There are people in life we choose to be with or not to be with.
When we are young, parents commonly choose for us and force their decisions
on us. Often children wonder why they can or cannot be around the people their
parents approve of or reject. Often children are told (upon their inquiry),
"They are not good for you," or, "They are the 'right kind of people' for you."
Yet, the fact our parents chose or reject them does not determine if children
"like" those people or not. Even if our parents choices are forced on us as
children, that commonly still does not determine who we "like."
As teenagers, the choice is no longer the parents in most cases. In fact, for a
parent to seek to tell an older teen whom he or she can be friends with usually
results in a declaration of war or in alienation. Teens usually find a way to
associate with the people they want to befriend. If it is a choice between
friends or parents, most of the time parents lose, even when parents don't know
When a person leaves home for an independent life, or for college, or for a new
work opportunity, he or she usually likes whom he or she wants to and associates
with whom he or she wants to. Commonly, parents have little to do with that
Whether parents like it or not, that also includes God. It is amazing to note
how the spiritual habits and orientation of many children change when they leave
home. And most of us parents know that to be the truth. And that truth scares
most of us parents to death.
So what is the key to a healthy, continuing relationship with parents and a
healthy, continuing relationship with God? The answer is basically the same.
Parents early need to form and then continue a relationship of blessing with
children so the children always value their relationship with their parents.
Form a relationship between your children and God that blesses your children to
the extent that they cherish their relationship with God.
Consider our text in Ephesians 1:3-10: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us
in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless
before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the
glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we
have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according
to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He
made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which
He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of
the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the
heavens and things on the earth."
Do not put your confidence in yourself. Do not put your confidence in your
deeds. Do not put your confidence in another human. Do not put your confidence
in the congregation. Put your confidence in Jesus Christ. Only he is our source
of every spiritual blessing and gives us access to God.
- I want you to look at our text, follow me, and note several things.
- Note these things:
- We have reason to bless God for what God has done for us in Christ.
- Every good thing God wants to do for us He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
- Good thing # 1: God chose us in Christ before the world began, long before we
- Does that mean we are locked into being a saved person or a lost person, and there
is nothing we can do about that situation? No, that is not what it means.
- It means everyone who accepted Jesus Christ can not be lost.
- It is impossible to be 'in Christ' and lost at the same time.
- Long before anyone was born, God decided those who accepted His son would be His
- However, if we choose God by accepting Jesus Christ, we assume the
responsibility to be God's holy people who refuse to rebel against Him.
- We chose God by accepting God's adoption of us through Jesus Christ.
- That adoption is God's kind intention--His desire!
- It is about God, not us!
- This adoption exists, so there is obvious reason for us to praise God!
- Good thing # 2: In Christ we have redemption in Christ's blood.
- Redemption is the concept of 'buy back'--God buys us back from the consequence
of every mistake we have made.
- The result of that 'buy back' is the forgiveness of our mistakes.
- That redemption, that forgiveness is a result of God's goodness (grace), not the
result of any claimed human goodness.
- God lavishes that goodness on us; God's grace is given to us in abundance!
- Good thing #3: God always intended good things for all people who would enter
- That always has been God's purpose.
- God always intended for Jesus Christ to be the summation of every good thing God
intended and wanted for us.
- Consider God's promise to Abraham (in the Bible's first book).
Genesis 12:3, "And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
- Paul understood Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham.
Galatians 3:8, The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by
faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will
be blessed in you.”
Galatians 3:16, Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does
not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your
seed,” that is, Christ.
- The God Who does not lie promised Abraham good things would happen because of
Jesus Christ, and God kept His promise.
- All we who are Christians are blessed because of what God did and does in Jesus
- I want you to listen carefully to a statement Jesus made to
Nicodemus in John 3:16-21 and see if it does not sound a lot like Paul's
statement in Ephesians 1:3-10.
John 3:16-21, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God
did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might
be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not
believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the
only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the
world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were
evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light
for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to
the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
- God's love for people sent Jesus to this world.
- God sent Jesus because He wants people to have eternal life (the problem is not
with God's desire, but with people's desire).
- God did not send Jesus to judge people (people were already judged by their own
wickedness--God did not have to send a judge).
- God did not send Jesus to be a judge, but to be a solution.
- God sent Jesus so faith in Jesus could become the avenue to Him instead of human
perfection--Jesus came so people could escape rightful condemnation as a
rightful consequence to their mistakes.
- The people problem:
- Jesus came to bring people light.
- However, some people did not want light because they enjoyed evil and did not
want to see themselves--they did not want the light to expose them.
- Yet, people who value truth come to the light (Jesus).
- They do not mind seeing themselves for who they are.
- They want to act in ways that belong to God.
- As Christians, we need some basic understandings.
- Understanding #1: God is not our enemy and never has been.
- Sin is our enemy.
- Sin wants to hide the consequences of our actions from us.
- God wants to release us from the consequences of our actions.
- Sin wants to deceive us into believing everything is okay when it is far from
okay--as if deception could make everything okay.
- God says we have nothing to fear in seeing ourselves for who we are with all our
needs because He can care for any problem we have--loving truth is not a
problem, is not dangerous, regardless of what truth reveals.
- Understanding #2: Salvation is not the product of human goodness, but the
product of God's goodness expressed in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- People of themselves are not good, and never have been.
- People abuse people.
- People love selfish indulgence regardless of who it hurts or how it hurts.
- People exploit people for their own purposes.
- People love power, arrogance, control, and importance.
- People start wars and continue the destruction of wars.
- People justify evil behavior.
- God is good, and loves to share His goodness with us.
- He lavishes His grace on us--your needs can never be bigger than God's grace!
- God's forgiveness is always greater than a person's sins if the person has the
courage to place his or her faith in Jesus Christ and let that faith determine
his or her attitudes and behavior.
- God is good in His compassion, mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness.
- All we can do is respond to His goodness.
- We cannot forgive ourselves or make ourselves perfect--we can only accept God's
forgiveness and sanctification (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).
- That understanding does not limit the importance of obedience; it just addresses
the motive of obedience.
- A person obeys God to accept God's kind gifts, and to show appreciation for
God's gifts inherited in Jesus Christ.
- In true appreciation of what God did in Jesus' death and our individual
salvation, a person will be more obedient--not less obedient.
- An appreciative Christian wants God's will to be more dominate in his or her
life, not less dominate.
- Understanding # 3: It is Jesus Christ who gives us access to God's immediate
- Consider Hebrews 4:14-16: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high
priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted
in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we
may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Take note of some things in this scripture:
- Jesus is the Christians high priest (a high priest was the main representative
of people to God and God to people--the high priest was "the middle man.")
- Christians have reason to place their confidence in Jesus Christ because he "has
been there, been exposed to that!"
- His experience equips Jesus Christ to represent us to God!
- He has had experience--he understands how we feel when we are tempted!
- He knows what it is like to be weak!
- That is the reason we can draw near to God with confidence!
- That is why we know we are coming to grace when we come to God's throne!
- That is why we will find mercy and grace at God's throne!
- That is why our needs do not turn us away from God but lead us to God!
- Without God's gift to us of Jesus His son, none of us could ever stand before
- The only reason we can approach God is because of what God did for us in giving
- The only help to us that is eternal is our right to come to God in Jesus Christ.