13 Words to Circle

In this 13-point sermon, Jon will use Ephesians 1 to find out how God feels about his people and then will extract some practical lessons for our lives.
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If you have your Bible open up to the Ephesians 1. If you don't know already, it's Valentine's Day week. If you were here last night, I'm sure you know that. If you don't know that, here's your final warning. Husbands, boyfriends, get it together. You have very little amount of time. But this week, what we're going to see is we're going to see people go out of their way to show how they feel about someone else. You're going to see spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends. They want to show the other person how they feel and they're going to do that in a variety of ways.

I'm sure you've been in the stores and you see the aisles that are just covered in red gifts, right? You have the chocolate. I can't help but think of Forrest Gump. When I see a box of chocolate, you have the flowers, you have jewelry, some type of sentimental gift that's going to be given between somebody. There are the nice dinners, right? Got to make reservations somewhere. Maybe it's just a classic home cooked meal. They're going to be those that happen on Valentine's Day.

There's going to be quality time spent. There's going to be maybe a hobby or activity that your wife enjoys, maybe you don't. But that's your sacrifice on Valentine's Day, something of that nature. But you're going to go out of your way to show somebody how you feel about them. We say things a lot, but we know this, that words can be cheap if there's no action around them, right? We could say it all the time, but if there's no action, it doesn't mean much.

For example, when I was growing up, my father sometimes would tell my brothers and myself, he'd say, Do you love me? And of course you would say, "Yes, Dad, I love you." And then he would, in a great fatherly way, say, "Well, why don't you pick up after yourself?" Or "Why don't you do the chores around the house?" Or "When I'm doing something, why don't you help" and he wasn't trying to guilt me too much. Although parents are professionals and guilt trips and all the kids in here understand I'm talking about. But what he was trying to teach us was you show your love for somebody how by how you treat them, by how you act. And there's really good news in that point for Christians, because if you prove to someone how you feel about them through your actions, then we can take great joy and comfort from how God feels about you and I. And what we're going to do tonight is I want to look at a passage that really answers the question How does God feel about us as Christian people?

I assume most in here tonight are Christians. How does God feel about us? How does God look at us as his people and what we're going to see through this passage is exactly that. The answer to that question How does God feel about us? And we'll apply it in one or two ways at the end as well. We're going to read verses three through 14 and there's something that we're going to note.

So in our English language, we have verbs. They are past tense. They are present tense or future tense. But in the original language there is a verb called an aorist, and you have no idea that it's there, just on your own.

When you read the English and an aorist verb is simply a past action that has a present result. It is something that happened in the past that continues to have a result today. And these 11 verses there are 13 of those verbs. There are 13 times that we are told actions that God did in the past that still have a present result today. And when we come to look at those and understand what God has done for us, it'll be quite evident how God feels about His people.

We're going to break it up into three sections, if you would. We're going to talk about how God the Father feels about us, how Jesus the Son feels about us, even how He, the Holy Spirit feels about us. We see it emphasized in different ways in this passage. So if you have your Bibles, look at verse three, we're going to read verses three to verse six and we'll start there.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace...
- Ephesians 1:3-6a

Now we'll pause right there. If you loved to mark in your Bible, you will love this. I'm going to tell you what word it is, and you should circle it. If you don't mark in your Bible, I would encourage you find a piece of paper on the back of the pew in front of you and mark these down, because when you read this on your own in English, you will not see these here. And so it'll be a nice little note to have in your Bible if you don't want to write at all, do what I do. Use your notes in your phones. I do a little note section. It's a great way to keep class notes and sermon notes, but let's go through. Have you ever had a 13 point sermon, by the way? Well you have now.

The 13 Words

1. Blessed - vs. 3

The first word we find in action God did in the past that has a present result is in verse three, but don't circle it just yet because the word is blessed. You see that word twice. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us. It's the second blessed that you need to circle in your Bible.

He says he has blessed us in Christ with what? With every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Now, that's a theological point that we talk about a lot, meaning we talk often about how spiritual blessings are only found in one person in Jesus Christ. The point is more so about how wonderful is it that we have a God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and Jesus Christ, if you were to think of a spiritual blessing, salvation, forgiveness, grace, mercy, comfort, spiritual strength, whatever it may be, God has blessed us with that in Christ Jesus. It's found in Him.

I think about Christmas when kids write down a list of the gifts that they would love to have. They have a list and they hope that their parents or somebody (Santa) will come and they will bring them this gift. And how cool it is as a kid to open up that gift and say, I got what I wanted. Or when it comes to spiritual blessings, there is not one gift that God neglected to give his people. He says, all spiritual blessings, God gave us Jesus at one time, He still blesses us today by every spiritual blessing that we find in Him.

2. Chose - vs. 4

The second word is found in verse four, if you're marking in your Bible, it's the word chose. He says, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.

3. Predestined - vs. 5

Now, our religious world today takes this word and the word we're going to have in verse five, spoiler alert, it's predestined. And they get kind of confused sometimes when they look at these words and some people have some thoughts about scripture and God that are accurate to who he really is and what his plan is. Because they take these words and verses and they kind of take them the wrong way. And I don't want to get too far off into this, but I'll say this. We have people who think God goes throughout the Earth and handpicks people to be saved. For example, it's like he looks through Choctaw and he would say, Joe, yeah, Joe is good. Martha, Martha's good. Marty? Nope, sorry. And it doesn't matter how Marty lives and it doesn't matter what Marty does. Marty, you're not safe. Sorry, but for these people, it also doesn't matter how you live. You can do whatever you want because you're saved. That's not what God is teaching here.

Notice he says He chose us in him. What is being taught here is this God before everything had a plan that all people who would choose Jesus, who would submit their lives to him, he would choose those. That group of people for those who would submit to Jesus, God would choose them. It's not that God predetermined, despite what people's decisions are, but God made it a plan that said all people who would obey the Gospel, all people who would live by faith, by my word, I'm going to choose them before the foundation of the world.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
- Genesis 1:1

What this teaches us is that before the beginning we have no idea what was before they beginning despite except for God. God is God the Father, God the Son, God, the Spirit. And what this teaches us before everything that we see that's created God thought of man. Before everything was created, God knew man and He knew man would sin before anything that we know on this earth or in this universe, God only knew of man and that they would sin. But He knew what it would require to save mankind. He knew it would take a perfect sacrifice. God himself becoming flesh, living on this earth and dying on a cross. It would take perfect blood and God went ahead and created us anyway. God went ahead, created this universe, created mankind, and established a plan, and saw it followed through, followed through, through Jesus, so that you and I could find salvation.

What kind of love does that take? That's how desperately or how much he wants to live with mankind forever. It says he chose us in him. Long ago, God made the decision he was going to save Christians and he is still saving Christians today. He is predestined them, don't get the wrong idea there. But it's it's a similar idea of chosen Christian. Do you realize that you have been in God's mind much longer than he's been in yours?

I'm 28 years old. I'm not very old. I don't know if I've had God in my mind since I was born. I would assume not. Over time, I was trained and put him in my mind. Then I have to make the decision to put him and keep him in my mind. But it does not matter how long I live. There is no fathomable way that I can have God in my mind as long as He's had me in his. You can't even put a number on it. It's before time itself. How do you how do you measure that? How does that make you feel as a Christian, God has thought of you since before time began. That's a God who must care, who must think quite highly of the church and of the people who make up the church. He knew we would sing. He knew all of those decisions. He knew what it would require to make us right. He creates us anyway, and he thinks of us.

Notice at the end of verse or the beginning of verse six, it says to the praise of his glorious grace. Is that not a God who deserves praise? That's a God with glorious grace. That is a gift. And He deserves praise for that. And so what you see in that first little section is a father that is emphasized of being gracious, who deserves glory, because he has done action after action to show how he cares about his people.

In the next few verses we see the Son, Jesus Christ, being emphasized.

6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed 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 upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will
- Ephesians 1:6-11

Starting here, we find an emphasis on the Son. Now I will say this it can be somewhat complicated in this section to figure out when he's talking about the father or the son, because there's so many him and he's and through him phrases that it can be difficult at times to go through.

So there might be some of these words that do connect back with the father or that overlap to every part of God. But we do see a clear emphasis on the son in this section.

4. Blessed - vs. 6

If you're circling in your Bible, the next word is once again blessed. He has blessed us in the beloved. That's a reference to Jesus, the same beloved. He starts off in verse seven, he says, In Him, We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. This is a great gift, this grace. And it's been blessed upon us and Jesus. And he says, we have redemption through his blood. We have forgiveness in Jesus, our wrongs are righted in Jesus. Our mistakes are not only forgiven, but they are forgotten. He wipes our slate clean and he does this. It says, because Jesus is rich.

Have you ever gone out to lunch or dinner with somebody who will never let you pay? Some of you are sitting in this room. You never let me pay. You don't. I think all of you gonna let me pay now because I'm saying this and I don't ask some of you. I have asked, can I go? Can you come out to eat with me? I've invited you and you still won't let me pay. I don't know if you're rich or not, but you always have this phrase and you say, "I got it." I'm looking at some of you. You told me "I got it. Don't worry about I got it." Every time you swipe your card, funds are sufficient. You pay for the meal you can always cover it.

What we see here is that Jesus is rich in grace. He's got it. There is not a sin that Jesus His blood cannot cover. He has enough grace to say, "I got it." Whatever it is in your life that you fall short of the glory of God with Jesus as I have the ability to cover it, I got it. I'm rich in grace, I can cover all of it. And so he says, we've been blessed with this wonderful grace because he is rich.

5. Lavished - vs. 8

And when it comes to this rich grace, look at verse eight. The next word to circle, which he lavished upon us this grace. He lavished upon. That's not a word I have ever used. I would assume that is not a word many of you have used. The word means overflowing to abound.

I think about biscuits and gravy. I hope you don't do this, but if you do, don't tell me. I don't want to judge my brethren. But if you get biscuits and do you just put a little drop of gravy on them? I imagine no one really does that, though. What do we do? We get our biscuits and we cover them, don't we? It's like I don't even want to see my biscuits. I want to overflowing. That's the idea.

This is not as pretty of a picture, but last night we're eating a nice dinner. We're starting to clean up and water from the sink in the kitchen starts overflowing everywhere. Not as nice of a picture, but it lavished, I guess you could say. I don't know if that really fits, but the idea is it's abundant. It is overflowing, and God's grace is overflowing on the Christian.

6. Made - vs. 9

At the beginning of verse nine, we find our next word to circle, he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight making known. Or maybe your version says made known. Now, the verb would obviously be make or made, but it's idea. It's this idea that he has made known to us. That's the word. The circle making or made known in wisdom.

And inside it says that God revealed to us or made known to us the mystery of His will. If you hold your place, flip over to Ephesians 3, because four or five times in the letter of a Ephesians God, Paul mentions this mystery, and here he tells us what the mystery is.

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
- Ephesians 3:6

What he's saying here is that God allowed the Gentiles to know His will. God revealed this mystery of God, who He is, and being one of His people, and how Jesus was going to come and become flesh, God Himself to live, to die, to be resurrected. That is the mystery. Those who did not know God now can know God. Those who were not His people can now be his people.

Paul was writing to a mainly a Gentile audience, so this would fit what they're hearing. This would be important to them. That would include you and I. We were not a people originally who were in a covenant with God. We could know God by what is clearly seen, Paul would say in other writings. But we weren't. We didn't know this mystery until God made it known to us.

In the Book of Acts, you see that they started making disciples first in Jerusalem, they started with the people who had known God, who had known about a messiah, Judah, Judah, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth. Gentiles knew later on through Cornelius, the first one, and acts in Chapter 9-10. But the idea is God has made known this mystery.

Have you ever had a child annoy you by asking over and over, Now what? Now what? Or What's the plan? What's the point? What are we going to do? What's the plan? It's like we'll figure it out. Well, God actually let us in on the plan. God let us know His mystery. God let us know what His plan was. And that plan was to unite all people with him to save us.

7. Set Forth - vs. 9

In the same verse we will find our seventh word, making known to us the mystery of his will according to his purpose, which he circle this set forth, which is set forth in Christ this plan.

We won't add too much of a description to this word, but this plan, the idea is that to reveal this to the to all people that was the purpose that he set forth in Jesus. Jesus came mission minded with a purpose. Jesus came to the cross and part of his mission was not only to save one group of people, but it was to save all of mankind. And the Son was sent to make that mystery happen.

8. Unite - vs. 10

The next word that you need to circle is in verse ten, as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. God has united through Jesus Christ all things He unites those who are separated from God by sin.

He unites those who are divided by race. He unites those separated by gender. He unites those separated by their wealth or their occupation. All people, it says all things on heaven or on earth, he says. He unites them. He makes them one. He reconciles them. God, Jesus Christ is a bridge builder. He finds a way to mend gaps. He lays down himself so that people can now be united together.

It says God on the cross at one moment long time ago that one action united people then and it unites people today. Isn't it wonderful to be a part of a church that's united? It's not like that everywhere. I mean, we can just look out on our world. We are divided in every way imaginable, aren't we? Yet you come in this room and it doesn't matter about what you look like. If you're a man, if you're a woman, it doesn't matter. Politics or any of those things. We come together, we have the Word of God. We are united in Jesus Christ. We have a world that's divided that should never be what the church look like. It cost Jesus Christ his life to unite us. We should live in a united way. It says he is united all things everywhere.

9. Obtained - vs. 11

In him we have obtained an inheritance. An inheritance is typically a gift that one gets after a death, right? Maybe a parent dies. They've saved up. They've stored it for their child. Here comes the son and they receive this gift. What's interesting is that spiritually we have obtained an inheritance. We have obtained a gift from our Father in Christ.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
- Ephesians 1:13

Who is the guarantee of our inheritance? There's that word again until we acquire possession of it. So here's the idea we have an inheritance from God because of the death of our Savior and are ourselves dying. We have received an inheritance, but we don't actually get it just yet, he says. We will acquire it later on. So the idea would be, as he is talking about eternal life, he's talking about heaven. It's interesting that it actually requires our own death spiritually but also physically, for us to acquire this inheritance. But he says we've obtained one. We've obtained in a gift, one that's unfailing in perishable. It's being guarded for us, I would say, in other passages of Scripture, one that is certain beyond this life waiting for us.

10. Predestined - vs. 11

having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.

This is God's plan and always has been, to have a people who would die to self, to become in Christ, Jesus, to be His body, that he would say that was always God's plan and we won't we will go further just because we've already talked about this idea of predestined.

so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
- Ephesians 1:12

Paul's referring to himself, meaning the Jews. They were the first people to know Christ, to know about this Gospel, the Gentiles who are hearing this. They were not the first. They were the next group of people. But he says to the praise of his glorious grace, That's the second time we've seen that phrase. Does Jesus Christ not deserve our praise for what He's done for you and I had to come to Earth to live, to leave a perfect home, to leave perfection and everything, you know, to come to this planet that is filled and marred with sin and ugliness and brokenness, to live, to abstain from all things unholy, all temptation, to suffer the way that he did. He did that to save you and I to the praise of his glorious grace.

The last section we've talked about, the father, we've talked about the son. And here we find a mention of the spirit.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
- Ephesians 1:13

Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of His glory?

11. Heard - vs. 13

So there are three more words that you need to circle. The first in verse 13 is heard. Now this is it about the spirit. This is about this individual. He's reminding them of their salvation. He says, Remember, you heard the word of truth. That sounds a lot like faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.

12. Believed - vs. 13

And then he says, So you've heard the word, the gospel of your salvation, the message that saved you and circle this word believed. So you heard faith comes by hearing there's this faith, this trust. So you heard you believed in him. You obeyed the gospel. And notice what he says happens when they heard and believed when they had obeyed this message. He says, You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. So here there's our mention of the Spirit.

13. Sealed - vs. 13

What Paul is saying here is that when you become a Christian, you are sealed. And this idea of sealed means it's an identification mark. It means you have now been marked. That's what it means. Think about a presidential seal. When the president wants to write, wants to write a letter to somebody, he seals it with a presidential mark. So when you get something, you know who it's from. I see that that's from the president. I know that's that's a seal. Here's the idea. God says, when I see my children, they have been sealed. There is a mark that they have an identification mark that I recognize them as my child.

Now, for those who believe in a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a Christian, what might be a very cool idea is this that when you receive the Holy Spirit at your baptism, God marks you. In a way it is, though God looks down on you now in your life. He sees the Spirit within you, and he says, That's my child. He identifies you by the spirit that he's placed within you. And that's just a cool idea to think about. And he says and that, Mark, is the guarantee of your inheritance until you acquire it to the praise of his glorious grace.

Now that his might be talking about the father, it might be talking about the son, but maybe you could say it could also reference the spirit. It's interesting to me sometimes that we call God the Father and we call Jesus the son, and then we say the Holy Spirit. You know, he's a he and he is just as much God as the other two. And God deserves to be praised in all forms.

So the Spirit, the Father, the Son, we find all of them here. But those are 13 words, and most of them have to do with what God has done in the past that has a present result. So what's the whole point of those 13 words? Why share and go through all of that? Why give you your first 13 point sermon for one, just so you to know, for you to know that, Christian, you are special to God, you are special to God.

When you read that beautiful passage, is it not evident the way God feels about His people? Really, it's evident how God feels about his creation in general. The only difference is some don't choose to obey and follow. But it's evident how God feels about his people. Look at what God has done throughout time and His plan before the beginning of time to bring us into a relationship with him.

God made a world and essentially moved everything in it to have a loving relationship with you and I do have a saving relationship with his church. God really loves his people, you know, we think Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so. Those words aren't cheap because we have seen at every turn in all of life's existence that God really does love His people. God truly does. But it is interesting that while words can be cheap without action and God has all the action to prove it, he still says, I love you for God so loved the world He gave his only son.

We can trust that God feels a certain way about us as Christians. God considers us significant. I don't know about you, but there are days I feel quite small on this planet. There are days I feel like I'm not very important. I do not matter much. There are days where I feel unlovable, unworthy of grace. There are days where I don't like myself very much.

Maybe we should all be encouraged to read this passage on a day like that because it proves that we are special to God. God truly does love us and He has proved it. If God thinks we matter, if God thinks, if God wants to spend eternity with us, if God thinks we're worth saving, if He loves us, maybe we should believe him.

Maybe we should believe him and feel the same way too. We should take comfort and encouragement in that. But then the last application for you tonight, did you notice the phrase that was used three times at the end of each section to the praise of his glorious grace? God is worthy of our praise now, only because of who He is, but because of what he's done.

And if that passage, if that doesn't cause our heart to burst with thankfulness, if that doesn't cause us to wonder, if it doesn't cause our lips to bless his name. Something is wrong with our heart Something's wrong with our heart. He deserves honor and glory. He deserves prayers of gratitude. He deserves a cheerful heart. He deserves our songs, He deserves our worship. Sunday to Sunday every day in between, not just an hour. He deserves our praise. He's proven he's worthy of it.

And so tonight, the reason why we had the sermon at the beginning was this. Tonight, it might be that you aren't a Christian. All spiritual blessings are found in Jesus Christ. And if you're not a Christian, we would love to help you make that decision when we stand and sing in just a moment. But it also might be that you are a Christian. I wanted you to get the opportunity to praise his glorious grace with great attention and intention. Is he not worthy of our praise?

We're going to sing a few songs here after this lesson. I think of what we just read as we sing those songs. That is a God who deserves all of our heart while we worship. And so as we just kind of offered up an invitation, if you do need to become a Christian, if you've heard, if you believe, but you need to be seated, we can help you do that. But it might be that you're already there. Let's make sure we are praising his glorious grace every day, but especially right now as we start to sing.

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