giving, we notice the language in verse 5 that traces this out. It says “in accordance with His pleasure and will.” God’s delight and His pleasure in making us rich in Christ is centrally on display. It brings Him so much pleasure to predestine us and adopt us. This is His will, and He is pleased to do it. It also speaks, in verse 6, of His glorious grace: “…to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” In Christ He lavishes, overflows goodness on us — this is the nature of grace, His riches and His lavish goodness to people who deserve to be condemned. Verses 7 and 8 also speak of the riches of God’s grace: “…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” Reading these verses, we have a sense of riches.
God does not give us “out of” His wealth; He gives us “according to” His wealth. Do you understand the difference? He gives us proportionally to what He can afford. And what is that? Oh, you cannot measure it; it is infinite. He is the owner of everything in the universe. God gives to us “according to” His wealth, His lavish nature. Verse 9, “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ” speaks to a sense of God’s delight and enjoyment in giving us the Kingdom.
There are so many different ways to depict a cheerful giver, but in my mind’s eye, I picture a little girl who is knitting a scarf for her daddy; her mommy has helped her and now it is finished, and the time has come to give it to her daddy. She is rolling it up and tying it with a string so it will not come unrolled and wrapping it. She is humming to herself — she is happy, excited, and she cannot wait to see the look on his face. She is so delighted to give that gift.
Take that picture and multiply it by infinity. That is how God feels at getting Heaven ready for you and you for Heaven. He cannot wait to show you your eternal dwelling place. He has been getting it ready all this time. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and I will take you to be with me, and you will be with me forever.” You get a sense of expectancy the Father has to show it to you. “Here it is. Look at it and feast your eyes on where you are going to spend eternity.” So beautiful. He is delighted to get it ready for you, and to get you ready for it.
Now let’s look at a partial inventory of our spiritual gifts. We do not have time to go through each one in depth but we will touch on each one briefly. In verses 4-10, Paul says, “In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding, and He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in Heaven and earth together under one Head, even Christ.”
I want to talk about five of these spiritual blessings from this passage: the first is predestination; the second, adoption; the third, redemption, or the forgiveness of sins; the fourth, wisdom; and the fifth, revelation, the last two being pretty closely related. So these five blessings. Let’s look at the inventory of our wealth here.
First we have predestination in verse 5. Last week we spent a lot of time on sovereign election, and how God, before the foundation of the world, chose His children by name. You may ask, “Aren’t election and predestination the same thing?” No — they are closely related but separate concepts. In election, God sovereignly identifies who will be saved: what the names are of those individuals whom God will create and save and call by name. In predestination, God sovereignly identifies aspects and details of that salvation: what it will entail, what we will receive, where we are heading. Election is the “Who” and predestination is the “What” of our salvation.
What does this word “predestined” or “predestination” mean? It means “to determine ahead of time what will happen; to decree something, to foreordain or to decide beforehand” as a king would. In the Greek, the word literally means “to set the boundary lines ahead of time.” The prefix means “beforehand,” and the root is related to our word for “horizon,” or could be seen as related to a boundary line. In other words, God sets up the boundary lines for His elect ahead of time. This reminds me of the account in Joshua when the Israelites conquered the Promised Land. The time came, at the end of the book, to divide the land between the twelve tribes. This tribe got this, and that tribe got that, and the other tribe got the other, but it was all determined by lot. The lot was cast and the boundary lines were set. Thus, we see this language of “their allotted inheritance.” The implication, as we see in the book of Proverbs, is that “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision comes from the Lord.”
Thus we see that the Lord lays out the boundary lines for the inheritance. That applies to individuals as well: God sets up boundary lines for what you will get in Christ, and He does this before the foundation of the world — that is what this word is teaching. David said it so beautifully in Psalm 16:6: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Every Christian should be able to say that. “Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” In the history of our own nation, the Oklahoma Sooners stood at a starting line waiting for a cannon to go off. When it fired, they took off in a race for real estate. They surely would have been looking for some land with a river or green growth which showed rich soil — to the fastest, the wisest, the strongest, the best go the spoils. That is not the way salvation works, friends. God, by His sovereign grace, goes way ahead of you and sets up your boundary lines, and then He works sovereignly to bring you to the place He has set up for you. That is predestination.
There have been long debates over predestination, and perhaps there will be long debates this afternoon over predestination. If you are a child of God, if you accept the Bible as the Word of God, you have to deal with predestination. I hope you know that I did not make it up — I am just trying to describe what it is, and so do not blame me. In my 17 years here, I have earned the right, with fear and trepidation, to preach on predestination, so you will realize that have not been working in my basement to come up with it, and that I am so excited to roll out this new doctrine that I dreamed up today. No — we all have found it in Scripture and we are working together to understand it.
People struggle with it; they say “How does that reconcile to my free will?” Or “How does it connect with God’s justice or His love or goodness or John 3:16: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Doesn’t this doctrine make us robots?” I do not believe for a moment that predestination makes any human being a robot. If God had wanted a bunch of robots, He would have made a bunch of robots — God can do anything He wants. It is infinitely more complicated than that. You do, in fact, make choices. You do, in fact, love things and hate things and choose things, and those choices are real and they are significant. But those attributes that you have — loving, hating, choosing —came from God. He himself, in fact, loves things and hates things and makes choices and sets determinations. In truth, our loving and hating and choosing come after His, because He is the King. There is harmony with all of these things; they are not contradictory or contrary to your reason; it simply goes far beyond it.
Ephesians 1 says “In love, He predestined us to be adopted…” Thus, adoption as sons is predestined here. What is predestined elsewhere? In Romans 8:29 Paul uses the word in this way: “For those God foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” In Ephesians the fact of our adoption is predestined, and in Romans 8:29, the ultimate end of our adoption is predestined — namely, that we are conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Paul also refers to predestination in the next verse in Romans 8:30 as a guarantee of our final salvation — a guarantee of it! He says, “Those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.” Thus, predestination gives us a sense of complete certainty of our final salvation.
Let’s shift our focus to talk about adoption, verse 5: “In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, [verse 6] to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” Paul borrows a concept that would have been foreign to the Jewish world in which he was raised, but it was well-known in the Roman world — the idea of adoption of a son. In the Roman world, a wealthy nobleman could take a slave or a friend into his home and, for whatever reason seemed good to him, make him legally his son, his heir.
The movie Ben Hur is one of my all-time favorite movies. In that movie, Judah Ben Hur, through various ways, became a galley slave, and in the course of events, he rescued a Roman nobleman, a general, from drowning. That man became a great man in Rome, and an affectionate relationship developed between this older Roman and Judah Ben Hur, so much so that Quintus Arrius, the older Roman man, adopted Judah Ben Hur, gave him his signet ring as a seal, and made him his son, his legal heir.
Adoption in the Roman world was a matter of legal status, of rights and privileges, as pictured in Ben Hur. The adopted son would inherit the wealthy man’s property, he could sign documents in his name, he had access to the man himself, he was “son” in legal standing. We Christians are the adopted sons and daughters of the living God — just ponder that; it is amazing! We are not like Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. There is an infinite difference in some regards. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity; He is God the Son; we never will be that. But we are like Him and we have the legal status of heirs with Christ of the universe. Remember I said you are wealthy? You are wealthy. You are going to inherit the New Heaven and New Earth. That is incredible.
But our adoption goes beyond our legal position. Judah Ben Hur, when he was adopted by Quintus Arrius, did not suddenly start looking like his adoptive father. He did not have the Roman nose, for example; he was still Jewish. The external and internal natures were all still the same. God’s adoption, however, goes beyond legal status. When we become sons and daughters, God then works through the Spirit of adoption to conform us, in nature, to Christ, as it says in Romans 8. We become conformed to the likeness of His Son, so that He is the firstborn among many brothers. That is what is going on in you Christians right now and has been for years and will continue to the day you die. That is what will happen in glorification: instantaneously, you are going to be made like Jesus. Oh, how sweet is that. 1 John 3: “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to you that you should be called ‘Child of God.’ And that is what we are. Now, what we will be has not been made known, but we know that when we see Him, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. Now everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, because He is pure.” We are sanctified now, but someday, instantly, we will be made exactly morally like Jesus. That is the finish line of our adoption.
Romans chapter 8, to some degree, says it is not all finished until we get our resurrection bodies. Romans 8:23 says, “We await eagerly our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Many of you have been through adoption proceedings; they are long and they are elaborate, and they are expensive, aren’t they? In the process, sometimes you may have wondered, “When does this child, this little boy, this little girl, become legally our son or daughter?” We talk about the adoption being finalized. Our adoption will be finalized when we are in our resurrection bodies. We are in adoption proceedings now. We are secure; it is going to be finished — that is what predestination is all about: we will finish. But it will not be finalized until we are conformed to Christ in His resurrection body and His glory.
It could be that though you are here, you are an unbeliever, on the outside looking in. Perhaps you want to know, “How do I become a child of God?” John 1:12 says plainly how that happens: “As many as did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” How awesome is that? All you must do is believe in the name of Jesus; that Jesus Christ, crucified, shed His blood for your sins. Trust Him. Right now, where you are seated, say, “I am a sinner; I need a Savior. You died for me. You rose again. I believe that; save me.” And you will be a child of God. In doing so, you will receive the gift of sonship; you will receive the Holy Spirit, who will cry, “Abba, Father” from within you. It can happen right now.
What will you get as a result of believing in Jesus? You get many things. You get complete security, because “The slave [Romans 8:35] has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” And you get access — that will come up later in Ephesians: “Through Him [Christ], we have access to the Father by one Spirit.” What does access mean? A few weeks ago, I saw a Tweet from Tim Keller that said: “The only person who dares wake up a King at 3:00 a.m. and ask for a glass of water is a child.” We have that kind of access. This access shows how delighted God is to see you come, as a son or daughter of God, into the throne room. He says, “Come and sit with me and talk. What is on your mind? What is on your heart?” We have that kind of access. That is adoption.
We also have, in verse 7, “…redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” In order for God to delight in us, He must deal with our wickedness. He must redeem us from our sins. The price for that, as we have said, is infinitely expensive. A debt had to be paid. “The wages of sin is death.” It says plainly in Leviticus, that “the blood of the creature is its life, and I have given it to you to make atonement for sins.” In Hebrews 9:22 it says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” He cannot delight in us without dealing with our sins. Our sins are disgusting and repulsive to Him.
Thus, we must have redemption. The word redemption means “a buying out of”; here it implies a state such as slavery. Think about how God said again and again in Exodus: “With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm”, He redeemed them from a life of slavery and brought them into the Promised Land. In the same way, we were slaves to sin, and God has redeemed us by the blood of Jesus. He has forgiven our sins. It is so complex and beautiful: He has imputed the righteousness of Christ to us and then declared us, on that basis, not guilty of all of our sins; He treats us as though we did not commit any of those sins, as though we were as righteous as Jesus. We did not get by because we got a good lawyer. The angels in Heaven will not look askance at us, saying, “I know how you got here. You had a wealthy friend, wealthy relative, who got you past Judgment Day, and now you are here.” No. There is delight; we are treated as though we really are righteous. It is just amazing to me. Redemption is all about the blood of Jesus. That is our gift — we were redeemed from our sins by the blood of Christ.
Also, in verse 8, Paul says that God has given us “wisdom and understanding”: “…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us, with all wisdom and understanding.” God actually transforms our minds so that our minds and hearts are not darkened or hardened like they used to be. We understand things spiritually that we did not understand before. He has “taken out the heart of stone and given you the heart of flesh.” When you read the Bible before, it seemed to be a dark book; now it makes sense to you, increasingly so. He is giving you a mind of understanding, of wisdom. In our former days, we were, Titus 3 says, “foolish, deceived, and enslaved to all kinds of passions.” But now we have been made, 2 Timothy 3, “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” We have been wise to flee the wrath to come. We have been given a new heart and a new mind.
It is not finished yet. If you look at verse 17 of this same chapter, Paul prays that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.” We have more wisdom to gain, more to learn. He will give it to you — in listening to preaching, reading books, or studying the Scriptures, you gain more wisdom and understanding.
The fifth blessing is revelation. God will take the veil back from the mystery of the world, of the universe, and He will tell you what He is doing. He will show you the big picture. Ephesians 1:10 seems to explode in my mind when I read this. This is what God is doing in the world. You say, “What is He doing? We have earthquakes in Nepal, we have race riots in Baltimore, we have all kinds of things in my life, in friends’ lives, and we have all kinds of suffering. What is He doing?” He is giving you revelation so that you can know what He is doing in the world. Look at verses 9 and 10: “He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in Heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” This word “mystery” should not make us think of Sherlock Holmes, in which he and the reader together go around looking for clues and then, putting the clues together — if you are sharp and incisive and clever — you solve the mystery. No, mystery implies part of God’s plan which has been hidden in His mind; and Ephesians 1:9-10 implies that He now pulls back the mystery through the Scripture and the Holy Spirit to say, “This is what I am doing.”
What is God doing, ultimately? Paul says, “He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in Heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” What does that mean? The New American Standard Version, in verse 10, puts it this way: “…with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of time.” He is administering or unfolding His plan. It is wise, detailed; it is big, and it covers everything. He is unfolding it in every generation, step by step, day after day, year after year, with a view to the end of all time when all of these things will be consummated and completed. He is unfolding, verse 10, this plan “suitable for the fullness of time.”
What is His plan? He is bringing together all things that were fragmented, blown apart through wickedness and sin “together under one head… Christ.” The New Heaven and New Earth will be a place of perfect, pervasive, deep harmony and unity between everything that God has made and God Himself — perfectly one in Christ. What He is doing is how big. It includes the race issue in Baltimore, the earthquake in Nepal, all suffering. The universe has been affected as by a fragmentation grenade, blown apart by sin. People are blown apart by sin. We see it in individual relationships: in husband-wife relationships, marriages; in parent-child relationships, with tyranny by the parents or rebellion by the children; in relationships between one ethnic group and another. We see it everywhere, this fragmentation.
The only answer is the Gospel of Christ, amen? And it is not just the only answer — it will work! It is suitable for the fullness of time, and it will work. In time, there will be no more earthquakes, no more tidal waves, no more floods, no more death or mourning or crying or pain, no more murders, no more injustice. Those days will be over forever.
God’s ultimate purpose in all of this — I never tire of saying it — is worship. That is my first application: Let’s just worship God in all of this. We need to worship Him; we need to say “Thank you” to God. Go back to verse 3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Praise Him more than you do. Take Ephesians 1:3-10 and say “Praise God. Praise God. Praise God. Look at all this. Praise God for election. Praise God for Your love. Praise God, someday I am going to be holy and blameless in Your sight. Praise God that You predestined me for all this and nothing can stop it. Praise God that You poured out Your Son, His blood, for me, that I might have forgiveness of sins.” Praise God for these blessings. Just praise Him. Go over your inventory. Say, “I am rich! I am a rich man; I am a rich woman.”
Second, I have already said it, but if you came in this place on the outside looking in, I hope that you are not still that way. I hope that ten minutes ago you followed what I urged you to do and you called on Christ, so you do not leave here under the wrath of God; instead, that you leave here an adopted son or daughter of God.
Third, for us as believers, let’s be aware of all of the unreached people groups and others who have heard the Gospel several but haven’t come to Christ yet. We have a responsibility, a joyful responsibility. God loves a cheerful giver. Let’s cheerfully go out and share the Gospel with people. Say, “I have some good news for you.” Start tomorrow, perhaps with workplace evangelism. You might say, “How was your weekend?” Your coworker may say, “It was terrible, terrible.” “Why?” “Well, it was dreary; it was ugly and awful and rainy and cold.” The you say, “I had a great weekend.” “Really? What made it great?” “I just found out how rich I am.” He might say, “Tell me more. I’m interested. Very interested.” You would want to say, “I can tell you all about the wealth I have.” Have that conversation; see where it leads.
Fourth, concerning adoption, I would commend to you to consider whether God is leading you, even if you have never considered it before, to adopt a child. Many of you have already reached that point. Those of you who have questions, find out from those who are further along in the process — the elders know who they are — and ask, “How do I get involved? God may be leading us to adopt a child. How do we do that?” For those of you who are in the process of it, let’s work together. Let’s pray for one another. It is a long, costly process. Let’s encourage those who have that calling. This is a great passage to lead us to talk about adoption, because adoption on earth pictures our eternal adoption.
Fifth, let’s stop complaining, amen? Let’s just stop complaining and moaning and groaning. I know things are hard sometimes. I never tire of the illustration John Newton, who lived in the 18th century and wrote Amazing Grace, gave about the man on his way into the city to receive a vast inheritance. On the way, this heir, this soon-to-be incredibly wealthy man’s carriage broke, and it was raining. He had to get out and walk the last two miles in the rain, in the mud, and the whole time, he is complaining, “My carriage is broken, it is muddy and raining.” We want to say to him, “What is wrong with you?!?” But that is how we look to Heaven when we go about muttering and complaining. Do not do that. Say, “I am rich. God loves me. God has given me everything I need — every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.” Let’s praise Him and thank Him.
Sixth, let’s imitate God’s cheerful generosity, amen? Let’s be cheerful, cheerful givers. God loves a cheerful giver. Let’s be like that little girl who is knitting, and say “I can’t wait to give this to somebody. I just want to give this.” There are so many of you in this congregation who have taught me about cheerful giving. I would say I barely saw it before I came here. I am not saying people had not been cheerful and generous to me before, but there are some that have been so generous to me and my family since we have been here, that you have taught us how to give cheerfully. Let us imitate that; let’s be cheerful givers.
Seventh, let’s not stumble over predestination. Let’s delight in it. Find security in it. Do not argue over it. If, this afternoon, two of you find yourselves in an argument about predestination, stop! Go back and read the verse; stop arguing and say, “Praise God that in love you predestined us to be adopted as sons,” and leave it at that. That is what the text says. Just leave it there.
And finally, look forward when you read or watch the news and you see earthquakes, race riots, different things, yearn for Ephesians 1:10, “Oh God, make all things one in Christ. Bring us together and make us one.”
Close with me in prayer. Father, it has been so good to go over the inventory list of how rich we are in Christ. Thank you that you are so cheerfully willing to give this to us. Thank you for everything you have done in Jesus. Now I pray that you would take this word and seal it to our hearts, deeply. Help us to understand it; help us to take it to heart and to embrace it. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.