The Significance Of The Blessing: (1)
Through Redemption! v6-7:
Reading: Ephesians Ch. 1v6-14
In 1989 archaeologists, digging near the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, unearthed a two thousand-year-old flask filled with oil. It may have been oil that was used to anoint the kings of Israel! The oil was made from a plant now extinct and by a process now unknown. There will never be any more oil like that. But if you had that flask and were anointed with that oil, it would mean little. Day by day we experience that other and more significant anointing described in Psalm 23, "Thou anointest my head with oil" (KJV). Day by day God's blessings pour down upon our heads but have we captured the significance of that amazing truth.
Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
A. The Person Involved In Redemption: v6.
"To the praise and glory of his grace, through which he hath made us accepted in the beloved"
You see there is a person involved and that person is none other than the beloved Son; God's own precious Son. So God desires that we be to the praise and glory of His Holy Name. God wants to pour into us that which will praise and honour His only Son and He wants to pour out of us that which brings glory and honour to His Son's Holy Name.
If we view the microcosm of the human body, we find that the heart does not receive blood to store it up. While it pumps blood in at one valve, it sends it out at another. The blood is always circulating everywhere, and is never stagnant. The same is true of all the fluids in a healthy body; they are in a constant state of expenditure. If one cell stores for a few moments its particular secretion, it only retains it until it is perfectly fitted for its appointed use in the body. If any cell in the body should begin to store up its secretion, its store would soon become the cause of inveterate disease. The organ would soon lose the power to secrete at all, if it did not give forth its products. The whole of the human system lives by giving. The eye cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee and will not guide thee; for if it does not perform its watchful office, the whole man will be in the ditch, and the eye will be covered with mire. If the members refuse to contribute to the general stock, the whole body will become poverty-stricken and be given up to the bankruptcy of death. Let us learn, then, from the analogy of nature, the great lesson, that to get we must give; that to accumulate we must scatter, that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and that to get good and become spiritually vigorous, we must do good and seek the spiritual good of others.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990) See: Gal 6:7-10.
B. The Price Involved In Redemption: v7.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace"
There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gates of heav'n and let us in. (Cecil F. Alexander)
The price involved in bringing blessing to His people is amazing. The price of redemption is astronomical, beyond human comprehension. In his amazing short masterpiece, "The Reason Why" Robert Laidlaw wrestled with the question, "How could the life of the Lord Jesus Christ be accepted as the substitute for the lives of so many, so that God could then offer salvation to whosoever repents and believes in Christ?" Laidlaw answers his own question!
That seems a fair question; it is like a problem in arithmetic that can be demonstrated on paper. Christ was God manifest in the flesh, Divinity in humanity, so that the life He gave was an infinite life, which can meet the needs of any number of finite lives. Get a sheet of paper and write down all the big figures you can think of, millions or more; add them up. Now you have a very large number; then multiply that number by 10, then by 100, then if you will, by one million. Cover sheets of paper until your mind boggles at the vastness of your numerical answer, and after all that you still have a finite number, a number that has bounds set about it, it has a beginning and an end, however far it may extend. You see, by adding finite things together no man has ever been able to make that which is infinite. The infinite life of Christ given for sinners is more than sufficient to save all accepting Him as the One who died in their room and stead. End Quote!
No wonder redemption is so majestically wonderful and priceless. In the Old Testament there were two means of redemption, by power and by purchase. The book of Exodus illustrates redemption by power; the book of Ruth illustrates redemption by purchase. It is so very striking that the first time the Kinsman Redeemer Boaz is introduced in the story of Ruth, we are told that he was "a mighty man of wealth" (Ruth Ch.2v1). Only a rich man could redeem. Redemption is a costly business.
The Apostle Paul puts it like this. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians Ch.8v9).
The significance of the blessing of redemption was, Jesus had to leave the ivory palace in heaven, enter human life by being born of a woman, live a perfect life on this earth and then die an atoning death, that is a death that alone could effect redemption for human-kind. He had to suffer the ignominy and agony of a crucifixion, the heartbreak of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment.
He had to take the weight of the awful ridicule and shame, the pain of being made sin; the torment of God's wrath, and the indignity of death. His blood had to be shed. That was the amazing price paid for our redemption. Peter puts it like this; "We are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter Ch.1v18-19).
What can wash away my stain? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know nothing but the blood of Jesus. (Robert Lowry)
C. The Pardon Involved Through Redemption: v7.
"The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Redemption is by grace. Grace is the unmerited favour of God. It is getting something we don't deserve. Paul strikes this note over and over again.
Years ago a converted down-and-out called Sam Duncannon, who lived in Scotland, wanted to see his many friends saved, who were living as he once did. He searched out the little mission in which he had been saved and although not an evangelist or indeed a great soul winner, he loved the Lord and wanted to brighten the drab lives of his down-and-out friends. He collected coloured pictures, found appropriate verses of Scripture or gospel hymns, and framed the pictures and verses together; then he would give these illustrated verses to people who would come into the mission hall. His hope was that the pictures would add a little colour to their lives and would bring comfort to their souls.
One day Sam found a picture of the Niagara Falls which greatly impressed him. He loved the sense of power and inexhaustibility conveyed by the rush of the water over the falls, but for a long time he could not find a verse to go with the picture, a verse that is, that said what he wanted to say. Then D. L. Moody and his song leader, Ira Sankey, came to the mission. Mr. Sankey sang a solo and as soon as Sam heard that song he knew he had found the words his picture needed. He could see the finished picture in his mind's eye----the endless rushing water and the words of the hymn:
Have you on the Lord believed? Still there's more to follow;
Of his grace have you received? Still there's more to follow.
O the grace the Father shows! Still there's more to follow;
Freely he his grace bestows! Still there's more to follow.
More and more, more and more, always more to follow;
O his matchless, boundless love! Still there's more to follow.
Our text says "The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (v7). In a parallel passage in Colossians Ch.1v14 Paul strikes another amazing thought. "Even" "Even the forgiveness of sins" how thought provoking is that word even! We read of the Lord Jesus that He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians Ch.2v8).
When we read, "We have redemption through His, blood, even the forgiveness of sins," it reminds us of the Unclean Nature of our sins, the Uncompromising Nastiness of our sins, and of the Uncountable Number of our sins. No wonder Paul could say, "Even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." How we ought to praise God that He is rich in grace. Just imagine what it would have been like if our great God had revealed Himself to be a God of infinite power, a God of infallible wisdom, a God of inflexible holiness, and also a God devoid of compassion for sinners lost and ruined by the fall.
Our normal, ordinary view of salvation is hopelessly and ridiculously inadequate. Our trouble is that we always start with ourselves instead of starting with God. Instead of going to the Bible and looking at its revelation and discovering there what salvation means, I start with myself and certain things that I want and desire, certain benefits that I always want to enjoy in this life and in this world. I want forgiveness of sins; I want peace of conscience and of mind; I want enjoyment and happiness; I want to be delivered from certain sins; I want guidance; I want this and that; and my whole conception of salvation is reduced to that level. ... The most wonderful thing of all is, not that my sins have been forgiven nor that I may enjoy certain experiences and blessing as a Christian, the thing that should astound me ... is that I am a child of God, one of God's people. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Safe in the World.
An estimated 500,000 tons of water rush over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. People living within the sound of the falls were awakened by the overwhelming silence. They believed it was a sign that the world was coming to an end. It was thirty hours before the rush of water resumed. What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion. Tons of ice jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo and stopped the flow of the river until the ice shifted again. The flow of God's grace in our lives can be blocked by cold indifference.
Merle Mees in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
The Significance Of The Blessing: (2) Through Revelation! v8-9:
A. The Divine Perception: v8.
"Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence."
The words "wisdom and prudence" are full of meaning. The Greek word translated "wisdom" here is "sophia", a wonderful word that embraced such ideas as "cleverness and skill in handicraft and art, skill in matters of common life, sound judgement, intelligence, practical wisdom, learning, speculative wisdom, natural philosophy and mathematics."
Archbishop Trench said that in the New Testament and Christian writing, "sophia" is reserved for the highest and noblest in wisdom and it is never used in Scripture except to describe God and good men (or in a sarcastic sense). End Quote!
When "sophia" refers to God, it refers to the omniscience that belongs to God alone. By the way, the Greek word translated "prudence" is "phronesis." And "phronesis" is the product of "sophia" right thinking leads to right actions. Prudence is the effective use of wisdom.
Then again the Greek word translated "abounded" means "more that enough." And the word translated "wherein" refers to the grace in which God has super abounded toward us. Now let’s get hold of this! This means that God's "more-than-enough" grace operates within the framework of His omniscient grasp of time and space and within the scope of His infallible will always to do what is right. In other words, God's unerring logic and unbounded love are behind his plan of salvation. What a revelation of God! But here's the point, what He saw in us, so to plan for us and so to love us, is more than tongue can tell.
George Macdonald said, “God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation-a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing to men of truth after truth. On and on from fact divine he advances, until at length in his Son, Jesus, he unveils his very face. End Quote!
And what a revealing! John Phillips penned these words which to me were deeply stirring. Off Jesus, he said, "He never uttered a hasty, unkind, untrue, or frivolous word. He never entertained an impure thought. His talents never debased for selfish ends. His influence was never bad. His judgement was never wrong. He never had to apologise for anything that he did or retract a single word He said. He was never too late or too soon, never upset, never insipid, never shallow or afraid…He had absolute victory from the moment he drew His first breath in that Bethlehem barn until the moment He closed His eyes in death on the cross of Calvary." End Quote!
What Divine perception, giving to us such example to follow!
B. The Divine Purpose: v9.
"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he had purposed in himself."
Do you remember what Moses declared concerning God's love for the children of Israel? "The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number that any people; for you were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you" (Deuteronomy 7v7-8).
What did Moses mean by that phrase? Simply this, God loved you because He love you!" WOW! That is the divine logic. Beloved, we should stop trying to understand or dissect God's love, just enjoy it, revel in it, be blessed by it. But here's the question! Why did God's heart overflow with such love to such graceless, unlovely, sinful people? Why did He use His wisdom to "devise means, that those banished where not wholly expelled from Him" (2 Samuel Ch.14v14)? Why did He make a plan that did not violate His holiness or break His laws, yet involved enormous sacrifice and suffering for Himself? Why did he use His will to carry through a plan of salvation for the likes of us? The answer can only be found in understanding the kind of God he really is. He does what He does because He is who He is. He is a God of love, and He wants us to be loving like Him, moreover, He will never rest until we are.
Even children understand that Jesus loves them. But the mature saint will never fully unravel what Paul called "the mystery of his will." It will remain far beyond our understanding. All we know is that it was God's "good pleasure" to set His love upon us and make us the objects of such marvellous grace that even the angels must have gasped as they saw the plan unfold.
When [Jesus] wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet (see John Ch.13:4-5), Simon Peter objected that this was beneath the dignity of the Master. We the disciples are to be the servants; I want to insist along with Peter. But Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." This is a stunning and stupendous thought. Unless I can believe in this much love for me, unless I can and will accept Him with faith as my servant as well as my God, unless I truly know that it's my good He seeks, not His glory ... then I cannot have his companionship. What an amazing revelation! Catherine Marshall in a Closer Walk: Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 6.
A young woman in England many years ago always wore a golden locket that she would not allow anyone to open or look into, and everyone thought there must be some romance connected with that locket and that in that locket must be the picture of the one she loved. The young woman died at an early age, and after her death the locket was opened, everyone wondering whose face they would find within. And in the locket was found simply a little slip of paper with these words written upon it, "Whom having not seen, I love." Her Lord Jesus was the only lover she knew and the only lover she longed for.
R.A. Torrey in a sermon, "How to Be Saved" (The Best of R.A. Torrey, comp. by George B.T. Davis). Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 4.
The Significance Of Blessings! (3) Through Royalty! v10.
A. For The Glory Of Christ: v10.
"That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth even in him."
No small part of the Father's eternal purpose, of "his good pleasure which, he hath purposed in himself," is to glorify the person of the Lord Jesus. It was Jesus who came to earth, incarnated Himself in human flesh, lived a life wholly pleasing to God, and then bled and died in agony to make God's mercy and redemption available to us. God has no plan, no program, no purpose that does not ultimately rest in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That truth is clearly stated here in Ephesians 1v10. The word translated "gather together in one" can be rendered "sum it up" or "head it up." The same word occurs in Romans 13v9 where Paul listed five of the Ten Commandments then added, "if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." He is saying our duties are summed up in the law of love. God intends to sum everything up, head everything up, in Christ. Satan's rebellion brought in contamination. God's answer to that contamination is Christ Jesus. (By the way, that's how you will know in your own heart how precious Jesus Christ is to you) there will be a continual desire in your heart to keep everything together in Christ Jesus. That's why we are called to join the battle against Satan by gathering together in one in Christ! Oh, the importance of that oneness in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see beloved, my plan, my purpose, my program does not count it’s unworthy of offering up to Him! Why? Because He already has given me His plan, His purpose, His program! And how will I know his plan, purpose, and program? Only; as I take Him seriously and what He says to me through His Word.
"Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and will come to him and make our home with him" (John Ch.14v23 NKJ).
B. For The Christian: v11.
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined."
(1) There Is An Inherited Wealth:
Its great to have an inheritance, to be remembered in someone's will! Paul reminds us that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance. Peter said, that our "inheritance is incorruptible and undefiled, that it will never fade away, and that it is reserved in heaven for us." 1Peter Ch.1v4.
Paul told the Corinthians: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Cor.Ch.2v9.
Its most interesting, although Paul was relatively poor materially, he talks a lot about "riches." Earthly possessions did not hold any attraction at all for him yet he was fascinated by a wealth which, only God could supply.
He wrote about the riches of his grace! Eph.Ch.1v7 & Ch.2v7.
He wrote about the riches of God's glory! Rom.Ch.9v23, Eph.Ch.1v8, Ch.3v16, Phil.Ch.4v19.
He wrote about the riches of God's goodness! Rom.Ch.2v4.
He wrote about the riches of the glory of the mystery! Col.Ch.1v27.
He wrote about the riches of understanding! Col.Ch.2v2.
And in one glorious, amazing outburst of praise, he wrote, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out" Rom.Ch.11v33.
Paul's impoverishment was a startling contrast to the unlimited wealth of His Lord. And friends, it's never easy to comprehend why one so wealthy is ever interested in one so poor. The Apostle was obviously filled with wonder and amazement when he considered how he had been "lifted from the refuse heap to sit among princes."
1 Sam.Ch.2v8. And dear people, that's where we are today. Lifted from the refuse heap and set among princes.
(2) There Is An Incomprehensible Wisdom:
"According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."
The Apostle here makes two wonderful statements which, indicate that they helped to make us accepted in the beloved. God's purpose and God's praise were absolutely inseparable in the work of redemption. Even before the beginning of time, God knew what he intended to do. His master plan of predestination had been followed by various activities which, were controlled by "the counsel of his own will." Surely, we must acknowledge the clearest and most powerful of intellects could not fathom the inscrutable wisdom of our mighty God. When the future was but an idea in the mind of God, He saw and identified each soul who would respond to his affection. People may argue endlessly about the various aspects of this amazing fact, but surely it is better to rejoice in what God gave to us than debate how He did it. The love of God began in the divine heart, came down to earth to redeem sinners, and afterward returned to the place from whence it came. When we sinners pronounce, "We love him who first loved us," it became clear that God had performed a miracle, and it was good!
Paul believed wisdom was always one of God's greatest attributes, but many of the details were beyond human understanding. No one could have fathomed what existed before time began. Long before creation, God was, there were no others, angels, men and created worlds were only a design in the creators mind; yet even then, the almighty longed to love and be loved, He desired fellowship and that intense yearning was never satisfied until sinners were able to say, "Abba Father."
Jim Elliot said, “Wise living is sacrificial living, giving up what it cannot keep to gain what it cannot lose” End Quote!
The Significance Of Blessings! (4) Through Rejoicing v12-14:
A. The Witness Of The Saviour: v12.
The Lord Jesus Himself gives us our first glimpse of rejoicing in Heaven. He tells us in His wonderful parable of the Good Shepherd that when He finds His lost sheep, He brings it home rejoicing.
So: All thro' the mountains, thunder riv'n
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav'n,
"Rejoice! I have found my sheep!"
And the angels echoed around the throne,
"Rejoice, for the lord brings back His own!" (Elizabeth C. Clephane)
But not only are we given the story of the lost sheep in that Scripture but we are given the stories of the lost silver and the lost son. "They began to be merry" is the Lord's own description of the feast that was spread when the prodigal returned home (Luke Ch. 15v24). Music and dancing, the robe, the ring, and the fatted calf all announce the joyful celebrations.
Not only have we an inheritance in Christ; He has an inheritance in us and all heaven joins in songs of happiness and praise over one sinner that repents. Just think, our salvation sets the joy bells of Heaven ringing and they echo in the everlasting hills. Our conversation causes joyful commotion in Heaven because the salvation of a sinner brings satisfaction to the Saviour and glory to God. Eternal ages will be far too short to sing His praises and those anthems will never cease.
So why is it beloved we know so very few joyful Christians on earth?
Just finished For Whom the Bell Tolls. ... Would that I could get as aroused, about experiencing God in life as these modern writers are aroused at just experiencing life. They make no comment, draw no conclusions, and point no moral, simply state things as they are in simple words in up-to-date settings.
Perhaps it is for this very lucidity that they hold such grip on one. Must we always comment on life? Can it not simply be lived in the reality of Christ's terms of contact with the Father, with joy and peace, fear and love full to the fingertips in their turn, without incessant drawing of lessons and making of rules? Jim Elliot in the Journals of Jim Elliot. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 15.
Like Habakkuk Ch.3:17: Could we say, "Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines ... yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour."
Am I a witness to my Saviour by the very deportment of my life?
It takes a person to reach persons, a life to reach lives. The gospel is a personal matter: "He shall save His people from their sins." "I if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me." That’s personal!
No translation is quite as effective as the flesh and-blood edition. Alas, some of these are very incomplete and some are parodies of the text. Some are private revisions, not translations, of the original. Remember a world is watching us. May our translations be true in letter and spirit!
When anything good comes our way we usually tell it, strange that the greatest good tidings of all should find us holding our peace.
You say, "preacher I am not the strongest of people" well, Paul turned his stumbling-blocks into stepping stones. John Bunyan in Bedford jail, Fanny Crosby in a prison of blindness "out of weakness were made strong." Long is the list of saints through the ages who have turned minus to plus by the grace of God.
B. The Witness Of The Spirit:v13a.
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation."
Paul was recalling here his first cordial reception in the synagogue by the rabbis and the congregation and the division that followed when some trusted Christ after they had heard the word of truth. Then revival broke out among the gentiles, attracting the attention of the whole city, and Paul diligently went from house to house until he could say he was pure of the blood of all men (Acts Ch.20v26).
You see the people in Ephesus to whom he was writing were the fruit of this ministry. The Holy Spirit had taken the gospel of Christ, the word of truth, and had so powerfully used it to witness to the Lord Jesus that a great number had been saved.
Nobody can be saved apart from the Word of God. Human cleverness, persuasiveness, or eloquence cannot save souls, nor can the greatest of oratory in the pulpit or artistry in the choir. God has not promised to bless programs or performances. He always blesses His Word. We need to understand the witness of the Spirit of God is to the Son of God by means of the Word of God.
In John Ch.14v16 & 26 Ch.15v26. Jesus says that He and the Father will send the "paraklatos" One called along side, the Counsellor, to indwell forever those who are His. By this indwelling, He would assist believers "to bear witness" (John Ch.15v27).
In John Ch.14v16 & 26 Ch.15v26. Jesus says that He and the Father will send the "paraklatos" One called along side, the Counsellor, to indwell forever those who are His. By this indwelling, He would assist believers "to bear witness" (John Ch.15v27).
What Jesus Christ predicted, was actually happening in the churches in those areas. The Spirit of God was moving greatly with the believers. Why? Because as Acts Ch.9v31 reminds us, "Then had the churches peace throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied."
The Spirit was granting comfort to the churches and giving them purpose. They had allowed themselves to become channels of blessing. The vessel was clean and the channel was open through which the Holy Spirit could move and work. Are you a channel of blessing today? No! I am not asking about your friend, neighbour, your wife, or husband, not even asking about your Pastor!
Are you a channel of blessing, does the love of God flow through you, are you telling the lost of the Saviour, are you ready His service to do.
He is a great Christian in whom Christ is magnified whether by life or by death. I have read of a lamplighter in the old days that went along the street at dusk starting the flame in each of the lamps, himself fading away in the gathering darkness but leaving the lights he had kindled. So does the true Christian bow out to let Jesus Christ take centre stage. The friend of the bridegroom does not steal the show. Dr. Vance Havner.
C. The Witness Of The Scriptures:
"The Gospel of your salvation; in whom ye also believed” v13b.
You see, it’s the word of truth which; sets the joy of the Lord alight in the heart.
“And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, (Governor) and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. Ch. 8:9-10).
God says to His people, through Nehemiah all right! You have wept and mourned while you heard the Word of God and that's good. It’s good to be moved by the Word of the Lord but its now time to get up and show the Word of God work in your everyday life. The devil would love to keep us in a state of emotional upset at all times if he could, because then we don’t do much for God. We simply bemoan the fact that nobody is doing anything. We simply become more critical of others but all the while doing nothing ourselves.
Friends, if we are giving heed to God's Word we will be doers of the Word and not hearers only, otherwise we are deceiving our own selves as James reminds us (James Ch.1v22). Jesus did not say, I am come that you might have death and morbidity, and moaning, and carping, No! No! No! Jesus said I am come that you might have life and that you should have it more abundantly. Have it with Joy!
Life with a capital L should be our experience if we abide in and obey the precious Word of God. If there is one thing, dear Christian, this Old World needs to know above and beyond another it is; the Joy of the Lord is your strength. Yes! I know there will be sorrow, difficulty, trouble, trial, even sickness and death, but in the midst of every storm this Old World needs to know:
I have an anchor that keeps the soul,
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviours love.
Man what's your strength today? Is it your moody ways? Is it your arrogance? Is it your foul attitude? Is it your aggressive treatment of others? Is it your bully boy tactics? Do people fear you rather than respect you? Or in fact, is the joy of the Lord your strength?
You know the problem with most of us? It's wondering if or how we will get through tomorrow! How will I cope with this situation? How will I handle that person? How will I face these problems? How will I cope on this little money? How will I handle the children?
Jesus said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full" (John Ch.15v11).
Beloved, that's what this book is all about, listen to it, learn from it, live by it, it will fill you with the Joy of the Lord and do you know what, the Joy of the Lord will be your strength!
A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in
A minute to smile and an hour to speak in
A pint of joy and a peck of trouble
And never a laugh but the moan comes double
And this is life!
Oh, no friends, not if the joy of the Lord is your strength and it should be.
We are to serve the Lord with gladness. We are not to creep into our day, we are to leap into our day with the joy of the Lord bursting forth from us. We are to give this world insomnia as they wonder what it is that gives us such assurance in our every day living.
The Bible nowhere speaks about a "happy" Christian; it talks plentifully of joy. Happiness depends on things that happen, and may sometimes be an insult, joyfulness is never touched by external conditions, and a joyful heart is never an insult. Oswald Chambers in the Shadow of an Agony: Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 13.
God is no distant deity but a constant reality, a very present help whenever needs occur. So live like it. And laugh like it! [The apostle] Paul did. While he lived he drained every drop of joy out of every day that passed.
Charles R. Swindoll in Laugh Again.
D. The Witness to the Saved: v13b-14.
"Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
What is it in reality we have received from the hand of God? Do we know? Are we aware and alert to what God has given us?
"You were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" v13b.
People have always required assurances. Reason, I guess, because the promises of humankind are so unreliable, we demand oaths, sworn statements, surety bonds, guarantees, warranties and so many other such means of assuring the fulfilment of promises.
For the Christian, God's precious Word should be enough for us, but God being God and knowing people are people, gives us an even more sure word of promise, it’s like adding a written guarantee with the item. Here the Lord guarantees His promise with His seal and with His pledge.
The idea behind our being sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise is to signify three primary, wonderful thoughts.
(1) To Give Us Assurance:
He promised us an inheritance. "In Him" the end of verse 10, "also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (v11-12).
And he repeats that it all belongs to God. The will was God's, the purpose was God's, the good intention was God's and the glory is God's. And He gave us an inheritance because He predestined us to be His children and His children were to receive His promised inheritance.
“The sufferings of this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which; shall be ours” (Romans Ch.8v17).
"It doesn't yet appear what we shall be but we know we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is" (1 John Ch.3v2).
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter Ch.1v4).
Every promise in Christ, Paul said, 2 Corinthians Ch.1v20, is yes. What did he mean by that? That everything Jesus promised to us is yes. Do we get that? Yes. Do we get that? Yes. Do we get that? Yes. Peace? Yes. Love? Yes. Wisdom? Yes. Eternal life? Yes. Joy? Yes. Victory? Yes. Strength? Yes. Power? Yes. Knowledge? Yes. Righteousness? Yes. Eternal life? Yes. Truth? Yes. Heaven? Yes. Riches? Yes. Reigning? Yes. Ruling? Yes. It's all yes. Why? Because He wanted to! His purpose, His will, His grace did it all. So He gets all the glory.
And how secure is your inheritance? Notice, He sealed us.
Verse 13, "In Him you also after listening to the message of the truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge or a guarantee of our inheritance with a view looking forward to the redemption of God's own possession-- that's us--to the praise of His glory." He sealed us.
Sealing something in ancient times was a sign of security, a sign of assurance, that the item was yours.
When Daniel was thrown into the lions den, King Darius, along with his nobles, placed their seals on the stone placed over the entrance to the den, "so that nothing can be changed in regard to Daniel" (Dan.Ch.6v17). Any person who would dare to break that seal would, without any shadow of doubt, have forfeited their lives.
In a similar way the tomb where Jesus was buried was sealed and soldiers instructed to guard that sealed tomb with their lives (Matt. Ch.27v62-66). In an infinitely great way, the Holy Spirit secures each believer, marking him or her with his own irrevocable seal, giving to us the greatest of assurances.
How it must have startled those early Jewish Christians to read in the letter to the Hebrews, "Let us draw near." Their whole Jewish tradition said just the opposite: "Stand back!" The architecture of their temple said it with an outer court for the Gentiles, an inner court for the women, and an inmost court for the men. After that came the inner court of the temple which only the priests could enter. The whole message of that architecture was "Stand back!" There were ranks of people to match the temple's architecture--a high priest, and then lesser priests, then the men, then the women, and finally the Gentiles. There were rituals to match the ranks. Burnt offerings were offered at an open-air altar in sight of all. The altar of incense was inside the temple, seen only by the high priests and seen only dimly by them, in a shadowy room lit by seven candles. Shed blood was offered for the sins of the people in the inmost room, shrouded in complete and perpetual darkness. All was calculated to say, "Stand back!" Against this background, the letter to the Hebrews offers us a blessed assurance: "Let us draw near to God, with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews Ch.10v22). Because we are sealed, Jesus says, my child draw near!
(2) To Give Us Authenticity:
An authenticity, which was a sign of a completed transaction! When we are saved He sealed us. How? Gave us His Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwelling in a believer is a sign that God owns that believer, a sign that that believer is secure, a sign that that believer is authentic, and a sign that that believer has received the completed transaction. He assures us and authenticates us!
When King Ahab tried unsuccessfully to have Naboth sell or trade his vineyard, Queen Jezebel volunteered to get the vineyard her way. "So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal" and sent the letters to various nobles who lived in Naboth's city, demanding that they arrange false accusations of blasphemy and treason against him. The nobles did as they were told, and Naboth was stoned to death because of the false charges. The King then simply confiscated the vineyard he had so strongly coveted (1 Kings Ch.21v6-16).
Despite the deceptions contained in the letters Jezebel sent, the letters themselves were authentically from the King, because they were sent with his approval and marked by his seal. The seal in other words was his signature.
When God gives us His Holy Spirit, it is as if he stamps us with a seal that reads this person is an authentic citizen of My Divine Kingdom and a true member of My Divine Family and don’t you forget it.
Pastor Rittenhouse and his family were on vacation traveling down the highway when they saw a suitcase fly off the top of a car going the opposite direction. They stopped to pick it up, but the driver of the other car never stopped. The only clue to the driver's identity was a twenty dollar gold piece inscribed: "Given to Otis Sampson at his retirement by Portland Cement Company." After extensive correspondence, Otis Sampson was located and contacted. He wrote a letter telling them to discard the suitcase and all its contents, and send only the gold piece. Mr. Sampson used the phrase "my most precious possession," several times to describe the gold piece. Pastor Rittenhouse sent the gold piece, and wrote a cover letter telling Otis Sampson about his most prized possession, Jesus Christ. A year later, the pastor received a Christmas package. In it was the twenty dollar gold piece. Mr. Sampson wrote, "You will be happy to know we have become active members of a church. We want you to have this gold piece. I am seventy-four; my wife is seventy-two. You were the first one to tell us about Jesus. Now He is our most prized possession."
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 262. Is he precious to you, because you are precious to Him?
(3) To Give Us Authority:
When the Holy Spirit seals believers, He marks them as God's divine possessions, who; from that moment on entirely and eternally belong to Him. The Spirit's seal declares the transaction of salvation as divinely official and final. Now, that then gives us not only Assurance and Authenticity, but that also gives us Authority!
Even after Haman had been hanged for his wicked plot to defame and execute Mordecai, Queen Esther was distressed about the decree that Haman had persuaded King Ahasuerus to make that permitted anyone in his kingdom to attack and destroy the Jews. Because the king could not even himself revoke the decree that was marked with his own seal, he issued and sealed another decree that permitted and even encouraged the Jews to arm and defend themselves (Esther Ch.8v8-12). In both cases the absolute authority of the decrees was represented in the king's seal. Those who possessed the sealed decree of the king had the king's delegated authority set forth in the decree.
When Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit they are delegated to act on the King of King's behalf, they are given divine authority to proclaim, teach, minister, and defend God's Word and His gospel. They are given divine authority to live, witness and work for God. And live, work and witness we should. Why? For the day is far spent. But then, not only do we have God's seal as his signed authority, we have God's pledge as His guarantee of His authority.
"Who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" v14.
The word earnest there is the word "arrabon" or "pledge" it means to absolutely confirm that what he has pledged will come to pass. As believers we have the Holy Spirit as a "down payment" that all the blessings of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Just as the blessings for Israel in the Old Testament where guaranteed in a place, so all the blessings of the Christian are guaranteed in a person, Jesus Christ.
Now here's the point to wind this all up. Having been given Assurance, Authenticity and Authority that means we have been given power, the very power of God, but here's the point, that power is often not seen, why? Because we do not daily, go to the source of that power for a fill up. That's where we started, the Source of our blessings. And until and unless we get back there on a regular basis we will be powerless.
One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of petrol. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of petrol. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of petrol. Often, Christians neglect their spiritual maintenance, and though they are "clothed with power" (Luke Ch.24v49) find themselves out of power. Steve Blankenship, Edmond, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.
I want to share with you a question by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who is certainly not known as a Pentecostal preacher. When he held the great pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London as the great preacher of Reformed theology, near the end of his life--and some say at the very pinnacle of his ministry--he asked his congregation a question. He said, "I want to talk to you today about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You may call it what you want, but I want to know, have you experienced the fullness of the Spirit? I know all of you listening to me come as I do from a Reformed background. But it's not good enough. I know that all of you would want to say to my question about the Holy Spirit, 'Well, we got it all at conversion; there's no need for any more experience.' Well," said Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "I have only one other question to ask you. If you got it all at conversion, where in God's name is it?" End Quote!