May 1, 2016

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

Ephesians 1:3-14

Surprise is when we think we have things all figured out, and boom! God slips in.  In Scripture, consider the surprise in the Philistines seeing young David with his sling, the disciples catching a boatload of fish, Joseph discovering Mary pregnant.  The best biblical surprises move us from surprise to awe — that God is much bigger than we ever thought.

In Ephesians 1:3-14, the apostle Paul presents us with the divine cosmic view of His plans for His creation.

Here we see five amazing, surprising things God has done for us:

1.  We are holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4):  As Christ’s followers, we are set apart to the Lord (holy) and seen as perfect (blameless through Jesus).

2.  We are adopted as sons (Ephesians 1:5): God, our truly good Father, actually chooses us for adoption as His children.

3.  We have redemption through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7):  To pay the price of our adoption as His children, God gave His only Son.

4.  In Christ, we have knowledge of God’s plan for the world (Ephesians 1:9, 10):  His master plan tells us of how God will deal with sin through Jesus, and that God will ultimately take His place as ruler of the universe.

5.  Through Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13):  We have within us the very presence of God, who will minister to us in surprising ways that will confirm our faith.  God has given us His Spirit like a down payment on a house, and He will take over soon.

A particularly transforming surprise in this passage from Ephesians is that God chose us.

  • The five surprising blessings listed above come to us only because God chose us – before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), before we had done any good or evil.
  • In love, He predestined us (Ephesians 1:5), marking out a boundary or plan ahead of us.
  • We were chosen so that He could bring His plans to fulfillment (Ephesians 1:11). We are Christians because God worked to bring us to Himself.
  • Although in experience, we think we choose God, in reality, God chooses us (John 15:16, John 6:44, Acts 16:14, Romans 9).
  • Our surprise will turn to awe when we truly realize how much God has done for us as He draws us to Himself. God becomes larger and we become smaller as God works all things “in conformity with His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

There is no official view at Grace Community Church on predestination, yet we are called to think about the five blessings of our salvation above, and then we will be amazed at God’s provision.

Some of us are ready for a passage like this in Ephesians 1, ready to wrestle with the thought of God Himself choosing us.

Wrestling will show us that:

  • God is bigger than we thought. It’s about God and His purposes, not us.
  • There is more hope than we thought. The crises we face are not meaningless; God is at work in the middle of them. We are not alone. If others resist or wander from the Gospel, God is capable of opening their hearts (Acts 16:14). Just by our caring, God shows us that He is working on these folks.
  • God deserves more gratitude than we thought. He draws us into salvation “to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14). It is not our cleverness. God resizes us, and our heart is filled with gratitude.

Sitting here today, you might wonder if you have been chosen by God.  If God really works in all things, He has now worked it out so that you yourself could hear the Gospel today in this service.  Now knowing His surprising, awesome blessings, perhaps you will realize that He is calling you.

What the Bible describes about what God has done for us makes us fall down on our knees in amazement, awe, gratitude and hope…. and worship Him.