Summary: The greatness of God and His choice of us
Chosen ¡V Eph. 1:1-6
Steve Simala Grant ¡V July 15, 2001
When I was growing up, we used to play a lot of street hockey with kids in the neighborhood. I always liked to be the goalie, probably because then I didn¡¦t have to run around so much. I like sports, especially if I can just stand in one place¡K Anyway, when we all first arrived, we had to pick teams. Two people (usually the two best players) would be captains, and they would take turns choosing their players. You can imagine how the rest of us felt, standing around, shuffling our feet, trying not to look too eager yet inwardly yearning to be chosen. Our hearts would rise with expectation, then plummet with despair after every choice. Until the magic moment ¡V when my name was called. My head would snap up, and I¡¦d jump to the side I¡¦d been chosen too.
I hope you can relate. I hope you can remember the feeling of being chosen ¡V maybe for you it was for a job, or for acceptance into a certain school, or for an award. Because that is the message of the first few verses of Ephesians ¡V God chose us.
Turn to Eph. 1:1-6. As you are looking that up, let me set the context of the passage. The message begins like most of the other NT letters, identifying the author, recipients, and with a greeting. And then verse 3 begins a section of praise to God for all that He has done. And incidentally, verses 3-14 are actually all one sentence in Greek ¡V its kind of like a rollercoaster ride where it feels like Paul starts praising God for one thing, which reminds him of the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing, and it keeps building and building. This makes it a bit hard to follow sometimes, but the cumulative effect of reciting all of these marvelous works of God is an outburst of praise and of lifting of our hearts to God as we are confronted with His greatness and His grandeur.
And that is what I want to talk with you about this morning ¡V how great and awesome is our God. The big task of preaching is to understand what God¡¦s Word says and how it applies to our lives ¡V and in this passage, our response, our application of this truth, is found right in the middle of the passage itself: it is all to the praise of God. God is so amazing, we need to praise Him. We¡¦ve turned the service around a bit this week, because it didn¡¦t make sense to me to preach a message that calls us to praise God for how great He is, and then end the service and go home. Instead, I wanted us to have the chance together to reflect on how great God is as revealed by His Word, and then we can praise Him together this morning, (and then as we go we can continue to praise Him throughout our weeks???)
Now you might be wondering, if 3-14 are all one sentence, why is Steve stopping at verse 6? Though it is all one sentence, it is highly structured: there are three distinct sections, the first addressing God the Father, the second God the Son, and the third God the Holy Spirit: each ends with the phrase ¡§to the praise of His glory¡¨ ¡V vs. 6, 12, and 14. This morning we are going to tackle only the first section, of praise to God the Father. In the next two weeks we¡¦ll look at each of the other two in turn.
There are three reasons to praise God the Father listed here: verse 3 tells us ¡§he has blessed us¡¨, verse 4 tells us ¡§he chose us¡¨, and verse 5 says ¡§he predestined us.¡¨ Lets look at each in turn:
1. ¡§He has blessed us.¡¨
in heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing
This first reason to praise God actually serves as kind of a heading for the entire passage from 3-14 ¡V ¡§Praise God because has blessed us: here is a whole bunch of ways He has done this¡K¡¨ but before beginning this list, Paul gives us a few descriptors of God¡¦s blessing, ¡§in the heavenly realms, with every spiritual blessing, in Christ.¡¨
What does it mean to be blessed ¡§in the heavenly realms¡¨? Well my friends, we need to begin by recognizing that there is a spiritual dimension ¡V what we see and touch and can verify is not all there is to life. And when you and I become Christians, we become an active part of life in this spiritual realm. This particular phrase occurs several times in Ephesians, one of the most well recognized is from chapter 6 where we learn that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.