Summary: Second sermon that focuses on God the Father choosing us to be his children. It uses biblical, not theological, language to teach about election.
This winter I want to dwell on the subject of salvation. Because the more we understand our salvation, the more we understand our identity as Christians, our mission as a church, and the more we appreciate and worship the God of our salvation. I’ve been gone a few weeks, so let me remind you where I left off. Sin.
Introduction: Sin is defined in a variety of ways in the Bible. It is . . .
1. Sin is missing the mark. It is an archery term. You shoot for the bulls eye, and anything outside the bulls eye is a miss. It might be pretty good, but it isn't perfect.
Jesus laid out the standard when he said, "Be perfect as my Father is perfect." Hitting the mark is doing what God created us to do, being who God created us to be. It is living life to the absolute full. All the time. It isn't just the absence of evil, but the complete presence of good. When we don’t do the good we are called to do we call these sins of omission–things we SHOULD have done but didn't. If you see someone who needs your help and ignore that, you sin.
2. Sin is trespassing–stepping over a line that we shouldn't step over. You aren’t suppose to take things that don’t belong to you. You see a nice iPod in the store and it fits in your pocket, so you cross the line and steal it. You might say this is the original sin. God said to Adam and Eve, "Eat fruit from all the trees, but not this one tree." That was a line. Crossing that line, eating the fruit, was a trespass, a sin.
3. The real heart of sin, though, is childish rebellion. Plain defiance to the authority of God. Like a two year old child who hears mommy say, "No," but does it anyway, we are rebellious creatures. We defy God, his authority, his definition of right and wrong, when we sin. I'm going to do it MY way!
So sin is this combination of missing the mark, crossing the line, and rebelling against God.
All of that, according to the Bible leaves us . . .
Psalm 51:3-4 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.”
A. Sin destroys relationship.
1. It destroys relationship with other people.
2. And, worst of all, with God. We were born, created, to have an ongoing relationship with our Father God. Sin breaks it. And like the Prodigal Son we live in a strange land amidst pigs, spiritually starving, lonely, and dying. “Orphan” is an image of the horrible result of sin. When our relationship with Father God is severed, then we are left spiritual orphans.
3. Orphans are also a reality in this world: kids without parents, left homeless and cut off from the God-given means of raising healthy children. One of the saddest images of the broken human condition is an orphan–homesick, alone, discarded.
4. We visited an orphanage in Delhi. Pastor Varghese Thomas and his wife (Valsamma) started an orphanage about ten or twelve years ago that now has around forty children. We met them all in the Thomas’ living room and then followed them to the orphanage to see where they lived.
a. For some reason I never look forward to visiting orphanages. I should, but I don’t. And I wondered why on this trip. I think it is because orphans are a result of the brokenness of the world. Kids shouldn’t be abandoned. It is on of the saddest realities of our world.
b. But I am always surprised by the joy that I find in every orphanage I visit. Because they are Christian orphanages. The kids are loved, cared for, they are given hope and a future. They are happy. It’s like they know where they COULD be (alone on the street), they know where the ARE (in a place where they are loved) and they are happy! They feel fortunate (ironically, they feel more fortunate than our own kids who have their own rooms and all kinds of toys and a set of parents). The orphans have a sense of being adopted.
B. Our Father is still alive.
That brings us to Ephesians 1. We’ll start at verse 3.
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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 hec predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 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.