“Chosen” (John MacDiarmid)

“Chosen” (Ephesians 1 v2-14 part one)

 Sermon preached at Poole High School for Poole Christian Fellowship on 12 February 2017

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We are now into the meat of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.

Happy secure confident people are those who understand who they are –  they are comfortable in their own skin. There is no group of people with more reason to be that that Christians.

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 for adoption to sonship 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,  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 times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

 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,  in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  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,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Over the next five sessions as we go through these verses we will see that we have been

Chosen – by means of predestination and adoption

Redeemed – by the payment made by Jesus

Enlightened – about the gospel

Associated – by means of being included in Christ

Marked – with a seal – the promised Holy Spirit

Truly we are the Cream of creation.

Today we look at the first of these – the truth that we have been chosen by God.

We are chosen, IN HIM. God’s choice for the Saviour of the world is Jesus, and because we are “In Him” as we shall see in a later sermon, God’s choice of us, is as secure as His choice of Jesus. God is as likely to reject us as He is to reject Jesus! The truth of God’s choice of us is developed throughout this passage in three theological terms:

1. “Election”

The doctrine of “unconditional election” means that we were chosen in eternity in the past by God. The theme of God’s choice pulsates from quote after quote in the New Testamant. Jesus said “You did not choose me.. I chose you”

David (Psalm 139) Jeremiah and others all wrote poetically of God’s choice of them before they were born. This not a case of God having chosen the human race  with me opting into that choice by my response to the gospel – this is a case of Go’d specific choice of me as an individual before tine began.

(NB it is recognised that this leaves many questions unanswered: amongst these are ”what about my freewill? And “what about those who are not chosen”?  . Some questions we just don’t know the answer to . But we have to acknowledge that we are deeply immersed in mystery here. And perhaps the deepest mystery is “Why Me?”. That is why Paul speaks of “the mystery of His will”

2. “Adoption”

Secondly we have the truth of adoption.

We know that we have been born into God’s family by means of our new birth – but the image used here is one of adoption, where the child is not the natural son of the parent, but by means of parental choice and of legal process becomes a member of the family, with the full rights of Sons. What a glorious truth! God chose us, and decided to make us members of His family, with the full rights of Sons. What higher status is there is the universe?

3. “Predestination”

Finally, we note, twice from this passage, that we have been predestined by God. This means that God, in choosing us, has carried out a plan that was formulated before time.

Does that mean that I had no say in the matter? Not at all . We see again and again that our choices are real and that they do matter. But again we are in the area of mystery here. As Grudem points out: “God sovereignly works in our hearts so that we voluntarily choose Him”. The first and the last word is had by God “who works out all things in accordance with the conformity of his will”.

 

So, God’s election, adoption and predestination of us, means that we are chosen.

So what difference does this make to our lives?

  1. We are called to be Secure! – no one in the is world has the same security that we do. Insecurity usually comes from an ignorance of the truth or a failure to believe it.
  2. We are called to be Holy: the belief that being called by God means that it doesn’t matter now I live my life could not be more wrong; once you are in the family – you have to live as if you are. The second half of the book is all about how we should live.
  3. We are Called to be missional – the knowledge that God has called individuals means that we can be sure that our message will be heard
  4. We are called to praise – this passage is full of calls to praise, to give thanks to honour and to glorify God. Nothing brings more glory and honour to God than the amazing work of salvation that he has one for each of His children. Let’s enjoy it and join in the symphony of praise that is being raised around the world.

 

John MacDiarmid

February 2017