Ephesians 1:3-14 teaches that we, as believers, have been chosen by God and adopted as His children. We are not chosen because of who we are, what we have done, or what we are capable of doing; rather, God chooses us because of who He is, what He has done for us in Christ, and what He plans to do through us with His Holy Spirit.
When I moved to Dallas, I had a couple of small jobs I did for three months and then went on to do other things like retail store management. Then, I sold gym memberships. I was selling gym memberships, and this guy came in and bought this big, prepaid, giant $2,000 membership. I was like, "Dude! What do you do? I want to do what you do." He told me he was in telecom, so I was like, "I want to be in telecom." He was like, "Why?"
"Because you're in telecom." He said, "Well, call this number." I was calling this guy every day and night. "Hey! My name is Jonathan, and I need to interview with your company." Eventually, somebody called me back. It turns out I was calling the president of this company, but eventually he had someone call me back. One of the sales managers called me back and offered me an interview.
I had my best suit on, which was my only suit, and a white shirt and my red power tie. I'm there in front of him, and he says, "Let me ask you a question. Do you know what a T1 line is?" I was like, "No. I should have studied for this. I didn't know there were going to be questions like that. No." He goes, "That's good. That's good." Essentially, I knew nothing, but this guy chose me, and the reason he chose me was because he could train me. He liked the fact I had no experience. That actually worked to my benefit.
All of you have been chosen for different things. Every person in the room has been chosen for something. You've been chosen for your job, or you've been chosen by someone who wanted to spend time with you, or you were chosen for a team, or you were picked to play kickball. You were chosen as the partner of the guy who slacked in geometry but could cheat on you. Everybody has been chosen at some point, and all for different reasons.
Sometimes we're chosen based on our skills and capabilities. Sometimes we're chosen based on knowledge we have. Sometimes we're chosen based on looks. I remember we would do that thing where two team captains come up who have to pick teams. They do this for basketball. If they didn't know me and knew I couldn't play, I was always the first to get picked because I'm tall. Then, they would always be cursed because I was on their team.
Sometimes we're chosen based on whatever somebody can perceive about us, but sometimes we're chosen for no good apparent reason. Sometimes we're chosen not based on what we have but on what we don't have. Sometimes we're chosen not based on what we can do but based on what the chooser can do with us.
This has happened a couple of times. One time was with Walter, that guy. That boss just said, "I choose you because I can train you. I'm going to bring you through this. I like that you don't have any experience. I like that you don't have any skills. I'll give them to you." He said that. "I like that you don't have any skills." That was really encouraging.
Another time this happened was with a guy, Rick Wisner. He's on staff here at Watermark. I was in this class. I had just decided I wanted to get plugged into this church. I had sat in the back row literally for years now. I thought I was a Christian. I thought I was a part of the church. The reality is I wasn't. I was on the outside looking in. I would sit in the back for years.
Eventually, I just said, "I'm going to become a member. I've heard them say member. They say it all of the time. That must be important. I'm actually going to become a member of this church. I'm going to pledge membership." In the back of my mind, I was like, "I'm a member of my old church," which was this church six hours away that I hadn't been to in years. "I'm going to actually become a member of this church," so I go to the membership class.
Rick Wisner was teaching it. One of the guys in the class goes up to him and says, "Will you disciple me?" In that time, he just grabbed a few of us and said, "I choose you guys." I was like, "I have nothing to offer you." He goes, "That's okay. I'm going to teach you the Bible. I choose you guys not based on what you have but based on what I, by the Spirit of God, can teach you and how I can equip you."
All of us have been chosen at different times, and sometimes we feel indebted to those who choose us for different particular reasons, but sometimes people choose us for no particular reason. I argue tonight that is the most powerful choosing. When someone chooses you not based on what you have but based on a potential, not even a potential you can do but a potential they can fulfill through you, they see you and say, "I choose you, and I can help you, and I can train you, and I can equip you, and I can carry out this thing inside of you in your life."
This is what God does, so tonight we're going to talk about what it means to be chosen by an awesome God. Here's essentially the message tonight. God is amazing, more amazing than you could ever fathom. He is an awesome, awe-inspiring, incredible, fantastic, amazing God, and he chooses you. He says, "I want you on my team."
I know that because you're here. I'm not saying you're saved because you're here, but I know he's at work in your life one way or another, either on this side of salvation or the other. God is after you, and he's doing something in your life. Tonight, we're going to talk about essentially the gospel but specifically the work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. This is the Trinity. This is the God we worship, and we're going to see how these different persons of God work together to choose us and to do something absolutely incredible in our lives.
We're going to be in Ephesians. Turn with me to chapter 1. Last week, we set this up. As Paul visited the city of Ephesus for the first time, it's a wreck there with all sort of idol worship, and Paul gets there with people who don't understand the gospel. He shares the gospel with them.
Boom! Like wildfire, it spreads everywhere, and it says in Acts when Paul left that place there wasn't a single person in the city of Ephesus who had not heard the gospel. He gets there and there wasn't a single person who had heard the gospel, and when he leaves there's not a single person in this town of about 250,000 people who had not heard the gospel. That's an incredible work of the Spirit.
In this town, there's this big, crazy monument, the Temple of Artemis, where they worshiped a fake god. They worshiped a false god. That was the identity of this city. We compared it last week to Arlington with the Cowboys' Jerry World right there in the middle of it. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was right there in the town of Ephesus, and Paul and his disciples…there were 12 of them…just go to work in this city, and the Holy Spirit begins to wreck shop, and people begin to come to know God.
Now, Paul is going to start his letter to the Ephesians. Last week, we covered verses 1 and 2 and just made the point that before there is peace there is grace. Before there is peace there is the work of God. Now, Paul is going to start this. Here's the crazy thing. Everything that was just read is one sentence in the Greek.
Historians and theologians believe it is the single most complicated sentence recorded in the Greek to date. Verses 3 through 14 are one single run-on sentence. Paul is excited. He begins that sentence and ends that sentence with, "Praise be to the God…" That is the point. He's giving God praise.
He's saying, "This is one awesome and one very, very amazing God we worship," and he is talking tonight to believers. Paul is writing the Christians in the city of Ephesus, so tonight's message will be to believers. If you're here and you say you have trusted in Christ, this is a message for you.
He says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." The Greek there for, "Praise be to the God…" is eulogētos, which is where we get the word eulogy. What is a eulogy? Some of you may have given one before at a funeral.
A eulogy is when you speak well of someone after they have passed on. If you haven't given one, there is a good chance that before you leave this earth you'll have the opportunity to give a eulogy at someone's funeral. That is, you would stand up there and speak well of them to their survivors and to people who knew them.
This is what Paul is doing. Paul is saying, "I want to speak well of this great and amazing God. Praise be to God (eulogētos) for he is the Father of Jesus." Now, we're starting to see the Trinity come into aspect, and God now is not just our Father, but he says he is the Father of Jesus Christ. Paul begins to incorporate this idea that we access our God and Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, which he references in verse 2 ( "…from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." )
We access the Father through the Son, "…who has blessed us in the heavenly realms…" It actually says this in Ephesians five times, that God has blessed us in the heavenly realms. Why is that important? Because his blessings are not earthly blessings. They're heavenly blessings. They're not temporal blessings. They're eternal blessings. They're not material blessings. They're spiritual blessings.
I'm not saying God doesn't bless you materially; I'm saying God's greatest blessings… Some of you might have just done that in your heart. You're like, "What? God doesn't bless me materially?" Listen. God's greatest blessing is not material. God's greatest blessing is not temporal. God's greatest blessing is not earthly. God's greatest blessing in your life is heavenly. It's eternal.
Why is that important? Here's the deal. Even on earth, even with really finite wisdom, even with unbelievers, they value something so often based on how long it lasts. Whenever I do a wedding, if you've ever been to a wedding I've done, I always say the same thing when we get to the rings. I say, "The metal this ring has been wrought out of and the metal out of which this ring has been made is that which is longest lasting and least likely to tarnish. It's a precious metal," be it gold or platinum. It's an expensive metal. So often in this life that which lasts long is valued most.
Here's the deal. What God offers you is eternal. It lasts forever and ever and ever. Its value is infinite. We don't have a category for that. The blessings in God's life are worth more than you can fathom. I want you to trust that for now, as we go further into this. What is happening in the city of Ephesus is they are seeking earthly blessings from the goddess Artemis. The goddess Artemis is a fertility goddess. The goddess of Artemis (the little G, fake god, false god, and not real god) promises earthly blessings. Who else promises earthly blessings?
I'll give you a hint. He led Jesus up to a hill and said, "All of this can be yours." Yes. Satan promises earthly blessings. He tries to give you these temporary, momentary pleasures, and he says, "Trade in your heavenly, eternal, long-lasting, priceless, imperishable blessing for this momentary, temporal pleasure." That's his lie. That's the trade he tries to make with you. Some of us have fallen susceptible. We've made that trade.
1._ We have been chosen by the Father_. The text says in verse 4 that God has chosen us. Now, we're going to get into this really complicated idea that God has chosen us to be holy and blameless. When did he choose us to be holy and blameless? Before the creation of the world. People want to make this section of Scripture a great debate on free will versus predestination. Everyone wants to do that with this text. This text does not let you do that. This text just says, "God chose you. Get over it. Deal with it. There's nothing to debate."
Who chose you? God chose you. What did he do? He chose you. Who did he choose? You. There's nothing left to talk about. God chose you. When did he do it? Before the world ever existed he chose you. Somehow we have to move past the theoretical and really let that set in. Everything that has happened to you and is going to happen to you, God knew, but this is not foreknowledge. That's different.
Sometimes we try to speak predestination away with, "Well, he knew what was going to happen." That's not what this is saying. This is not saying God knew you would be chosen. This is saying before creation, God chose you. Before you were, before your parents were, before your grandparents were, and before Adam and Eve were, you existed in the mind of God, and he said, "That one's mine!"
God stands outside of time. That's really complicated for us to grasp, because we see things in chronological order. There's the creation of the heavens and the earth. There's the fall. That is our desire to worship ourselves instead of God. That is our desire to do whatever would hurt us and not obey the commands of God. That is our desire to bring consequences in our lives…the fall. Adam and Eve did it, so there are great consequences for us.
For a moment you might say, "Well, that's not fair. I live under the consequences of Adam and Eve. I didn't eat the apple," to which I say, "Great! Leave this place and try not to sin, and if you can do that, then great, but if you can't do that, you ate the apple." Consequences come into our lives in a fallen world.
God says, "I don't like that. I'm going to deal with that," so he sends his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross. At that moment, you were justified, but before that he called you to know him. That is, before the creation, so at the moment on the cross, you are justified. Then, eventually at some point in the timeline, you were born.
Then, you placed faith in Christ, and now you're justified, which is confusing. You've placed your faith in Christ. You have trusted in the cross. Now, you are saved, so five minutes ago you weren't, and now you are. Now, the Spirit is working in your life making you holy and blameless and, eventually, is going to present you in front of God holy and blameless, and God sees that like a painting.
I just presented that in chronological order (God, creation, the fall, Jesus, you trusting Christ, being a believer, and then growing in your faith), and God looks at that and sees it like a picture. He stands outside of time. We can't grasp that because we exist in time. Some would say time is apologetically proof that there is a God, because for time to exist there had to be a beginning of time, and for there to be a beginning of time, there had to be a before the beginning of time. We live inside of time. God lives outside of time. Are you confused yet? I have more. I have more where that came from.
We were adopted as his. He did it. Does Paul know this? Paul is writing this letter. I love this, too, because he's like, "Praise be to the God…" Do you remember where Paul is? He's in prison. He's like, "Praise be to God! I love God so much. He gave his Son to die for my sins." It's just one long run-on sentence that ends with, "Praise be to God!" There he is in prison just writing this down, but did he know that God chooses people?
Don't forget Paul's story. Let me set it up for you. In Acts 7, there is a guy named Stephen. Stephen loves Jesus. He's there. There's the Sanhedrin. He's just preaching to the Sanhedrin. "You guys don't understand! Jesus Christ died for your sins. Jesus Christ loves you so much he died for your sins. God raised him from the dead. If you have trusted in that, you will be saved."
It says that they looked at him, and they were angry, and they gnashed their teeth to the point this is what happens. A true story in history. Stephen is standing there. These guys associated with the Sanhedrin (these religious people and government officials) picked up stones and started throwing them at Stephen, and Stephen just keeps preaching. Boom! "Jesus loves you." Boom! They throw stones at him until he no longer can breathe. Until his heart stops they throw stones at him. They watch him die. They are the cause of his death.
Saul (Paul) walks up to his bloody corpse and says, "This man is dead," and then begins a revolution against the Way (that is, Christians) where he tortures and punishes and even kills them. It says that women and children were a part of this. This is a wicked, wicked, wicked man. Does everybody agree? Women and children are dying. He's on the road to Damascus. He's just walking. Boom! Jesus shows up. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"What? Who are you?"
"It is I the Lord Jesus Christ whom you are persecuting."
He's blinded. Saul is blinded. His name is now the Greek name Paul. Now, he's blinded, and God goes to a man named Ananias and speaks to him and says, "Ananias, I want you to go to Paul who they called Saul, and my Spirit through you is going to give him sight." Ananias was like, "No way, man! What are you trying to do to me? I know Saul! Saul is the guy who is killing everybody (women and children) and you want me as a Christian to go to him and try to heal his sight? He's going to kill me, God!"
It says in Acts 9, verse 15, "But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.'" Now, Paul is writing this letter in prison, so did Paul choose God or did God choose Paul? Are you sure? Is there anything Paul did in that? God just shows up and says, "You're mine now," and he becomes the greatest missionary of all time.
What's the application? Be the greatest missionary of all time. Verse 5 says why God does this. He says why he does this. Look at this. Because it pleases him. It is pleasurable for him. "… he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…" God just likes to make crazy things happen.
He does this in a number of ways. Sometimes he preserves a legacy of faith in a family. He takes those who know and love God, and they entrust it to their children, and they entrust it to their children, and they entrust it to their children. Sometimes he takes those people who everyone is like, "That guy is a dirty dog, and he's never going to trust Jesus, and you don't want anything to do with him. He's a vile, wicked man. He killed women and children," and God is like, "Nope. He's mine. Watch this. I'll grab his heart. He's mine. He's on my team now."
That's like some of you tonight. You have no idea. You're here. Somebody heard we were giving out water and said, "Free drinks at The Porch!" You show up. God's going to get you. That's going to happen. It happens all of the time. This predestination stuff… This is complicated stuff, but here's what I would tell you about that.
Every illustration I could give you would fall short. There is no great way to explain predestination and free will and how that works, but here's what I would tell you. Because you don't understand something doesn't make it not true. Sometimes it makes it more awesome. Because you don't understand God, it doesn't make God not real. It makes him more awesome.
You do not want to worship a God who you understand. You do not want to worship a God who you can put in a nice, neat box. Right? You want to worship a God who you don't understand. You can't understand people coming back to life. You can't understand God speaking creation to be and it just being.
You can't understand that. I can't understand that. We can't understand how free will and predestination exist, and that's not what this text is, but there are lots of things in life we don't understand. You can ask scientists, "Does light exist in waves or particles?" "Yes." They don't understand how that is. They don't know how it exists in waves and particles. It just does. There's no explanation, but that doesn't deny the fact that light does exist sometimes in waves and sometimes in particles.
I'll give you an easier one. You have no idea why you yawn. Why do you yawn? You don't know why you yawn, but it doesn't mean you don't do it. Maybe some of you say, "I know why. Because it gets more oxygen to the brain." False! It's not true. That's not why you yawn. They have no idea why you yawn.
I'll go one further. Why is it contagious? How come when I yawn she yawns? Why is it contagious? You don't know why. Nobody knows why. It doesn't mean it's not true. All of you are like, "Oh, boy! It does happen." Just because you don't understand God doesn't make him not real, and you certainly don't win by saying, "I don't understand him, so I'm not going to worship him." Good luck with that. That doesn't work well for folks.
Lean into him. Get to know him. He is a great and amazing God, as Paul is pointing out to us. God is drawing everyone to him, but he chooses some. This is just something I want to point out. There is no one who really chooses God, and there's no one who wants to be in heaven who God is keeping away.
Here's the best example or illustration I could give you for this. It's like God has given us this incredible house, and he has placed us in it. He's like, "Have fun! Have the run of the house. Enjoy it. There's a pool outside. It's a beautiful house." In the corner of this house, there is some gasoline and gun powder and some explosives.
He says, "Whatever you do, do not play with matches. I love you. I'm for you. I created everything, and I don't want you to play with matches because, if you do, there will be an explosion. There will be a separation from me. I won't be able to get to you to save you, or we won't be able to communicate like we did." Let me just say it like that. "You don't want to play with matches."
When God leaves the picture, what is the first thing we do? "What did God say not to do? I'm going to do that. That looks fun." We live this in our lives. "What does God say not to do? Premarital sex, getting drunk, or whatever… I don't want to do that. I want to do what I want to do. What did he say not to do? Not be self-righteous? No, I think it's me."
We do the things God says not to do. That's why the law exists, to show us we need a Savior. We play with the matches. There's an explosion. The place is burning down. Check out what God does. Listen. From that moment on, God is saying, "Come out! Come out! The place is on fire! Come out!"
Now, there's a chasm between us and God. There is a separation between God and the house, so God is screaming, "Come out!" To everybody in the house he is saying, "Come out! Come out!" But what do we do? We don't listen. What do we do? We go get the gasoline. We pour it all over ourselves or we're splashing it onto others. We're drinking it. We're just throwing a big party in there. That's what we do. We say, "No, I got it. I'm going to be in control of my life. I'm going to do what I want to do when I want to do it."
When we do this, God says, "Come out!" He's calling everyone out. Romans 1, says all of creation shows his glory so we would see it and be drawn to him. He's calling everyone out. "Come out!" Then, he slays his Son. He fills the gap. He runs in and grabs some of us against our wills and pulls us out. He doesn't grab others because he can't? That's not what I'm saying. Certainly, the illustration breaks down in different ways, but he runs in there. He slays his Son, fills the gap, runs in, and grabs some and pulls us out against our wills.
That's really humbling, because it saves you from this self-righteousness. Here's the reality. The difference between you and your crazy, non-believing boss is that God did a work in your heart then. The difference between you and your crazy, non-believing friend… You don't need to get frustrated at them. You need to share Christ with them and then plead with God to save them.
If you follow me on Twitter, I said this the other day. I just tweeted this. I said, "We don't talk to non-believers about morality." We talk to non-believers about Christ, because there is no reason for non-believers to be moral. They don't have the Holy Spirit in their lives making them holy and blameless. They don't follow the rules we follow. They don't know the God we know.
Here's the reality of that illustration. Everyone deserved to burn down with that house. You have to keep that in mind. No one deserved to be saved. God said, "Do not play with matches, because if you do, you'll burn down," and we did, so we should burn down, but he saved some. He did this with the blood of his Son.
2._ We have been purchased by the Son_. This is sobering that God gave his Son to purchase us. What does this look like? If my neighbor is dying and needs a heart transplant, Monica and I talk and we realize, because she tells us that the only blood match is Presley, our daughter, so we say, "Okay, we will give Presley's life so she can be saved." Isn't that ludicrous? You hear that, and you're like, "That's a really stupid illustration, JP." It's crazy.
What God did is crazy. God said, "I'm going to save him. I'm going to save her. I'm going to save them. I'm going to save you, and the price I will pay to choose you is the life of my Son." If I did that… If we gave Presley's heart for my neighbor and Presley agreed to it… She says, "Let this cup pass from me. Not my will but thy will." That was weird. If she did, that would be front-page news. Everyone would be like, "That's crazy!"
That's what God did. That's what he did for you. It says, "…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." He has given it to us freely. That's verse 6. Then, in verse 7, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace…" It says we have redemption through the shedding of his blood which offers us the forgiveness of sin, so we were bought at the cross. We were purchased. God purchased us. You have been paid for.
This is 1 Corinthians 6:20. "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." With the way you live and with what you do with your bodies. Redemption means freed from slavery. Do you remember the cage we had up here about a month ago?
We are stuck in the cage. Christ dies. He frees us from the cage but not just from the ability to sin, because we still sin at times. At times, we still choose sin over God, but he frees us from the judgment of that sin. God is not going to hold our sins against us, it says in the Scriptures. He doesn't count our sins against us, but he paid for our sins by the blood of his Son. This is crazy, crazy good news.
Another illustration is if some guys did a really, really heinous crime. If five guys did a heinous crime… They go in and brutally murder a family of the husband, the wife, and the children. They kill them all just for their pleasure, and they burn down their house. They're just wicked, wicked guys.
There they are in a lineup, and for some reason, you get to set two of them free. Three of them are going to prison, and you can choose two of them, but here's the thing. They all deserve prison, so when you choose two, no one is going to say, "Why didn't you set them all free?" The paper is going to read, "Why didn't they all have to pay the punishment for their crime? Why didn't everyone have to pay the punishment?"
You have to start with this idea in mind that you have run from God. You spent your life running from a God who loves you. Left to worship him or you, you choose to worship yourself. You idolize things. You put things before him. You've broken the first commandment to worship no other gods before him.
Maybe it's not Artemis. Maybe it a purse or shoes or a girlfriend or a car or a position or a salary or an apartment or a house or an area of town or a football team, but you put it before God. The Scripture says we have been set aside before creation, justified at the cross, saved when you believe, and God sees this all as one motion.
Verse 9 says, "… he made known to us the mystery of his will…" What is the mystery of his will? Verse 10: That he is bringing all things together under Christ, the head of all things, so what is happening now is that God is putting everything back together. Remember the explosion in the house. God is coming in and he's repairing everything, but what happens is, when he saves you, he has recruited you to help him. That's why I love the idea of using Ephesians talking about changing the world starting with this city around us.
By the way, that's why everyone in this room should be in one of two places Saturday, assuming you don't have a big commitment right now. Either Extravaganza, helping kids in West Dallas, sharing the gospel with kids in West Dallas… Right now, you're thinking, "Saturday I either have commitments, or I don't." If you don't, Extravaganza or Training Day here.
Sammy and I are teaching a class on worldview. We'd love to have you if you're not at Extravaganza. We hope you would go to one of those two places. We are putting this city back together. We play a role in this. God is at work. He's tweaking, moving, changing, and shaping. He's doing something, and for anyone in the room who has confessed faith in Christ, he's using you to do that. Are you aware of that? Are you aware that he's redeeming this place through you? He is unveiling or building his kingdom. He is bringing it forth through your life.
Your life has purpose now. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." We have been called according to his purpose. Verses 11 and 12 say that we, the first to hope in Christ, are now a part of his plan, and we exist for him. It says, "…for the praise of his glory."
What does that mean (for the praise of his glory)? Just think about that for a second. You live right now. Let me simplify this for you. I really want this to hit with you. Think about whatever you have going on with your boss or your significant other or your job or lack thereof or your apartment or your house. Whatever you have going on, whatever problems you have, and whatever struggles you have, I want you to think about them right now. Now, I want you to let this truth hit you.
You exist for the praise of his glory. For the praise of his glory you have life. You have breath in your lungs for the praise of his glory. Your heart beats in your chest for the praise of his glory. Don't things get simpler in that moment? All I need to do in this moment is live for the praise of his glory. I'm on a path or a road that leads to him. It ends at him. All of this other stuff becomes less relevant all of a sudden. All of your problems become smaller when you think about living for the praise of his glory.
How do we know God is going to keep his word? How do we know this hope we have (being the first to hope in Christ) is going to actually be brought forth? How do we know it's going to be carried out?
3.We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. It says, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory."
We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to be sealed by the Holy Spirit? Verse 13 says, "When you believed…" That was your tiny, tiny part. If you did anything in this, somehow God made himself aware to you and your response somehow was that you believed there's a God and he gave Christ. You believed.
What happened, if that happened… You're here, and I'm like, "Who here believes in God?" You have to forget that it's like, "I kind of believe in God." Who here has gotten in the wheel barrow? Who here has trusted Christ with their life? Who here has trusted that Christ has given his life for their sin and they get God? "I'm 100 percent certain." There is something that literally happens. The Holy Spirit then comes into your life.
What is the Holy Spirit? It's not an it. It is God. God comes to live with you. God comes, the Scriptures say, to live inside of you, and he begins to do something in your life. What is the one sure way to tell if someone is a believer or not? There is one sure way: the Spirit at work. The Spirit is then in their life giving them the power and the courage to choose God. To not choose sin but to choose God.
You say, "I'm here. How do I know if I'm saved? I think I'm saved. How am I saved?" Is the Spirit of God at work in your life? This is evidence, one that there's a God and that he's going to carry out to completion what he promised he would do. He is in the process right now, if you're a believer, of making you holy and blameless. He's doing that.
Why is he doing that for you? No! For God. To present you before God like Christ pure and blameless, holy and blameless. "Hey, God! Here he is. I've been working on him and her. They're finished now before you in your presence and in your kingdom. Here they are." That is the work of the Spirit.
Here's what that means. Remember, I said God looks at your life and sees it like a snapshot or like a photograph. God sees the finished work of the Spirit in you. Here's what that means. God doesn't love you when you get right. He doesn't love you when you stop spending money you don't have. He doesn't love you when you move out with your significant other. He doesn't love you when you stop sleeping with them. He doesn't love you when you stop getting drunk. He doesn't love you when you stop looking at porn. He doesn't love you when you stop doing X.
He loves you because he sees what you will be. He sees what he's making you into. He chose you not for what you can do for him, not because you're fast, not because you look good, and not because you can play kickball. He chose you because he's going to make you his. Are you tracking with me?
He's going to make you his. You are both his, and he's going to make you his. He loves you right now, as you will be. That's really good news, so you don't have to sit there overwhelmed with whatever you've done. He knows about it, and he's going to deal with it, and he has dealt with it. Remember, he stands outside of time. It's a really powerful truth.
First Corinthians 6, verses 19 and 20: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" **It's God's doing."You are not your own…" Your life is not yours."…you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."**
The Spirit inside of us at work in us is a promise. The seal of the Spirit is a promise. It is a guarantee, the Scripture says, of everything to come. Just like Walter, my boss, and just like Rick, the guy who discipled me… They didn't choose me because of what I could do. They didn't choose me based on my capability. They chose me for what they were going to do in my life, or in Rick's case, what the Spirit was going to do through him.
God chose you not based on your potential but based on his potential, not based on what you can do but based on what he can do through you. It says in the Scriptures this power is made perfect in your weakness. He may have chosen you because you're weak, but you don't know why he chose you, and I don't know why he chose you, but if you have trusted in Christ he has chosen you.
Are you being instructed right now by his Spirit? Are you yielding to his Spirit? This is the passage tonight: the Father's election, the Son's purchase, and the Spirit's seal. You see the Trinity in the Father's election, the Son's purchase, and the Spirit's seal, how they all work together. With the Father's election, he chose you. With the Son's purchase, he gave his life for you. With the Spirit's seal, he is carrying you out to completion to present you holy and blameless before God.
Praise be to God the Father for his provision through his Son and the promise of his Holy Spirit. That's tonight's text in one sentence, which is actually one sentence in the Greek (a really long one), but here's a shorter one. Praise be to God the Father for his provision through his Son and the promise of his Holy Spirit.
You were born and because of sin were destined to death offering nothing. You were just a burden, and he chose you. Kicking and screaming, he took you, he ran after you, he captured you, and he is making you into something amazing, and he sees it already. Amen? Two of you aren't sleeping. Good!
Here's my favorite story. This is one of my favorite testimonies. It's from a woman named Stephanie Fast. Here is Stephanie Fast's story. I don't know if you've heard it. Stephanie Fast was born in Korea just after the Korean War. Here's what happened. An American soldier was there in Korea during the Korean War. He impregnated her mom. He comes back to America, so now she is in Korea, what they call a tuki.
Tuki essentially means an alien or Satan. That's the direct translation. That culture would completely reject you. This mother does everything she can to keep Stephanie, I guess, but essentially does the unspeakable. She abandons her at 4-years-old in a train station. I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. At 4 years old, she abandons her. She leaves her at a train station.
Stephanie says she remembers this. The one thing she remembers is she knows which way the train came in, and if she could just follow that track it would eventually lead her home and to her Mommy, so she just begins to walk the track for years and years. What then ensues in her life as a 4- to 7-year old is the men in Korea have abused her and raped her. All sorts of unspeakable things have happened. She is homeless on the streets at age 4 having to fend for herself.
She eventually makes it into this gang of homeless children. She runs with them, but what happens in Korea at this time was a cholera outbreak. They look at her and realize she is not well, and she realizes she's not well. She doesn't know she's dying, but she knows she's sick, and they now abandon her, so she is left once again at the lowest of low in her life, feeling sick.
She makes it into this abandoned warehouse infested with rats, and she finds another homeless infant who has been abandoned and is also sick with cholera, so she picks her up and says, "If I'm going to die, we're going to die here together." She sits there and rocks her screaming at the top of her lungs and crying because at some point she had learned the rats would not eat you if you made a lot of noise because they didn't like human noise. That was the last thing she remembers.
She then went unconscious. When she woke up, she was in an orphanage, but she didn't know that. There was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman looking at her, and the first words she said were, "Am I in paradise?" Someone had told her about paradise, so she asked, "Am I in paradise?"
What had happened was this woman from Sweden who worked at this orphanage had walked by and seen Stephanie. She looked at her and the infant and said, "These two are too far gone. I can do nothing for them." She went to walk on and, by her own testimony she would tell you her legs filled with concrete. She was unable to move. She heard a voice that said, "This one is mine."
She turned back and took her to the orphanage. Stephanie's life then got just a little bit better. She was still what they called a tuki, so in the orphanage even the kids had rejected her, but now she at least could eat. At 9 years of age, she weighed 30 pounds. My 3-year-old weighs more than that. At 9 years of age, she weighed 30 pounds.
There's a rumor that this couple was coming in from America to adopt an infant boy, so Stephanie is tasked with cleaning up the boys and washing them by giving them baths and whatnot. The couple comes in. Stephanie had now heard the story of David and Goliath and heard that Goliath had died, but she said, "This was not true," because when the man walked in, she was certain he was Goliath because he was giant. She had never seen someone so tall, and she couldn't understand why this Goliath was crying.
Every time he picked up the boy, he was just weeping. She didn't know why he was weeping, and he saw her. Let me tell you about her. She is so malnourished. At 30 pounds at 9 years old, she has worms. This is gross. When the worms are finished eating what is inside of her, they come out of her mouth. She is so malnourished that this eyeball just goes everywhere. She has no control over it. Her hair which should be black is completely white with lice, and she has boils all over her body from the street.
This man sees her. He puts down the boy, runs to her, and puts his hand on her face. She will tell you, if she was here, that was the first time in her 9 years she was appropriately affectionately touched. It was the first time she had a glimpse of God's grace. She thought, "I hope he never moves his hand. Would you please just keep your hand there?"
She had no idea how to deal with those emotions, so what she did was slapped it away, and she spit in his face. The man had said something, but he said it in English, so she didn't know what he said. What the man said was, "This one's mine. This is the one. She's mine!" That couple took her and brought her home and raised her and restored her and gave her life.
Some of us know God is great. We sing that he's great. We say he's great, but the reality with our lives is we're slapping his hand and spitting in his face. Some of us are even believers. We're saved, but like a dog to his vomit, we run to those things that bring death in our lives. We slap his hand and spit in his face.
God takes us kicking and screaming and gives us life to the full. It says heavenly blessings. Eternal blessings, blessings that we can't even fathom in this life he has laid up for you, and he has given you his Spirit to confirm it. I'm going to ask you three questions as we sing, because the only appropriate response and the only appropriate application from this message that Paul just says, "Praise be to God," is worship. We worship him. I want you to think about these three questions as we worship him.
First, who is God? Who is he? Secondly, what has he done? Thirdly, why should I praise him? I'll give you a hint. The answer to the third question is, "Who God is and what he has done." That's why we should praise him. Let's do that now. I'm going to pray. Then, let's just sing together. Let's just worship God. Let's do that.
God in heaven, we acknowledge in this moment that you control all things even air conditioning. God, you brought us here. There's no mistake. Father, your Spirit is actively working in our lives one way or another either on the outside of us pursuing us like the hounds of heaven or on the inside of us wooing us, moving us, shaping us, and making us holy and blameless.
Father, would you show us now who you are, what you have done, and why we should praise you? Would you just use in your sovereignty and in your power the remainder of our days to bring praise to your name for your glory, for your honor, and for your praise?
Amen! Before the creation of the heavens and the earth, he said, "This one is mine. I choose her. I choose him." Then, you were. At some point in your life, he said, "This one is mine. I'm telling you he's mine. She's mine." He takes you kicking and screaming. The Spirit comes into your life and just continues to say, "This one is his. This one is his. This one is his." The Enemy comes and attacks. "This one is his. You don't understand. This one is his. This one belongs to him."
We have three or four places you can go and hang out. First, they'll be a team in this room over here to pray for you. If you have anything going on you just want to talk about… These are those things, if you're going to email me this week and say, "I really needed to talk about this or get this off of my chest," here's your opportunity right in there.
There is this room over here. It's called Open Community Group. If you're here and you're like, "Do you know what I need? I just need to be surrounded by some other Christians. All of my friends are all in the world. I need some other friends. I need some other influences," or "I don't have community that you guys are talking about." All you have to do is walk into this room. You won't be alone in there. There will be several people in there for the first time. It's not weird. It's not awkward. Don't let it be, anyway.
There is going to be a Porch Late Night out there for you to hang out and just have fun and meet people. Do whatever you do. I think there's probably food or something out there. For some of you, you just need to sit where you're at. For whatever reason, you just need to continue to worship. It's not just exclusively this person, because I don't want to make it sound like if you're still in here worshiping…
I'll probably stay in here and continue to worship. If you're still in here worshiping, it doesn't mean you don't know God, but for some of you, you may be like, "I don't know if he has chosen me, or at least he hasn't revealed that to me yet," so your cry, your response, or your application is a cry for mercy.
"God, give me mercy. God, here I am. Take my life. God, give me mercy. I understand what you've done. Give me mercy." We'd love to talk with you, too, so, if you would, at this time either stay here and worship or don't distract those who do and go to one of those three other places, if you would do that quietly. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.