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EPHESIANS 1:6b-10: THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed (5656) on us in the Beloved (5772). 7 In Him we have (5719) redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished (5656) on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known (5660) to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed (5639) in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up (5664) of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Turn with me to Ephesians 1 as we continue in our study. In chapter 1 we find some beautiful things. In verses 3-14, we find the blessings that we have in the Trinity—the Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I want to focus on the riches of His grace because we’re dealing with God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me go back to the outline. In verses 3-6a we have the blessings of God the Father. It looks back to our past, and it points to His choosing us, our election. Then in verses 6b-12, that we’re looking at right now, we have the blessings of God the Son, and it talks about our present and our redemption. In verses 13-14, we have the blessings of God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and it looks at the future and talks about the inheritance that we have in Him one day. We also find in verses 15 through the end of the chapter, Paul praying that they can understand these blessings.
You see, the book of Ephesians isn’t just chapter 1. It’s chapters 1-6. By the time you get to chapter 6 you can understand what Paul is trying to get across. We’re still looking at the blessings of God the Son. Let’s go back and read verses 7-10. It says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon 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 fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth." By the terms that Paul uses, particularly when he says, "the riches… which He lavished upon us," it seems that Paul wants us to know of the overflowing abundance and unmerited love that is inexhaustible in God and freely accessible in Christ. He calls it "the riches of His grace." He uses that term all the way through the book.
Look with me at 1:18 where he uses that word "riches" again. He says,
Ephesians 1:18:I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened (5772), so that you will know (5760) what is (5748) the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Now keep thinking of that term "riches" because it’s all in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 2:4, speaking of the character of God, says,
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,"
Then go on down to verse 7. It says,
"so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
Then look over in 3:8. He says,
"To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
Then the last time he uses it is 3:16, and it says,
"that He would grant (5632) you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened (5683) with power through His Spirit in the inner man"
Have you ever thought about the terminology of being rich? Have you ever thought about yourself as being poor? I was down in Lexington, Mississippi, where I pastored before we came to Chattanooga. One day a black man walked up to me on the street. He said to me, "You white folks, you are all rich." That particular day I had just left the bank, and I knew exactly how much money I had or didn’t have at that time. I told him, "I don’t know who you’re talking about, friend, but you’ve got the wrong guy. I don’t have a dime on me, and I don’t own anything really right now. I can show you in my checkbook that I haven’t got any money in the bank." He walked away in sort of a huff, and after I had walked about ten feet, it was like the Holy Spirit of God stopped me in my tracks. He said, "What did you just say? You don’t have anything?" He reminded me that I am wealthy and rich because I have the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. You see, we’re living here on earth pursuing things that we’re going to walk on in heaven. We are already rich in the Lord Jesus Christ. What the world says is rich, folks, is not what it means to be rich. What God says is rich is eternal, and we will never, ever lose it.
'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich )"
It’s a message to that precious church. "You might not have anything. You’re doing it right. You may only have tribulation on this earth, but you’re rich." He wanted to remind them of what they had in the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, I want us to look at the riches of His grace. I want you to think about what He’s done for you and realize how rich you really are in the riches of His grace.
THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE:
(1) FORGIVENESS OF SINS
First of all, in verse 7, we find the forgiveness of sins. We talked about that earlier when we talked about our redemption. We talked about the forgiveness of sin. Do you remember we thought about the day of atonement and how the High Priest would take that scapegoat and put the sins of the people on its head? He would call the sins of the people out loud. He called them out and named them one by one. Then He sent that scapegoat off into the wilderness. The word for forgiveness, aphesis, means to be sent away. God sent away our sins. He took away our sins. That’s a beautiful, beautiful understanding of what God has done for us.
I want to go a little further in that because we didn’t really cover it completely.
Now, it is very important to understand that little phrase "according to." He didn’t say out of His riches. He said according to His riches. Let me give you the difference. Let’s say a man has millions of dollars and wants to give a gift, but he gives out of his riches. Well, he may give you twenty-five dollars. He may give you ten dollars. He may give you a hundred dollars. He gave out of his riches. If that man gives according to his riches, he gives in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He gives a gift that is measured by the wealth that he has. God didn’t give us forgiveness out of His riches. He gave us forgiveness according to His riches. That’s what we must understand. Our sins can never exhaust the forgiveness of God. I want to say that again. Our sins can never exhaust the forgiveness of God. He lavished upon us forgiveness according to His riches.
Paul says in Ro 5:20,
"where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… "
We cannot sin beyond God’s grace to forgive. I wonder if you are a believer. You know that you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, and you know that you’ve been cleansed and washed in His blood. Yet somehow you’ve made some terrible mistakes. You’ve made some terrible choices in your life, and you’re having to bear up under those choices. For some reason you’re thinking you’re going to exhaust the power and the grace of God to forgive. No! You cannot exhaust His grace to forgive. He gave lavishly to us, in the Lord Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sin. He lavished His grace upon us.
Look back at Eph 1:8. "… which He lavished on us."
To those who have trusted His Son, God lavishes without measure the forgiveness of sins. You see, sometimes we forget that we sin everyday. John says in I John that if we say we have no sin, we make God a liar. We deal with sin all the time because we live in bodies of flesh. Now we don’t live habitually in sin, we don’t live lawlessly, or we wouldn’t be a Christian. You can’t live that way and be a Christian. But we deal with it all the time. We are always sinning. We are always making mistakes. But at the same time, at the very moment we do, the Holy Spirit in us convicts us, and we go to the cross. We agree with God and confess our sin, and the mercy that He has and the forgiveness that He has is lavished upon us.
There are some people who have made horrible mistakes as a believer. You know, one of the worse things we can do is point a finger at somebody else in the body of Christ.
"… you who judge practice the same things,"
according to Ro2:1. See, when a person is not going to the Cross in his own life, and he’s not being cleansed and corrected, he begins to not only not deal with his sin anymore, because he doesn’t know how, he starts dealing with everyone else’s sin. When that begins to happen that’s awful. We don’t realize that, except by the grace of God, we might be right where the other person is. Maybe you’ve made a huge mistake in your walk. Maybe you’re a Christian, and you’ve really messed up. Maybe it’s in your family. Perhaps you’ve lost your husband or your wife or your children, and you’re living in that condemnation. Listen! Yes, there are consequences to choices. But God’s grace of forgiveness is there.
Remember Ephesians 2:4? He is "rich in mercy" It is grace that deals with our sin. It is mercy that deals with the consequences of our sin. He is rich in mercy. Boy, sometimes people don’t like to hear a message like this. It sounds like you’re preaching license. "Alright! We can just go out and do what we want to do." Oh no, friend! It’s the goodness of God that brings a man to repentance (Ro 2:4).
When you begin to realize the heart of God and the Father-heart of God, you realize how He lavishes upon us His grace and how forgiveness of sins is a part of that. It is not out of it. It’s according to the riches of His grace that He gives to us. So I just want you to know, my brother and sister in Christ, if you’ve messed your life up, there will be consequences. I can’t tell you anything but the truth, but I’ll tell you this. God will help you bear up under it, and God will deal with your sin. God will transform you in that area. God will richly lavish upon you the forgiveness of sins if you’ll come to Him and confess it and agree with Him that it’s sin in your life.
Well, we’re rich. Don’t ever think that you’re a pauper. Oh, no sir! We are rich in Jesus Christ. Not only do we have forgiveness of sin, we have riches of His wisdom. It says in verse 8-9,
Ephesians 1:8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 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. In Him
God not only forgives us, but He continues to forgive us. The phrase "we have… forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph1:7) is in the present understanding (Ed note: "have" is present tense = continuous action). We’re consistently having forgiveness of sins. He goes on to say that when God saved us and forgave us and continues to forgive us, He gave us all the necessary equipment. That’ll be a good way to put it. He gave us the necessary equipment to understand Him and to walk through this world day by day pleasing Him. That’s a beautiful thought.
THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE:
We are rich. We know exactly what we’re supposed to do as believers. The Holy Spirit of God lives in us, and God has given us wisdom, the understanding, of how to apply the knowledge that we get. Wisdom is the Greek word sophia. It is the ability to apply knowledge. It is the ability to understand things that are important in this world. What are they? Life and Death. A believer has wisdom, wisdom that comes from God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit of God. He understands life and death. Philosophers have argued over it for years, but Paul summed it up in one verse in Php 1:21.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain"
We have a wisdom that is different from the people of the world that do not have the Lord Jesus Christ. We have wisdom to understand God and man. We have the wisdom to understand righteousness and sin, heaven and hell, eternity and time. Look with me in 1Cor 2:6-7, as we think about how He has lavished upon us the riches of wisdom. Paul just really nails it here in this chapter.
"Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory"
He lavished upon His people wisdom. Look in 1 Cor 2:12.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,… "
A Christian really has no excuse because we have the Holy Spirit. We have the Word, and God has lavished upon us according to the riches of His grace. He has lavished wisdom in our life. 1 Cor 2:16 says,
"For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM ? But we have the mind of Christ."
You know, I have so many people come to me in conferences and places I go and say, "Man, I just can’t understand what’s going on in the world." My first statement is, "Number one, let me ask you about your walk with Jesus Christ. Do you live a surrendered life? Are you dealing with sin day by day, moment by moment? Are you dealing with the sin of the flesh?" They begin to hang their head. Then I ask them a second question. "Are you daily, with a surrendered heart, getting into the Word of God and letting the Holy Spirit of God take the Word and renew your mind and transform your life?" Every single time they look back at me and say, "I never, never get into the Word of God." Rich people but not willing to live in the
riches God has given.
We have wisdom, folks. We have the ability to understand. We really do. Parents, you have the ability in Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit and the Word of God to understand how to raise your children. You have an ability to understand God and the nature of God and the nature of man. You have an ability to understand what’s going on in this world because God lavished it upon you according to the riches of His grace. God did not leave us in a vacuum where we have to work it out for ourselves. He gave us "the mind of Christ" so that we can understand it, apply it, and live it in this world.
James 1:5 tells us,
"… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God… "
God’s not going to turn him away. It says God will give it to him how? Liberally. That’s the way He lavishes His grace upon us. Do you want wisdom? Go to God. God will give it to you. Someone said, "That’s too complicated, Wayne." No, that’s what the Word says. That’s all I know. That’s what he says in James. We’re rich. We’re rich because we have the forgiveness of sins. There’s not one single thing I can do in my life to change that. I may mess up, and you may never love me again, but I know my God will love me and will forgive me and will give mercy in my life to bear up under the consequences of whatever wrong choices I’ve made. I’m rich. I’m rich. I know where to go. I know who is my refuge. I know where to run when I’ve done things wrong. A man is rich when he knows what to do when he fails.
THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE:
Thirdly, we have the riches of insight. Well, really wisdom and insight should be put together. I separated them because I want us to see both words. As we look back at our text, verse 8, it says,
" In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will… "
That word "insight" really has a lot to do with wisdom. It’s the word phronesis. It comes from the word phroneo, which means to be able to think and to have good judgment. It means the ability to govern one’s own life wisely. Do you know what it means today in Greek? It’s the word for brakes. It comes from the word which means brakes. I’ve got freedom in Christ, but I’ve got to know when to use it and when not to use it. That’s phroneo . That’s the word he’s talking about here. It’s not just insight. It’s somebody who understands what’s going on. He understands how to use knowledge, but at the same time, he has the sound judgment. He’s able to know when to stop and when to start and when to curb his own freedom for the sake of what God’s doing in his life. See, the opposite of that is aphrosune, which means to be without any sense at all.
Now through this wisdom and insight, He’s made known something to us. This is what I want you to see, especially in the times that we’re living in. I spoke to Dr. David Breese at a men’s conference. He was talking about what’s going on in our world today and how we can understand it. The pagan world hasn’t got a clue what’s going on. If you turn on the news, here’s what you’re going to hear. "The world is falling apart." That’s all they’ll tell you. "In twenty years we’re not going to have enough room for all the people on the earth. We’re going to run out of food." Did you know you can take every individual on the face of the earth and put them all in one particular state in our United States? They tell you, however, we’re not going to have room for everybody. They think it’s falling apart. Oh no! What’s going on is a mystery, but only the believers are able to comprehend it. God has allowed us to understand "the mystery of His will." (Eph 1:9)
Now watch this carefully because that’s exactly what He’s talking about. He says there in verse 8, "In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will" Now don’t get so hung up in the word "mystery." (Gk: mysterion) The word means something that can only be known by revelation. God reveals certain things to His children that He doesn’t reveal to the rest of the world. That makes us rich. If you can understand what’s going on, then you can live in whatever circumstances are happening. He says,
"He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him"
What is His will that He’s talking about here? Look down in verse 10.
"… the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.."
The word "summing up" [anakephalaioo] means to bring up under one head. He talks in Ephesians of how the Jew and the Gentile are now one in Christ Jesus, but he’s not just talking about that. He’s talking about how God is bringing everything together in Christ Jesus. You see, Christians can understand that, but the world thinks it’s falling apart. People of God know it’s coming together. It’s coming together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have an understanding of what’s going on in this world and you know, from what Dr. Breese shared with us at the men’s conference, you had better start getting ready, folks. It appears to me the way things are happening in this world that it won’t be long. As a matter of fact, as soon as Israel became a nation, He said when you see these things happen look up, your redemption draweth nigh (Lk 21:28) , not the redemption that started us, but the other redemption, the one He’s going to redeem us out of this earth with and take us up to be with Himself. (Ro 8:23)
I want to go back to one little word in verse 10. He says in verse 10,
"… with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times,… "
Sometimes those phrases are difficult to understand. Here’s what he’s saying. He’s revealed what He’s doing in this world and has shown us that it is all according to a divine plan. That’s the key. The word "administration" there is the word oikonomia. It’s a word that refers to a household manager, somebody who manages the affairs of his household. And what he’s saying here is God’s in charge, and He’s doing it according to a plan. He’s doing it. God’s bringing it together according to a divine plan and knows exactly what’s going on. Christians know. Christians have that wisdom and insight lavished upon them. We don’t live in this world as if we’re in a cloud. We have lavished upon us God’s willingness to reveal to us the plan that He’s bringing together under the headship of Jesus Christ.
Let me ask you one question…
What’s the Word in your life tonight?
Are you in it?
Let me ask you one question. What’s the Word in your life tonight? Are you in it? "Oh Brother Wayne, I get up in the morning. I read Proverbs 3, if it’s the third day of the month, and Psalms chapter 3, if it’s the third day of the month. I read Oswald Chambers. I’m doing pretty good." Hey, I’m not knocking that. If that’s all you’re doing, that’s better than some folks are doing. Right? I just encourage you to get into it, folks. It’s all in the Bible. It’s all there. I’ve been begging you for years to get in it. It’s not going to be from what I’m preaching. It’s going to be your own personal pursuit of God in the Bible. When you get in it, it’s going to take your mind and turn it loose [cf Ro 12:2, Eph 4:23, 2 Cor 3:18]. God’s going to show you what’s going on in this world. You’re going to have a wisdom and insight nobody around you has. As a matter of fact, you’re going to be just like that person in 1 Cor 2. Who is going to judge him? He has the mind of Christ. He examines everything according to the Word of God. You’re able to exist in a world that looks like it’s falling apart all the time knowing it’s simply coming together. I don’t know about you, but I feel richer and richer and richer. I keep going back to the old boy running down the road. "Don’t you know that the ram’s horn has sounded? Don’t you know what today is? Today’s the day of atonement. It’s the beginning of the Jubilee. You have been set free. Your debts have been paid." Oh, how rich we are because of it.
EPHESIANS 1:7-13: THE MARVEL OF OUR REDEMPTION
Turn to Ephesians chapter 1. We’re going to pick up the last part of verse 10 and go down through verse 13. The title of the message is "The Marvel of our Redemption." Diana and I had a few days together recently, and we were talking. We’re both studying the book of the Revelation again. Diana made a statement that really blessed me. She said, "You know, the more I study it and the more careful I am in going slow in studying it, the more I see the sovereign hand of God at work." What is exciting to me is to know that God is in control. He is orchestrating events that were planned before the foundation of the world."
Have you ever been around an orchestra? When I was in high school, I was an usher for the Roanoke Symphony orchestra group. I got in free to all of the concerts, and I enjoyed that. The thing that used to grab me was when they would come together and warm up the instruments. That’s the worst sound you’ve ever heard in your life. Then the orchestra conductor would walk up and tap on the rostrum. Everybody gets quiet, and all of those strange sounds somehow are orchestrated to the point that they become harmonious and understandable and appreciated.
That’s the way it is in the world. Things are going on in this world that are far beyond our understanding, but God, the great conductor, knows the piece. He arranged it. He is bringing those strange sounds together and orchestrating them so they make sense to those of us that are believers. How well our salvation was thought through by the Godhead before the foundation of this world. He made a plan, and He is carrying it out. I want you to know He has the authority and He has the power to carry out what He came up with before the foundation of the world. There’s a difference in authority and power. For instance, two men may have a gun. Each has power. One of them has a badge. He has the authority to use that power. Our Lord has both the authority and the power. God is one God in three persons. Now if you say that you understand that, I wish you would help my feeble mind. I cannot grasp that. There’s one God in three persons. Most people try to make three Gods out of Him. God the Father is completely equal to God the Son, who is completely equal to God the Holy Spirit. There’s not a bit of jealousy in the Trinity. Each gives credit to the other. The Father gives it to the Son, and the Son gives it to the Spirit. The Spirit edifies the Son, and the Son gives it right back to the Father. It’s incredible the fluid oneness that’s in the Trinity, God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. All of them had a role in our redemption.
GOD THE FATHER, SON, HOLY SPIRIT
ALL HAD A ROLE IN OUR REDEMPTION
As we continue to marvel in our redemption, verses 3 through 6 tell us that God the Father blessed us in Christ with all spiritual blessings, before the foundation of the world. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself. I see the picture of the Father, as we have already studied, holding His hands out. He’s weeping over His children that have gone astray. They have lost their right to a relationship, and He chooses to adopt them back into His family. He has His arms open wide to receive all of those who would come back to Him. We have a loving, graceful Father.
What did God the Son do to effect our plan of redemption? He came to pay a ransom. He was the ransom that we might be redeemed back into the family. Not only was He the sacrifice that was sacrificed on Calvary, but He is also the offerer. He is the High Priest of Hebrews. He is our High Priest, and He did what the High Priest of old did except He did it for all eternity. He separated us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. The Old Testament High Priest would put his hands on that scapegoat and name the names of the sins of Israel and send that goat off into the wilderness. That’s what it means for us to be forgiven of our sin. We’ve been released from them. They’ll never come back to haunt us. I don’t know what that does to you. That just overwhelms me. Ephesians 1 says He lavished forgiveness upon us.
What was God the Holy Spirit’s role? In Ephesians 1:13-14 He sealed us. We’re going to be talking about that later. He sealed us and guaranteed our inheritance. God’s plan of redemption for His lost creation did not leave us once we were saved. It did not leave us in a vacuum.
He gave us wisdom and insight so that we might understand how to walk with Him and how to know what’s going on in the world, not to be lost as if we don’t understand. The world thinks everything is falling apart. The believer knows everything is coming together.
Let’s pick up there in verse 7:
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 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.
In other words, the bringing up of everything under the headship of Christ. Implied in that also is the bringing of Jew and Gentile together and making them one in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we know what’s going on in this world. Why? Because God has given us wisdom, and He has given us insight. We’re not left in a vacuum. He’s bringing everything together, and He knows that this plan was predetermined before the foundation of the world. Well, we want to move on.
THE MARVEL OF OUR REDEMPTION
Let's begin to look again at the marvel of our redemption. (Ed note: click here for word study of "redemption") First of all, I want us to see the sphere of our redemption. Who is included? Who is not excluded? Who is involved in His plan of redemption? Look at the last two words of verse 10 and down through verse 13. Let’s read it together.
In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in (the) Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation --having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Now, when we think of the sphere of our redemption, we begin to marvel at who is included. We think of those to whom the plan of redemption was first revealed. Sometimes people think that Christianity began in America. It did not begin with us. Paul beautifully shows here in this passage who is not excluded. Not only that, he shows who was marvelously, and by grace, included into the plan of redemption. Look at the first of the verse. It says, "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance,… " Who is this he is talking about? Now we have to put verse 11 with verse 12 if we’re going to come to a conclusion. Verse 11 says,
"we have obtained an inheritance."
Literally it should be: "by lot it has be-fallen us to be heirs in Him." The Greek word there is the aorist passive indicative. Aorist means that at one point in time. Passive means we didn’t do anything to get it. Something happened to us. Somebody else initiated the action. Indicative simply means it was a historical fact. It happened. The word is the aorist passive indicative of the word kleroo.
In Classical Greek kleroo had to do with casting a lot. As a matter of fact, it had the strong, strong meaning of chance built into it. Now we know that’s not what he’s using here, but that’s what the word in Classical Greek meant. It has the idea of being chosen. The New International Version says, "we have been chosen." The word came to mean becoming an heir to something. It meant to allot a portion to someone.
We want to discover who he’s talking about in verse 11 when he says, "we also." Whoever he’s talking about are heirs, not by chance—they’re heirs because of something else. Follow in verse 11:
"also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will
Now this is when it begins to get a lot clearer. The word "predestined" there is the same word we found back in verse 5. Remember? The word "predestined" means to make a decision beforehand based on knowledge that one has. So God made a decision beforehand, before the foundation of the world, that whoever he’s talking about in verse 11 would be heirs in Christ. They would be a part. Their inheritance would be in Christ. God made a decision before the foundation of the world. That decision is now being carried out. It says, " having been predestined according to His purpose." That word "purpose" grabbed my attention. It’s prothesis. It means to make up your mind to do something and then to pursue it with all diligence. That’s what the word "purpose" means. Now when you and I decide to do something, most of the time we haven’t made up our minds. Everybody tells me, "Wayne, you can lose weight if you will make up your mind." It’s very obvious I haven’t yet made up my mind. But once I make up my mind, when I make a predetermined decision, I’m going to put that in front of me, and I’m going to pursue it with all diligence.
Who is he talking about in verse 11? I’m not going to tell you yet. However, we do know something about them. They’re heirs in Christ. Why are they heirs in Christ? By chance? Was it by lot that it fell upon them? Oh no! They were predestined. There was a decision made before the foundation of the world that they be heirs in Christ. And this became a purpose to a holy God who set it before Him and now is diligently bringing it to pass. Look at the rest of the verse. "having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" That word "counsel" is the Greek word boule. It means a conference or discussion in the Trinity. Now I don’t understand this. I’m just trying to illustrate it. It’s very difficult to illustrate what you don’t understand. It is the discussion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word boule, means the decision made after there has been counsel in the Trinity.
Remember those huddles you have in sports? I remember in football we would get together, and from the stands everybody thought we were very concerned about the game. But in the huddle we might be talking about where we’re going to get pizza after the game or who is that girl in the third row over there? But we would huddle together, and decisions would come out of that huddle. What it’s saying here is, before the foundation of the world, the Trinity huddled. There is one God in three persons. How do you do that? I don’t know. But they huddled, and there was a counsel made, and a decision came out of it. It was made before the foundation of the world based on what they as God knew, and now they are bringing it to pass. They have put it before them, and they are diligently pursuing its accomplishments in this world.
Whoever they are in verse 11 who "have also "obtained an inheritance," ought to be rejoicing because they didn’t earn it. It was not by chance. It was by a predetermined decision, and God is continuing to bring about the results of that decision which was made. Who are they? Paul says, "we also have obtained an inheritance." Well, if you’ll tie in verse 12 there’s a thought here I would like to suggest to you. It’s a very difficult and sometimes controversial passage, but verse 12 says, "to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory." Wait a minute! "We who were the first to hope in Christ." Who is he talking about? Well, it could be translated "we who hoped beforehand." To me he’s saying something here of the sphere of our redemption. First of all, He did not exclude the Jews. The plan of redemption started with them. Who was it who hoped in Christ beforehand? It had to have been the Jews. They hoped before He came, and they believed after He came. Now listen, it wasn’t all the Jews, but the spiritual Israel. God did not exclude them. The plan of redemption, as we said earlier, did not start in America. It started with the Jews. It was all built upon a covenant that was made with Abraham.
Let me explain that to you. Look with me at John 8:42. He’s not talking about all Jews here. He’s only talking about those who hoped in Christ beforehand, those who hoped in Christ first. In John 8:42 you’ll find that just because someone was born in the lineage of Abraham that did not mean that he was considered by God to be a true Jew or the child of Abraham. It was more a spiritual Israel that God talked about even though He has never forgotten literal Israel. He will continue to deal with them. As He talked about Israel and talked about being children of Abraham, it was in a spiritual sense.
Look in John 8:42-47:
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.
43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.
44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.
45 "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
46 "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?
47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."
He said that to those who said they were the children of Abraham. There is a spiritual sense here that He said, "If you are the true spiritual Israel then you will believe in me. You will not reject me. You have hoped in Christ before the cross, and after the cross you will believe in Christ. You will come into the family of God." He did not exclude the Jew. We also know He did not exclude Israel as a nation. We know that their day of atonement will come. As you marvel at your redemption you’ve got to go back to where it began, to those who first hoped in Christ. As a matter of fact, if you’ll look in ’John 8:56 it says, "
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad"
Abraham believed the gospel. Look over in Gal 3:8. I want you to see that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand. Abraham knew about Christ’s coming. Somehow he understood, and he believed, and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He hoped in Christ beforehand:
"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"
Abraham rejoiced to see His day. He saw it and was glad.
Look with me at Zechariah 2:12. In the sense of inheritance, in the sense of what God has as His own possessions, I want you to see He did not exclude Israel. It says in verse 12,
"The LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem."
You see, when you think of the marvelous sphere of our redemption you’ve got to go back and realize where it started. Part of the marvel is He did not exclude them. He is a covenant keeping God. The plan of redemption started with Him. Even though as a nation they have rejected Him, He has not rejected them. Those who have already received Him or have hoped in Him are part of this plan of redemption. Of course Israel will have their day of atonement. He’s not through with them.
Ephesians 1:10 says all things are being summed up in Christ. The Jew and the Gentile are being made one. You’re seeing part of that right here in this verse. Then he says in v12:
"we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory."
I want you to see something that perhaps we might miss. I want you to realize it’s not in the fact that He did not exclude Israel. That’s not the marvel of my redemption. I’m so grateful He did not exclude them, but the marvel of marvels is He includes us. That’s what I want you to see. Certainly when it says we have an inheritance in Him, it’s talking about Jewish believers and Gentile believers being made one in Jesus. So often we think, "Oh God, I can’t believe that you did not exclude Israel. They became rebellious. They forsook you. They turned their back on you, and you did not exclude them." That’s right. But, oh folks, that comes from proud lips, because if you’ll turn it around the other way, it’s overwhelming that He included us. We’re Gentiles today, folks.
Look at verse 13 and see how the text flows. He says,
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation --having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
"Who are the "you's" there? Look in Ephesians 3:1.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
The thing we need to remember as we marvel at our salvation is that God included us. What’s the sphere of the plan of redemption? Not only the Jews from which it started, but also the Gentiles so that all nations might be blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you remember the day when you were saved? Can you remember that time? Sometimes it’s not bad to do this, because if we can go back and remember, it might overwhelm us afresh to realize that Gentiles were called "dogs" throughout all Scripture. They had no covenants. They were far away from God’s sight as far as that’s concerned. Jesus said He did not come for them. He came for the Jews, to seek and to save the lost. His main ministry was not really to the Gentiles, even though what He did on the cross was for all men, Jew or Gentile. Folks, listen, to call someone a Gentile was the worse thing you could say about them. If you were a Gentile you were scum. Nevertheless, God included us. "How do you know He included me, Brother Wayne? I’m not so sure." Well, have you ever been drawn by the Father? You can’t get to Jesus unless the Father draws you (Jn6:44).
Why are you at church on Sunday? What draws you there? What draws you to the Gospel? What draws you to the Word of God? I tell you what it is. It’s the fact of a loving, gracious God who includes even the Gentiles in His plan of redemption. When I got saved I was thirty-two years old, having been in the ministry for eight years. One day I prayed to die. I said, "Lord, if this is it, take me on." I’m really grateful God doesn’t answer all those prayers. I woke up the next morning about a quarter to six, and I was so miserable, just miserable. Diana said, "You know, maybe God wants to speak with you, Wayne. Why don’t you get up and get alone with Him?" At that time there weren’t too many places I could get alone with God with the children and the small house we had. I went into the living room. It became a sanctuary when everybody was still in bed. I got down on my knees, and I said, "Lord, there’s something desperately wrong in my life, and I don’t know what it is." I could think of about four sins, so I reran them just to make sure. Then I said, "God, will you show me what you see about me and in me?" For two hours I cried when God showed me the filth of Wayne Barber, and He showed me that anything that Wayne Barber had ever done to cause good was really only filthy and ugly and dirty rags (Isa 64:6). I had never seen that before, folks. I knew I had sinned, but I had never seen myself as a sinner. I asked God to forgive me. I didn’t know that was salvation because in those days I didn’t understand the vocabulary. I didn’t understand all this. I was raised in a good Southern Baptist Church, and I walked forward when they gave the invitation. I thought that saved me, but I had never heard of repentance and seeing yourself as a sinner unable to produce anything worthy of being called righteousness in God’s eyes. I was changed when I asked the Lord to forgive me and cleanse me. I had heard people talk and give testimonies before that the sky got bluer and the grass got greener. That’s exactly what happened to me. I mean, it’s like something turned on inside of me. It just seemed like something different happened in me. I’ve never been the same since that time. Oh, I’m not perfect. I’ve got a long way to go, but I understand something: God included the Gentiles. Folks, I want you to know I’m included in that bunch. We are all included. The marvel of our redemption is not that He didn’t exclude Israel. The marvel of our redemption is that He included us, the Gentiles. It started with the Jews. Aren’t you glad that Paul heard that Macedonian cry at Troas (Acts 16:9ff). He came up into Macedonia which was the southern most tip of Europe. Christianity spread on up through Europe and England and then one day skipped over the Atlantic Ocean and dropped in on America. We’re a product of what happened way back here. It’s not that God didn’t exclude Israel, it’s the fact that He included you and me.
Look in Eph 2:11-22. Remember where Paul comes from? He was born in Tarsus, but yet he was a Jew. He was raised and schooled by Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Every time he sends letters or talks he’s always got on his heart the Jewish brethren and the Gentiles being made one in Christ. This is especially so in Ephesians. "Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called `Uncircumcision’ by the so-called `Circumcision’, which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." Oh, the marvel of our redemption. If you ever had any problem with the security of your salvation, stay with us because we’re coming up on that. We’re going to nail that once and for all in Ephesians 1. I hope that you will never doubt again. Once you’re saved you are always saved. For what God decides God makes happen and will bring it to pass, and man cannot touch what God does. Man may think he has power, but buddy, he has no authority to step into that which God has previously planned. The marvel of our redemption. He included us.