EPHESIANS 1:3-14 JANUARY 25, 2015
“GOD IS IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS”
In the time of our founding fathers there were a great many intellectuals who were known as Deists. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were some of the most well known. Deists believed in a God who created all things but after his creation then left the world to operate on its own without the supervision or intercession of God on a daily basis. This religious movement looked upon “God as the great watchmaker, who built the watch, wound it up, and then left it alone to run by itself.” (R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess, page 80)
There are few individuals today who identify themselves as Deists. Yet a large number of people, including most Christians, have adopted this view of how the world operates. Our educational system teaches that the world operates independently and from natural causes. So most minds naturally follow the path that we have been taught which does not take into account the teaching of scripture. God has created all things and He remains in control of all things. I am going to use many scriptures today to back up what I am saying. I suggest you keep these scriptures for future reference, so you can later refer to them and ponder them.
Let’s first take a look at what God does not do. God is not the author of sin. God does not force people to do evil. James 1:13-15 (NIV) “13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” God is just and must punish sinners because God is holy, and in Him there is no sin, no darkness. 1 John 1:5-6 (NIV) “5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
Humans are not robots. God has given us freedom to make choices in life. Remember the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Years later his brother came to him in Egypt, where he was now in control of Pharaoh’s kingdom, asking to buy food. When he revealed himself to his brothers he said, Genesis 50:20 (ESV) “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”Peter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost spoke of Jesus. Acts 2:23 (NIV) “23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” In both of these events men chose to do evil. It was their choice, but God remains in control. Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) “28 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. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
God is in control of all things. When God acts it is by his decree. When God declared in Genesis “Let there be light”, there was light. When God orders something to occur, it takes place. It happens. I am sure you heard the word predestined in the scripture in Romans 8:29. I have found that many people have a knee jerk reaction to the word. Yet, one must acknowledge that predestined and predestination are found in scripture. So what does predestination mean?
Does it mean that God knew beforehand what was going to happen? God is all knowing, so did God see ahead of time what was going to happen and then decreed that it should be so. This idea is called “conditional election”. If this is your position, I must tell you this is not backed up by scripture. God knows in advance because he ordered it so before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV) “4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV) “11 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.”
Romans 9:11-16 (NIV) “11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
John 6:37-39 (NIV) “37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
John 17:2 (NIV) “2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”
Acts 13:48 (NIV) “48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
I have thrown a lot of scripture at you to show that God does predestine us to come to faith. Let’s reflect on what you already knew to be true. We are all sinners, deserving God’s condemnation and wrath. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). We also know that we are saved by God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Over the years I came to understand that no matter how well I preached I could not make people accept Christ. No matter how desperately I begged people to truly hear and respond to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ they did not repent and believe. When I was nineteen I spoke to my pastor and told him how desperately I wanted my brother to come to faith. He told me to keep trusting God and pray; and that my brother would come to faith in his own time. I later came to understand and accept that God works out his plans for this world according to his time schedule, not ours.
When I began to first understand the teaching of predestination in scripture I thought God was not being fair. Romans 9:18-21 (NIV) “18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” None of us knows whom God chooses to come to faith. We may think we know, but we do not. That knowledge belongs to God.
All people are invited to come to Christ. Yet, in our pride mankind says no every time. Salvation is the gift of God, so that man cannot boast. If God has already made the choice for us before the world began, you might ask why then should we evangelize and pray? The short answer is that God has commanded us to do so. We are called to tell others our story and how Christ saved us from our sins. God tells us to pray continually for the lost. God does hear the prayers of the righteous. (James 5:17)
We are human and do not like to think that others may exercise control over us, even if it is God. Yet, do not dismiss this teaching without reflection and asking God if it is true. When we allow these scriptures to guide us in our understanding of the faith, God will bring us to a greater appreciation of his grace and mercy. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” The writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith said of this doctrine. “The doctrine of predestination will elicit not only our praise, reverence, and admiration for God, but also a humble and diligent life, fully supporting everyone who sincerely obeys the gospel.” (Chapter 3.8)
God loves us so much that he called you to faith. He called you to believe and trust in Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. God is in control! Thanks be to God!
Let us pray.