Summary: Discover your identity in Christ! In Ephesians 1, we discover that we are predestined, purchased, promised and praise-givers.
Ephesians | Your Identity in Christ (1)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 9/28/2014
A few of weeks ago, Modesto Christian Church held their end-of-summer celebration for the kids who attended their summer children’s program. Ashley and I arrived early with our three kids and I helped pack a couple cases of water bottles into a cooler while Ashley and the kids played on the playground equipment. When I was finished I walked over toward the playground and spotted Ashley sitting on a bench with her back to me. Walking up behind her, I affectionately rubbed her shoulder and patted her on the back as I surveyed the playing children. Then, suddenly, I spotted something strange. Sitting on a bench on the opposite side of the playground was Ashley giving me the stink-eye. Total embarrassment washed over my face as I looked down to see that the woman whose back I was affectionately patting was not my wife! I apologized immediately and intentionally neglected to mention that I was the pastor at Blooming Grove. We ended up having a good laugh about it later, but that was one the most embarrassing experiences.
Has a case of mistaken identity ever gotten you in trouble? Or perhaps your trouble is with your own identity.
Friedrich Schleiermacher was an eminent German classicist, theologian, and philosopher. Much of his philosophical work was in the philosophy of religion. In his later years, Friedrich was often seen sitting alone on a park bench, lost in thought for hours at a time. One day, a policeman walked up to the old man assuming he was a vagrant, poked him, and asked, “Who are you?” Schleiermacher replied contemplatively, “I wish I knew.”
Do you know who you are? Who you are supposed to be? The New Testament book of Ephesians is all about identity—specifically, your identity in Christ. In fact, the phrase “in Christ” is used 14 times in the first four chapters of this brief book because it’s only in Christ that we discover our true identity. So this morning, and for the next three weeks, I’d like to explore what God says to us through the book of Ephesians about who we are and who we ought to be in Christ. I’d like to start in Ephesians 1:11-14:
Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
This poignant paragraph pinpoints four identifying marks, forming a figurative fingerprint, by which we can discover our own identity in Christ. First, it assures us that we are predestined.
The passage we just read says again, “God… chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11 NLT). Another translation puts it this way: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11 NIV).
What does that mean? It means, first of all, that you are not an accident. You’re not fluke of nature or a bi-product of astronomical random chance in the universe. God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind. You were made by God and for God—until you understand that, your life will never make sense.
Being predestined also means that God has a plan for you. Now, sometimes when the Bible talks about predestination, people start thinking fatalistically, as if everything is pre-determined and we have no choice in the matter. But that’s not what the Bible means when it talks about predestination.
Let me see if I can illustrate this for you: Suppose your parents owned a family business, and their goal was for you to take over the family business when they retired or died. You, of course, have the choice to opt in or out. But if you decide to take over the family business, your parents wisely planned out how you would get to that point. They determined when you would be ready to start working in the family business, what on-the-job training you should have, what outside education you should receive, and when the business should be fully placed in your care and management. Years later, because of their wise preparation, you take each of the steps they had laid out for you ahead of time.