Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for coming to earth to save our souls! Thank You for plotting out with Your Father our election into Your kingdom of eternal kindness and love. Thank You for rising from our graves in order to give us a new lease on life and a new outlook on life. Today make us worthy of this highest of callings! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HAS GUARANTEED OUR SALVATION.
TEXT: Ephesians 1: 3-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I hope you’ve had a relaxing summer. With the beautiful weather this past week, I took a little time to engage in some light summer reading. I didn’t go the beach, but I did read on of those “beach books” that the local stores hawk heavily during this time. It was a techno-thriller, sci-fi, historical drama. It had all the elements for escapism—a dark, unknown evil force trying to destroy the human race, the “good guys” trying to prevent this from happening, and copious historical references to Vikings, the ancient Greeks, and even the mythical lost kingdom of Atlantis. In the end, the good guys triumphed once again. But the book made me think: “How wonderful it is to be a Christian!” For unlike the unbeliever, we know that our future rests secure in Christ and not in our own efforts at self-preservation.
In this book, there were ancient religious priests and priestesses from the Druid religion and even its mythical forerunners. And from little children on, a few of them had been born with special powers to use to save humankind. Their whole purpose in life was dedicated to that one task. It made me think of our role as Christians. Let’s face it, most of us simply live our lives and hope for the best. We don’t think of ourselves as born and raised for but one Godly task in life. We don’t view our lives that narrowly. And yet we should! For as today’s text tells us:
WE ARE THE CHOSEN ONES OF GOD!
In our English Bibles this section of Scripture is divided up into 6 sentences and two separate paragraphs. However, in the original Greek language Paul actually writes it in but one long, run-on sentence. In other words, it is a complete unit to be taken as a whole. It is a paean, a song of praise and thanks to God Almighty for choosing us before creation, in eternity, to be His adopted sons and daughters. To be heirs of all that He possesses.
“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. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Before time began God looked into the future and decided to choose you and me to be His children. He did all this out of love for us in Christ. He didn’t choose us because we were more holy than others, or better than others, or less sinful than others. No, in pure love He chose us in Christ. Notice how often Jesus is mentioned here. Everything about our election of grace was because of Christ and what He did to save our souls. We’re totally beholden to Him. And because of Jesus’ perfect life and death offered up to God the Father for our sins, and because He has given and worked faith in our hearts, we’re now clothed with Jesus—just as holy and perfect in His sight as His Holy Son. And unlike the book I read this week, this is not some writer’s fantasy, it is Godly reality.
St. Paul goes on. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
Why did God create the world? Why did He place the stars in the sky? Why did He create rocks to appear older than they are? Why did He place animals on earth? Why? Why? Why? And why did He create human beings? What is the rationale behind these mysteries? Well, right here St. Paul tells us. Everything was created to praise and honor God. Everything was to show forth His glory—both His power and His wisdom. And because God knew in advance that sin would rear its ugly head and seek to subtract from His honor, He also mapped out a way to restore that honor. He planned on sending us the best He had, His Son, His most beloved, to restore Godly harmony amid a world gone mad. And to make Christ’s work worthwhile, God also chose certain human beings—us—to show forth that glorious plan in our lives. But always this was in, and through, and because of Christ!
Do you doubt this? Is it too good to be true? Do you think, I’m not that valuable to God? Well, listen again to Paul’s words. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having 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.”
God didn’t choose us to save lost souls—Christ did that. God didn’t choose us to restore the harmony of His love to a world torn by hatred, personal anger, and evil—Christ did that, too. God didn’t choose us to reconcile the world to Him—for “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them.” So, why did God choose you? Why did He map out your life? Why did He make you His eternal heir, putting the seal of the Spirit on you in baptism? —All for the “praise of His glory.”
God chose us so that we could freely respond in gratitude to praise and honor Him! He chose us to be beacons of hope amid a sin-darkened world. He chose us to “let our lights shine.” Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that He died for you? Then you are a chosen one of God! It’s that simple. You and I have been given a bigger task than simply earning money, paying bills, grabbing some happiness with a few friends, and then dying. We have been chosen by God to beat back the forces of evil by believing in and praising the One Who Fought Evil on the cross and destroyed it with His resurrection to eternal life. We Christians are the most important people on this earth. We have been honored even above the angels. Yes, we’re God’s humble heroes! For “whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” All this is God’s eternal gift to you in Christ. So, hold your head up and act like it! Amen