Exposition on Ephesians - #4
‘THE GRACE OF GOD THE FATHER’
Preached on January 7th 2001
Text: Ephesians 1:4-5
Intro: We’ve described our study in the book of Ephesians, as a kind of spiritual treasure hunt. For those of us who have some experience in searching for spiritual treasure, this 1st chapter of Ephesians is a real goldmine!
The large sign outside and over the entrance of this spiritual goldmine has the words The Goldmine of God’s Grace—written in large, bold letters. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Underneath this sign is a smaller sign that tells us who the people are who have a right to remove spiritual treasures from the goldmine. The smaller sign reads: ‘The saints…and faithful in Christ Jesus.’
That is, only those who are SET APART and exclusively devoted to God; who BELIEVE that all the riches of God are found in Jesus Christ alone… And by that same faith are vitally and irreversibly CONNECTED (united) to Jesus Christ… These, and only these, have a divine right (valid claim) to the spiritual riches of God.
If you are here this morning, and you are not vitally connected to Jesus Christ… you are still welcome to tour the Goldmine of God with us, but you can’t take anything out of it—You can’t take any of the riches out of God’s goldmine of grace until you unreservedly give yourself up to God as a poor, helpless sinner and believe on the Lord Jesus… Then you are welcome not just to tour, but to take anything and everything that you need! -‘For my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’
Standing just inside the entrance of God’s spiritual goldmine of grace, (v.3) gives us a kind of summary statement of what’s inside the goldmine—‘Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.’ And almost immediately, if we understand anything of God’s grace, we are amazed at the reality of: WHO we are—and WHERE God has brought us—and then we begin to ask ourselves questions like: WHY ME? HOW DID I GET HERE? WHY AM I SO BLESSED?
Was it because you and I had MORE RELIGIOUS desires and inclinations than others?... No, (Ps 53:2-3> ‘God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understand, who seek God. Everyone of them is turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no not one.’
Was it because we were BETTER than other people?—more intelligent; with higher moral standards?... No, (Rom 3:12,23> ‘They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable…For ALL HAVE SINNED and fall short of the glory of God.’
Was it because I had a GREATER FAITH than others?... No, none of us had any faith at all, until God gave it to us.
Beyond a doubt, faith is a key, not only to being a Christian, but to living the Christian life. But where did we get the key of faith?... Faith comes from God—faith is one of the treasures found at the entrance of God’s Goldmine. It is a gift of grace - (Eph 2:1-3—do you see any faith here?—v.4-9).
But going back to those QUESTIONS, questions similar to the ones that every true Christian has, or will have one day when we finally get to heaven. Questions full of surprise, disbelief and incredible, unutterable joy—‘ME? WHY ME? HOW COULD A SINNER LIKE ME GET TO HEAVEN? WHAT DID GOD SEE IN ME’
The answer to the WHY ME questions—is unmerited, undeserved, incredible, incomprehensible, infallible GRACE! The grace of God that brings salvation fills us with wonder and astonishment; with praise and adoration for the ‘God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ because—He CHOSE US in Christ… He PREDESTINED US to adoption as sons… and He has ACCEPTED US in the Beloved. Salvation is all of God and therefore all of grace…
The answer to the WHY ME question—is GOD’S GRACE! Verses 4-6 address the important subject of;
1st – THE PLAN OF GOD’S GRACE.
2nd – THE REASON or RATIONALE FOR GOD’S GRACE.
1ST ... THE PLAN OF GOD’S GRACE - a PLAN according to (Web.> is ‘any method of thinking out acts and purposes beforehand.’ Before we do anything important, we should start with a plan. Actually we should start with a: Purpose – What we intend to do; <2> Plan – How we intend to do it <3> Performance of the plan which results in the; <4> Accomplishment of our purpose.
For example: Let’s say that you wanted to remodel your house, how would you begin? You would begin with a PURPOSE (or what you propose to do)—remodel the kitchen and add a bedroom. Then you would get someone to draw up the PLANS; then you would hire a contractor to DO THE WORK of remodeling your home according to the plans and specifications. When the contractor is finished, you have ACCOMPLISHED your purpose—you have a new kitchen and another bedroom.
This is what God has done. He started with a purpose—His overall purpose in creation was His own glory—(Rev 4:11> ‘You are worthy O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.’ (Rom 11:36> ‘For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.’
To accomplish His purpose, God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, devised a wonderful plan to save sinners. A plan that involved the free, fallible will of man and the sovereign, infallible will and pleasure of God. The first part of God’s plan of salvation (or plan of grace) is what theologians call:
1. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION (v.4) – God’s choosing nations and individuals for Himself, so that He might show them His special grace and goodness and favor—not because of anything in them, but because of His own goodness and mercy.
Every true Christian believes in the doctrine of election. Some believe that God chooses us because He sees something good in us (moral character or faith). This is CONDITIONAL election.
We believe the Bible teaches that God chooses us not because of anything good in us, but because of His own goodness and grace – this is UNCONDITIONAL election.
As a church, we believe in God’s unconditional election because it is consistent with God’s purpose—to promote His own glory. And because it is consistent with the testimony of Scripture. The apostle Paul labors to make this very point in our text in at least three ways:
(1st) OUR ELECTION IS IN CHRIST – according to (v.3) every spiritual blessing (including the blessing of election) comes to us “in Him,” because of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:26-31).
(2nd) OUR ELECTION WAS FROM ETERNITY – ‘before the foundation of the world’ – that is, before God made the world, He chose a multitude of sinners for salvation. If you are a Christian, God chose you before you were born; before you could sin or believe.
(2 Tim 1:9> ‘…God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose in grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.’
– C.H. Spurgeon, Autobiography (chapter 16 – In Defense Of Calvinism) - ‘I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.’
(3rd) OUR ELECTION WAS TO HOLINESS – God didn’t choose anyone because He knew that they would be holy; He chose sinners for the purpose of making them ‘holy and without blame before Him in love.’ This speaks not only of the character of the Christian ‘holy and without blame;’ but it also speaks of the motive of God - ‘love.’
C.H. Spurgeon, Election And Holiness (vol.6, #303) - “Pause, my soul adore, and wonder! Ask, ‘O why such love to me?’” - Kings passed by and beggars chosen; wise men left, but fools made to know the wonders of his redeeming love; publicans and harlots sweetly compelled to come to the feast of mercy; while proud (religious) Pharisees are (allowed) to trust in their own righteousness and perish in their vain boastings. God’s choice will ever seem in the eyes of unrenewed men to be a very strange one. He has passed over those whom we (would have thought He) should have selected, and he has chosen…the odds and ends of the universe… Why… why is the man chosen who is chosen? … (in the words of our Lord Jesus) “Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Your sight!”
As long as we look at the doctrine of election through the truth of Scripture with the eyes of faith—we’ll always see it as a very positive thing. It’s when we try to understand election from a carnal perspective with a clouded mind, that election seems like a very hard and merciless doctrine.
The truth, is that though the door of salvation is wide open—no one seeks after God; no one would believe on the Lord Jesus; no one would choose to be saved; so God chooses—He chooses to overrule our moral madness; He chooses to save moral misfits; God chooses to save those who made themselves His enemies; He chooses the losers and the nobodies; the poor, weak and despised. God chooses so—‘that no flesh should glory in His presence.’
But God’s plan of salvation involves, not only unconditional election, but what might be called:
2. INFALLIBLE PREDESTINATION (v.4) – predestination is a word which means (proorizo -Lit.> to mark out limits beforehand); to predetermine or foreordain. The same word is used in; (Acts 4:27-28> A prayer of the church after Peter and John were threatened and released by the Sanhedrin – ‘For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.’
Predestination speaks of that aspect of God’s purpose by which He is glorified in our salvation. In other words, God’s purpose for choosing us was not only to save us from our sins, but to bring us to Himself as His own dear children. God’s purpose in grace from before the foundation of the world was to remake those He has chosen for Himself, into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:28-30).
I call this infallible predestination, because what God has purposed to do in eternity, He will infallibly accomplish in time. All who believe in Christ will be saved from their sins; we will be made holy and blameless in His sight—How do we know? Because ‘God has CHOSEN US before the foundation of the world…’
And everyone whom God has chosen will be perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ—How can we be so sure? Because God has ‘predestined us to adoption as the sons of God by Jesus Christ.’
(1 Jn 3:1-3> ‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!… Beloved, NOW are we the children of God; and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.’
2nd ... THE REASON or RATIONALE FOR GOD’S GRACE - God has a plan; it is a gracious plan; we know this because God is a gracious and good God. This gracious plan of God was devised in eternity past and reaches to eternity future. It is a plan that involves, what are called the doctrines of grace—unconditional election and infallible predestination.
Three Reasons Why We Should Love These Truths
1. GOD LOVES THEM - these are doctrines and this is a plan that has its rationale and reasonings in God alone (v.5b> ‘according to (or consistent with) the good pleasure of His will.’ In other words, this plan and these doctrines are pleasing to God—He loves them—and may God cause us to take love them also!
2. THEY ARE VERY PRECIOUS – to some people, the very mention of election and predestination has a hardening effect upon them. Brethren, these are not just doctrines, they are elements of grace calculated to exalt God and to humble and soften the proud hearts of sinners. ‘God has chosen the foolish things of this world…’
3. THEY ARE VERY COMFORTING – when we realize that God saves us not for anything we are, or have done, or will do, but because of His own mercy and grace given to us in Christ ‘before the foundation of the world.’ Then, nothing I have done (no matter how horrible my sin) can keep me from believing the gospel. And after believing, there is nothing I could possibly do that could make God stop loving me or disown me!
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heaveny places in Christ…’