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Summary: Third in a series from Ephesians. Jesus Christ has paid the price to redeem us from slavery to sin.

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For some reason, somebody decided to share this observation from George Burns with me this week:

The secret to a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

I’m not sure that just because he played God in a couple of movies that George Burns is qualified to determine the secret to a good sermon. So although I’ll try to begin and end well today, I can’t guarantee just how close together those two elements will be.

This last Monday, our country celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday to honor the slain civil rights leader. For most of us, what we most remember about Dr. King is his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that he gave on the Washington, D.C. mall on August 28, 1963. His speech ended with these words:

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring,

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

This morning, as we continue our basic training in the Book of Ephesians, we’re going to focus on freedom. And while the kind of freedom that Dr. King envisioned is certainly a worthwhile goal, the kind of freedom that Paul writes about in our passage today is far more significant.

But before we look at that passage, let’s take a moment to quickly review our training from the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, we saw that we have been set apart by God for salvation, for service and for spiritual blessings. And then last week, we began to look at some of those spiritual blessings. So before we go any further, let’s see how well we’re doing on our Scripture memory. Let’s see how well we can remember the first six verses from the last two weeks:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:1-6 (NIV)

You’ll remember that in Greek verses 3-14 comprise the longest sentence in the Bible. And in that one sentence Paul describes for us the spiritual blessings that God pours into our lives. One of the interesting things about those blessings is that we can clearly see the differing roles of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in bringing those blessings to us. While it may be true that the Bible never uses the word “trinity”, we can clearly see the work of the Triune God in these verses.

Last week we began looking at these spiritual blessings and we very clearly saw the work of God the Father in pouring out these spiritual blessings into our lives. It is God the Father who has chosen us to be holy and blameless and who has predestined us to be part of His family. I hope you’ve taken some time this week to think about that some more and to just humble yourselves before God and thank Him for choosing us in spite of the fact that we are all undeserving.

In those verses we have also seen several references to the fact that all that God the Father has done for us has been done through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But for the next two weeks, the work of God the Son is going to come into even sharper focus in verses 7-12. And then in a couple of weeks, we’ll focus on the work of God the Holy Spirit in verses 13-14.

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