By Andy Woodfield
Hickman Community Church
*Sovereign Grace on Display*
The *glory* of the *created* reflects in measure the *glory* of the *creator*.
The OT says the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim His handiwork.
As a young man I remember looking into the eyepiece of a powerful telescope to witness the beauty, majesty, and power that was bursting forth from THE planet Saturn as it carved a track through space.
Its dazzling rings of iridescent gases reflected a beauty and glory I was not expecting and for the time THAT it took to cross the circumference of the telescope eyepiece I was transfixed, unable to take my eye away from such awesome splendor.
In the same way the Apostle Paul is transfixed to the eyepiece of the unfolding revelation of the mystery of the church as God REVEALS it to him.
As he gazes into her beauty and majesty he is dazzled by the glories he sees, glories that take his breath away, glories that cause him to burst forth with praise to God for His sovereign grace.
Beloved I want you to come with me to the letter to the Ephesians and join me in gazing into the matchless beauty of God’s sovereign grace as it is displayed in this living organism called the church of which you and I have been made a part.
Beloved my prayer this morning is that you will grow in your understanding of who you are.
That you will realize that what God is doing in the church is more glorious that a thousand Saturn’s spinning their way across the expansive space of the universe.
Our text this morning is found in Ephesians 1:15-16 which is a part of another long sentence in the Greek, which starts at verse 15 and runs all the way through verse 23 - 169 words in total.
This long sentence divides into two major components:
- Thanksgiving for the evidence of Sovereign Grace 15-16
- Intercession for the work of Sanctifying Grace – 17-23
This week we will consider the first part of this sentence: So you could title this message
**God’s Sovereign Grace on Display – 15-16 *
1:15-16 – *
It had been four long years since Paul had ministered in Ephesus and he is now in prison writing to these saints whom he had received information about.
What he heard has made him thankful to God.
As we come to the text this morning we read /"//For this reason I too”/ For what reason?
For the reason of God’s sovereign Grace, God’s sovereign will and God’s sovereign seal AS SEEN IN verses 3-14.
*# God’s sovereign Grace: *
Paul is linking our minds back to what we have ALREADY looked at to vv. 3-14.
In the two previous messages we saw the distinctiveness of the identity of the church.
We saw that in the great plan of redemption God by sovereign grace was calling out a people for his own possession a people whom He identifies as the –
*Called to be blessed - */you are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places/* (v.3), Called before Time – */chosen in Him before the foundation of the world/* (v.4), Called to belong to God’s Family – */predestined to adoption as sons/* (v.5), Called to glorify God – */to the praise of His glory/* (v.6), Called out by Blood – */having redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses /*(vv.7-8),
Called to know His Will – */He made known to us the mystery of His will /*(v.9),
Called to reign with Christ – */that is the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things in the earth/* (v.10), and Called to glorification – */to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory/* (vv.11-12).*
This is who we are; make no mistake about it!
We are not a man made institution for the good and wellbeing of mankind we are instead a holy temple in which the living God dwells.
This is what fills Paul’s mind as he turns to this prayer of thanksgiving.
*# God’s sovereign will: *
Not only is the church unique as to her calling but we learnt that all of this was in accordance to the kind intention of God’s sovereign will (v.5)
/according to the kind intention of His will.
/And all this to the praise of His sovereign glorious grace (v.6,12,14).
This is what Christianity is all about; *it’s about God’s glory*.
Its about His work of salvation in our lives, its about His plans for eternity, its about the wonder that God who is self sufficient and not needing anything would choose to take sinful rebellious creatures like us and turn us into receptors of His grace and even more than that He would choose us to be the means by which he displays the wonders of His glory to all creation.
We who were poor have been made rich, from rags to riches, from sinners to saints, from the gutter to the glories of heaven.
Those who belong to the church are there by sovereign grace alone through faith alone and not because of anything we have done, or anything we deserve.
And as if to reassure the believers that all of this glorious reality is true he declares in vv.13-14 that they are sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit of promise [Read] – The HS is a down payment of good things to come for those who are now declared to be God’s very own possession.
*# and God’s sovereign seal: What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit?
*It means that God’s own Spirit has come to indwell the believer and as such secures and preserves his eternal salvation.
This word “sealing” was used of an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document.
That document was thereby officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal.
It stood for 1) security (cf.
27:62–66); 2) authenticity (cf. 1 Kin.
21:6–16); 3) ownership (cf.
32:10); and 4) authority (cf.
So the HS is God’s official seal of a future inheritance for each one who has trusted Jesus Christ.
"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge."
(2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Now as we look at these three verses you are going to see:
*PROPOSITION*: Three Remarkable Evidences of Sovereign Grace in the church that testify of genuine saving faith.
*The first evidence of sovereign grace is that*
You will Display a REMARKABLE FAITH in the Lord Jesus: v. 15a*
/“having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you: /
Paul’s heart is excited as he considers the remarkable faith of these believers
Notice he doesn’t thank God for their faith or the object of their faith which is the Lord Jesus, but he thanks God for the faith that exists among them.
The point being that those who have TRUE saving faith show or prove that faith by their transformed lives (James 2 – faith without works is dead).
The evidence of this remarkable faith points to the fact that life was far more to these believers than seeking the next temporary high or fleeting buzz, offered by the world.
Life was more than the temporal, life had eternal significance, life was about pleasing the sovereign God who had saved them and they lived to lay up lasting treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal.
Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
So this morning I ask you where is your treasure?
Heaven or earth?
In other words what takes up your time and energy?
What do you pursue in this life?
Because what you pursue in this life will reveal what you have faith in!
Second, notice that the object of their faith was not simply Jesus but the LORD Jesus.
LORD is far more than a reference to the deity~/godhood of Jesus it speaks of his sovereignty and lordship.
In other words the one who is divine is the LORD.
For faith to be genuine saving *faith it must have the right object*.
Jesus is not only the Savior of sinners He is Lord of all Lords.
He is the one whom every eye will one day see and every knee will one day bow and confess Him LORD.
Do you know Him.
These Ephesians knew Him as Lord and therefore submitted their lives and conduct to Him.
It is false teaching to say you can accept Jesus as your Savior and then live how you like.
The rich young ruler lacked genuine faith, which was evidenced by his failure to let Jesus be Lord over his life and possessions.
He bowed to the rule of his money rather than the rule of Jesus Christ.
[Matt – Street kid who I thought was going to punch out my lights…] – 1 John 3:4-10.
It is an error taught by the false teachers of our day that you can come to Jesus as your Savior and later trust Him as your Lord.
This teaching creates a two tier Christianity that does not exist in the Bible.
This teaching is the result of those who have watered down the gospel message out of a motivation not to offend the unbeliever and driven by the desire to produce converts.
Jesus know no such way of salvation.
/" //Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
//“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
//“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
//“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds."
/"//Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.
So it is to be.