Sermon June 10, 2006 : Ephesians 1

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Date: June 10, 2006
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

I’d like to invite you to look with me at a passage in the Book of Ephesians, the letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1 and we’re going to begin….. Last Saturday I took some time to expound on chapter 6 of Ephesians, particularly that very well known text of the armor of God.

That gave me the purpose to even continue on the Book of Ephesians, it’s such a powerful deep epistle, that there’s so much there. We could spend months and months just breaking it down and unpacking all the teaching, all the theology that is contained in the Book of Ephesians.

So you know, in the next few weeks as I’m able to come and share with you, I’m going to take some time to take different passages, different ideas, and just go verse by verse. Let see what happens out of that. I encourage you to take some time to read up on your own and you know, read the letter, read some commentary on the letter, so that you can accompany me in this exploration.

Let’s see how far the Lord wants to take us in the study of this wonderful, wonderful letter to that congregation or maybe congregations, that found itself in that city in Asia Minor, part of the Greco Roman empire. There were several provinces, several cities in that whole area of the empire and you know, the Apostle Paul had been there. He had spent actually almost like 3 years in Ephesus, a very important city and he had planted a church there which apparently had grown, and probably this letter was sent as a circular letter to be read, not only by the original congregation but by other groups that had sprouted since then, because the Apostle Paul wrote this letter, several years after he had been there planting that church. And so, you know, it was sent as a doctrinal letter, a letter of correction, perhaps, of encouragement, to these believers.

It is said that it is one of the most profound letters in the New Testament and I believe so, it’s very concentrated. And so, you know, without further ado let’s get into the study of this letter.

By the way, I’m going to be leaving very soon after I finish preaching. I won’t be able to spend time with you and greet you, and I apologize for that, not that you will notice, but just wanted to let you know if you see me rush out here, it’s because I have an engagement that I need to take care of, at 8 o’clock some place else in another part of the city. So, you’ll forgive me for leaving immediately after I spend the time with you on the word.

And just take a look at the beginning of the letter. It says, “Paul –and we’re going to try and develop as much as possible of the first 13 verses of that sector of the letter.

It says: “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.” And it begins by saying “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, -I’m reading from the NIV version, by the way,- 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, in him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding and he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the time will have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head even Christ.”

Let’s leave it there. God blesses us with a speed we might even get beyond that but….. there’s so much. And as I say, we’re going to use this opportunity to kind to grind through a lot of concepts and a lot of ideas that are very important in scripture. You’re going to find them everywhere in the New Testament and in the Old Testament as well.

So, we’re going to take this opportunity to really almost like go through some theology here and even you know, you can begin just by the idea…. He says, he identifies himself in a Greco Roman style of writing, the classical style of writing.

People would open this scroll, it wasn’t books like we have today and the first thing you wanted to know is if you received the letters, who sent it. So the first thing you did, you identified yourself, and then, further down you identified to whom the scroll or the letter was sent to, was destined to. You didn’t have an envelope that said, ‘from so and so to so and so’. It was a different way. You opened it up, there was the person who wrote it, then to whom it was addressed and then it was expected to a courteous greeting wishing blessing and peace, or whatever it was, or prosperity or health upon the person who read it. It was a way sort of entering into the body of what you were writing about. So those three parts you’ll find them in Paul’s letters all the time.

It wasn’t something that was exceptional to him, it was really the style of the times. So, he identifies himself as the Apostle Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus. I think the word Apostle could take us just a lot of time, but just let me point out, Apostle means somebody who has been sent with a particular mission. That’s the idea behind the Greek word.

And Apostles were of course those first twelve that were chosen by Jesus, representing him to carry out his message. And that wasn’t all that God had determined to the Apostles, you know, he chose others. Paul was one of those, Saul was his name originally.

And Jesus chose them, as Paul himself shows in other of his writings to be a messenger specifically to, whom? The gentiles. Just as Peter was supposed to be a sent messenger to the Hebrews, to the Jews.

So Paul identified himself, you know, as an Apostle. Usually an Apostle, and there are implications in scripture that for you to be able to call yourself an Apostle, and Paul particularly, says that if we can get it also from just the context of how Jesus chose his Apostles, you have to be named specifically by the Lord.

Some people believe that this is the way. I mean, you can really call yourself a genuine Apostle, you have to be called by Christ with a specific message, with a specific sort of specialty if you will, a particular message that you have been committed to give, or a particular mission that has been given to you.

You have to have seen by definition the Lord Jesus. Now, Paul….. Saul, later became Paul of course, didn’t see Jesus necessarily when he was alive, or rather when he was in his first incarnation, before his crucifixion. We don’t know whether he saw him or not. The sense is that he hadn’t seen him, as a matter of fact, he persecuted Jesus because he didn’t know him at all, but he did see him in visions later on. The Lord Jesus appeared to Paul many times and commissioned him in very specific terms as we see for example in one of the letters to Corinthians, to be his Apostle.

So he could claim to have seen Jesus. And the other distinguishing mark of an Apostle is that miracles will be performed through his ministry. There was a …… Paul speaks of the…. That the signs of an Apostle have been seen in my ministry.

Now, all of this is conjectured, you know, there’s no specific text that says ‘these are the marks of an Apostle in order for you to be able to call yourself an Apostle, this is what you have to have done’. But this is the idea that you get by looking, you know, at the Book of Acts, for example, and the letters of Paul.

Now, in our time there is a lot of people, you know, particularly in the charismatic pentecostal church, that has developed in the last few years particularly, that a lot of people are called Apostles. Now, this may truly be something of the Holy Spirit opening up at new, you know, dimension of the church in this time.

I particularly, you know, I’m not going to get conflictive and controversial by saying ‘no, all those people who are calling themselves Apostles, you know, they’re not Apostles. And sometimes there’s controversy about them. I have preferred to kind of adopt an attitude: ‘well, you know, this…. maybe the Lord is speaking somehow to these people about this.

Today a lot of people are called Apostles simply because they have started churches, or because they have other churches or other pastors under their leadership, and so they’re called Apostles. But, you know, I am not going to be as strict as to say. ‘No, there are no more Apostles after the twelve and, you know, Paul. But I do believe though, that today we have an excess of Apostles. Actually I think that sometimes there are more Apostles than pastors these days. I think pastors are sort of going out of style these days and you know, everybody is calling himself an Apostle.

I think the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Ok? I think God may be activating and there’s talk of apostolic churches, churches that are covering other churches, and churches that are very exemplary and model churches and so on. They’re called apostolic churches and you know, we hear that God has been activating the apostolic ministry, just as he has been activating the ministry, you know, of prophecy and so on and so forth in our time, or reactivating, although I don’t think it’ll ever died.

But in any case, I just want to point out the problematic nature of this word ‘Apostle’ and also that’s a very distinctive word in the New Testament. I invite you to explore a little bit more about this idea of apostleship.

Paul did consider himself an Apostle, and he considered himself called by the Lord and he considered himself as much of an Apostle in way as all the other Apostles who walked with Jesus Christ. Although in another, you know, Paul seemed to be torn, because in another side he sometimes calls himself the least of the Apostles. Why? Because he had persecuted the church before he became an Apostle.

You know, he had been instrumental in the killing of believers and jailing of believers, like in the case of Stephen, not this guy here, but the other Stephen. And you know, so sometimes he sends that and he called himself the least of the Apostle. He considered himself unworthy, but on other times when he was in a sort of high esteem moments, he said ‘I’m a full Apostle’. You know, he didn’t allow anybody to question him.

So he wrote, “Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God”. In other words, you know, it wasn’t because he chose himself. That’s one thing that is important. Now, if you’re going to be in a ministry, if you’re going to serve the Lord, make sure that it’s because God has called you. Don’t appoint yourself, don’t push yourself on people, don’t you know, force yourself on a situation. You know, sometimes people come to a church and they want to be immediately used and you know, they sort of make it a condition. ‘I’m going to remain in this church,…..’ You know, they don’t say it that way, but it’s this idea ‘if I’m going to remain in this church you have to place me in some sort of position. You have to do something with me’, and also pastors feel that pressure.

You know, Paul always said ‘I’m an Apostle by…. I have been chosen by God, by the will of God.’ He knew that God had called him and it’s so important that you know, you find out what is the will of God for your life and that you move in the perfect will of God.

Discern, ask the Holy Spirit for discernment: ‘Lord, what is it that you want me to do in your kingdom?’, and find what that call is, what that gifting is, and move within it, because when you move within the calling of God, then you are in your access, and then you can be blessed and you can be a blessing on to others, and you can flow in the power of the Holy Spirit.

But if you are choosing something that God hasn’t called you to do, then probably, you’re not going to have the same impact, and the same fruitfulness that you would if you knew what it is. And each one of us has a purpose, has a calling, has a gifting and part of our task is ‘Lord, what is that you want me to do in the economy of the Kingdom of God?.

So, you know, Paul always said that this idea by the will of God is not a neutral thing. He’s saying it because he wants to make sure that people understand that he is moving within what God has chosen him to do specifically. He is not self appointing himself to the apostleship.

So, Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, this is what gives his authority to say the things that he’s going to say, things that could be controversial, things that are profound, things that you know, one could ask ‘where does he get that knowledge from?’, ‘where does he get the right to say these things?’.

Well, he establishes that clarity right from the very beginning. ‘I have been chosen by God and I am an Apostle of Christ Jesus. And then he addresses his letters to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.

Just something quickly here, there is a bit of controversy as to whether the original letter was indeed addressed to the church in that city, called Ephesus. Why? Because apparently, two or three of the earliest manuscripts that are available of that letter, don’t have that address in Ephesus. It just says ‘to the saints, the faithful in Christ Jesus’.

Other manuscripts do have the specific address in Ephesus. And so, some critics have been sort of tempted to say that the letter was not to the Ephesians, it was simply a general letter. But there’s a lot of other evidence, for example, evidence of very early fathers of the faith who in their correspondence, in their writings specifically say that indeed this letter was addressed to the church in Ephesus. So there’s a lot of other scholarly evidence that suggests clearly that yes, this was written to the church in Ephesus.

Not only that, you know, this letter to the Ephesians, interestingly enough, I suggest that you read and compare it with the letter to the Colossians, because these two letters they are like twin letters. They have a lot of common material, almost the same sequence of teachings and so on. And it is clear that the Apostle Paul wrote these two letters very close to each other and using the same thematic material. He was probably, you know, we can sometimes write a letter and then we have to send another one or pastors we preach the same sermons in three or four different churches, but we adjust things and we change things and we preach sometimes the same sermon to our church three years in separation and it’s a different sermon altogether.

But the same basic idea was there, so….. you know, that also suggests…. Ephesus and Colossus, by the way, were in the same province. They’re very near to each other and so there’s a lot of external evidence that suggests that this letter was indeed written to the Ephesians.

So, if you ever read some commentary or something like that, even here in this NIV version, there’s a note here that says: “some early manuscripts do not have in Ephesus”. So, don’t let that complicate your mind too much. It doesn’t really matter ultimately, did he send it to Ephesus or did he send it to Austin, Brighton, Massachusetts, the fact is that the teaching is what matters. Ok? So don’t let that trouble you too much.

I happen to believe by having read on this matter that indeed it is justified to place it as a letter written to that congregation in Asia Minor, in that city of Ephesus. It says “the faithful in Christ Jesus.”

And then, there’s a wonderful reading, it says “grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. He could have said a whole lot of things and yet he chooses these two words “grace –caris- and peace –eirene-, and these are two words that are very favorite words of the Apostle Paul, that he used in a lot of different contexts.

Now, why grace and peace? You know, grace is a wonderful word that will be repeated many, many, many times in his epistle. And for the Apostle Paul it sort of suggested the generosity of God, the kindness of God. The fact that God gave so many things to human beings that they didn’t deserve.

And I think he himself, the Apostle Paul, having been a persecutor of the church and responsible for even the death of probably more than one believer, he was always pursued by this pain that he experienced, and the fact that God had chosen him to be an Apostle, to be a teacher of the word and to be leader of his church, and to have given him such huge revelations as he received, was something that really moved the Apostle Paul.

I think he was so aware of the grace of God that when he thought of the gospel, you know, it was in terms of that grace, that generosity. God saved us. We didn’t deserve to be saved, we didn’t deserve to know Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve to be saved from the fires of hell, and yet God in his mercy, when we were full of sinfulness and, as the Apostle says in another passage, you know, mired in our sinfulness and steeped in our disobedience, God chose to save us.

So, you know, he wishes that generosity of God on his readers and also peace –eirene-, that wonderful word. You know, he will use it again and again, many times. The gospel is associated with this idea of peace of reconciliation. God is no longer angry with us.

You know, when sin came into the world it created conflict, tension, division, division within ourselves with our own emotions and with our own thoughts. We were divided. We were torn as he writes in the Book of Romans. You know, what I want to do I don’t do and what I don’t want to do, that’s what I end up doing.

So, the fall created division within our own selves. It created division between myself and my fellow man. You know, there’s war between different nations, between individuals. There’s war between the male and the female and the fall created that division between male and female. And then, also division in nature itself.

The Bible says that nature itself, the universe it’s groaning because it is divided and it is in tension. It is at war with itself. And it caused division also between man and God, separation. So, you know, the fall in the world that we live in is all about separation, conflict, tension, and yet here comes Jesus Christ and makes peace possible. He broke down the dividing wall, he broke down the enmities between races and between genders and so on and makes peace possible.

So, these two wonderful words are full of meaning for the Apostle and you know, “….his grace and peace to you from God our Father”. Also in word peace there may be a little bit of an association of the shalom of the Hebrew, because Paul was after all a Jew.

When Jews greeted each other said ‘shalom’, ‘hello’, but shalom meant ‘peace to you’. It meant ‘may the Lord give you well-being, may the Lord give you prosperity, may the Lord give you financial abundance, may he give you health, may he give you joy’. Shalom was a word that was so profound that you can’t just translated ‘peace’. It was more like ‘well-being, good health’.

So, there may be also resonance of the Hebrew shalom in that grace and peace –eirene, in the Greek-. So, “…. You from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

And now Paul enters into the body of his message. And the first thing he begins with a word blessing to God. you know, it’s so important that we always bless the Lord out of the abundance of all that we have received, that there always be a word of praise in our lips for the Lord. And when we begin our prayers, when we have any opportunity that we use it to praise the Lord, to thank him for all the things that we have received. That’s so important!

You know, when you praise the Lord, you are blessed. When you praise the Lord you are filled with the joy of blessing the Lord. Thank him for everything, thank him for your food, thank him for the car that you’re driving, thank him for the health to just stand up. Some people don’t have that blessing, they can’t keep their balance. You know, thank him for that bread, that toast with butter a little jam that you enjoy so much in the morning. Praise him. God loves to be praised, and when you praise the Lord you are blessed as well.

“….Praise be”. You know, that word ‘praise be’ –eulogetos- is repeated when he says “….. to the God and Father who has blessed us –eulogesas- in the heavenlies with every spiritual blessing –eulogia-.”

It’s the word for eulogize. You know, how does God bless us? He pronounces words upon our life and when God blesses us with his word they become reality.

So it says, “…..I bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms”.

Where does God pronounce his blessings? In heaven, in the throne of heaven. And you know, when God founded the world, and when God created the church, he blessed the church and he pronounced all kinds of treasures and blessings of all sorts that now, all we have to do is claim them, move within them and make them our own, appropriate them.

You see, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Every possible good thing that you could imagine, God has declared on you as a child of God. And you have to learn to enjoy those blessings, you have to learn to claim them, you have to learn to move within them, you have to learn to believe that you know, I am a child of God and therefore I move in the great blessings of God.

God has chosen me to bless me. I believe that every good thing is for me, as a member of Christ church I expect great things for my life, and I expect wonderful things. I don’t expect disaster, maybe there’ll be a little struggle. Yes, there’ll be times of difficulty, there maybe times of illness or financial lack, but God will work it out and God will make sure that in the end what applies to me is this great blessing that he has declared on me as his son, or as his daughter.

And that’s the kind of mentality that we need to cultivate as children of the Kingdom of God. I am blessed and God has blessed me with every blessing in the heavenly realms, and now all I have to do is claim it in the name of Christ and bring it down and move within it, and live a life that will enable me to receive those blessings and have them realized in my life.

You know, Paul begins by just blessing God because of the generosity which he has blessed us in the heavenly realms. “….. with every spiritual blessing”.

That ‘every’ means you know, the variety, the diversity of…. And by the way, these verses 3 through 13 apparently it is said, or rather, up to verse 14, that it might have been a hymn that the church used to sing to worship the Lord and that was, you know, that’s what Paul was writing here, a hymn with different stanzas.

And it’s all one single sentence. Here at the NIV, for the purpose of convenience breaks it down into many different sentences, but Paul had this way of writing, that sometimes it was really elaborate. He had these sentences, these clauses, these subordinate clauses and on and on, and he went….. he had a very complex mind and when he was doing his theological thing, forget it, nobody could stop him.

So, this passage it’s really one big sentence. The NIV has broken it down. Sometimes I think to the detriment of the content, because that’s what happens, you know, sometimes when you break things down, you stop a sentence artificially, you know, you’re breaking the whole connectivity of the different thoughts. But, you know, for convenience’s sake the NIV does it that way.

Then it says, “….every spiritual blessing in Christ”, and you know, the original says “having chosen us in him before the creation of the world”.

You know, this ‘chose’ for ‘he chose us in him’, or ‘having chosen us’ is the beginning of a lot of problematic words that are very profound in the Bible. I’ll point out some very deep, deep words that you’ll find many, many times in the New Testament and in just this passage here.

‘Choosing’, that’s the doctrine of election. Have you ever heard of election in Christian doctrine? Later on he talks about having….. “he predestined us”, the doctrine of predestination, how many have heard of Calvinism and you know, the doctrine of predestination?

“…. He adopted us as his sons”, later on in verse 5; the doctrine of adoption, very profound doctrine as well. And there’s another one “redemption”, that’s further down in verse 7, “…. In him we have redemption through his blood”.

So, these words: election, predestination, adoption, redemption. Let me tell you, doctoral dissertations and whole books have been written about these teachings. It’s very good if you study about these things, because these are key teachings in the Bible.

And he says that, you know, “…. He blessed us with every spiritual blessing having chosen us…”. You know, God had a plan and the first thing that he did was he chose us, or rather that was the second thing because the first thing he did was he predestined us. He predestined us and then having predestined us, he chose us in him before the creation of the world.

So, he blessed us with every spiritual blessing, he chose us in him, it says. Who is ‘in him’? Jesus Christ. He has just said ‘the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he chose us in him”.

That’s an idea that Paul repeats many times, you know. What God has done for us is through Jesus Christ and Paul emphasize that time and time again. It’s through Jesus Christ. It’s not anything that we have done, anything that we deserve. It is because Jesus died on the cross for us, because Jesus came to the earth, that all these blessings are made possible.

It says, “…. Before the creation of the world that God chose us”. Here’s another thing, you know, the salvation, the plan of salvation that God invented, designed that he would send his son, that his son would die on the cross, that he would pay the price for our sins. You know, this wasn’t an after thought of God. It’s not like, you know, one day the devil decided to tempt Eve and Adam and God all of a sudden said “oh, oh, I didn’t have …. What happened here? I didn’t expect this to happen, now what am I going to do?’. Then he went off somewhere to think about how he was going to solve this problem.

I mean, God knew, even before he founded the world that all these things were going to happen and he had a plan for every step. He wasn’t caught by surprise by the fall of Adam and Even, by their disobedience. He knew that all of this was going to happen.

You know, that’s the mystery of the universe and the human condition. God knows everything. God knew and he knows the end, he knows the beginning, he knows everything in between and he had a plan. This is the mystery of what we’re living. We’re living a drama that God has designed and every part of that drama is going according to the plan.

So when we see this world and all kinds of things that are happening here in the world and you know, we get worried and we get concerned. But one thing we must always remember, God is not being caught by surprise. He knows everything, he has a plan and that plan was from the beginning of the world, from before the creation of the world.

He chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight. Now, you know, some people think that this idea of God choosing us meant that he says ‘well, Rene you’re going to be saved and so and so, you’re not going to be saved; and Tolu, yes, I’m going to chose you to be saved, but this other person is not going to be saved.’ And there’s a lot of controversy about that, does God choose specifically individuals to be saved and others to be damned?

And that has caused a lot of anxiety in people, because they also say ‘well, if God chooses and what kind of a God is it that will determine that some people go to hell and others go to heaven arbitrarily. Or if he’s the one who chooses and how can he consider people responsible because once he chooses, you know, that’s it, I mean, who can disobey God? And this has caused a lot of problems.

One of the solutions I would point out, that others have offered is that when the Apostle Paul is saying here ‘he chose us’, he’s not saying ‘he chose me individually and you, and you, and you individually, but he chose all the people who were going to be part of the church as one body. He chose the church to be holy and blameless and to be saved.

And so, if you accept Jesus Christ and you enter into that body, which is called the church, through Jesus Christ then you are part of that institution of that body of people that he named and he called ‘the church’. Do you understand?

Now, on the other hand, let me tell you that there are places where the Bible does say that God chooses people for a particular purpose, like he told Jeremiah, I think it was, “….I chose you to be my prophet to the nations”, in the womb; before the creation of the world, it says in another passage, he chose Moses. And it says that, you know, God hardened the heart of pharaoh and the Apostle Paul says, ‘hey,…..’ you know, some people complain that why would God do that, and Paul answers, ‘hey, if God wanted to do that, didn’t he create you, that’s his business.’ He answers in true Hebrew style. That’s his prerogative and you have nothing to say about it because you’re just a creature.

An artist creates a painting and he can take a knife and just slash it and if he wants to do that, that’s his problem. It’s his painting, he created it. Wou, that’s pretty scary if we think of ourselves that way, you know, but we are like that. God is sovereign, God is Lord. He can do whatever he pleases with us, you know, it’s we who think that somehow ‘no, I’m so important. God has to ask me permission if he wants to do something in my life’.

God can do whatever he pleases. You know, I think that the answer is somewhere in between. I’m not a Calvinist or an Armenian, these are the two doctrines that, you know, one says that God doesn’t choose and the other one says, yes, he does choose. If he chooses you, you have nothing to say about it.

I think the answer is somewhere in between. There are mysteries that we cannot know about. Some day we’ll sit down and the Lord will say ‘you know, this is how I solved that problem, this is how could be free and I can also choose you.’ and we’ll say ‘guau, I never thought of that. Yes, that’s the answer, of course, why didn’t that occur to me!

You know, we make all these problems and all, we spend all this time trying to resolve all these situations and God knows the answer very well, and some day we’ll see how simple it would have been. Our minds simply can’t understand it. Right now we cannot reconcile eternity and time and space. Neither could Einstein, neither could the physicists who were trying to unravel the nature of reality, and yet we know that reality makes sense, because we live in it, we have it.

And so, it is like that. These are mysteries. So don’t let that confuse you too much. Do read about these things, because it’s very important, but you know, Paul is working out a very difficult, thorny concept here.

It says, ‘… for he chose us in him, in Jesus Christ, before the creation the world to be holy and blameless”.

I want, you know, as I say, I’m almost thought. I told my wife ten minutes before 7.30. I’m committed to ending at 7.30, but as you can see, this is so deep and so dense, but I hope that we can learn some things from this and continue….. You know, prepare yourself guys, you know, definitely for the worship, but….

You know, he says “… in love…”, here in the NIV says “….in love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ”.

But, you know, the way that the original Greek says is “…. Having chosen us, verse 4, in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, in love, having predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ”.

In other words, God predestined first and then chose. How did God predestine? He concocted a plan, the plan said that you would be adopted into the Kingdom of God as a son or a daughter through Jesus Christ. That was God’s plan, and he designed that. That’s the way people are going to be saved, through my son who will be called Jesus Christ and then having concocted that plan, he proceeded to bring people into that plan.

Every time you’re chosen through some choosing of God, you enter into what God predestined, what God determined would be the way that you, that people would enter into salvation.

This idea of adoption, God adopted us, you see? I mean, we were sinners. We didn’t have any chance to be in the family of God and yet God called us his children.

Remember also that the Apostle Paul is writing to gentiles, people who were not members of Israel. And you know, the Israelites were the people of God and they were also adopted, they were made into the people of God. So, in a sense we’re all adopted. The only true son of God is, who? Jesus Christ. But, we have been made also sons and daughters, we have been adopted, given the right to be called as Paul says in another passage, sons and daughters of Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will.

But I don’t want to omit a consideration of that word, of that expression in verse 4 ‘in love’, “…..in love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ”.

You know, God’s plan of salvation it wasn’t some sort of cold, strategic, mechanical solution to a problem. You know, God didn’t invent his plan of salvation as some sort of corporate CEO solving a situation. It was the love of the father that moved God to redeem us and to forgive us. Everything that God has done for us has been pushed and compelled by God’s love.

I mean, it is the fatherly love of God that compels him to forgive us, to provide for us, to adopt us. It is a relationship of love. You know, it’s very different from the idea of other religions that present God sort of aloof, distant, indifferent, you know, this God that we serve loves us and he does things out of love.

And so, you know, you are the depository of God’s love and this is why he predestined you to be adopted as his child through Jesus Christ “….in accordance with his pleasure and will”.

That means you know, God was sovereign. He did it that because it pleased him. Nobody compelled him to do it. I mean, Paul is emphasizing time and time again, God’s sovereignty as he did this. God planned it. He wasn’t compelled in have to do it, he did it freely, out of his own pleasure and will.

“…. To the praise –and I’ll leave it here in verse 6- to the praise of his glorious grace”.

You know, ultimately what God does is for his glory. You know, the final reason why anything is done in the universe is so that the sublime creator that God is, will get the glory. It’s like a painter or a writer who writes a book or does a beautiful painting, to receive the praise and to enjoy the admiration of those that see his creation.

And ultimately God is the source of everything that exists: the planets, the earth, the human beings, the animals, the insects, the very deep structures of matter and of time and space. God is the creator of all of that. And ultimately, you know, everything that happens ultimately you have to end up saying ‘guau, what an amazing plan! What an amazing creator! What an amazing mind that could create these things!

Everything that God does, this whole drama that he has allowed, the demonic interference in the realm of history, the fall of man, the redemption through Jesus Christ, all the different pieces of history, all of these things God is allowing them, for one single purpose that in the end everybody might say, ‘what an amazing story! What an amazing plan!

Paul does that at one point he says, all the incredible wisdom of God, you know, when he looks at the whole plan of salvation he’s pushed at another point, in another epistle to say ‘it’s amazing!’. You know, once Jesus has brought the creation and submitted it to God and God gets all the glory, everything will be wrapped nicely and neatly and every praise and every worship and every glory will be for the father who concocted this amazing plan.

Satan is not interfering with God’s plan in a way. Actually, Satan is carrying out God’s plan. He is a character that God created for his big novel, his cosmic novel which is called the history of the world, or the history of the universe. And so even Satan is part of God’s plan. And everything that happens in history is because God has willed it. And in the end all kinds of things that now in history don’t seem to make sense, and all kinds of things in our own lives that don’t seem to make sense, everything will be wrapped beautifully and we will see that God knew exactly what he was doing. So this is for the praise of his glory.

And that’s where we’re living, the great beautiful drama that God has invented for himself and for his own glory and we’re part of it. Isn’t that beautiful? You and I are characters in God’s story, and that’s why we need to praise him, we need to admire him, we need to worship him. And we need to live a life that says ‘my life makes sense because I have a God who has blessed me, I have a God who’s not caught by surprise. I have a God who concocted this plan of salvation. I have a God who knew exactly how that plan was going to be carried out. Everything fits perfectly. That’s why we can praise, we can rejoice. Amen.

Let us stand and let’s praise that Lord, and I bless you tonight. May we live that life of assurance that our God does indeed make sense.


Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda taped June 10, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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