The Scope Of The Blessing!
Reading: Ephesians Ch. 1v4-5.
Many years ago a little girl was totally blind. She was blinded as an infant as the result of an accident. She lived to be over 90 years old. She became a joy and delight to the Church all over the world. She wrote many popular Christian songs and choruses. Her name was Fanny Crosby. When she was only eight years old, she wrote:
Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see.
I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.
How many blessings; I enjoy that other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind--I cannot and I won't.
John Yates II, "The Man Born Blind," Preaching Today, Tape No. 46.
This amazing piece appeared in "Christianity Today" several years ago said, it really is worth reading!
"Shall I thank God at this Thanksgiving? Why was I born at this particular time in the history of the world? Why was I born in a spotless delivery room in an American hospital instead of a steaming shelter in the dank jungle of the Amazon or a mud hut in Africa? Why did I have the privilege of going to school with capable instructors while millions around the world, without a school book, sit or squat on a dirt floor listening to a missionary? "How does it happen that my children are tucked into warm beds at night with clean white sheets while millions of babies in the world will lie in cold rooms, many in their own filth and vomit? Why can I sit down to a warm meal whenever I want to and eat too much when millions will know all of their lives the gnawing pangs of hunger? Do I deserve to share in such wealth? Why me and not other millions? Why was I born in a land I didn't build, in a prosperity that I didn't create and enjoy a freedom that I didn't establish? Why an American sitting comfortably in my own living room this Thanksgiving rather than an Indian squatting in the dark corner of some infested alley in Calcutta, shivering in the cold, or a Cambodian in the rubble of what used to be his home, or a terrified, running Nicaraguan in the jungle? Do I deserve it? By what right do I have it?" Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker" Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.
A. Chosen Before The Foundation Of The World: v4a.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" v4a.
Without doubt there is a mystery here in this text. To attempt, at least in some small way to understand the mystery, we should remember, we are creatures of time; God inhabits eternity. We express our mode of being in three tenses of time, I was, I am, I will be. God expresses His mode of being in the eternal present, I am, I am, I am. Thus Jesus did not say, "Before Abraham was, I was" (which in itself would have been an astonishing statement expressing a longevity of life His enemies would have found bewildering). Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John Ch.8v58). He was claiming eternity of being and coexistence with the Father, and His enemies considered His statement blasphemous.
Now, the reason being chosen from before the foundation of the world is a mystery to us is, we are limited in our understanding by the very nature of our being. As finite creatures we live in the, hear and now and can deal with only one thing at a time. Life is presented to us as it were in small segments. We live one moment at a time. The future is always before us, but we cannot know what is in the future until it becomes a fleeting experience in the present and quickly drifts off into the past. We can anticipate the future and remember the past, but we live in a fleeting moment called the present, however, not so in God's domain. In God's domain, the past, present and future are brought together in the all-embracing present.
So when we read that we are chosen in Him "before the foundation of the world," we need to understand that the Holy Spirit has stated the statement from our perspective. Because God lives in the present tense, there is absolutely no time difference between the moment He chose me and the moment I chose to believe on Him. The perception of time difference is ours alone. From the standpoint of God's eternal present tense, both acts are simultaneous. Now, that explanation does not lessen the wonderful mystery of God's grace, we still stand amazed in the presence of the triune God and wonder how He could have loved us, sinners condemned and unclean.
Why did he love me? I never can tell;
Why did He suffer to save me from hell?
Nothing but infinite grace from above
Could have conceived such a story of love. G.R. Harding.
C.H. Spurgeon said, "If God hadn't chosen me before the foundation of the world, he wouldn't choose me now!"
B. Changed Being The Foundation For The World: v4b.
"That we should be holy and without blame before him in love."
The Church of Jesus Christ is to be the very foundation to which the world looks for holiness and godly living. It is to be our holy way of living and conduct which brings the world at large into a state of deep conviction of their sinfulness and need of a Saviour.
God chose us in order that we might display the Holy and blameless character of God. The word "blameless" in the Greek is the word "Amomos" literally meaning without blemish, or spotless, pure, untarnished, and complete.
Because we are chosen in Him we are holy and blameless before Him.
The unworthy have been declared worthy, the unrighteous declared holy.
It is Christ's foreordained plan and purpose to "present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless" (Ephesians Ch.5v27).
Quite obviously Paul is speaking there about the position of the church and the practice of the church however; it is a very different thing that we through the power of the Holy Ghost bring our permanent position as near to our practical practice as is wholly possible. Our practical practice so often can fall short of God's standard so the Apostle is pressing us to bring the two together.
We should now strive to live lives that match our destiny!
Archbishop Robert Leighton said a holy life is a voice; it speaks when the tongue is silent and is either a constant attraction or a perpetual reproof. End Quote!
Tyron Edwards said a holy life is not an ascetic, or gloomy or solitary life, but a life regulated by divine truth and faithful in Christian duty. It is living above the world while we are still in it. End Quote!
D.L. Moody said a holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine. End Quote!
C. Challenged Being The Foundation Of The New World: v5.
"Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will"
Now, it's interesting, some have changed the wording of that text to read, "Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself" to "Having predestined us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to himself"
And that is a very striking change! You see there is all the difference in the world between children and sons. The word children, has to do with our membership in God's family, for example, I became a member of God's family by virtue of the new birth, by being born into it. The word son's on the other hand, has to do with maturity in the family. It refers to the position we occupy in God's family as we mature. It used to be when you saw a sign over a business, premises with the words Henry Brown and sons; you knew that Henry Brown's sons had become working partners in their fathers business. They have now grown up and are no more children and can rightly assume positions of responsibility and authority. We never see a sign, which reads Henry Brown and Children!
Here's the point, God has predestined us to maturity. Remember it’s those who are saved are predestined. The word predestined is never used in connection with the lost. God does not predestination certain people to go to hell and others to go to heaven. The concept of predestination is reserved in Scripture for those who are in God's family. We could say election has to do with the past and predestination has to do with the future. Election has to do with what we were chosen from; predestination has to do with what we were chosen for. Listen to Romans Ch.8v29. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the first born of many brethren"
It is God's intent for us to see us through to Spiritual maturity so that we can become working partners with Him in His eternal business. We are chosen for spiritual maturity "according to the good pleasure of his will." v5b.
I think the Father's pleasure is best summed up by the well-known, story of the prodigal son. When the wayward son returned home full of remorse and completely repentant, he found his father watching and waiting for him. The son had his speech all prepared, he was going to say, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Luke Ch.15v18-19). But before he ever got to that part about being made a hired servant, his father interrupted and called for the credentials of a son, a ring, a robe, the shoes, and the fatted calf. The father had everything ready for the prodigal's return.
Listen, Listen, like the father in the parable, God is waiting for us. It is the good pleasure of His good will to have everything ready. So as we repent, mature, grow up, become complete that he will place upon us the ring, the robe, royal sandals and give us the honoured place of working responsibly. Son's who can with the rightful power and authority given them from the father labour faithfully in his great eternal business. One more thing we should take note of here! I have often said to you that where God's Children are concerned things are never accidental; neither are they incidental, they are always providential. Notice the words "according to" now those words could be freely translated "in compliance with the dictates or requirements of the divine will."
See how important this thought is to Paul as he pens the whole book of Ephesians.
According as he hath chosen us…to be holy (Ch.1v4).
Adoption of children…according to…his will (Ch.1v5).
Redemption…according to the riches of his grace (Ch.1v7).
The mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure (Ch.1v9).
An inheritance…according to his purpose (Ch.1v11).
His power…to us-ward according to his mighty power (Ch.1v19)
Ye walked according to the course of this world (Ch.2v2).
Ye walked…according to the prince of the air (Ch.2v2).
A minister…according to the gift of the grace of God (Ch.3v7).
Wisdom…according to the eternal purpose (Ch.3v10, 11).
Strength…according to the riches of his glory (Ch.3v16).
Accomplishment…according to his power (Ch.3v20).
Grace…according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ch.4v7).
Joined together…according to his effectual working (Ch.4v16).
Corrupt…according to the deceitful lusts (Ch.4v22).
Servants be obedient…according to masters in the flesh (Ch.6v5).
The sovereign will of God was the standard by which every circumstance was measured and judged. Even the trials and tribulations of the apostle were subservient to the will of God. Nothing happens by chance, and it was that belief which enabled Paul to glory in tribulations and rejoice when problems overwhelmed him (see Romans Ch.5v3). "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience."
What is Paul saying in Ephesians 1v4-5? God is the source of every blessing and even trials, tribulations and troubles can be seen as blessings.
A benevolent person gave Mr. Rowland Hill a hundred pounds to dispense to a poor minister a bit at a time, thinking it was too much too send him all at once. Mr. Hill forwarded five pounds in a letter, with only these words within the envelope, "More to follow." In a few days' time, the good man received another letter; this second messenger contained another five pounds, with the same motto, "And more to follow." A day or two after came a third and a fourth, and still the same promise, "And more to follow." Till the whole sum had been received, the astonished minister was made familiar with the cheering words, "And more to follow." Every blessing that comes from God is sent with the same message, "And more to follow." "I forgive you your sins, but there's more to follow." "I justify you in the righteousness of Christ, but there's more to follow." "I adopt you into my family, but there's more to follow." "I educated you for heaven, but there's more to follow." "I give you grace upon grace, but there's more to follow." "I have helped you even to old age, but there's still more to follow." "I will uphold you in the hour of death, and as you are passing into the world of spirits, my mercy shall still continue with you, and when you land in the world to come there shall still be more to follow."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990).
This is a blessing beyond measure, let us enter into the wonderful joy of it and share it with as many others as is humanly possible.