Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ephesians 1-3 pt. 4

Below is part 4 of 4 of a sermon I preached on 7/22/07 on Ephesians 1-3

The glory of God displayed in the future of the Church

Well, we’ve seen how God has displayed the glory of His grace in the past, we’ve seen how God is displaying the glory of His grace in our present lives, now let’s briefly consider how God promises to continue display the glory of His grace for the rest of eternity. The key verse I want us to think about is Ephesians 2:7. Look with me beginning in verse 2:4:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Do you see the amazing statement that Paul is making here? God has saved us why? So that we might be in bondage to Him? So that we would have to pay Him back? No, so that for the rest of eternity, God might show the riches of His grace to us, by pouring out His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. God’s design for all the coming ages is that His people would be the recipients of His infinite grace, as a display of His glory! If you are a Christian here today, this is your glorious and guaranteed inheritance! This is what every moment of your life is bringing you one step closer to!

God’s purpose for the church is that through us, we might be the means for God to display the glory of His grace. From beginning to end, from eternity past to eternity future, this is what we were created for. God, because of His love, has appointed your life is to be an object lesson to the universe of just how glorious and gracious God really is. Every blessing you receive, every sin that forgiven, every bad situation turned for your good, and an eternity of joy to come, all these things exist as for your good and for God’s glory. I love the last verse of Amazing Grace:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s grace, than when we’ve first begun.”
Conclusion: Application

In closing, I want us to think about two implications of all this for our prayer lives and for our evangelism.

First, for our prayer lives: We’ve just spent the past 40 minutes or so discussing weighty, glorious truths and I hope that the Holy Spirit has been working in your heart and opening your eyes to see wonderful glimpses of the glory of God. But in about 30 minutes from now, you’re going to be hungry and you’re probably going to be thinking what’s for lunch. Pretty soon you’ll be back home and you’ll see the pile of bills that need to be paid, and the stuff that needs to get done once again. And before you know it, it’ll be Monday morning and you’ll be back in the grind of the week, and all these glorious truths that are currently occupying your mind will be pushed aside.

My point in saying all this is not to discourage you, but simply to confess with you the fact that our capacity for joy is often so small, that we are often unable to hold onto these great and glorious truths. We’ve spent so much of our time with sitcoms, and YouTube, and games on our cell phones, and sports, and all the other little pleasures in life, that our capacity for joy has shrunk and we’re so easily satisfied by all these tiny, eentsy-wintsy pleasures. And so when we come to Church and encounter the waterfall of God’s glory, we are able to hold on to only so little, before that little bit gets pushed out by the other things in life.

So what do we do? We pray the way Paul prays. Look at chapter 3, beginning in verse 14:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
What an amazing prayer! Paul is praying that God would grant us the strength that we need in order to comprehend the greatness of the love of Christ for us! It takes spiritual, God-given strength for us grasp just how great God’s love for us, and not only to grasp it, but to know this love, to internalize it, and to be filled with all the fullness of God every moment of our lives. Brothers and sisters, the fight of faith in the Christian life is the fight to comprehend the unfathomable grace that God has for sinners like us! Pray that God would grant you strength to have this kind of faith. Make this your prayer for yourself! Make this your prayer for your family! Make this your prayer for your church! If you will commit to praying this way and devote yourselves to meditating on God’s glory in the Word, God will cause your heart’s capacity for joy to grow so that the little distractions or pleasures of this world will no longer affect you like they used to, but instead you will be filled with a greater love and joy in God Himself.

And finally, the implication of all this for our evangelism: If our purpose in this world is to display the glory of God’s grace, oh how important it is that we verbally proclaim the Gospel in everything that we do! When people look at our lives, the last thing we want them to think is, “Wow, look at how joyful this person is, look at how well-behaved his children are, look at how honest and hard-working he is, what a great guy! He must really have it all figured out!” Or when visitors walk into this church, the last thing we want them to think is, “Wow, this place is full of happy, successful, hard-working, morally upright people. I could never be as good as them.” If this is what people are thinking when they look at our lives, then we have failed in our purpose to display God’s grace. The only way we will be able to begin to do justice to what God has done in our lives is by clearly communicating the Gospel. People must understand that we were at one point under the same condemnation of guilt that all people are under. In fact, our sin was so bad, that only the death of the holy Son of God was sufficient to pay God’s punishment for our sin. Yet this is exactly what God has freely provided for us, so that now everything good in our life is only possible through of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Left to ourselves, we are not morally superior people, we are not cleverer, or more virtuous, or more righteous. Left to ourselves, we are as spiritual dead and as enslaved to sin as anyone. The only thing that has made us to differ has nothing to do with us, and has everything to do with God’s grace. It is God who has saved us. Therefore, brothers and sisters, preach the Gospel. Make the Gospel crystal clear in all your relationships with non-Christians. Make the Gospel crystal clear in every church program, in every community service, in every worship service. In everything that we do, may it be known that we are a people who have been saved by grace through faith; that our salvation is not of our doing, but is a gift of God, not a result of our works, so that no one may boast and God may get all the glory.


Blogger Theresa said...

do you have audio of this?...seems like a lot of scrolling! might be easier for me to just listen... :)

4:32 AM  
Blogger shueman said...

Thanks for posting

12:47 PM  
Blogger Deanna Regina said...

let's get a podcast going...

8:42 PM  

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