Ephesians 1:11-12

Sermon preached on January 15, 2006 by Laurence W. Veinott. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.newlifeop.org/.

The story of Jim Eliot and the other missionaries is fascinating. They were killed. But some of their wives and children went and lived among the natives and won them to Christ. One of the things that makes the story incredible is the fact that such a bond formed between the dead missionaries families and the very natives who had killed them.
Steve Saint said,

"My first feeling about my father being killed by these same people was that it made me more one of them than it separated me from them because a number of my friends' fathers had been speared. I was just one of the crowd."

They had things in common and he was able to show them the love of Christ.

Another child who lived among the natives also grew to love them.
Kathy said that when she was going to get baptized, she said,

"wanted people present who had a significant role in my life and spiritual development."

So she went back to the tribe. She was baptized near where her father was murdered. She said,

"I was in the same water where dad's body had been thrown and at either side were two men, that, in their youth, had killed dad. And all I knew was that I really loved these two guys."

The natives could relate to the story of Christ in part, because he was speared and they knew all about spearing. It said in the DVD that over five generations they found that 60% of the adults died from homicide, with spearing accounting for many. Dawa said,

"Being speared himself, God's one and only Son did not spear back. He let Himself be killed, so the people killing Him would one day live well."

It's an incredible story—one in which God's glory shone forth. God's plan encompassed and overcame sin, and brought many to Christ. The missionaries who died and the wives who survived them—were for the praise of God's glory.

That illustrates our text. Paul is here showing us the
second goal of predestination. In verse 5 we saw that we were predestined to be adopted as God's sons. Here we see that Christians are predestined to be for the praise of God's glory. This text shows us why we are here, it shows us one of the great purposes of our existence. This is a wonderful and glorious text—and one that can be very useful to us. So let's look at it more carefully.

Our text says that

the early Jewish Christians, who are God's heritage, were predestined, according to God's plan, which encompasses everything, in order that they might be for the praise of God's glory.

Notice that I said, 'the early Jewish Christians'. Paul was referring specifically to the early Jewish Christians. He makes a distinction between himself and the Ephesian Christians. We see this clearly in verse 12 where he says,

"in order that we,
who were the first to hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory."

And then in verse 13 Paul writes,

"And you also were included in Christ
when you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation.
Having believed,
you were marked in him with a seal,
the promised Holy Spirit,"

Paul is talking making a distinction between the Jewish Christians who first believed and the Gentile Christians who received the gospel later. Considering that, it also seems that the 'we' of verse 11 making the same distinction.

"In him we were also chosen,
having been predestined
according to the plan of him
who works out everything
in conformity with the purpose of his will,
in order that we,
who were the first to hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory."

So what Paul says in verses 11 and 12 is not referring to the Ephesian Christians, but to the first Jewish believers.

Even though that's true, we are not to suppose that the things in verses 11 and 12 have no application to the Ephesian, Gentile Christians or to us. We've already seen that in
verses 4 and 5, referring to election and predestination, Paul uses the word, 'us'. He included the Gentile Christians in these great events. And while it's true that verse 12 specifically refers to the first Jewish believers as being,

"to the praise of His glory,"

verse 14 asserts this same thing for the Gentile Christians. We read, (verses 13-14)

"Having believed,
you were marked in him with a seal,
the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
until the redemption
of those who are God's possession
—to the praise of his glory."

So even though in verses 11 and 12 Paul is specifically referring to the early Jewish Christians, these truths of predestination and being to the praise of God's glory—are not specific to them. As Charles Hodge writes, (Ephesians, p. 60)

"the Gentile Christians… are comprehended in the same purpose."

Nor are we to think that what Paul says about the Gentile Christians, being marked with the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit, guaranteeing their inheritance—does not apply to the Jewish Christians. No, they have the Spirit as a deposit as well. These distinctions were not made for us to think that there is a huge difference between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Why is Paul making these distinctions? I suspect that the reason is because he's leading up to the great teaching he presents in chapter 2—that the Gentile Christians are no longer foreigners and aliens, (verse 19)

"but fellow citizens with God's people
and members of God's household,"

Indeed, the latter part of chapter 2 of Ephesians is about God making one new people out of the two—both Jews and Gentiles becoming the one people of God. So we are not at all to think that the great truths of predestination and being to the praise of God's grace in verses 11 and 12 don't apply to us.

Thus this truth is a great reason we should praise God. God has made us one with His ancient people. There are not now two people's of God—but one. You Christians who have faith in Jesus are children of Abraham.

But Paul tells us something more about those who were predestined according to God's plan, to be the praise of God's glory. Who are these people?

They are God's inheritance.

The verb that Paul uses here that is translated 'chosen' by the NIV is different from the word that he used in verse 4 where Paul says that we were chosen before the foundation of the world. The word used means, (Hodge)

'to cast lots, to distribute by lot, to choose by lot and in the middle voice, to obtain by lot or inheritance'

Some understand this, (like the NIV translators) as meaning, 'chosen' as it were by lot, i.e. freely. (Of course they weren't chosen by lot, but in accordance with God's pleasure and will (verses 5 & 9). But many others consider it to mean, 'in whom we have obtained an inheritance'. The verb is in the passive voice and most likely refers to the receiving of the inheritance. Verses 14 and 18 mention the inheritance which believers enjoy. Verse 14 talks about the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance. In verse 18 Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would have the eyes of their hearts enlightened so that they would know the

"riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."

Not only that, but certain parts of Ephesians are paralleled in Colossians and in the parallel passage there, Colossians 1:12, reads,

"giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share
in the inheritance of the saints
in the kingdom of light."

The idea is that, (F. F. Bruce, Ephesians, p. 263)

"believers in Christ are God's chosen people, claimed by him as his portion or heritage."

In the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8-9, the nations of the world are assigned to various angelic beings, but Yahweh retains Israel as his personal possession. (F. F. Bruce).

"For the LORD's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance."

The first Jewish believers were claimed by God as His own. This also applies to us. We have the Spirit, who guarantees our inheritance. We need to have our eyes enlightened so that we can see the 'riches of the glorious inheritance that we have in Christ'.

We are God's heritage. We are the Lord's portion. We are His special possession. In Christ we have been given to God as His inheritance. We belong to God. We are His, He is ours.

What is God's intention for us, His heritage?

God has arranged everything and is working out everything so that we may be to the praise of His glory.

We could not be any safer. Not only has God brought us close and made us one with His people, not only has he made us His heritage, here we see that we have been predestined, or marked out beforehand, and that this marking out is accompanied by God's power in such a way that God works out everything in accord with His will so that we may be to the praise of His glory.

We couldn't ask for more than this. Everything that happens is arranged by God so that you will be to the praise of His glory.

Christians, be to the praise of God's glory! Let everything that happens to you rebound to God's glory. Praise Him in all circumstances.

Let this truth sink in. Perhaps unconsciously we have the attitude,

"If only things went better for me, then I'd really be able to praise God. But as it is, things aren't going that well, so I'm kind of hemmed in. If only I had more money, I'd be better able to be to the praise of God's glory. If only I had better neighbors, I'd be better able to be to the praise of God's glory. If only my health was better, I'd be better able to be to the praise of God's glory. If only my kids were better behaved, I'd be better able to be to the praise of God's glory."

No, no, no. You should be to the praise of God's glory in the exact circumstances you are in. Nothing happens to you by accident. It's all part of God's plan. God works out everything in accord with His purposes. John Calvin writes, (Institutes, 1:16:8, John Allen's translation, quote from John Murray's Collected Works)

"The will of God is the supreme and first cause of all things, because nothing happens but by his command or permission."

Jesus showed us something of this in Matthew 10:29 where Jesus said,

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from the will of your Father."

A sparrow's life is totally encompassed in God's plan. A sparrow cannot die and fall to the ground unless God wills it. God works out everything according to His will, including what happens to you. Nothing is outside His will.

We see this in the story of
Joseph. When he made himself known to his brothers, he said, (Genesis 45:4f)

"I am your brother Joseph,
the one you sold into Egypt!
And now, do not be distressed
and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here,
because it was to save lives
that God sent me ahead of you.
For two years now there has been famine in the land,
and for the next five years
there will not be plowing and reaping.
But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you
a remnant on earth and to save your lives
by a great deliverance.
So then, it was not you who sent me here,
but God.
He made me father to Pharaoh,
lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."

Joseph repeated the same thing to his brothers after Jacob died. They were afraid that he was going to harm them, but Joseph told them not to be afraid. He said, (Genesis 50:19f)

"'Don't be afraid.
Am I in the place of God?
You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good
to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.
So then, don't be afraid.
I will provide for you and your children.'
And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."

God's will encompassed and over-ruled the sinful wills of Joseph's brothers. God worked through it to bring His good purpose to pass.

We see this in the case of
Job as well. When Job lost all his possessions and his children, he didn't ultimately trace the case to the Sabeans, who stole his oxen and donkeys, or to the Chaldeans who stole his camels. He didn't attribute fire coming down from heaven and destroying his sheep and their shepherds to mother nature. When a mighty wind blew in from the desert and destroyed the house with his children in it–he didn't ultimately attribute that to Satan and the demons. No. He said, (Job 1:21)

"The LORD gave
and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."

When wicked King Ahab was killed at Ramoth Gilead, who caused it? In 1 Kings 22 we read that King Ahab disguised himself as he went into battle, (verse 34)

"But someone drew his bow at random
and hit the king of Israel
between the sections of his armor."

He was killed. How did it happen? If you read the previous section you'll see that Micaiah the prophet said, (verse 19f)

"I saw the LORD sitting on his throne
with all the host of heaven standing around him
on his right and on his left.
And the LORD said,
'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead
and going to his death there?'
One suggested this, and another that.
Finally, a spirit came forward,
stood before the LORD and said,
'I will entice him.'
'By what means?'
the LORD asked.
'I will go out and be a lying spirit
in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said.
'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD.
'Go and do it.'"

Ahab believed the lying spirit, which told him he would be successful at Ramoth Gilead, and he went to his death there, as God purposed.

Psalm 135:5-6,

"I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The LORD does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths."

Isaiah 46:9f,

"I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times,
what is still to come.
I say:
My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land,
a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said,
that will I bring about;
what I have planned,
that will I do."

What about where you live? Has that been determined by God? Yes. In Acts 17:25-26 the apostle Paul said,

"And he is not served by human hands,
as if he needed anything,
because he himself gives all men
life and breath and everything else.
From one man he made every nation of men,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live."

That passage also tells us every breath you take is given to you by the direct power of God. Even the length of your life has been determined by God. In Job 14:5,

"Man's days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed."

We read the same thing in Psalm 139:16,

"All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."

Romans 8:28 says,

"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."

Calvin, Institutes, (I:16:8)

"we make God the ruler and governor of all things, who in accordance with his wisdom has from the farthest limit of eternity decreed what he was going to do, and now by his might carries out what he has decreed. From this we declare that not only heaven and earth and the inanimate creatures, but also the plans and intentions of men, are so governed by his providence that they are borne by it straight to their appointed end."

F. F. Bruce writes, (Ephesians, 263-264)

"His will may be disobeyed, but his ultimate purpose cannot be frustrated, for he overrules the disobedience of his creatures in such a way that it subserves his purpose."

Bruce quotes Acts 4:27-28 in support of this. It says,

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate
met together with the Gentiles
and the people of Israel in this city
to conspire against your holy servant Jesus,
whom you anointed.
They did what your power and will
had decided beforehand should happen."

God's plan encompasses everything. You Christians should rejoice and praise God for this because no matter what powers seek to destroy you, they will fail. No matter how dark things look for you—your destiny is in glory with Jesus and that will surely come to pass. How you should praise God for that.

Fifthly, we see that this predestinating according to the plan of Him who works everything out in conformity with the purpose of His will has a purpose—

it was that they might be for the praise of God's glory.

For the praise of God's glory. Charles Hodge writes, (Ephesians, p. 58)

"that is, that we should be the means of causing his divine majesty and excellence to be praised."

This is the ultimate result. That's your calling. Everything that happens to you is encompassed in God's plan and should cause you to honor and magnify God.

But what our text shows us is that

you ought to be seeking to be the praise of God's glory in every situation that you face.

Satan said that Job would curse God if God took certain things away from him. But Satan was proved wrong. Job bowed down and worshiped God. That's what we should do. In his Institutes John Calvin reminds us that this teaching is especially useful to us when we undergo difficulties—from other people or from circumstances. He writes, (Institutes, I:17:8)

"If Joseph had stopped to dwell upon his brothers' treachery, he would never have been able to show a brotherly attitude toward them. But since he turned his thoughts to the Lord, forgetting the injustice, he inclined to gentleness and kindness, even to the point of comforting his brothers and saying: 'It is not you who sold me into Egypt, but I was sent before you by God's will, that I might save your life' [Genesis 45:5, 7-8 p.]. "Indeed you intended evil against me, but the Lord turned it into good." [Genesis 50:20, cf. Vg.] If Job had turned his attention to the Chaldeans, by whom he was troubled, he would immediately have been aroused to revenge; but because he at once recognized it as the Lord's work, he comforts himself with this most beautiful thought: "The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" [Job 1:21]. Thus David, assailed with threats and stones by Shimei, if he had fixed his eyes upon the man, would have encouraged his men to repay the injury; but because he knows that Shimei does not act without the Lord's prompting, he rather appeases them: "Let him alone," he says, "because the Lord has ordered him to curse" [2Samuel 16:11]. By this same bridle he elsewhere curbs his inordinate sorrow: "I have kept silence and remained mute," says he, "because thou hast done it, O Jehovah" [Psalm 39:9]. If there is no more effective remedy for anger and impatience, he has surely benefited greatly who has so learned to meditate upon God's providence that he can always recall his mind to this point: the Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient. To sum this up: when are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God's just dispensation."

Even more than that—you are to use that circumstance to praise God. God controls everything so that we might be to the praise of His glory. In every trial, in every difficulty, in every circumstance—try to be to the praise of God's glory.

Shortly before he died
James Montgomery Boice performed one last duty to his congregation. He was dying from a very aggressive form of cancer and he was too weak to do much. But he went to church one Sunday and before the service started he told the congregation about his condition, and how he wouldn't change God's will, because it was perfect. Then he told them he was too weak to stay for the entire service, but that he was going to give the call to worship. He then read from 1 Chronicles chapter 16:

"Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among the peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy is His dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, O family of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before him and worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. Tremble before Him, all the earth!"

In all things your are to be to the praise of His glory. The wonderful thing is that you can do that. God is controlling all things—you are His heritage. You, and the things that happen to you—are part of His great plan. You were created to be,

"To the praise of His glory."

Work at it with all your might.