Sermon June 17, 2006 : Ephesians 1 (Part 2)

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Date: June 17, 2006
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

Look at the passage where we left off last week. One of the things for example, that I just share with you about, when you’re studying a text of the Bible is there are different kinds of considerations that you could take into account, that can help you to understand the whole book or sometimes an expression that you’re using or rather that you’re reading.

So, for example, you know, you will see that as we study these chapters we’re looking at historical considerations that you know, people speak of context. I mean, the history of, you know, where was Ephesus, and what was Asia Minor, and what were some of the concerns that Paul was addressing here, the whole….. the corruption for example, of the whole Greco Roman world.

Ephesus was a city that had a big, major temple dedicated to Diana and it was one of the marvels of the world and Diana was a goddess among other things, of sexuality and there was a whole sector, right next to the temple of sacred prostitutes. There was this whole thing of sacred prostitution.

So, when you see in this book Paul speaking about holiness and about, you know, the way we should conduct ourselves as believers and so on, you know, you understand how important it was for the Apostle to speak about that in the context of a world that was very corrupt, right where this people were living.

It would have been very similar to the south end, here in Boston, for example, or you know, one of the big cities of America. So, it’s important to look at the historical considerations of a book and learn about the history and when was it written, and what was the social environment in which it was written, because, sometimes it will provide some information.

Also you may look at theological terms. Terms that repeat themselves all through the Bible and, you know, we talked about predestination, here that the Apostle Paul says ‘he predestined us to be adopted as his sons’. So, predestination, adoption, we’re going to talk a little bit about that.

‘He chose us in him’, which is election. You know, even the word Apostle of Christ Jesus, right at the very beginning and all these different terms are filled with meaning and they have theological contents that you see all throughout the New Testament that these terms are used and even in the Old Testament. So it’s important to know these terms and to know what they mean and what they refer to.

Predestination, for example, and election have divided de church over the centuries. You know, for example, between Calvinists and Armenians, you know, whether God chooses you and predestines you without your having any say in it. And once God says, you know, ‘you’re going to be saved’, you can’t help but be saved. So, he chooses you and you were born already God knowing whether you were going to be saved or damned.

And then people say, ‘well, if God knew, then where is my freedom?’. And you know, some people say, ‘well, no he didn’t choose you specifically or God doesn’t predestine you, you have a will, you have a free will’. And so, people have been divided over these terms. There are books written and doctoral dissertations on these theological terms.

Then there are linguistic considerations. You know, what does the word, for example, Apostle mean? You know, in Greek apostolein, means to be sent, so an Apostle is somebody who is sent. Messiah means ‘anointed one’ and Cristos is the Greek translation of Messiah, which is anointed. And so these words, it’s important to know some of the Greek in order to understand the full meaning. And we’ll get a couple of those. So, that’s another area that you can understand, you know, a text that you’re reading.

Another area is like stylistic considerations. You know, when you look at Paul, he loves to use words like grace and peace and in him. We saw that, for example, in verse 4. He says, ‘for he chose us in him, in Jesus’. This idea of in Jesus, being in Jesus, is always very important to Paul; or being in the spirit. And so, these words are stylistically typical of the Apostle Paul.

And if you know what these words mean, you can immediately when you’re reading a text written by Paul, you know exactly what he means and so it’s good to know these stylistic things when you’re reading a text.

Sometimes actually, there has been a lot of controversy between scholars, for a lot of people have said, for example, that Ephesians could not have been written by the Apostle Paul, because the style of the letter is not typical of Paul. They mention, for example, the fact that there is about 50 to 60 words that Paul doesn’t use in any of his other letters.

But then, you know, other scholars have said, ‘well, if this letter isn’t like any other letter that Paul wrote, and he’s touching on themes that he had not touched on before, so of course he would use terms and words that he hadn’t used before’.

So, you know, there are these kinds of …. Also, you know, for example, people have said, ‘he could have written Ephesians because he spent three years there, in Ephesus and there was a beautiful relationship between them and yet, in his book, in this letter, he’s very dry, he doesn’t really talk about anything personal between him and the Ephesians. So, you know, this book is too general, too universal in its content to have been written to an audience or a group of readers that he knew intimately.

And so, by the style scholars seek to extract meaning out of, you know, a letter, or a book of the Bible. You know, they have applied these kind of considerations to the Book of Isaiah, for example, or you know, the Book of Esther, or other books in the Bible and they have, you know, said ‘no, it can’t be possible’.

For example, in Isaiah, they sort of have identified like 3 different styles so they have tried to say that 3 different people wrote what became the Book of Isaiah because the styles are very different.

And then, you know, there are manuscripts’ considerations. People have said that Ephesians was not addressed to the Ephesians, because the best manuscripts and the oldest ones that we have don’t include ‘in Ephesus’. They just say ‘to the saints, the faithful in Christ Jesus’. Although all the other manuscripts that we have, because you know, sometimes there are hundreds of copies that are still around of a book, you know, they copied and copied. They didn’t have a Xerox then. They didn’t know that probably, but you know, they did it by hand. So, that there’s all kinds of variations and you can tell sometimes a lot about a book by the variations and there’s all kinds of controversies around manuscript things, or related to manuscripts.

Then there are things of authorship. This wasn’t Paul who wrote this, you know, and of course once you know the author and also the destination as here in Ephesians, there’s all kinds of other things that you can get out of it.

And finally, you know, why was it written? Sometimes the reason why a book is written is very important, like in the Book of Colossians, for example, which is very related to the Book of Ephesians. We know that Colossians was written specifically to exalt Jesus as the son of God and to establish the fact that salvation only comes through Jesus, because there was a heresy going around in Colossus about you know, Gnostic influences that said that you became saved through knowledge and that whole controversy was penetrating the church. And so Paul wrote Colossians to present Jesus as the only way to the Father and to salvation, not knowledge.

In Galacians, for example, the purpose of the Book was to exalt salvation by grace, because the Galacians were beginning to receive influences from people who taught that you had to be circumcised as well as believing in Jesus in order to be saved. So, Paul wrote Galacians for the purpose of correcting that doctrine that was threatening to kill a very important aspect of Christian doctrine, which was the salvation is by grace, it’s free. It’s just Jesus alone and nothing else.

So, you know, if you know the purpose of a Book, then that gives you a better understanding of it. So, you know, I do want to give you these ideas so that when you do your own study in your own reading of the Bible, you take these things into consideration.

I suggest a good commentary, a good concordance. Sometimes by comparing terms, how they’re used in different places you get a good sense of what a term means as a whole.

So, you know, all these different things, please, read the Bible with a purpose. Don’t just read the Bible, you know, kind of devotion, just to read, read, read. Take time to develop a good body of knowledge that will serve you wherever you go and whenever you take time to read the word.

So, let’s again quickly, verse 3, we’ve gone through this, but let’s just read it and they I’ll stop where we stopped last time and continue from there.

It says “…..Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for he chose us in him, before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…..”

And by the way, I can not refrain even as I try to go beyond that, I was in real rush last Saturday, but you know, to stop there for a moment, and you know, it says here that ‘he chose us –by the way- in him.’ See that expression, that preposition that Paul uses so much ‘in him’?

This idea of ‘in Jesus’, I cannot refrain from pointing out that it repeats itself time and time again in this passage. Because, you know, Paul is expressing this central importance of Jesus Christ. Everything that God does in relationship to us is through the person of Jesus Christ. You know, we live in Jesus.

It says, “…in him we live and move and have our being”. You know, Jesus is essential. Jesus said ‘remain in me, and I in you, and you will bear much fruit’.

You know, to Paul this idea of the centrality of Jesus was crucial so he always spoke about ‘in him’, ‘in Jesus, ‘in Christ’. You know, the whole Christian life is live in absolute unity with Jesus Christ. You know, outside him there’s no salvation, there’s no power, there’s no fruit, there’s no wisdom, there’s no authority. Everything, for the Christian, everything revolves, all the things that we receive from the father, you know, time and time again, Paul speaks about all the things that we have received from God.

You know, it says, “…..blessed be God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

You see, God has done a whole lot of things, he’s chosen us, he’s predestined us, he’s blessed us with all kinds of riches, he’s forgiven us, but all of that is through and in Christ. You know, as believers we can never be too far away from Christ. It’s not me, it’s not my strength, it’s not my wisdom, it’s not my intelligence, it’s not my self control that can help me to live the kind of life that God wants me to live. I have to know that I depend on Jesus, I depend on Christ for his strength, for his holiness. It’s Christ living his life through me.

And so that’s why it’s so important….. I think that’s one of the key reasons why prayer is so important. It’s because when we pray it’s like we are plugging ourselves into the life and the energy of Jesus Christ. It’s like, you know, somebody who is on dialysis, you know, the machine is cleansing the blood and replacing it with fresh blood, and it’s like that you know, when I’m in Jesus, when I’m praying, when I’m meditating on Jesus, it’s like I’m yoking my life and I’m connecting my life to him and Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ personality, Jesus’ life is transmitting itself through me and cleansing me and imparting to me the personality and the energy and the power, and the love of Jesus Christ.

So, that’s why, my brothers and sisters, it’s so important that whatever we do, we do it in Christ. I mean, today I had the rare privilege of spending the day at home and you know, no interruptions of any sort. I didn’t have to go visit anybody, I made sure last night, there was a family I was supposed to be meeting with today and I had the opportunity to go last night, so I went last night and said, ‘today I’m going to take the day’, and I spent some time in this little garden that we have in the back of our house and I read the word, I was able to pray, I was able to read a book that I’d wanted to read for a long time on, you know, related to the scriptures. And I was able to meditate on the Lord, and you know, I took the time, just to….. and I don’t say this for you to admire or anything like that, just you know, I just want to be an example in the sense of…… and I took time to fast today until this afternoon.

You know, I feel so good. I feel so energized. You know, the presence of the Lord, I feel it, I feel it so clearly in my life. It’s like taking one of these windows that is full of dust and so when you wipe it with Windex and you know, you can see clearly. Or take the mirror in your bathroom and you wipe it off and all of a sudden you can see your image very clearly.

It’s so important, my brothers and sisters to yoke yourselves to Christ, because you know, when we do that, when we live in Christ, when we take time to meditate upon the Lord and to renew our relationship with Jesus through, you know, take the dust of our minds and how we see Jesus. I tell you, it is wonderful. It’s like our battery is recharged.

Because many times we’re trying to do things by ourselves. If you’re feeling that your life is, your Christian life and your Christian walk is kind of low and you don’t feel that enthusiasm, that energy, maybe it’s because you need to take some time to renew that ‘in Jesus’, ‘in Christ’.

So, you know that’s important but you know what really I wanted to share with you is this idea that says there “…. He chose us in him, before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless”.

Holy and blameless. The word ‘holy’, agios, and the word ‘blameless’, amomos, are really very revealing words. And I didn’t want to go beyond that. That’s what is say, I mean, I could go on and on but we could stop. I mean, right here we could get a whole lot of things. Why go on to other things, right?

Amen. Amen. Please, work with me. Come on, help me out here. I tell you what, I’m going to assign to you, each one of you is supposed to say ‘Amen’ at some point in the service. You know, so you take turns, ok? Each one, just kidding, but it would help a little bit you know, we’re not that many so sometimes that gets the adrenaline flowing a little bit on the spirit, whatever.

Anyway, ‘agios’, you know, it’s interesting it says ‘….. God chose us’ for these two things. I mean, God chose us for many things, but he chose us…. Paul at this moment focuses on two things that God chooses us for, to be ‘agios’ and to be ‘amomos’.

Agios is the word that was used for example, for the vessels in the temple, to be consecrated. In the word holiness, there’s, you know, theologians have spoken about being separated from and separated for. You know, that’s the idea of holiness. There’s this idea of purpose. There’s this idea of difference in the word of holiness.

So, for example, you know, the vessels in the temple, they were holy; the vestiduras, the dresses of the priests were holy; the instruments in the temple were holy; the temple itself were holy. Why? How? Well, number one, they were different. They were different from any other vessel, from any other metal contraption or container. They were different, just as we, as believers, are supposed to be different from the world.

Again, imagine, and you we’ll get to see that more later on. But imagine the corruption that there was in Ephesus, a place dedicated to sacred prostitution, to sexuality openly. Gods that were the origin of all kinds of corruption. It was a world of darkness, the demonic was very much in play. It was sort of, world of, you know, Darwinist kind of existence, because there weren’t really, except for the philosophers who able to study ethics and so on and so forth, I mean, it was a world that was not morally educated, not ethically highly educated.

And so, here comes Christianity with all the content of the Old Testament and all the high calling of being like Jesus and this holy God and certainly believers were supposed to be different. They were supposed to be holy in the sense that they were supposed to be different from the rest of the world, just like we, now, here in the XXI Century.

I don’t have to insist too much on this world that we live in, this society that we live in. And God says, you know, ‘you are supposed to be very different from the rest of the world. People should see you, people should see your life style and they should know right away that you are different. You can live in the world, you can be in the market place, you can be in the world of academia, you can be a housewife in your neighborhood, but you must be different, you must walk in a different way. You must behave in a different way. The way you treat others, the way you speak to others, the way you relate to truth and honesty should be very different from the rest of the world.’

If you’re a teacher, you should be the best teacher, the most merciful teacher, compassionate. Your values that you teach to your students should be different. If you’re an engineer, you might think, ‘well, an engineer what.. how different can an engineer be? He’s dealing with mathematics and science and so on. Yes, in the way you treat your colleagues, the way you conduct your experiments, the pulchritude that you do things with should stand out among others.

And the other thing is, you know, separate …. This holiness in the sense of separation. The vessels in the temple were separated from any other vessel. They were separated from anything that was mundane. So, for example, in the Book of Ezequiel which talks about the temple, I was struck the other day by the fact that it says that “….when the priests take of their priestly robes” after conducting the ceremonies inside the temple “…. They should not take their robes into the multitude”, into the outside world in order that they not be contaminated or somehow that by touching them, other people be sanctified in a way that is not appropriate before the Lord, that they should take off their robe and leave it in the holy place, and then walk out into the mundane world, because those robes were separated, you know, for one purpose alone. They had to be separated from the rest of the world. And they were separated for a particular purpose.

So, in a sense, you know, we have been separated from the world, we have been separated from all ….. you know, we are not supposed to live and to allow ourselves the same kinds of pleasures and the same kinds of privilege that a normal human being allows himself.

We know, for example, that in the Middle Ages and even after the Middle Ages, during the Renaissance, if you were born into a royal family, into a kingly family, for example, you know, your life didn’t belong to you. So, if you were a prince, for example, your parents had every right and your nation had every right to marry you off to, let’s say, another princess from another nation, if that somehow worked out for the benefit of the nation, to strengthen the kingdom, to bring more money, more power to establish alliances, to stop war and so on and so forth. So, you were like a pun, really and this is where the expression “noblesse oblige” comes from, that nobility obligates you to do something, to do things sometimes that you don’t want to do. Your very nobility puts you in a place that is very…. You know, you are existing for a different purpose. And you know, that’s the way it is for us.

Sometimes, oh, why can’t I go to see any movie that everybody else wants to go to? You know, why do I have to be here on a Saturday night when I could be having dinner or doing something….? You know, God has separated us for the kingdom, to serve him, to be instruments of his glory.

You know, here it also speaks that God separated us for the praise of his glory. You know, it’s not just holiness of being, in the negative sense, of being separated from the world, but we are separated for certain purposes and that should condition the way we see our identity, the way we spend time, the joys and the privileges that we allow or not allow ourselves to have, all kinds of things.

And when you sacrifice anything for the kingdom always make sure that you understand why you’re doing it. Because, if you think it’s just: oh, because the pastor asked us to come on Saturday, or you know, because I already committed myself, so what the heck, I have to continue doing it. Too bad. Instead of saying, no, because I am an instrument of God. God has chosen me for his glory, for his service to be an instrument of his grace, to bless others or to teach others.

Or somebody calls at 11pm when you’re ready to go to bed and they want to tell you how depressed they are, they’re having a problem, you know, don’t fret. I mean there are limits of course, there are limits that should be kept and we should be clear about limits, but at the same time, know that you’re an instrument of God’s grace.

That’s what I tell myself, every time I got to, you know, hear somebody else out or do one more meeting, you know, say, yes, God that’s what you’ve chosen me to do. You’ve chosen me to be an instrument of your grace and of your love and that’s why I live.

You know, the beautiful thing is that when you give to God that way, God gives back to you so much. You know, but it’s important that we understand that we are different, we’re separated from the typical things of the world, and we’re separated for service and the glory of God. Agios.

And then it says that he chose us to be, what? Blameless. He chose us to be holy and blameless. Blameless, the word again, you know, this word knowing a little bit of Greek. I don’t know that much Greek but I use different kinds of resources that open up the Greek language in a very beautiful way to me. You know, and the word ‘amomos’ is the word that was used to describe the quality of a sacrificial victim, an animal, before it was offered in the temple.

Priests had to examine a potential sacrifice to make sure that there was no evident defect, for example, that the calf wasn’t missing an eye, or you know, had an evident gash, or you know, was sick in any way. It had to be a ‘amomos’, it had to sealed with approval that it was without fault, without flaw. That was a sacrifice that was worthy, that was adequate for this great God that should not be given or offered anything that had a defect in it. Ok?

So, you know, Paul is using that same word, that same concept of amomos for us. God has chosen us to be holy and to be blameless. Now, let just think that for a moment.

Can any of us say that we are perfect, that we are without defect, without flaw, except perhaps me, but nobody else here? Nobody can, of course not. The Bible says that for all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. So the Bible is absolutely clear about the fact that there is no human being that can say ‘I haven’t sinned. I’m perfect’.

But I think that what the Apostle Paul is saying that this is what we need to strive for. This is our goal. This is the norm. This is the standard by which we should measure ourselves. This is the vision that we should have of how we want to be.

Jesus has said ‘be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect’. In other words, you know, we should be continually striving toward perfection, toward being blameless. You see what I mean?

So, it is in this sense that you know, we cannot get there ever in this world, but we should not lower our standards, and say ‘well, what the heck, since I can’t be blameless, you know, I might as well sin and have fun doing it.’

It’s more like, I need to strive for that. Of course striving not in the psychological, obsessive, compulsive kind of way that we do sometimes, you know, just in ourselves. It’s really again being in Christ and asking the Lord to bring his holiness and his grace into us, that we might be through Christ, blameless before the Lord.

Now, I think there’s another way that we are blameless before God which is, of course, through Jesus Christ. How does God see us when he sees us? He sees us as blameless. You know why? Because he sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ, through the blood of Jesus Christ, and the Bible speaks about that.

You know, God is seeing us through rose-colored lenses, so to speak. Actually they’re Christ-colored lenses. And you might say, they are rose-colored because the blood of Christ covers that lens. So when God sees you all the sins, in a sense, are gone, because he sees you through the blood of Jesus Christ.

That’s so important for you and I to know. I can rest, you know, I don’t have to live my life with perpetual guilt and straining and lamenting and you know, fighting for God to love me and for God to bless me and to approve me. The Bible says that he has already approved me through Jesus Christ. I am blameless in a sense, I’m not blameless in the sense that I have not done any wrong, but I am blameless because God chooses to see me as blameless. He has imputed it to me, blamelessness, if you will, through his son Jesus Christ. He paid the price for that.

So, when the devil comes to accuse me and that makes me feel dirty and guilty and unworthy and to instill fear in me of coming before the throne of God because I did something wrong, whatever, I just got to appeal to the blood of Jesus Christ and say, ‘Satan, get behind me, because Jesus has made me pure and blameless’.

The Bible says, come in full confidence before the throne of God through that wide and open road that Jesus Christ has opened for us through his blood and through his death. It’s about the only open road you know, that the Bible speaks about, in spiritual terms. Because Jesus spoke about straight and narrow but the road to God for a believer is wide open through Jesus Christ.

Again, not because of anything that we have done, but because of what Jesus did. Do you see the whole thing? In Jesus, in Jesus.

So, God has called us to be holy and to be blameless through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will.

You know, that’s so important, this idea that it’s God’s work. I mean, he did it because ‘me dio la gana’, as we say in Spanish. Because, I mean, it pleased him. You know, yeah, he felt like it, exactly. You know, God had no need, no compulsion, no obligation to save us, to call us, to predestine us, to bless us. He did it because that was his pleasure. I mean whatever he does is because it’s his pleasure.

And, you know, Paul exalts that time and time again. It’s that sovereignty of God. You know, he’s the source of everything, he plans everything, he designs everything. You know, sometimes I’m overcome when I think of the fact that God is so much the source of everything that even the words that I use to express praise to him, it’s really his, because he created language, he created the brain with which I put the words together. He created the vocal chords that vibrate in order to emit the sound as I breathe and use wind to express it. He created the atoms that compose, you know, my voice. He created the concepts. He created the universe within which all of these things have meaning.

So, in a sense, you know, when I’m praising God, it’s really God praising himself. I mean, does that make sense to you? you see. I mean, there’s really nothing…. Who are you and who am I? And what is that chair that you’re sitting on? If nothing it’s just God’s creation, it’s God…. God is the only one.

And you know, Buddhists and Hindus have understood that as well and that’s why they say that all that we live in is ‘maia’, an illusion. We are the dream of God. You know, they say that really the world is just you know, there have been all kinds of myths and images that the Buddhists and the Hindus abuse, and one of them is that you know, God is dreaming us and we are characters in God’s dream, and really there is nothing beyond God, the one, the all. That it’s really….. everything is the absolute and all of this is just mere projection of the absolute. The only thing that really truly exists, is the absolute. We are nothing.

And, you know, the beautiful thing about Christianity and Judaism is that it doesn’t go that far. It says, no, we matter. We are important. I mean, we are so important, that God gave his son for us and we have freedom. God gave us free will and you know, we do play a role and we’re going to see how important the role of the church is you know, in the Book of Ephesians.

All of that is important, so we don’t go… Christianity doesn’t go to that place, but in reality that’s what it is. It is God….. everything is God, I mean, the sovereignty. God, if we could be overcome at times by just that sense of the sovereignty, the absolute importance, the absolute power, the all importance of God in fashioning this plan, the whole plan of salvation, everything that takes place; this beautiful concoction of drama, creation and fall and redemption and the cross and all these different things. This is really God who made it all up before the creation of the world.

Paul stresses that time and time again. “…. For the praise of his glory.” That’s a really important concept. Look, he’s stresses that three times in this passage from verse 3 to 14. It says, in verse 6 “….to the praise of his glorious grace”. That’s one place, and then he puts it also in verse 12 “…in order that we were the first to hope in Christ might be for be for the praise of his glory”; and then in verse 14 “his is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of God’s possessions to the praise of his glory”.

You see, everything that God has done, the whole drama of salvation, the roles that we play in it, everything is according to his pleasure, because he wanted to do it that way. He concocted the whole drama, he invented every piece of it and for the praise of his glory.

So, what do we see here God is? At the beginning concocting and inventing and creating and designing and at the end, for his glory. So, everything is because of him and for him. And somewhere in there we fit.

So, let’s not look at ourselves as more important than we really are, because God is the real protagonist of the whole drama of salvation. Amen.

And you know, I’ll just touch one more thing and we’ll leave it there and you know, these are things that I sort of left there, last Saturday. Let me just touch another nice concept which is here also.

It says in verse 4, “….for he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted …. -to be adopted- as his sons –again, look at it- through Jesus Christ.”

You see, Paul doesn’t go too far, he says through Jesus, in Jesus, in him, in Christ. But, you know, what I want us to look at for a moment is this idea of adoption. That’s another loaded theological term that I want to sort of put there in your vocabulary: adoption.

Because that’s a term, you know, that word… oh, yeah, I know what adoption is. But this is one of those terms that will be very helpful for you to know history and to know historical context to really understand the full weight of how Paul uses that word.

Because, remember that Paul was a man of his time and he was very well read and he had been part of the whole Greco Roman world. He was highly studied and highly trained, so he knew these terminologies.

It’s like you know, the Apostle John when he wrote the gospel of John, when he says ‘…..in the beginning was the word’ –translated as the word, John uses the word logos; in the beginning was the logos and the logos was with God and the logos was God-. Well, John in that case was borrowing a word from Greek philosophy, the logos, the ordering principle, what gives coherence to the entire universe, what allows us to understand the universe as systematic, as coherent, as with purpose, the logos. And he says, Jesus was the logos. Jesus was the creating principle that gave meaning to all of creation.

And so, you know, sometimes the Apostle, men of their time, chose words. It’s like, you know, if we use the motor force. God is the motor force of the universe. Well, of course, we’re using the concept of motor which is from mechanics, a modern term and applying it to theology and to God. Well, in that same way, you know, the Apostle used words of their time, they borrowed them and gave an application to scriptural concepts and to spiritual concepts.

So, when Paul says here that we were adopted, that he adopted us to be as his sons and he clarifies, through Jesus Christ, and he clarifies, in accordance with his pleasure and will. What did he mean by adopted us?

As I say, there’s a very simple way, you know, adoption. But, when we go to adoption in the Roman world in particular, it was a very, very serious thing. When somebody was adopted, I don’t know if you’ve seen Ben Hur, the movie, well you know, Ben Hur is adopted by a Roman patrician gentleman and all of a sudden all the privileges and all the glory and the nobility of the house of the man who had adopted him, fall on him.

An adoption was a very serious thing in Roman… You have to understand for example this, that a son or a daughter was the absolute possession of the father, patria potestas. This concept in Roman jurisprudence, the power of the father. The father had a power over his son for life or for death, all the property as the son, even as he became older really belonged to the father in the end. Even when the son made money independent of the father, still the father was…. It was the father’s…. to do whatever he wanted with.

And you know, for that relationship to be broken, that control, that possession to be broken and transferred to another man, one had to go through a very thorough legal process, to change the ownership and to change the sovereignty of one father or one family to another.

Now, when that person, through a very specific ritual of law became adopted into another family, you know, the adoption was so thorough that, you know, whatever happened before, whatever influence the previous family lineage had on that person, all of that was annihilated. For example, if that person was subject to debts because of his father or his family, once he transferred over to the other family, all of those debts were cancelled. There was no claims that could be made from his previous life or from his previous family lineage and so on and so forth. It was a thorough change of identity, complete transference of identity.

Now, do you see the relationship, do you see how clear this is? When Paul says here, ‘he adopted us to be sons through Jesus Christ’.

You know, when we were in the world, the Bible says that we were under the slavery of sin. There was no hope. You know, we could strive all we wanted to, break that old nature and we were in slave to Satan, we were under the power and the control, the absolute control, the postestas of the devil and of the flesh and of the world.

Now, by being adopted by another father all of that control is broken and now yes, we do pass on to the potestas of another father. So we are now under the authority, the absolute authority of our new father, who will not exploit us, who will not destroy us, he will not in any way do any harm to us. He’s a benevolent, loving father.

But we have changed controls. The other father, he wanted to destroy, to kill us, to steal from us, to turn us into an expression of his spotter darkness. This father, the father of light and of love, has adopted us, has taken away the control of that other father and now he says, ‘I want you to live through me, for me but I’m going to bless you and I’m going to give my love to you, and I’m going to turn you to something beautiful and an expression of my glory, my beauty, of my holiness. And you have a new identity.

The Bible says, ‘if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature’. You see, by being adopted by a new father we have a new identity, we have a new purpose, we have a new destiny, we have a new name. All of this through Jesus Christ. Amen.

New identity, new ownership, a new purpose to be holy, to be blameless. All of this through the work, the wonderful, sovereign work of God, who does things for his pleasure and for his glory.

What a wonderful, coherent way of looking at the Christian identity! And that’s what we are, we are inserted into that beautiful drama that when we live, we live, you know, with that dignity. My God! I am part of something that is so beautiful, so sublime and God is the creator of this whole drama of which I am a part. Praise the Lord.

Let us stand for a moment. Let’s glorify God. People, you’re so important. You’re not living a meaningless life, you know, just struggling with your own petty self and your own petty concerns, and your own petty struggles. You know, you are sublime and God has invested time in imparting your identity. So live life that way.

If you suffer, know that you’re suffering in this great drama that God has put together. If you’re having victory, you’re having victory in this great drama that God has put together. If you’re struggling with sin, I mean, you’re a titan, you’re a hero in the most beautiful sense of the word, in this beautiful drama that God has concocted. You’re like one of those heroes of one of the Greek tragedies, I mean, you have incredible meaning and never allow yourself to see yourself in a mundane sort of way. You are so full of dignity because God has put together an incredible story and he has made you a part of it. He has chosen us as church to be a part of that story. And you’re going to see how great that drama is later on, because we are the church of Jesus Christ, and we have been called for a purpose. Praise the Lord for that.

So, father, we worship you. We glorify you. We bless you as the Apostle Paul does right in the beginning, because you have blessed us with every richness, every blessing in the heavenly realms and now we claim those blessings, father, here on earth in the name of Jesus, we claim those blessings.

And father we thank you because we are more than just these petty beings, crawling through the earth with our animal nature. We have been adopted. We are not some sort of blind evolutionary product that happen just by coincidence. Lord, you have predestined us before the foundation of the world, you have chosen us, you have determined for us to be a certain way. You have adopted us. We are a little bit lesser than the angels and so we revel in that, we celebrate that, father.

And if we die, we die for you, and if we live, we live for you. So father, let us never wallow in depression or a sense of meaningless or low self esteem, or guilt, for you have made us blameless. You have made us sublime. You have made us worthy. You have adopted us. You have ennobled us through the Lord Jesus Christ and we are on our way to even greater glory, because we go from glory to glory, to glory to glory, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Alleluia! so, we worship, we praise you, father. We celebrate who we are in Jesus Christ today and we thank you, father for you are glorious. You are glorious, father. You are sovereign and you are so loving, Lord even though we don’t deserve it, you are loving. You love us. You love us and you give us meaning, you give us value, father.

Help us to always remember that, to always keep that so clear before us, that the devil might not be able ever to take that sense of importance in Jesus from us. Sear us, sear our consciousness with that awareness tonight. And thank you for your beautiful word, in the name, the glorious name of Jesus Christ we have prayed. Amen and amen.

Why don’t you give the Lord a hand clap, just for his glory, for his honor?


Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda taped June 17, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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