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Scripture Reading: Psalm 8

Sermon Title: God’s Will: The Blessings of Salvation

Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

MAIN IDEA:  God lovingly blesses us with the blessings of heaven so we may exalt Christ.

God wills our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory.

GOD WILLS: The magnificence of God’s will, OUR SALVATION: The blessings of God’s will, IN CHRIST: The mediator of God’s will, FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY: The response to God’s will

 

The impossibility of exalting Christ

The exaltation of Christ made possible

The exaltation of Christ lovingly made possible

 

NOTE:

“Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB." 

I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.

 

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster[1] held the world's first legally recognized marriage in New Zealand on Saturday (April 16). Those who are part of the religion celebrated the marriage as a milestone toward acceptance as a real bona fide religion. The ceremony was conducted by an ordained "ministeroni" and the couple became the first in the world to "tie the noodly knot".

The church is legally recognized in New Zealand but has followers in United States, Russia, Germany, and Denmark. The church belief system is called Pastafarianism. Their God is the flying spaghetti monster. Pastafarianism first appeared in a 2005 open letter written by Bobby Henderson to the Kansas Board of Education in protest over its decision to teach intelligent design in schools. Henderson is a self-described "hammock enthusiast" and computer nerd from Oregon. He is regarded as the prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). In his letter to the Kansas Board of Education, he argued that believing a pasta god made the universe was no less valid than intelligent design as both theories had no scientific merit.

In addition to believing the world was created by a giant deity made of spaghetti, members of the church wear colanders on their heads and have an admiration for pirates. They have a love of pasta-based puns and celebrate holidays such as "Talk Like a Pirate Day." Followers insist their religion is no joke, but they do say, "Laughter is the best medicine and it makes life much better and maximizes our happiness."

We chuckle at Pastafarians and find them to be mildly amusing. The truth is all other religions are just as absurd and pointless. With each religion, we may speak of the inconsistencies and faulty logic. But, it is not upon logic which religion is judged. Religions are judged on whether they worship Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Pastafarians, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, and countless other religions, deny the exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord and supremely valuable.

The goal of the message this morning is to awaken us to the stark contrast between those who do not exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and those who give Christ first place in their lives.

If you are taking notes, the first point in the outline this morning is this:

The Impossibility of Exalting of Christ

Before continuing, it is important to explain what is meant by exalting Christ. To exalt Christ is to lift Him up. Often, when the Bible talks of exalting Christ it talks of Him being seated at the right hand of God in a position of power, King of kings and Lord of lords. We think of bending our knee and confessing Jesus as Lord. We need to expand our understanding of what it means to exalt Jesus Christ. It is more than governing authority. To exalt Jesus is to have Him be the center of our affections and desires. He is not to be just our Lord, but He is to be our beloved Lord. When we exalt Jesus Christ above all things, we think about Him as our primary source of enjoyment.  When we think about peace, we think about Jesus as the source of our peace. Jesus is our comfort and our healing. When Jesus is exalted in our life, He is the Bridegroom and we eagerly anticipate His return. Jesus puts a song in our heart. Jesus is exalted in our thought life. Jesus is our source of truth. When Christ is truly exalted, He is exalted in every dimension of our life. The exaltation of Jesus is the will of God the Father, and God is working His plan to achieve this end goal. When we worship we recognize the value of what we worship.

It is impossible to exalt Jesus with a sin nature. Non-Christians are slaves to sin. Try as they might, they are unable to escape their corruption. They have no desire to be holy and they ridicule those who are. Their very nature is that of unrighteousness. Sin is entertaining. Books, magazines, websites, video games and movies reach popular status if they are tainted with murder, theft, adultery, or blasphemy. Because of their sin nature, fellowship with Christ is impossible. The Holy One is not yoked with the unholy.

It is impossible to exalt Jesus when you are unable to love what is good. Jesus is the light of the world and it is man’s sin nature to hate the light. As Jesus says, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). There is no fear of God, there is no reverence for God, in the unregenerate man (Romans 3:18).  

It is impossible to exalt Jesus as one who sins and is guilty. Unbelievers stand before Christ’s judgement seat guilty of crimes against Him. They may call Him Lord, but they do not do what He says. They refuse to bend their knee to Jesus’ commands. They ignore the standards of righteousness given by Jesus Christ and create their own laws and standards of what is good and evil. They speak lies and deceit is in their heart. They take possession of things which do not belong to them. Their father is the devil. The creature who does not exalt Christ hurts others with actions and words, they murder in their heart, they lust, and they are completely selfish. They fail to acknowledge their status as a created being who lives before the One who is their Creator and who will judge their every word and deed.  

Because they are guilty of disobedience, they are eternally condemned. It is impossible to enjoy Jesus when you are cast away from His presence. Sinners have no place in the dwelling He prepared and no inheritance among the righteous. When someone tries to tell them of their eternal fate, they laugh in disbelief and say, “it’s okay, all my friends will be in hell with me.” They will not experience the eternal joy Jesus offers. Their only possibility for joy is in this life. Their hope is in adding a few extra years to their life and live a long time. Their hope is not to get cancer, not be in an accident, not get shot, and to die of old age. They believe resurrection from the dead is a fairy-tale.

It is impossible to exalt Christ if He is not a valuable treasure. Those who do not have Christ as their treasure look for other treasures. Turn on the television and see how happiness is found without Jesus. The god of this world says to buy the right shampoo and be beautiful so as to find a boyfriend who will make you happy. Take the right medicine and avoid physical limitations which keep you indoors and immobile. Purchase the exercise video and obtain appealing body dimensions. Drink the right beer and you will find yourself with the popular crowd. After purchasing the products which will make you happy, go on that incredible vacation and cross it off the bucket list. What a shame to die without having everything on the bucket list checked off!

People who do not fully seek to exalt Jesus struggle to find purpose in life. The meaning of life is derived from dying with the most toys. Meaning in life might come from having the most education. Meaning and purpose in life may come from achieving a gold medal or being the leader of a nation. Meaning in life may come from making the world clean and safe for the next generation. Meaning in life is always out of their grasp because there is always someone faster, richer, and more powerful. Without Jesus, satisfaction, peace, comfort, and joy is always around the next corner or in the next achievement.

Those who do not have Christ as their most precious treasure try to fill a void which is impossible to fill without Him. They live in a continual emotional crisis. Only Jesus fills the deepest needs of human beings. Are you discontent? It is because you do not get what you want. Are you anxious? It is because you are not sure you will get what you want. Are you angry? It is because you didn’t get what you want. Are you in despair? It is because you realize you may never get what you want. The soul craves Jesus and unless He fills the void, life is filled with discontent, anxiety, anger, and despair.

It is impossible for every person born in this world to exalt Jesus Christ. It is impossible because they are born with a sin nature, they sin, and they are eternally condemned apart from His presence.

The Exaltation of Christ Made Possible

What is needed to exalt Jesus Christ is a work of God. God makes the exaltation of Jesus Christ possible. God does this by bestowing upon the elect spiritual blessings from heaven. Let’s look at Ephesians 1 and see what the grace of God has done for those who exalt Christ and are found in Him.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with 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 11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In 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, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

God does all things according to the counsel of His will. Therefore, God has a purpose in bestowing upon us the spiritual blessings of heaven. The purpose of the blessings is they result in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. The spiritual blessings of heaven are necessary to enjoy Christ. In other words, the exaltation of Christ is made possible because, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. We exalt Jesus because we have full access to all the blessings of heaven.

God intends for Christ to be fully exalted. To enjoy Christ to the fullest, every spiritual blessing of heaven is given without restraint. Those who are in Christ are blessed not with one or two, or with some, but with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (v.3). There is not the slightest or smallest blessing withheld. Every spiritual blessing is bestowed and granted to those who are in Christ. The blessings from heaven allow Jesus Christ to be enjoyed, valued, and treasured in the fullest way possible.

What are the blessings of heaven? The passage in Ephesians tells us of the blessings.

The first blessing upon which all the other blessings flow is the blessing of being chosen by God and placed in union with Christ. God imposes His will and we receive adoption as sons and daughters by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.4). God chose us and predestined us at the foundation of the world with the purpose that we exalt Jesus Christ (v.4).

God makes it possible for us to exalt Jesus by redeeming us from our sinful nature. Those without Christ are slaves to their sinful nature. We receive heaven’s blessing of redemption (v.7) and we are purchased by the blood of Christ. We are redeemed from our corrupt flesh. No longer are we slaves of sin, but we are freed from the power of sin in our lives. We were once dead in sin, but now we are made alive in righteousness.

With our redemption we receive heavens blessing of the forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness of sins we are unable to enjoy Christ because we would stand before Him in continuous guilt. We would stand before Him in shame and not in pleasure. But, with forgiveness of our sins we are able to stand before His judgment throne holy and blameless (v.4). The laws and commands of heaven are completely met and fulfilled. We do not stand in our own righteousness, but we stand in Christ’s righteousness and His holiness. We have broken the laws of Christ, but we have received forgiveness for our trespasses (v.7).

Those who do not exalt Christ have no understanding of His value. Knowledge and wisdom escape them. God opens the eyes of His chosen and God reveals the mystery of His will (v.9). God makes it possible for us to enjoy and exalt Jesus Christ by opening our minds so we may comprehend His worth. No longer do we lack wisdom. But, being in Christ, we attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding. We receive the true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, we comprehend the supreme value of Christ (Colossians 2:2).

Here is a very important point to understand. In exalting Jesus Christ, God is not giving Jesus value because He has no value. Instead, God is taking He who is already supremely valuable and giving people eyes to see His value. Jesus is, and always has been, the treasure of the Universe, but sin hides and occludes His value.

Because we understand the mysteries of God, we know happiness and joy are not found in the vanities of this world, things such as outward beauty, strong muscles, material riches, or earthly knowledge. When God reveals to us His Son, we stop chasing after the wind and we learn true love, beauty, wisdom, treasure, and power are found in Jesus Christ.

God makes it possible to exalt Christ in the fullness of time. Our exaltation of Christ is not short-lived, but eternal. We may enjoy Christ in this life, and in the age to come. We who are adopted and chosen by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ receive an inheritance which lasts every second of every minute of eternity (v.11). We are born again to a living hope. Our exaltation will never lose luster or diminish, but we obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away (1 Peter 1:3-4). Our inheritance is reserved in heaven and stored where moth and rust may not destroy, and thieves may not break in and steal it away (Matthew 6:19-20). The crown jewel of our inheritance is that we receive eternal life and we may forever dwell in the presence of our treasure and Shepherd of our soul.

As a down-payment of our inheritance, we who are in Christ receive God’s Holy Spirit of promise (v.13). Not only are we found in Christ, but Christ is found in us. The Spirit of Christ will never leave us or forsake us. We have a guaranteed pledge identifying us as being children of the living God. We have the Comforter for times we need comfort. We have the Counselor in the times we need wisdom. We have the Sprit’s intercession for the times we need to cry out to God. We have guidance into truth by the Holy Spirit of Truth. And, we are given the fruit of the Holy Spirit so we may have joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, peace, and holiness, so we may live lives that are fitting and expected as those who are children of the King. We have the joy of knowing our bridegroom desires us because we have His nature.

The blessings of heaven are total and all-encompassing. They provide for everything we need to enjoy every dimension of Christ’s goodness. Heaven’s blessing of forgiveness allows us to enjoy the holiness of Christ without guilt because our sin is cast as far as the east is from the west. Heaven’s blessing of redemption allows us to enjoy the righteousness of Christ without being a slave to sin. Knowing the mysteries of God allows us to comprehend, understand, and worship the depth of Christ’s love. Heaven’s blessing of the Holy Spirit allows us to taste and savor the assurance of our guaranteed future hope as well as to live a life today which is pleasing to our Husband. Heaven’s blessing of eternal life allows us to enjoy Christ forever.

God the Father blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places so we may enjoy Christ to our fullest possible extent.

God planned the salvation of those He chose. God planned the exaltation of Jesus Christ to be Lord of all. In being Lord, it is God’s plan for Jesus to be governing authority, and it is God’s plan for Jesus to be the treasure and the desire of the nations. Jesus is not just the lord of Lords, but the beloved Lord. He is Supremely valuable. Jesus is to be the supreme Judge, King, Prophet, Priest, Healer, Comforter, Husband and on and on, He is to be supreme over all things; He is our all in all.

Unless we are born again, we do not value Christ nor do we value goodness, mercy, holiness, and righteousness; those things which are the very character of Jesus. Without God’s intervention, we are spiritually dead and we do not have eyes to see Jesus’ worth. To achieve His purpose of exalting Christ, God, imposes His will upon those of His choosing and opens their eyes, so they see their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Exaltation of Christ Lovingly Made Possible

God makes the exaltation of Christ possible by imposing His will. Think about God imposing His will. Most of us may have a negative memory of someone imposing their will on our lives. When a man imposes his will upon other men, the result is not usually good. Often, when someone imposes their will, they are forcing or manipulating others to do their bidding. Man’s nature is inherently selfish. Rarely does the imposition of one man’s will over another man result in the benefit of that man. Even children impose their will on other children in the playground. We have a name for people who impose their will on others; we call them bullies.

But, when God imposes His will, He is no bully. His motives are pure and holy. God’s character is without fault and when He imposes His will, only good results. Let’s draw our attention to the words in this opening paragraph of Ephesians which describe the motives and manner in which God imposes His will.

Verse 3: God blessed us with every spiritual blessing. God’s work of salvation is not intended to be a blessing to Himself, but a blessing to us. His will is selfless.

Verse 4-5: In love He predestined us to adoption. God imposed His will as a demonstration of love and compassion. He did so while we were yet sinners. God loved us by sending His Son to die for our sins.

Verse 5: God adopts us as His children according to the kind intention of His will. God intends kindness.

Verse 6: God freely bestowed on us His grace. God bestowed it upon us without a price. His grace is imposed as a gift. It is totally free. “I insist you take this precious gift of great value.”

Verse 7-8: In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. God did not give according to a portion, a tithe of His grace. God gave according to the riches of His grace. He gives grace abundantly, so much so that it supplies all of our needs. We receive God’s riches, and He does not hold any grace back. Verse 8 tells us His grace is lavished upon us. His grace is unrestrained, excessive, over the top, and nothing short of extravagant.

Verse 8 (end)-9: In all wisdom and insight God made known to us the mystery of His will. He knowingly and purposefully thought about imposing His will upon us. It is no accidental revealing, but an intentional and deliberate act of wisdom. God used His infinite knowledge and decided we are to be the recipients of His goodness. In full-knowledge of our wretched condition, in full-knowledge and wisdom of our stance as His enemy, and with full insight of our every sin and our complete undeserving condition, God decided to adopt us as His children. Again, we see the words; God did this according to His kind intention.

Verse 10: With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times. God’s imposing of His will upon us to save us and give us an inheritance in Christ is not a temporary action. God fully intends His work of grace to be eternal. God has in view more than one day and more than a thousand years. God’s work of salvation is forever. God intends for us to never live one day in spiritual poverty.

Verse 13-14 We were sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of promise. God imposed His will with a pledge of His sincerity. Man imposes His will and gives as a pledge of his word money or property. God imposes His will and gives a pledge of Himself. God proves His salvation is for our good by giving us that which is of most value; His Holy Spirit.

God’s will is imposed upon us because, in God there is an abundance of mercy, love, and goodness. It is just as we sang, “the greatness of mercy and love.”

God blesses us and lovingly adopts us according to His kind intention. In all wisdom, God richly lavishes upon us His grace for all of eternity and seals our promise of inheritance with Christ with His Holy Spirit. When we consider we have received the blessings of Heaven so we may enjoy Christ to the fullest and when we consider the glorious nature and character of God which brought about His work of salvation, it should cause us to fall on our knees and worship.

Our salvation is the most underserved, holy, precious, and incredible act of love ever bestowed upon a creature of God. The proper response by the recipients of God’s grace is to exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to praise, worship, and proclaim this most amazing grace.

Do we really see and experience the difference of living life exalting the Lord Jesus Christ compared to living life without enjoying Christ? We are to wake up in the morning with thankfulness because we can say, “Jesus is my treasure. He is my all in all. All I have is Christ. I count all things as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.”

God has lovingly made it possible for us to enjoy Christ; therefore, enjoy Him! This is what God desires and His purpose in all that He does.

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming

One day the skies with His glories will shine

Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing

My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Prayer

Benediction

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

[1] http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/offbeat/kiwi-pastafarians-the-first-to-legally-tie-noodly-knot/ar-BBrOUNT