Pastor Marchitell looks at Ephesians 1:3-6 to see where God is leading us.
A few announcements before the kids go off to grow their brains and grow their hearts.
At the end of the Sermon today, i’ll be inviting you all to stand and sing the words of the Doxology together
Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the month, which means the older kids will be able to stay up for the Sermon, while the younger kids go for snacks and fun
Were doing the Baby Bottle fundraisers are due back on Valentines Day, February 14th
Our Digital Bible Study starts THIS Tuesday the 26th at 630pm
If you want to join on Zoom, come see me and ill give you the info, or you can find it on our Facebook page
We’ll be answering the question “What is Reformed Theology” by looking at what Scripture has to say.
Tuesday ----- 630pm ------ Digital Bible Study
And the kids are dismissed
We’ll be continuing in the first Chapter of Ephesians, starting at verse 3 that we talked about last week, and continuing to verse 6.
Like we talked about last week, verse 3 tells us that we already have EVERY Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
And then verse 4 gives us the first of those.
If you read ahead, those spiritual blessings are actually listed straight through until verse 14
But today, were just going to look at the first one, in verses 3-6.
The verses will be on the screen above me, as well as a few other ones that were going to look at this morning.
Normally, the supporting verses aren't put up, but today I want to make sure that they are, because of what it is these verse in Ephesians are talking about, and how central it is to what Scripture teaches.
Ephesians 1:3–6 ESV
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )
Pre ---- Destination.
A destination, decided upon, ahead of time.
Before we get into what these verses say, we must preface it.
We need to do this, because of how important and sensitive this subject is.
If you in your personal life haven't already experienced this, then it may be new to you, but i am going to guess that a lot of us have felt what i'm about to say.
Humans ------ have a bad tendency to try and ensure that we ourselves get the final say in everything about everything.
Especially here in America
And especially for men.
We like to look at something, take it apart, understand it as best as we can, because then if it is understood, we can control it.
We take charge over ideas
Everything in our life------ must be within our control, and when it isn't, we feel…..off.
We feel offended
Humans------ our very nature, reject anyone trying to tell us that they are the authority
This happens in our families
With teenagers especially
This happens in our government
If they don't do what WE think they should do ----- we argue and fight and vote and have even gone to war and killed people, because they tried to be the authority when we didn't want them to be.
Wanting to be the ultimate // decisive // master of everything in our life ----- is what it means to be a human.
We want complete ---- total ----- unpersuaded ----- decisive decision making power and ability -------- in all areas of our life.
This needs no further evidence, then Adam and Eve ignoring the very God of the universe who personally walked and talked with them ------ because they wanted to be in charge
Humans want to be in charge, of everything.
Yes we give up control here and there…..when it comes to certain areas or things in our life.
We can't really get mad the microwave or the toaster ---- though some of us do anyways
We can get kiiiiiind of mad at the other people in traffic who are preventing us from doing what we want or need
But the further it gets away from that stuff that doesn't really matter----and the closer it gets to our heart, the more likely we are to want to cling to that power of being in charge.
Our marriages // Our families // Our children // ------- Our Church ---
And then ---- the biggest one of all ---- our relationship with God.
The deep and natural---- human desire ---- to be the ultimate authority in our own life ------ faces an absolute wall when we read the words from verse 5 this morning:
“In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
The unshakable Scriptural reality----is that if you believe ----- it is because God chose you.
You were predestined to believe. God adopted YOU, not the other way around.
You see, when we hear stuff like this-----
Like it wasn't our choice to begin with----we get upset
It hurts our pride to think that a choice as intimate and personal and important and all consuming and life changing ------ wasn't ours to make.
So then ----- we are left with a choice.
We can debate and argue ---- and we should.
Please don't think that I am saying “blindly accept what i'm saying”
Debate // Explore // Research // Read and study your Bible as much as possible
Learn as much as you possibly can
And when you do, you have a choice:
Rest on your own understanding
Or read what Scripture says, and conform your thoughts to it.
And when we read Scripture, it says things like this: (NEXT SLIDE)
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…”
Over and over and over again in Scripture ----- we see this truth proclaimed and explained.
And when we let Scripture and what it says, shape our thoughts and shape our hearts, we begin to see the beauty of predestination------- we see it as the blessing that it is.
It is a blessing, that the choice is in God’s hands and not our own ----- because of what it says later on in: (NEXT SLIDE)
 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Predestination completely and entirely levels the playing field for all of humanity.
There is no privilege when it comes to God looking at humanity and choosing someone
There is no handicap
There is no handicap, because: we humans, are all equal before the eyes of God
Romans 3:23 --- all of us have sinned and fallen short
Romans 3:10 --- no one is righteous
Colossians 1:21 --- we were enemies of God
Well then, that brings up a question doesn't ------- if John 6:44 says: “No one can come to Jesus unless God draws them”
And all of us are on a level playing field, and equally sinful in the eyes of God ------
Then we must ask---- on what criteria does God draw them?
Is there criteria?
Does God choose only the really good people?
Only the rich people?
Only the smart people?
In fact------ we may even start to think of how good and special we are because God chose us-----
Like it was elementary gym class and the captain picked me before the loser kid in the back that cant hold a ball?
And the answer to all of those questions ------ is no.
God saw nothing in us that prompted Him to save us.
He saved us because He is God ------- and He will get glory by saving the undeserving.
Predestination strips every single human of any reason to boast.
No Christian can ever say:
“Look at how holy I am.”
“I am a super christian”
I as your pastor, am not some super holy super faithful super Christian.
I am a sinner saved by the grace of God.
I believe because God chose me.
I don't believe because I was raised in a Church.
I don't believe because my mom prayed for me.
I don't believe because my dad abandoned me and that forced me to look to God.
I don't believe because my brain and my heart work really good in a certain way, and I myself read more, studied more, thought more, and prayed more
All of us are on the same level
All of us ----- Ephesians 2:1 says “were dead in our sins and trespasses”, until God gave us life.
No human can ever say they are holier or better because they believe in God when someone else doesn't---------precisely because of predestination.
That is why it is a blessing.
But----- that still doesn't answer the question -------
If this stuff is true-----
It’s hard to swallow but when I read Revelation 13:8 that says all who will believe had their names written down in the book of life before the universe began….
On what criteria does God make this choice?
Is there criteria?
If it’s not based on us----and who we are and where we live----
Then what does God look at to choose?
Verse 5 this morning, can give us as much insight as we humans can see:
“In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
“According to the purpose of his will”
This ----- this right here ----- is my favorite part ----- this is where the blessing-ness of predestination really shines.
Who is saved, has:
Nothing to do with someone being born in a rich or poor family
It has nothing to do with being born black or white or arab or asian or hispanic
It has nothing to do with what country someone lives in
It has nothing to do with what year you were born if it was the first century, the 12th century or the 30th century
It has nothing to do with if you live in a jungle tribe, or alone on a mountain, or in the heart of the busiest city in world history
It has nothing to do with your intellect
if you have a 7Phds,
if you got held back in high school,
or if you never graduated at all
It has nothing to do with who your parents or family were,
It has nothing to do with your reputation or if you are well liked by all the respectable people
It has nothing to do with your wisdom or ability
It has nothing to do with how hard you try at everything you do and you really give 110% effort at all your job or relationships
It has nothing to do with us ----- it has everything to do with Him.
This-----is the only way it can be fair, for every single human ever.
It was God’s choice, based on Him and Him alone.
Regardless of age
Regardless of mental ability
Regardless of gender // race // eye color // skin color // body shape
Regardless of if your brain is functioning how it should
Or if your body is functioning how it should
Or if you were born into a christian family or a muslim family or an atheist family
Regardless of if someone's life ended in their mother’s womb,
or in infancy,
or in childhood,
or if they lived a long life.
Nothing in this world has anything to do with who God chooses. He chooses based on Him.
The field is level ---
And because of this, our words this morning ring true:
“In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
God’s glorious grace was showered down from heaven to people who don't deserve it, and as a result, we see it and experience it and praise Him all the more.
Why save us God?
Why save me?
I've messed up so many times I cant even keep track
I've hurt myself
I've hurt others
Why choose me?
Why forgive me?
Why pick any of us?
We don't deserve you
We fail and fall and mess up and forget
But you oh Lord are faithful and forgiving and------ it is a blessing---- that the most important decision of anyone’s life, is being made by someone who has never failed or made a bad choice.
Thank you heavenly Father, for this blessing of predestination---
Because if the choice was our own, none of us would make it.
If you believe, it is because you have been predestined to believe
This, brings up a lot of questions.
Were going to answer 2 of them in our remaining time this morning-----
But for all the other ones, I would encourage you to attend our digital Bible study where we will get into this deep kind of stuff.
The first question we’ll answer, is --- if God chooses----- then what about my free will?
The answer is simple ----
Our free will is bound by our sin
It is limited
In the same way that I can’t will myself into a something other than what I am -----
Be it a fish, a woman, a child, or anything else
I can’t will myself into heaven
God isn't a genie that responds to us when we rub our Bibles ----- we are children that respond to our heavenly Father.
Our free will is limited ----- it has boundaries.
It has these boundaries, precisely because of our sin.
Isaiah 59:2 says this: “But your sins have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
There is a deep gulf between us and God that we ----- and our prayers ----- cannot cross over.
Our free will has limits-----and using it as our guide, always has the same results:
It leads us into failures
It leads us into bad decisions
It betrays us
It hurts us
It is not reliable
One last thing about our free will ----- which is by no means the final word, I encourage everyone to attend our Bible Study, or to dig deeper into this by reading and watching other preachers and authors; and ill gladly recommend some to you if you don't know where to start----
But one last thing:
If we are so concerned with our free will, and we want the choice to be ours, and how dare I say there are limits on free will---- I myself am the master of my fate -----“I can do whatever I want”
Then I want to ask------ what always follows, when someone says they can “do whatever they want”?
That sentence is always followed------ by something bad
It’s followed----- by self indulgence
No one says “I can do whatever I want” and then falls on their face and admits they are guilty before a holy God
Examine your free will ----
Where has it led you?
Has it let you down?
Have you been hurt because of your own free will choices?
Have you hurt other people you love, because of your own free will choices?
Examine your free will ---- and then ask yourself if you are willing to put your faith in it.
It is a blessing, that God does not make us rely on our own broken and corrupted will, in order to know Him.
If we believe, it is because we have been predestined
God made that choice for you
He looked down from heaven and saw a sinful --- broken --- enslaved people, incapable or ever knowing Him, and He made the choice.
A child born into a wealthy Christian family ---- doesn't stand more of a chance than a child born into a poor Muslim Family.
Or the other way around
Because the choice is God’s and His alone.
Which brought us to our 2 questions.
The first was about our Free Will and its limitations
The second, must then be, what is the point of telling people about Jesus?
Why send out Missionaries?
If God makes His choice, and the people who will be in eternity with Him, was known before He even created them…..then why do anything?
The answer comes to us in
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
You, sitting here in these pews this morning----
And those of you watching at home or listening at home
If you have repented of your sins -----
Said: “God forgive me”
“I need you”
“I don't know where to turn or what to do”
“I’m sorry for the way I was before----- forgive me ----- God, please help me”
If you have repented of your sins and believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then God will not only forgive you and renew you and bring your dead soul to life, but He will use you to reach others.
Because WE are the means through which he makes His choice.
Every time were prompted to speak to someone
To pray with them // To pray for them
To invite them to Church // To invite them into our homes
God uses His children, to go out and reach His other children that haven't come home yet
The God of all the universe, who created life from nothingness -----
Who gave humanity laws and rules to help them thrive and survive---
Who raised up Israel to carry His name---
Who punished wicked nations---
Who saves the poor and alone---
The God who sent His Son to Earth, to live a perfect life and die for the sins of all who believe in Him ----
The God who raised His Son to life on the 3rd day so that death would no longer hold power over His children----
The God who will one day return and judge the evil of humanity----
That same God will allow us to partner with Him and be the means by which His perfect plan unfolds.
So when we see someone struggling----
When we see someone hurt---
When we see someone enjoying their sin---
When we see someone laying in the ditches of this world ---- ignored by the all the well meaning and well off people with fake smile and closed Bibles----
When we give them the message of hope ----- and then put it in God’s hands-----
We can know that WE didn't save them---
WE aren't the ones who were elegant and smart and likable---- and now because of us, other people know God.
This is what Jesus means in John 10:27-30 means He says:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Does God speak through you?
Through your actions?
Through your behavior?
Through your words?
Are there people in your life who need to hear from God?
If there are….can they see Him through you and how you live?
Or what about you?
Do YOU hear His voice in your life?
Is He calling to you?
Do you feel that pull inside your heart that nothing in this world has been able to satisfy?
Have you run from Him?
Every time you reach the end of yourself, do you feel the need to turn to God for forgiveness and newness?
Because only through Him, and because of Him, can we be free.
I'd like to close with one final verse; (NEXT SLIDE)
1 Corinthians 1:26–31
 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
( → → Doxology ← ← )
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )