Sermon preached on March 11, 2018
“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 as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
For over a year now, we’ve been reading through 1 Peter. We went from the very first verse right to the end. And I really enjoyed doing that. I hope you found it helpful to you.
But this week I was at a bit of a loss. What do I preach on now?
I would kind of like to start on another book. Or another chapter of a book. And do the same thing again. But before we do that, I feel like there is one topic that we really should look at it some detail.
“Who did Christ die for?”
You’ll remember that in our last sermon from 1 Peter, we read that “your enemy, the devil, is prowling around like a hungry lion, looking for someone to devour.” And the main weapon that Satan uses to destroy people is lies. Satan is the Father of Lies. And here is one of his biggest lies. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.
“Jesus died for everyone.”
“Jesus died for every single person on Earth. But because some people don’t believe in him, they don’t receive eternal life.”
Is that true? Can we really say that?
Did Jesus die for everybody, or did he die for God’s elect? Who are God’s elect, and how did they become God’s elect?
In this passage in Ephesians, we learn that God chose us. But who is “us”? Does it mean, “us”, all people in the world?
Well, when a person writing a letter uses the word “us”, he’s talking about himself and the people who are reading the letter. So who is this letter addressed to? It says in verse 1.
“Us” means the saints, the faithful, people who believe and follow Jesus. God chose us. If you are a Christian today ... If you love Jesus and believe in God ... If you are following Christ and you have received eternal life ... The reason is that God chose you. God called you. God took you and brought you to himself, and God gave you eternal life, because God chose you.
You know that when you follow Christ, your life becomes so blessed and so full. The Lord directs your steps and blesses you along the way. It’s like this snowball of blessing, that starts out small and rolls along and gets bigger and bigger the more you walk with God. You get blessings in your family life, blessings in your career, blessings physically and spiritually. The longer you walk with God the deeper you get to know him and the more wonderful everything seems.
Have you ever seen that show Pitagora Switch on NHK in the morning? There’s this little ball, and it gets pushed, and then it rolls down a ramp and knocks another ball which drops off tower and then hits a cart which rolls onto a lever and ... it goes on and on. This whole chain of events is set in motion by that one little push of a ball at the start.
In your Christian walk, what was that little push? What was the very, very first thing that started that whole chain of events that got you walking with God and growing in faith? It wasn’t you picking up a bible in a hotel room. It wasn’t your dad taking you to church youth group. It wasn’t your friend talking to you in a coffee shop and telling you about Jesus. Even though these things might be the earliest thing you remember.
What was the very first thing that set you on a path to salvation? It was God choosing you.
When did that happen?
Before the creation of the world
Before God separated the light from the dark. Before God created the sun and the moon and the stars. Before the Lord made the mountains and the trees and the animals, before he created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden. Before all of that, God chose you.
And that is why we can know such peace in Christ. Our salvation doesn’t depend on our own strength of will. It depends completely on the Lord.