Sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14
Text: 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 he predestined us for adoption to sonship 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 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 reach their fulfillment — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.
If you want to accomplish something, you usually devise a plan. For example, if you were going to build a house, you wouldn’t start to put up walls here and there. You draw up a set of blueprints and decide where you want the various rooms. When you are cooking, you follow a recipe that tells you the ingredients that you need and the steps in preparing your dish. Without a plan, you rarely accomplish what you set out to do. In our text for this morning, God places before our eyes a plan that he had and has for us. As we study this plan, we will be reminded, once again, of God’s great love for us. Let us marvel as we see GOD’S PLAN FOR US. It was 1. A Plan Devised From Eternity, 2. A Plan Accomplished By Christ, and 3. A Plan Sealed By The Spirit.
Before we look at the steps of this plan, we are going to look at what God wanted to accomplish through this process. The apostle Paul tells us that the ultimate goal was that we are “holy and blameless in his sight.” (Verse 4) God’s goal was that, even when his all-seeing eye looks at us, he would not be able to find a single sin to charge against us. This would mean that we would spend our eternity with him, since only those who are without sin are able to enter heaven. This is God’s goal for us. Now, we are going to look at the steps that God used to accomplish this.
First of all, we note when God devised this plan. It says, “He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Verse 4) Before that first day of creation, before God said, “Let there be light,” he chose you to be holy and blameless. Think of what this is saying! From eternity, before time existed, God’s plan was to make us members of his family. We find great joy and comfort in that thought. First of all, since this took place before the creation of the world, there was no way that any of this depends on us. It is not dependent on what I do or don’t do. God was the author of our salvation. In addition, we see that God knows each one of us individually. He didn’t pick us at random, like a number out of a hat. God personally chose each and every one of us out of all the people who have ever lived or will ever live. God chose you, specifically you, to be his own.
A question that might arise from this is “Why did God select some and not others?” Some have incorrectly deduced that, if God chose some to be saved, he must have chosen others to be condemned. Nothing could be further from the truth. After all, we read in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” It very clearly says that God wanted all people to be saved. How could that be true, if he chose some to be condemned? If a person is lost for all eternity, it is their own fault. To this some might reply that, if it is a person’s fault that they are lost, it must be to their credit that they are saved. Again this is in direct contradiction to what the Bible says so clearly. As our text and other places in the Scriptures remind us, if we are saved, it is all God’s doing. It started from before the creation of the world.
Having been chosen, God continued our path of salvation. It says that “In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Verses 4&5) It says that God predestined us. The thought of this is that God set up boundaries to our right and left so that we would not veer from the goal. Perhaps, a good illustration would be the bumpers that are put up in a bowling alley, so that the ball doesn’t fall into the gutters. The ball is directed toward the goal of knocking down the pins. In the same way, when God chose you, he put up bumpers so that you would continue on to the goal of being holy and blameless, so that you would spend your eternity with him in heaven. His motivation is very clear. It says that he did this in love. He chose to love us before the creation of the world. He selected and predestined us to be his own.
Unfortunately, we know that are anything but holy and blameless in God’s sight. That is because we are all sinners. We were born sinful. We know that we sin every single day of our lives. For example, think of how we interact with other people. We know that we have lied to one another. We have said things that hurt them. We haven’t helped others when we could have. We have found it easy to get together in a group and tear down someone who isn’t there. We do not deserve to enter into heaven at the end of our lives. Instead, we deserve to be eternally separated from God in the punishment of hell. How could God’s plan that we spend our eternity with him be carried out?
We find the answer in verse 7, “In (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” There are two words that I would like to highlight. The first is “redemption.” This implies a slave or a captive that needs to be ransomed. The second word is “forgiveness.” This word speaks of someone who has acted improperly to another and, in doing so, has brought about guilt that needs to be covered up. Both of these words require the payment of a heavy price. The sinner has offended God. The price is – or at least should be – the sinner’s life. After all, the Bible tells us that “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) But in accordance with God’s grace, his undeserved love, he did the unthinkable. God himself paid the price. He sent his Son to be our Substitute. Yes, the price was steep. It was the innocent blood of Christ that was shed on the cross. His suffering and death paid for every one of your sins. However, God was going to do everything necessary so that his goal would be accomplished, namely, that you would be holy and blameless and spend your eternity with him in heaven. God’s plan for you was accomplished by Christ. Since you have been elected to salvation and God predestined you to be with him forever and Jesus Christ has paid for your sins, you are saved. God’s plan has been accomplished for you.
However, do you ever find yourself thinking the question, “How can I be sure? How can I be sure that my sins have been forgiven? How can I be sure that I will be in heaven when my time on this earth comes to its end?” God doesn’t want you to live in uncertainty. He wants you to know that everything he set out to accomplish in you and for you has been completed. To that end, he gives us a guarantee. It says in verse 13, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” A seal was used to indicate ownership. The fact that you believe is proof that you have been saved. The Holy Spirit created that faith in your heart through the Means of Grace. For some, that happened the day that you were baptized. For others, this occurred later in life. Through the gospel message, faith was created. It is through this faith that we receive all of the blessings that God wants to give to us. The fact that you believe is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. He is the seal that marks you as one of God’s own.
These verses also describe the Holy Spirit as “A deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.” (Verse 14) You might say that the Holy Spirit is a down payment or a deposit that God gives to us for the blessings that await us. Because we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, who continues to strengthen our faith through word and sacrament, we have the guarantee that the rest of the obligations will be met. The Holy Spirit in our hearts is his guarantee that he will hold our inheritance in heaven. As a result, you never have to wonder if you are saved or not. Everything has been done for you. God chose you before the creation of the world. Jesus Christ carried out his Father’s plan to rescue us. The Holy Spirit created the faith in your heart that makes the work of Christ our own. This has been God’s plan for you all along.
We thank God for this plan that he had for us. In a million years, we would never have devised such a plan. No matter what we might have imagined, we would never have been able to find a way to spend our eternity in heaven. However, God devised a plan “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Verse 7) God chose to love you and me so much that he was going to make sure that we would be with him in heaven. In addition, not only would we have not devised such a plan as this, but we also never would have grasped or understood it if he had not “made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” (Verse 9) We thank our God for not only having such a plan and carrying out, but also making it known to us in his Word. May the fact that God chose you from eternity to be his own fill you with comfort. May the fact that Christ came to the earth to accomplish his Father’s will fill you with joy. May the fact that the Holy Spirit fills your heart as a seal of all that is waiting for you give you peace. We thank our God this wondrous plan that he had and has for us. Amen.
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