"And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them" - Mark 6:34
Compassion is the expression of mercy. It is mercy in action. Christianity may be said to be distinctively the religion of compassion for our Lord is distinctively the Lord of compassion. When He saw His friends weeping at the grave of Lazarus, He felt compassion for them and wept alongside them (John 11:33-35). Moved with compassion for the suffering of others, He healed the large crowds who came to Him (Matt. 14:14), as well as individuals who sought His healing (Mark 1:40-41). When He saw the people as sheep without a shepherd, His compassion led Him to teach them the things the false shepherds of Israel had abandoned. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt; they despised the common people and neglected them, but Jesus had compassion on them as He taught and loved them.
Christians have a unique ministry in being people of compassion. It is one of the richest examples of our Faith. Why? Because showing compassion so clearly illustrates the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God shows compassion on the sinner when He reaches into the depths of our depravity and redeems us from the weight, suffering and guilt of our sin. He has compassion when considering our frailties, weaknesses and ignorance, He still continues to abide with us. And when we bear with others, when we lift the weak, the infirm, and the needy, when we demonstrate mercy to those in our life, we testify to God's own mercy working in us. When Jesus looked out over this sin-sick world, rather than rejecting it, He chose to sacrifice Himself for us. May His compassion become a part of your character today!
“What you have as heritage, take now as task; for thus you will make it your own”. - Goethe
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways... and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." - Jer. 6:16
Dear Fellow Christian Gentlemen,
We stand at the edge of a epoch-changing time in our history. The lot has been cast. It has fallen to us to be the generation of men upon which much, if not all, of our future will be written. As I pen these words, the very foundation of our society is crumbling to the ground around us. Rampant demagoguery, decadence, and degeneracy has befallen us and we find ourselves pressed sorely under the hard Providences of a holy and righteous God. The spiritual weaponry of Christ's and our enemies are being wielded this very moment. The tips of their spears and the edges of their swords have been shaped and sharpened; anxious to draw your blood (if only figuratively for the moment). No one remains safe. God's enemies are eagerly anticipating the death and destruction of the Christian man. They long to see an end to all that the Christian holds precious and dear. The enemy's joy and satisfaction, his glorious victory will only be realized as your faith, your convictions, the people and possessions you treasure most (and if needs be your life), along with the ideals you value and the principles upon which you stand united with your brothers in Christ are completely wiped from the face of the earth, stricken from history, and covered in the fullness of the wickedness and depravity of fallen man.
The gauntlet has been thrown down. A challenge has been given. The prince of the power of this world and his minions have rallied together on the field of battle and they are relentlessly determined to send you to your demise. Therefore it is here and it is now that we, as men standing firm upon our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, must answer the call to service in our Master's army. It is now that serious conviction must root out flaccid complacency. Righteous principle must triumph over godless apathy. Fear must flee in the face of a fierceness and determination like that of our once honorable forefathers. It is up to this generation of would-be-warriors to face our enemies on the battlefield, robed in the full armor of God, and prepared to live, or if needs be die, for the cause of Christ! What we, dear brethren, have as a rich and precious heritage, the faith handed down to us, we must now take as our calling and task. Only then do we make it our own. There is an old path, a better way. There is the grace of God and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to quicken and strengthen us for what lies ahead. Be it in our coveted churches, in our homes and by our firesides, or in the realm of public opinion, civil affairs and cultural controversy, may we be found fighting the good fight of the Faith once delivered to us by the beloved saints.
The hour is at hand. The time has come. Chose this day whom you will serve. May the men of God in my generation, those of this era, be found faithful in their calling. May history record of many great deeds done, of higher and more nobler victories won, and of the mighty advancement of God's kingdom accomplished at the hearts and hands of my fellow brothers. Yes, we may stand at the edge of an epoch-changing time. Yes, if we fail to act today, the heritage we leave for tomorrow's children may be one of dread, despair and shame. But there is hope! Greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world. Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) was an English writer, author and poet. One of his best known works was a rousing call to tired soldiers to keep up the good fight entitled, "Say not the struggle nought availeth". Be encouraged my brothers. Trust in God and you will find rest for your soul. I leave you with Mr. Clough's though-provoking poem. Will you join me?
"Say not the struggle nought availeth, the labor and the wounds are in vain,
the enemy faints not, nor faileth, and as things have been, things remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars; it may be, in yon smoke concealed,
your comrades chase e'en now the fliers, and, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, seem here no painful inch to gain,
far back through creeks and inlets making, came silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only, when daylight comes, comes in the light,
in front the sun climbs slow, how slowly, but westward, look, the land is bright!"
Post tenebras lux,
"that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." - 1 Tim. 2:2b
It has been said hypocrisy desires to seem good rather than to be so; honesty desires to be good rather than seem so. The issue of honesty, of being honest speaks directly to the character of a man. And for the Christian, honesty must rank as one of the most important and vital attributes we need to cultivate. Like all other godly characteristics, honesty doesn't come natural to the fallen man. This is clearly seen in little children. Who ever taught their child to lie? Yet how often to we see the natural development and capacity for lying in the heart of a young child? Lying is the default, or habit resident in the character of man. Our propensity for honesty must be developed and matured over time.
The Apostle Paul hoped the Christian life would be lived 'quiet and peaceable...in all godliness and honesty'. The word honesty is closely related to that of truth. The honest person is one who has the utmost respect and desire to seek, find and display the truth in all matters. So, for the believer, we should seek to be honest, that is truth-worthy, above all. God is the God of truth. Therefore we ought to be people of truth; this is, of honesty. The witness of our faith to the world around us is only as credible we we are. If our can't be proven to be an honest people, then our words, our testimony will be rejected as dishonest. Let God's people therefore stive to be honest. May the Lord grant us the grace to speak, act and live honestly. Paul placed honesty next to godliness. May we do the same!
George Müller was a Christian evangelist and the Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, during the late 19th century where over his lifetime he cared for a total of over 10,000 orphans. He was also an imminent man of prayer. It is said of Mueller he never asked for any donations for his ministry, but through his prayers, God always responded to their needs. Many times he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. On one well-documented occasion, they gave thanks for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone, and the milkman gave them plenty of fresh milk because his cart had just broke down in front of the orphanage. In other words, by the faithful and diligent prayers of this one man, God moved in the life of His people.
It has been said no man can make progress in holiness who is not often and long alone with God in prayer. John Bunyan once said, "Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan". I'm convinced if the Word of Christ truly abides in us, then we will inevitably be stirred to prayer. The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther would go as far as to say, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing". Well, in our passage today, we have the first of two prayers the Apostle Paul uttered on behalf of the Ephesian Christians. This is a powerful prayer. One filled with hope, expectation, obligation, and assurance in bringing about the kingdom of God. Paul is encouraging the believers in their faith and works. So, please turn your attention to Eph.1:15-23 as we conclude the first chapter with the prayer of Paul.
Verses 15-16 "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers"
Here we see the Apostle is encouraged by two attributes he's heard of in these believers - their faith and their love. And again these two qualities reflect two vital aspects of the Christian life - faith towards God and love towards one another. Our faith towards the Lord, our resting in trusting in His mercy and goodness, being no longer enemies of God, but reconciled to Him through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is a word we like to toss around as believers, but truth is, it is a precious gift from God. It is the means by which God’s grace flows toward us. Paul was pleased to hear of their faith in the Lord Jesus.
Second Paul was overjoyed to hear of their love one for the other - their love unto all the saints. It is interesting in several places in the New Testament; the Bible speaks of the love of the brethren. We know we are to strive as far as it is within us to live at peace with all men, and to love our neighbor. The Bible says this. But there seems to be implied here and elsewhere in Scripture, the notion that there is a special love we reserve for those in the household of faith. We are the Body of Christ, and share a common faith, a common baptism, a common Spirit, a common Savior. And just as one favors his own family over that of another, it seems only natural the people of God would reserve something of a special love, obligation and devotion to one another that they do not share with the world in general. I think this is what's implied when Paul speaks of hearing of the Ephesians love unto all the saints. And with this Paul gets into the substance of his prayer for these dear believers.
Verse 17-18 "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"
There are three main parts to this prayer, and each part builds on the other. Remember Paul is specifically praying for these Christians. Thus his prayer is geared towards them. And he first and simply asks the Lord God, the Father of glory, to equip these early Christians for service unto Him. In verse 17, the Bible says Paul petitions the Lord to give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. In other words, Paul desires them to have a clear vision of God. It has been rightly said that every false teaching, every heresy, every error ever taught in the Church begins with a misunderstanding or misapprehension of the character and nature of God. That if we miss on that singular point, we have veered off track. So Paul prays God's people will have a true revelation, and if not a comprehensive knowledge of God, at least a clear, though, limited knowledge of Him. Of who God truly is. Of His character - His
holiness, goodness, righteousness, judgments, and truth. Paul desires the saints to be equipped through the eyes of our understanding, being enlightened. It is only the Lord who can open your eyes to the truth of His Word. You are wholly dependent upon Him to remove the scales, to clear the darkness and to reveal Himself to you in all His glory and grandeur. You should be equipped with a sure hope of who you are in the Lord Jesus Christ. There should be no wavering, no doubt about your position in Christ. The Bible says elsewhere, make your calling and election sure. There is a confidence in being a Christian - not because of anything we've done, but because of what has been done to us! We should carry with us an assurance a confidence; we should be equipped with a surety, a boldness (not a selfish prideful boasting) about who we are in the Beloved and of the hope of our calling and the riches of the glory of our inheritance as the saints of almighty God. So the first part of Paul's prayer speaks to the equipping of the saints.
Verse 19-20 "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places"
This passage cannot be over estimated. I simply cannot do justice to this text other than to say God has imparted the greatness of His own power towards us who believe. Any I would doubt any man who suggested he could fully grasp what this means. Listen to me beloved - The exceeding greatness of God's power, His mighty power, it says here, as if His power was less than almighty, has been bestowed towards us, given to those who believe. What does this mean? What is the full import of this truth? I'm sure God only knows. But I believe it. God has poured out His sovereign, glorious, exceeding, surpassing, transcending, excelling power on you. The word power here is the same word from which we get our word 'dynamite'. It is explosive power. Uncontainable strength like a stick of dynamite exploding; inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.
I think what we need to walk away from in these part of Paul's prayer is that God's people, Christ's Church, the Lord's covenant community, has been equipped, and is now called to engage in the power of Christ in all He has for us to accomplish. Power is to be used, it is to be utilized. Power is force; it is influence. And as those who have been empowered by God, we should understand this as our calling to engage in the work of God. Again, I don't know what it
means to have the full measure of God's power at our disposal. If it means we can work miracles, heal the sick, save the lost, I really can't say. I would guess it means, in some sense or another, all this and more. My concern leans more towards the fact that I see very little of God's power on display in the life of the modern church. Where is the power of God seen? Surely it would be seen if it was active and alive. My prayer, like Paul's, is that the power of God would come to be displayed in the life of this church in the fullest measure possible.
Verse 21-23 "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all".
So the question must be asked... what is the end, the purpose for the equipping and the engaging of God's saints? Paul reveals something of this answer to us in his last part of his prayer. We have been equipped with the wisdom, knowledge and fear of the Lord; we have been empowered with the power of God Himself for the task of extending His dominion over all principalities, over every might, and every name named, not only in this world, but in the world to come.
In other words, the Church has been equipped, engaged and empowered in the work of extending the kingdom of God, and the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ into the entire world, and even into the world which is to come. We are soldiers in the army of Jesus, the Church Militant, called to fight the good fight, prepared for battle, and to labor under our Head, that One, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is head over all things, including the Church, we are to serve our Master in fulfilling the Great Commission of discipling nations, converting sinners, and bringing the Kingdom of God to bear upon the wickedness and sinfulness of this world.
What does this look like? It looks like men and women, Christians, loving one another within the Body of Christ. It looks like men taking their callings as leaders in their homes, churches and elsewhere seriously and in the confidence of Christ. It is fleshed out every time we disciple one another, raise our children, share our faith, stand for moral and righteous issues. Again in our own flesh we would not be able to do these things. This is something I'm very passionate about. And I hope you will be too. We have been equipped, empowered and called in the growth of the Kingdom. May none of us take our calling lightly. George Mueller changed England and the lives of over 10,000 orphans simply through prayer. May our prayers invoke the power of God in us to change our world as well.
"Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say." - Philemon 1:21
When I first moved out on my own, I wanted a pet, so I bought a puppy. He was a mixed breed mutt, but he was cute and would eventually grow to be the right size dog for me. There was only one problem; I couldn't train him to save my life. This dog would not be obedient. No matter how much I seemed to work with him, I could not get him to act like I wanted and needed him to. I couldn't teach him obedience and so eventually I had to give him away. Yet, he serves as a good reminder for me even today. Like my old dog, fallen men also resist being brought under obedience.
The Bible gives us two classic illustrations of godly obedience. The obedience of Abraham is perhaps most exemplary in the Old Testament. On two occasions, he demonstrated total submission to God's will. First, he obeyed God's command to go to a new land (Gen.12). This response meant leaving Ur of the Chaldees, a highly developed city, to go to the unknown, unfamiliar land that God would show to him—the land of Canaan. Abraham's obedience results in his being elected a chosen one for a special role in God's salvation-history for humankind. Secondly, by complete faith and trust in the Lord, Abraham obeyed God's command to offer his son as a sacrifice (Gen.22:1-19). And in doing so, Abraham demonstrated his unwavering devotion and obedience to the Lord.
The second Biblical example of obedience comes from Jesus Himself. The Scriptures say that through His obedience we might obtain salvation. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous". (Rom. 5:19). Christ's obedience to the will of His heavenly Father paved the way for the grace of God to be impart to sinful mankind. His is our perfect example of faithful obedience. Christians ought to be obedient to the will of God. Our sinful nature will rebel against God; but it is up to us to cultivate the character of obedience in our lives. Paul had great confidence in the obedience of the early believers. He knew they were going above and beyond to serve the Lord obediently. Don't be like my stubborn dog. Rather, like faithful Abraham and Jesus Himself, may we Christians today strive to be obedient to God in all things.
"Be strong and of a good courage" - Joshua 1:6a
The Cowardly Lion in 'The Wizard of Oz' once asked, "What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got"? To which Dorthy, Scarecrow, and the Tin-man all readily replied, "Courage!"
The Cowardly Lion lacked courage. He lacked bravery, that quality of mind and character which enables men to encounter danger and difficulty with firmness and without fear. As the story goes, the Lion, in the end, stirs up his courage and becomes the fearless brave lion he'd always hoped to be. Like this fictional lion, courage often eludes Christians. We lack the boldness, the resolve to stand up to danger, difficulty and challenges with a spirit of valor, honor and courage. This failure to face the confrontations of our life can have the debilitating effect of reducing our Faith to virtual uselessness.
God is seeking men of courage. Joshua was once such a man. He took up the mantle of leading the Lord's covenant people into the blessed Promised Land. Joshua was strong and courageous to confront the difficulties and challenges which beset the Old Testament believers with confidence and intrepidity. As such, Joshua stands as a gleaming example of godly character, one who exudes courage. May the Christian men of the present not be lacking in courage. May, by God's grace, His people today rise up to engage the threatenings, the persecutions, the enemies which confront Christ's glorious church! Let us hear and heed the Bible on this matter, Be strong and of a good courage!"
Why should you visit CCC? There are plenty of reasons not to. I mean, you're going to have to get up and get ready to go somewhere on the one day a week you could probably sleep till noon. You're going to have to also make sure you kids are awake, ready, and 'prepared' for church. Some of you may have to drive a little distance to get here; passing along the way dozens of other churches which will tempt you to simply pull in somewhere that's alot closer to home. Once your here, you won't find a barista, latte machine, or fresh baked doughnuts from our 'in-church' coffeehouse.
Also there won't be a line of nursery workers, Sunday-school teachers, and youth pastors eager to wisp you children away from you for a 'worship experience' tailored to the contemporary youth. As for you, you'll be asked to sing Christ-centered, theologically sound hymns and songs to the simple accompaniment of piano, or the occasional violin and guitar. You'll be expected to sit quietly and meditatively as prayers are offered up on behalf of our church, community, and country. To top it all off you'll have to listen to an approximately 1\2 hour biblically based, God honoring, Christ exalting sermon which, at times, make you 'feel' uncomfortable about yourself in regards to sin, salvation, and holy living.
But, if you can look past all the superficial reasons not to join our church for worship and in the celebration of our salvation in Jesus Christ, then you will find our fellowship to be a earnest and sincere group of simple folk who love the Lord and who are committed to loving and serving one another within our covenant community. Whether you're single, a couple, or a family, we view you has having a purpose and place in the Kingdom of God. And we are dedicated to equipping and engaging you in the work and worship of God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. There can be hundreds of reason not to visit with us, but there is only one reason to give us a try - to glorify God. Christ-Centered, Bible-Believing, Family-Focused. CCC - not fancy, just faithful.
"Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." - Eccl. 12:13
The Biblical idea of duty may be the most sublime concept in all of Scripture. Rarely if ever does the modern man think in terms of duty. Our days, our lives are simply occupied with fulfilling the desires of our sinful hearts. The least mention of duty can cause offense among those content to live satiating their own flesh. Yet for the Christian we cannot merely dismiss the sense of duty. In fact, the Bible sets duty before us in the highest and loftiest sense of the word.
According to Webster's 1828 dictionary, duty is defined by 'that which a person owes to another, that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay or perform". A sense of duty is derived from a sense of debt. We owe a duty because we owe a debt. So while duty cannot be strictly defined as a character trait or attribute of the Christian, we might rightly state that it is our duty or obligation to exercise ourselves unto godliness and in the character of Christ.
Why? Why should the Christian feel a sense of duty towards God to live his or her life in accordance to His will? Because the Bible says this is the whole duty of man. We owe God. We owe Him our all. Everything we have, everything we are, belongs to Him. We are bound to the Lord and the true believer has an obligation to perform, to live according to the commandments of God. Does your life reflect your duty to God? Is how your living, your conduct, and your speech a reflection of keeping His commands? Robert E. Lee once captured the essence of this idea of duty when he said, "Do your duty, you can do no more, and you should do no less". Fear God, and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. Amen.
I invite your attention in your Bibles to the first chapter of Ephesians. Our text today is taken from the 3rd through the 6th verses. Ephesians 1:3-6. The theme for today's message is that of being chosen by the Father. Those who belong to Christ have been sovereignly and graciously chosen by the Father to receive the full blessings & benefits as children of God. Modern man might recoil at such a display of power and authority, but humble hearts receive this truth as a gift from above. As we’ll come to see in this chapter, salvation is like a gorgeous tapestry woven together with threads of redemption; all the persons of the Godhead, God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit, all doing their part in making salvation the wonderful and magnificent thing it truly is. This morning we begin with God the Father. Eph. 1:3-6.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," - After his brief introduction, Paul begins the body of this letter with a command, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". The word blessed here is a verb. It denotes action. The Ephesians are to be blessing God. 'Blessed' here literally means to be praising the Lord, favoring God, and emphatically worshipping Him. If I could paraphrase the first few sentences here in Ephesians
they might read, "Greetings, I'm the Apostle Paul. I'm writing to the Christians at Ephesus. Worship God! Praise Him name!" Paul is putting the worship, the attention, the focus, the favoring, and the preeminence upon God here. We are to be blessing the Lord.
"who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings" – Why bless the Lord? Because it is God the Father who has first blessed us. It is the Father who has highly favored His covenant people. In the Old Testament, Israel was taught to frequently seek the blessing of God. The Lord commanded Aaron, the high priest, to regularly speak God blessings over the children of Israel. This has come to be known as the Aaronic blessing. This blessing is recorded in Numbers the 6th chapter verses 24-26;
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
God's blessings upon us are spiritual blessings. As a word of caution, I know we can tend to look for God's blessings in the wrong place. Sadly, many so-called Christian ministries have turned the Lord's blessings from being spiritual blessings into expectations of material wealth, health and prosperity. In some Christian circles, God is not much more than a sanctified vending machine who is expected to disperse worldly goodies to us at our every whim. In my mind, this view of God and His goodness borders on blasphemy. The Bible says God's blessings upon His people are spiritual blessings.
"in heavenly places in Christ:" - This attest to the notion the believer's blessings from God are spiritual; they are in, or they belong in heavenly places in Christ. They are among our spiritual or heavenly treasures. This point of doctrine might be one of the most glaring differences between the Christian and the non-Christian. The things believers value, the interest of our heart, the meditations of our soul, are not strictly confined to this world. We seek a treasure, abundance, wealth and even prosperity, but not necessarily of the sort or in the same manner as that person who doesn’t know or understand the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
I'm not saying it is wrong to see God's goodness and kindness bestowed upon His people in this world. As health and wealth and such things find you in this world, you should certainly be grateful to God for them. But even still, your attention, your interest as a Christian ought to transcend worldly possessions and valuables and your heart ought to be fixed upon the spiritual blessings found in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be”
"According as he hath chosen us in him" - Paul now begins to explain the spiritual blessings of God towards us. Notice with me; the first true blessing God bestows upon His people is that He chooses us in Him, that is Jesus Christ. Now we enter into what is unfortunately been one of the most divisive teachings in all of sacred Scripture. And it should not be. But because of our sinful fallen nature, men, myself once being included, coil at the doctrine of God's sovereign choosing of those who are in Christ. It’s not my intention this morning to enter into the fray of this debate. In fact, one of the most striking things I find in the Bible is the overwhelming silence of debate on this matter. Not even once is the question of God choosing us in Him brought up in the Bible. The belief God chooses us in Him is simply affirmed throughout Holy Writ, but never once questioned, debated or even doubted. So should we doubt it?
The truth is the Bible leaves little room for debate, though I personally struggled with this issue for years. The word in verse 4, "chosen" is an emphatic word. It literally means in the Greek, "to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self”. Strong's Greek Lexicon of the New Testament describes Jesus choosing of His own disciples; and of God the Father choosing
Christians, as those whom He set apart from the fallen multitude as dear unto himself".
Historically, the question has been raised, ‘Is it not unjust for God to choose some and not others?’ People say this isn’t fair. And they’re right. To be fair and just God should let us all die in our sins and burn in eternity for our rebellion against Him. That would be perfectly just. Yet, by His grace, God has chosen to show mercy to some. So that in the end, some receive justice, some receive mercy, but no one receives injustice at the hand of the Lord. This is what makes grace so gracious.
"before the foundation of the world," - Then Paul, again under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaks of God choosing us in Christ, before the foundation of the world. Now, it must be said there’s a great deal of mystery which surrounds what might be one of the most challenging and difficult doctrines in all of Scripture. But if I'm going to do justice to the Bible, if I'm going to consistently preach and teach the whole counsel of God, straight out of the Bible, I can't just skip the hard parts.
The Bible says God chose us before He even created the world. That is, and here I have to speculate a little, that in the mind of God, as He was determining history and all which would ever come to pass, He thought of me, and of you, and of all those who would ever come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only had this but He chose us to receive the riches of His spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" - Allow me to add that in salvation God not only made redemption possible, but Paul affirms for the Ephesians and for us the purpose, the design, the end of Christ's redeeming work was not to simply make possible a means of salvation, but that He chooses would most assuredly be holy and blameless before Him in love. At the Cross, salvation was not merely made possible. As Jesus said, It is finished. What was finished is all that was necessary to see God's chosen saved.
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself," - Here Paul simply expands on the previous verse. There are those God has predestined, chosen, the concept is the same, unto adoption as children. Paul turns his readers to an example of our new relationship in Christ comparing it to children who have been adopted into a new family. In chapter two of Ephesians Paul will say we were all once children of disobedience, walking in
the course of this world, according to the prince of this world. So when we are born again by the Holy Spirit, we are born into the family of God. We are, in a sense, removed from our father the Devil and brought as adopted children in the family of God.
"according to the good pleasure of his will," - And like last week, with Paul's own calling and apostleship, what is the overall design behind all this? Verse 5 concludes with the answer; "the good pleasure of His will". And this echoes what I said last week. God's will is the foundation for all things. As believer's we need to come to see the world, as much as humanly possible, as a grand and glorious out-working of the will of a most wise and holy God. Our own salvation was not left to chance, but as Paul expounds here, was ordained before the foundations of the world, perfectly planned and executed as He saw fit.
"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." - The Apostle then concludes this matter in verse 6 praising the glory of God's grace. Because, beloved, salvation is all of grace. From first to last, divine grace bestows upon the sinner the redeeming blessings of Almighty God. Without grace there is no hope.
How does this passage affect us practically? I believe we have to come to a place where we simply trust in the wisdom, mercy and goodness of the Lord. We shouldn’t live wondering who is or isn’t chosen. Those secret things belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29). We must always bear in mind that we all deserve judgment. Man is by nature guilty. That God shows mercy to any of us is only a demonstration of His sheer unmerited grace.
Remember, God uses means to save people. He uses us preaching the Word, sharing our faith and praying for those we know are lost. Again, ours is not to try to figure out who is chosen or not. Ours is to be faithful. Ours is to fulfill the high calling of our glorious salvation. God does not leave us begging bread. No one has ever died in their sins who didn’t want to die in their sins. All who desire to come to Christ, who wants everlasting life, shall be effectually called and redeemed in the end. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.