May 2, 2010
Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
Subject: Spiritual Blessings
Title: A Reason to Praise Him – Part 1 in the Ephesians Series
Today we begin a series through the book of Ephesians. We’re going to continue through the book on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings as well. So you need to come back tonight in order to not miss out on anything.
This letter to the church in Ephesus was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Paul had previously stayed with the believers in Ephesus for over two years. This letter was written after the letter to Colossians and like the other prison letters it was probably intended to be a letter that was to be passed from church to church. After writing Colossians it seems that Paul received continual revelation from God about the church and now, after being shown how the church is the body of Christ, he writes to further expound on this topic.
In it’s most simple form, Ephesians can be broken down into two parts. The first three chapters describe our position in Christ; the last three explain our responsibilities as a result of being in Christ.
Today we want to begin with chapter 1 verses 3-14. Before we begin let’s look at 1and 2.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Written by Paul.
2. He was an apostle.
3. It was according to God’s will.
4. He wrote to the faithful In Christ
5. They were called saints
6. Paul extends grace and peace to them – not his own but the grace that is from God and Jesus Christ the Lord.
As we go through this first section of Ephesians today we want you to see that it is because we are “In Him” that we have a reason to praise Him!
Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. BECAUSE WE ARE “IN HIM” GOD HAS… 1) Blessed us. 3Praise 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 a very powerful statement to begin a letter. God has blessed us in the heavenly realms… You could read that as meaning that we are blessed in heaven and when we get there we’ll receive those blessings. But I am under the conviction that it doesn’t mean that. It means that the heavenly realms are the place of origin for the blessings that God wants us to have right here right now. And we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. Every supernatural work that God did through His Son Jesus Christ He is still doing through the church today. We have rights and privileges as children of the King and those rights and privileges include the things that come from the Spirit. The word that is translated “spiritual” means “non-carnal” or “not having to do with the flesh or natural man.” Those blessings include the gifts of the Spirit (the same word is used in 1 Corinthians 12:1) as well as the blessings that are indicated in the remainder of the passage. 2) GOD HAS Chosen us… 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. When it says here that God chose us, it does not mean that we didn’t have a choice in the matter. It does mean that he has offered salvation to all mankind to either accept and be saved or reject and be condemned. The plan was already set in motion before the earth was ever created. This tells us first, that the source of our salvation is “in Him”. Second, we see the time frame involved – before the creation of the world… and finally we see the purpose - to be holy and blameless in his sight. The only way to be holy and blameless in God’s eyes is to be “in Christ” or “in him”. It’s not something that we can do but we can only experience that kind of holiness through the cleansing work of the cross of Calvary. 3) GOD HAS predestined us… In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— the doctrine of predestination is probably one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the bible. Many understand this to mean that the Sovereign God has predetermined who will and won’t be saved. He has offered salvation to some and not to others. The reality is that God does know who will accept His offer of salvation – He has known it from the beginning of time. But He still offers it to all in order to give them the opportunity to make that decision. The passage says He predestined us in love… What kind of a loving God would pick some and leave others without a chance? Well isn’t that what He did in the Old Testament when He destroyed whole nations? Didn’t He then exclude people from salvation? The truth is God sends people to hell. He is the only one who has that authority. But, each individual has a chance to either sign his own death warrant or his own reprieve. It was no different in the OT than it is now. Among all the nations that were destroyed when Israel came into the Promised land, if there was one who, like Abraham, had righteousness credited to them because of their faith, like the prostitute Rahab in Jericho, they would have been saved even if they lost their life. 1 Peer 1:1-2, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father… I could stand up here all day every day for the next month trying to get this point across to you and in the process miss what is really important in the passage. 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ… according to Roman law of that time an adopted son had all the same rights as a legitimate son. At the same time he lost all the rights that he had in his previous family. In essence he became a new person. And that is what God has done for us in accordance with his pleasure and will 4) GOD HAS given us grace… 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. The key here is grace that is freely given. Grace that is forced or graced that is earned is not grace at all. Romans 3:21-24, 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. When God gives grace it is above and beyond what we could ever imagine. 1 Timothy 1:12-14, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.