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PRAISE GOD FOR
HIS SOVEREIGN WORK
Intro: To understand the book of Ephesians, you must understand the concept of the church as the body of Christ. The revelation that the redeemed are the Lords body in this world is the essential key for understanding this great book.
As you know, God utilizes many metaphors to describe His people. He calls us a bride, a family, a household, a kingdom, a flock, a vine and branches, and a building. In Ephesians, Paul introduces the idea that the church is also a body.
This descriptive term most completely describes what the church is all about. The word body brings to mind images of unity, diversity and mutual dependence. In our human body, every muscle, every bone, every nerve and every fiber is essential to a proper functioning of this body. The same is true in the body of Christ.
1 Cor. 12:18 says this: But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. In verses 7-11 of that same passage, Paul reminds us that we have each been given a unique assignment within the body or Christ; a specific area of service if you will. Just as your human body allows you to manifest yourself to the world around you, the body of Christ, when it is functioning as He designed it to, allows Jesus to manifest Himself to the world.
Our human bodies receive direction from the head. The brain tells the rest of the body what to do and how to do what is commanded. The same is true with the body of Christ. Jesus, the head of the body, directs the body to carry out His will in the world. When the body of Christ is doing what He designed it to do, it literally allows Jesus to rise up and walk in the world.
This picture of the church as the body of Christ is fleshed out in the book of Ephesians. Notice the following verses: 1:22-23; 2:15-16; 3:6; 4:16; 5:30. So, we are His body. He lives, walks and works through us to accomplish His will in the world today. When we are living to our fullest potential in Jesus, He is seen in world and souls are drawn to Him, John 12:32.
Most of the time, when Paul writes about the body, he does so from the perspective of the here and now. He wants us to know who we are and how we are to be functioning in the world today. In these verses, Paul takes us all the back to eternity past. He intends to teach us how God formed the church before the world began.
Verses 3-14 of Ephesians chapter 1 are one long, continuing sentence in the Greek. In the original language, it is a sentence of some 202 words. In these verses, Paul began to praise the Lord for His grace in salvation and he just kept on ascending the heights of the riches and glories of Gods grace. This sentence is literally loaded with theological truth. We could study these verses for a lifetime and never mine out all the nuggets of truth that are buried here. As it is, we will spend several weeks just trying to get a basic understanding of these timeless, eternal truths. I do not intend to be in a hurry. I hope you arent either!
These verses take us into eternity past and reveal how the Lord formed His church before the world began. They teach us about Gods eternal purpose in salvation. These verses remind us one essential, enormous, important truth. They remind us that we are not an afterthought. We are not just some individuals who had the good sense to call on Jesus one day for salvation. These verses teach us that we have been on Gods heart for a long time! These verses teach us that we are important to Him!
Lots of people are looking for self-esteem in the world. They are always looking for some way to see that their life has meaning. So, some people turn to books and seminars trying to find out how to be somebody. Others attach themselves to people who are already somebodys so they can be somebody too. Others follow the lives of people they believe are somebody, hoping that they can be somebody because they live vicariously through somebody who is already somebody in their view. Others reach back into their genealogy to find ancestors who were somebody so they can believe they are somebody because they are related to somebody who was somebody at sometime. Others seek for self-worth in religion. They work in their church and do all kinds of things hoping someone will notice and pat them on the back and give them accolades for all they do. That makes them feel like somebody.
You will never find your self-worth playing little mind games like that. If you want to find self-worth, look no farther than your position in Jesus Christ. When you come to understand that you were chosen in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, that understanding will do much for your self-worth and your self-esteem.
Think about it! If you are saved, God picked you out before the foundation of the world! He placed your name in the Lambs book of life for the made the world. He chose you! I dont understand why. I dont understand how. I do not have all the answers to all the questions this raises, but I still rejoice in it because I know it is true. God chose me, and that makes me somebody!
That brings me to the text I want to begin to move through today. As we study verses 3-14, we are going to be studying one long anthem of praise. In verses 3-6, Paul praises God for His sovereign work in election. In verses 7-11, he praises God for His saving work in redemption. In verses 12-14, he praises God for His sharing work in giving us an inheritance in Jesus.
Lets begin to look at the verses we have read as our text today. We will be here for a few weeks, so settle in and allow the Lord to teach you His truth.
In these three verses, Paul takes us, as I said earlier, into eternity past. He allows us to witness the sovereign work of God as He made His plans to save the body of Christ. So, Paul opens this anthem of praise with Praise For Gods Sovereign Work. I want you to see the reasons these verses give us for praising the God Who chose us in Jesus before we ever existed!
GOD IS TO BE PRAISED
FOR HIS CHARITY
(Ill. Verse 3 tells us about the blessings we enjoy as children of God. The fact is, we are far wealthier in Jesus Christ than we can grasp. John MacArthur tells about the man who left a will saying, Being of sound mind and body, I spent it all[i] He goes on to say that Jesus didnt spend it all; He paid it all, and left it all to us! Jesus has given us an incredible treasury of spiritual riches that is ours to draw from as we pass through this world. This verse introduces us to that wealth and shows us why our sovereign God is worthy to be praised.)
I. The Source Of These Blessings – The source of our blessing is identified as God. Paul says Blessed be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word blessed translate a word that means to speak good of. We get our word eulogy from that word. If you have ever heard a eulogy at a funeral, you have heard a time when someone tried to speak good concerning another person.
Paul is saying, God is good! How true that is! He is a good God. In Gen. 14:20, Melchizedek says, And blessed be the most high God . In Rev. 5:13 says, And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. So, from genesis to Revelation, God is called blessed.
We like to say that God is good when things are going our way. Let me just remind you that He is still the same Lord when things seem to be against you as He is when you are enjoying the best life can offer. Not only is God the blessed One, Paul also tells us that he is the blesser. He says, Who hath blessed. All the blessings we enjoy in this life come to us from the hand of God above, James 1:17. Even when we think things are bad, God has a way of turning them out for our good, Rom. 8:28. God is good and He demonstrates that goodness to His children by being good to them. He is blessed, and He is the blesser!
When Paul says, blessed be God, he is praising God for the blessings that He gives His children. This just reminds us that our God is worthy of praise all the time!
Think about this, most of the things we do in our faith, we do because we have been commanded to do them. We attend worship, we tithe, we witness, we pray, all as acts of obedience. When we take the time to open our mouths to praise the Lord, we are giving Him and offering of love.
There are very few things that can offer the Lord to praise Him for His goodness in our lives, but we can all give Him praise for His blessings and His grace in our lives. Our words are sacrifices that are pleasing to the Lord, Heb. 13:15; Hos. 14:2.
In the Old Testament they had what was known as a freewill offering. This was an offering given to the Lord by someone just because they loved Him. They would bring their sacrifice to the Lord and offer it up freely because they were moved with overwhelming love for the God of their salvation. That same kind of offering is still in order today! It is an offering that He will accept. Psa. 119:108, Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
II. The Subject Of These Blessings – Paul says that God hath blessed us. The us Paul is referring to are the saints and the faithful he mentioned in verse 1. The recipients of God blessings are those He has saved by His grace.
Our blessings to Him are the words we say. His blessings to us are the deeds He performs in our lives. When Paul says that God hath blessed us, it the same word that is used about Him. In other words, God has good thoughts toward His people, Jer. 29:11. The tense of the verb here suggests that God is always thinking good thoughts toward His children. These good thoughts translate into good deeds in your life and mine.
So, because we are His and because He loves us, He pours our His blessings in our lives. It is incredible when you stop to think about it. Because God has chosen to save us, He chooses to also bless us for His glory.
It amazes to think about all the saints of God possess in Him! He loved us, He chose us in Jesus, and He bestows every good gift upon us. He blesses us in ways far greater than we can imagine. Think about who we are and all that He has done for us in Jesus Christ! He did it all. He provided it all for us. And, still He blesses us in Jesus! He blesses us in ways far greater than we deserve. He is so good to us, and we are absolutely unworthy! We should praise Him for His wonderful grace, gifts and blessings!
III. The Scope Of These Blessings – ALL spiritual blessings – The word all means total, whole, of every kind. In other words, God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. We have been given everything God has to offer. When we came to faith in Jesus, God opened the treasure houses of Heaven and authorized us to receive unlimited spiritual resources.
The redeemed have, at their disposal, all the spiritual wealth of Heaven. God has blessed us over an above anything that we deserve. Some people with a charismatic mindset will come up and ask, Have you received the second blessing? I always say, Yes, and the ten thousandth too! Gods blessings in our lives know no boundaries! He just keeps blessing and blessing and blessing, giving us love, joy, peace, grace, mercy, glory and hope, and countless other blessings besides! Thank God for His boundless blessings in our lives!
IV. The Sort Of These Blessings – Paul tells us that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings. The word spiritual translates the Greek word pneumatikos. In the New Testament, this word is always used to refer to the word of the Holy Spirit. So, this verse is saying that God has given to us everything that the Spirit of God can deliver to us. Everything we could possibly need or want has been dispensed to us through the work of the Spirit of God in our lives. We are rich in spiritual resources and we do not even realize it!
2 Peter 1:3 says, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. In Phil. 1:19, Paul calls what we possess in the Christ, the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We are rich in all spiritual blessings!
Sadly, we dont always appropriate what we have in Jesus. In fact, we spend a lot of time asking for things that He has already given to us. We pray for love, when God says that His love is shed abroad in our hearts, Rom. 5:5. We pray for peace, when Jesus has already said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, John 14:27. We pray for joy, when the Bible tells us plainly that we have joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1:8. Gal. 5:22 tells us that these things are the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. When He is in us, He will produce these things as we abide in Christ.
Thats not all. We pray for strength to do the things God has called us to do, when He already told us that we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us, Phil. 4:13. We worry over our needs when the Lord has already promised to meet them. He said that He would supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Phil. 4:19. We seek His presence when He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, Heb. 13:5.
We think we need a lot of things we dont have. In truth, we possess great riches that we have never tapped into. May the Lord help us to simply take Him at His Word and lay hold on the spiritual blessings we already possess in Jesus.
Our material resources are limited. Regardless of how much you may have materially, you do not possess have it all. Every one of us could come to the end of our financial and material resources one day. During these dark financial times, when funds are limited, we have to use what we have wisely. If we do not, it will quickly vanish away. In Jesus Christ, the saints of God more than we could spend in a thousand lifetimes! We do not have to be frugal with His blessings, but we should spend all we can while we are here for His glory!
V. The Storehouse Of These Blessings – Paul says that our blessings are located in heavenly places. Some people think this means what we have is in Heaven. In truth, it means that our blessings are in the supernatural realm. Remember, our blessings are spiritual blessings. They are supernatural in nature.
Think of it this way, when we get saved, we become citizens of Heaven, Phil 3:20. We live here, but we also live there. We are passing through this world, but we do not belong here anymore. Our hearts are no longer here. Our desires are no longer here. Our actions are no longer the actions of this world. We are literally people who live in two worlds at the same time.
We live on the earth, but we commune with God in the supernatural realm. We are strangers and pilgrims in this world, but we long for that one. Our friends and families are there. Our mansions are there. Our thrones are there. Our God and our Savior are there.
So, we live in this world and we long for that world. That is why Paul could say, As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, 2 Cor. 6:10. And, We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, 2 Cor. 4:8-9.
Paul understood what we often forget. He understood that, in Jesus, we are wealthy beyond belief. We merely need to appropriate the things we have been given in Jesus and use them for the glory of God.
I can read the Bible and see what I have in Jesus. I can read it and understand all that I have in heavenly places, but my problem is getting those things here where I need them. The way we bring those blessings into our lives is by simply yielding to the Spirit of God in our lives. As we allow the Spirit of God to fill us and use us, He produces all the spiritual blessings of Heaven in our souls, Gal. 5:16, 22-23. We are rich in Jesus as we lay hold on those riches by walking in the power of the Spirit of God!
VI. The State Of These Blessings – Why has God given such great and wonderful blessings to the likes of you and me? He does it only because we are in Christ. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, that person is brought into a wonderful union with Jesus. 1 Cor. 6:17, But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
When we met Jesus, we became one with Jesus. As a result, everything that belongs to Him now belongs to us. Rom. 8:16-17 says, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Think about it! We are in Christ. That means where He is, we are. Eph. 2:6 says, And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, What He does, we do, 1 John 2:6. What He possesses, we possess, Rom. 8:17. His privileges are our privileges, Eph. 2:18.
Everything Jesus has the redeemed saints of God have. We have it not because we deserve it, but we have been given these things because of His work in our hearts and lives. We have been brought into such a close fellowship with Jesus that He shares every thing He has with us. We dont deserve it. We didnt earn it. Everything was given to as a free gift of His grace!
Conc: That is a lot of information, but it all just reminds us how truly blessed we are in Jesus. If you are in Christ today, you possess all spiritual blessings in Him. If that is your condition today, you should come before Him and thank Him for what He has given you in Jesus. When you come before Him, you should also ask Him to help you walk in the Spirit so that you can lavishly spend everything He has given you in Jesus. Then, you should get up and go out into the world living out His will and walking in His ways.
If you are not in Christ today, and He is calling you to come to Him, you should obey that call and come to Jesus Christ for salvation. I cant promise you that you will not have trouble, but I can promise you that you will enjoy spiritual riches beyond all description.