The biggest thing I contribute to the gospel story is my sin. You don't start a conversation about the gospel by talking about what I do or you do. You start a conversation about the gospel by talking about what God does. The gospel is not a "do-it-yourself" project; it is a "look-what-God-has-done-for-you" proclamation.
A. It is easy for me to get excited about some program, ministry or activity that the church is doing. I love to hear the good things that are going on in the different committees and read about the things the church is doing in the bulletin. I love the church.
B. It is easy to talk about the negative things that happen in life, politics and the church. Sometimes we can speak about the church like we don’t belong, but that mindset is exactly what some people speak about today.
C. How many times have you heard some say, “I love Jesus, but the church is just too corrupt for me.” Or “I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I don’t really need a church.” Can just say, “Yes, you do.”
D. Today we begin a new study. We are going to walk through the letter that is called Ephesians. I say that, because this letter by Paul is the most generic letter to a church that Paul writes. Some believe the intent of this letter was to be circular not to fix some problem in Ephesus.
E. The letter itself is broken into two parts. The first three chapters are about who God is and chapters four through six tells us what we are to do in light of who God is. So this morning we are open the section of who God is.
F. When Paul wrote verses 3-14 it was one sentence in Greek. Paul was so excited about who God is and what God has done that he couldn’t stop for punctuation. What got Paul so excited? It was describing God’s redemptive plan.
I. God’s Master Plan
A. Many corporations have a master plan. They work hard to determine what their purpose is and how that makes money. Some people seek to have at least a generic plan for their lives – where they want to be in the next year, 5 years, 10 years, when they retire. But what’s God’s plan?
B. God has a master plan, an eternal plan. That plan is for you to be with him in heaven for eternity. The Bible tells us (READ: 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Peter 1:18-21).
C. So God’s plan, before the world was even created, was to bring his creation of mankind home. The way in which we would be redeemed was predestined by God. It would happen through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
D. Our letter opens with similar words (Eph. 1:3-6). God chose us to be holy and blameless before him. The only way that was going to happen is God made it happen, because I am far from holy and blameless.
II. The Big Picture
A. The biggest thing I contribute to the gospel story is my sin. You don’t start a conversation about the gospel by talking about what I do or you do. You start a conversation about the gospel by talking about what God does. The gospel is not a “do-it-yourself” project, it is a “look-what-God-has-done-for-you” proclamation.
B. That message is not easy for us to accept. We are a take-control group of people. Our biggest heroes are self-made men and women, we buy self-help books to fix everything from the toilet to our marriage, and yet Paul comes along and pops our self-centered bubble and says every spiritual blessing is in Christ. He reminds us just how little we contribute to our own salvation story.
C. This idea of “every spiritual blessing” is about kingship. If you have a good king, you have a blessed people. If you have an evil king, you have punished people. So it is with Christ. Whatever is true of Jesus is true of us, if we are in Christ. When He was crucified, we were crucified. When he was raised from the dead, we were raised from the dead. His victory over sin and death are ours to enjoy. That’s what it means to be in Christ. Understand you are enjoying a luxury that you don’t deserve and for which you didn’t work. You are enjoying something that someone else did but chose to share with you.
III. God’s Pleasure to Redeem Us
A. What gives God pleasure? Look again at our text. (READ vs 7-8) God was happy to choose me and he knew that choosing me came at a personal cost to him.
B. God paid the price for me. I love Rom. 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” One of the reasons Paul gushes with praise is because God redeemed him. I know my past. I know my sin. I know that I am just as guilty as anyone 2000 years ago. I know that my sin is like the nails being driven into the hands and feet of Jesus. My sin is like the cries of the crowd to crucify him. Yes, I know my past.
C. BUT I’m chosen, not because of who I am, but because God loves me in spite of who I am. It is God’s pleasure to adopt sinful people into a holy family.
D. In verse 8 the Bible says about the grace of God that “he lavished” it upon us. I didn’t just get a little grace, I got LAVISHED grace. God takes pleasure lavishing his grace upon me, because he wants me to live “in Him.”
A. God not only pleasures in forgiving a sinful man who comes to him, but in verse 9 we learn that it is by God’s pleasure that we also understand God’s will. (Read vs 9-10) Do you know what God’s will is? What Paul helps us to realize, and we will see it developed later, is that everything is under one headship, that headship is Jesus.
B. Are you in Christ? Everything that we will be talking about is shared with people who are first in Christ. As Paul said redemption is found in the blood of Jesus. In Christ I have forgiveness of sin. Are you in Christ? Have you, in your faith, repented from your sinful life seeking to follow God’s will and not your own? Have you confessed that Jesus is Lord and head? Have you be baptized with Christ by being buried in water and rising up saved, clean, and new? If you cannot answer “yes” to those questions, the let us help you today as we stand and sing.