Summary: Seond in a series through Epehsians
“From Rags To Riches”
Ephesians 1:3-14 October 5, 2008
OPEN: Video – “This is Not This”
It is about knowing what you have in the bank, heaven’s bank! I am amazed at how much time is spent by Paul and other NT writers to remind us of all that is ours in Christ! I am afraid that in our day as what must have been true in Paul’s day as well is that so many Christians are not living out of the resources that are rightfully theirs through their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Your story and my story is a rags-to-riches story, because the Bible says our own self-righteousness is as
“filthy rags.” Isa 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” In other words when God looks at you and he looks at me in our own righteousness, all that is there is “filthy, dirty rags.” The book of Ephesians is all about the riches we have in Christ. Before we read this text, I would like you to take a moment and look at verse 3 all the way through verse 14 I mentioned last week that this just one long sentence. Paul keeps piling on participial phrases. He doesn’t even complete a sentence. He just keeps praising God over and over again. He breaks out in praise and he gets so excited about it, it’s like he can’t stop. In English, it’s divided up with periods, but in the original language, he goes almost wild in his exuberation about salvation. It reminds me of the little boy who was asked, “Can you spell banana?” He said, “Yeah. I just don’t know when to stop! B-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a... That’s what Paul does here, he gets started and he just keeps going.
What was it about salvation that made the apostle Paul break out into spontaneous, exuberant praise? He began to understand what had happened to him. If you could catch a glimpse, if your spiritual eyes could be opened to who you are in Jesus and what has happened to you in Jesus, you would also break out in spontaneous praise and adoration.
God Has Blessed Us. 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. Now notice he’s praising God for spiritual blessings not material blessings. Sometimes it’s interesting just to listen to what Christians get excited about. You hear people talking about the blessings they’ve discovered in life and they talk about a new car or a new toy or some kind. Sometimes I don't know if I am in an Amway meeting or a church service as people testify of the material blessings. Paul is thanking God for the spiritual blessings. If a person is really walking after the Spirit and is interested in things of the Spirit, he is going to be thanking God for the spiritual blessings. But if a person is a materialist and is very interested in the material things, he is going to be talking always about the material blessings.
He’s also praising God because of what God has done. The church has been emphasizing much too long what you ought to be doing for God without properly proclaiming what God has done for us. The Bible emphasizes what God has done for you first. “Thanks be to God who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings,” and he takes three chapters now to tell you all that God has done for you. And it is not until he has told you for three chapters what God has done for you that he turns around then and says, “Now walk worthy of this glorious calling.” He doesn't tell you what you ought to be doing for God until, first of all, establishing for you what God has done for you. And that is the proper order, because you can't be what you ought to be without that which God has already done for us. In other words, God's work has to be first in my life.
The Issue of Perspective – Turn with me for a moment to 1 Peter 1:3-9 - What’s Peter trying to do? He’s trying to get address the issue of perspective. These people were facing the worst the world had to throw at them. The Church was facing a terrible wave of persecution. – keeping the proper perspective of their blessings was going to be the stabilizing force in their life.
God Has Chosen Us For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. When I was growing up in Southwest Pennsylvania, I went to grade school in the little town of Carmichaels. Carmichaels was a bit bigger than our small town of Eastford, CT. It had two stop lights – where as we only have one. Almost the size of a small city compared to us. Up through the sixth grade I went to Central Grade School. Those were good days. My two favorite subjects were lunch and recess. I looked forward to each of those areas every day. After we got done with our lunches we had an extended time to run around in the school yard. During that lunch break we would commonly play either whiffle-ball or kickball. Each day we would pick up teams. We’d kind of line up on one side of the school yard. After we got through arguing over who was going to be the team captains, we’d start choosing who was going to be on each side. “I’ll take Tom.” “I’ll take Bob” and so on. We’d all stand there not trying to look too eager but inwardly we were sweating it out. The worst thing in the world was when it got down to the last couple of kids. Nobody wanted to be the very last one left to be picked. The closer it got to the end, you could just see the heads go down and they’d just stare at the ground. Their self-esteem was sinking deeper and deeper. Sometimes we’d argue over who had to take the one kid that couldn’t play very well. Maybe you can remember either the joy of being chosen or the hurt of not being chosen.