Program Air Date - 3-16-03



Good morning and welcome to the Living Word program! Thank you for choosing to give this time to God, as we together strive to honor Him according to His will. As always, this morning, we will strive to worship God according to what we find in His Word - the Bible. May we each make our own sacrifice to Him - so that we may be pleasing in His sight! Now let's bow our heads before His throne in prayer!


It's now time to join in with the brethren as we begin our songs of praise to God. We will begin this morning with an encouraging hymn that reminds us that God is always with us. He is in us, around us, and always by our side! Won't you join in song to God, as we together sing the hymn, "Face to Face!"

(SONG # 1)


In the Old Testament, we see many examples from the prophets of those who continued to reject God. Over and over, we see these men of God rebuking His people, because of their wickedness and desire to be like other nations. The great prophet Jeremiah, also shared in this burdensome responsibility, as he speaks of the spiritual condition of Judah, prior to the days of Babylonian captivity. In chapter 8 and verse 3 of his book, we see that he predicts that "death would be chosen rather than life," by those of God. In verse 7, he declares that they did not "know the judgement of the Lord." Then in verse 9, Jeremiah indicts them for "rejecting the word of the Lord."

How sad it is to hear of those who should be the first and foremost to serve God. Yet in reality, they have turned away and forsaken Him. Sounds all to familiar doesn't it?

Now, notice with me his words in verse 20 of the same chapter, as he sums up the situation. There he said, "The harvest is past, The summer is ended, And we are not saved!" This man of God perceived that the Lord had given up on his people because of their wickedness and unrighteousness. Notice that is was not God's fault that things had gone sour. Rather it was the fault of the people, who were now choosing the evils and things of this world over their creator. Today, you and I see a similar situation happening in the secular and religious worlds. Many continue to reject God who are outside of His fold and who want nothing to do with His promises. On the other hand, many in the religious world continue to reject God in their words and actions also, because they continue to do what they want, rather than what God commands. If we reject the word of the Lord, as they did in Jeremiah's day, what will our fate be? I can tell you, it will be the same as those in that day - "the harvest will pass, the summer will end, and we will still not be saved!" Don't let God's harvest come without being a faithful child of God. Remembering that faithfulness in God is shown by our obedience - Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments," John 14:15!

So, what type of choice will you make in your life in connection to your service for God. Will you put Him first and do all that He requires. Will you put Him in the middle of your priorities, so that you can still have your cake and eat it to. Or will you do as those in our discussion this morning, completely turn away from Him for the pleasure of sin for a season. The choice is each of ours to make, so what will your decision be.

This morning we consider our second lesson in our new series entitled, "Paul's Letter to the Ephesians." The specific topic today is, "Chapter 1 - God's Eternal Plan of Redemption." So stay with us and after our next song together, I will lead our lesson thoughts of the morning. Now let's join in our second song of the morning, as we glorify God our creator. The name of this hymn is "Fairest Lord Jesus."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us today as we again have an opportunity to look to God's Word and to find out more about what He desires of us as Christians, as followers in His kingdom. We began a new series last week in looking at an introduction to Paul's letter to the Ephesian church and so we're going to continue this morning by looking at the first chapter and hopefully as we continue in our series over the next month or so, we will look at each chapter and be able to draw some of the main lessons from this book, a very, very good book in relationship to the things that a church should be involved in, not only the church as a whole but what an individual Christian really has been blessed with in the relationship of knowing God and of following His Will, those wondrous things that have been given and promised to us. Surely the book of Ephesians helps us to see these things clearly and that's why it's such an important book and will be such a beneficial book, I believe, in our series together.

Today though, our primary discussion or really look at the first chapter will focus on the redemption that we have through Christ Jesus. So we'll get to that in just a moment, but we first will reiterate again a little bit from the introduction, because in our first few verses we're reminded here that Paul is the author and claims to be the author, the apostle, that is of Jesus Christ by the Will of God. And notice there in the same verse, verse 1, he says, "to the saints who are in Ephesus." And he adds to that, "and faithful in Christ Jesus." Not only was he writing to the church at Ephesus but he seems to identify them as being a faithful body of Christ. The church at Ephesus, the faithfully called out of God who are continuing in the things that God has asked them to do. That's what Paul is saying here as he writes this good congregation.

Verse 2 is very familiar to us as Paul always generally gives some types of blessings or asks some type of a grace or mercy be granted upon those who are reading. Certainly once again he does that here before the Father and though the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the verse 3 is where we really begin with the concept of redemption and how that really from the very beginning we are reminded of how that God's plan was somehow to redeem man and even though under the Old Law, we don't see that their redemption was as good as ours due to the blood sacrifice of animals. Ours being Jesus Christ and His sacrifice is a far much better and more worthy sacrifice. But even under the Old Law, we see there the beginning of concepts of redemption and the need to somehow place our sins or our sorrows or those things on maybe an animal and kill the animal and sacrifice the animal to God. So redemption has always been a part of Gods plan, it seems. Even in the Patriarchal Age we have a few hints of sacrifices that were being made of the land at times or even of the animals there as we see even the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel as they made offerings to God. Again, we see even from the very beginning of creation that there seemed to have been a plan to redeem man, something that was set in motion so that man might do something in his life to be found before God as being righteous or at least acceptable in His sight. Again reminding all of us that we make mistakes. We have sins. From the very beginning of creation, this has been the case, even until to today, but the wondrous thing in Christ Jesus, the wondrous thing even under the Old Law, the wonderful thing that it seems even under the Patriarchal Age is that there was a plan in place so that man could somehow buy back his righteousness or somehow pay a price for that which had been done contrary to the Will of God. That's the whole concept here that we're discussing in redemption.

Notice what he begins with as he talks of the great redemption that we have through Jesus Christ. He first says in verse 3, "Blessed be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." We're reminded here in this verse that certainly God is the blesser, the giver, the wondrous Creator. All things that we are today, all things that we have, all that has been received certainly is from God in heaven.

If you look in the book of James chapter 1 and verse 17, we find there that clearly he also states "that every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Light with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." Here we see that God does give the good gift. He does provide for us the things that we need and He does always do that which is best for us because He knows all things and because He is able to see further down the road. So here we are reminded of the great blessing of God blessing us with all things and the greatest of those blessings then is our topic again of the morning, as he begins really continuing in a thought process of looking at those things more specifically in verse 4. He says, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His Will. Here we see a concept of being chosen of God.

Here in verse 5 we see an idea of being predestined here. But what is he talking about? What is this opportunity? It's something that he mentions in verse 4 that was done even before the foundation of the world. Well certainly again it is this concept that he says He has allowed us to make the decision. He's made us free moral agents to where we can choose if we will follow Him or not, whether we will do His Will or whether we will reject those things that He has asked us to do. We see that certainly the things that we are involved in today and that we participate in in the name of God are plans that were made far before even the creation.

Another verse that reiterates that to us is found over in Ephesians chapter 3 and verse 11 just two books over where it says, "According to the eternal purpose that God had made." God had an eternal purpose not only of what the church would be and should do, but as we see here that man would be able to choose. Even before the world was created that man would be able to make a choice that he could be holy and blameless before God. And how would he do that? Because again we as men we're sinful. We have problems. We make mistakes. How could we possibly be able to do that? Well only way: redemption. And the redemption specifically under the new law as is stated in verse 5 of His son, Jesus Christ. According to the good pleasure of the Will of God, He gave His son, as you and I know so that we might be able to give Him praise and glory because of the grace that we have that has been able to be that which makes us acceptable before Him. That's basically what verse 6 says that "because of Christ and His sacrifice, according to the Will of the Father planned before the beginning of the world, all of these things are so."

We today are able to be known as Christians, as followers of God, as those who have been redeemed. There's a beautiful song that we often sing, "Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the lamb." That's exactly the discussion here of that great redemption found through Jesus Christ. Again, a purifying of our souls even though we live in a world that is unrighteous and we fall into temptation and make mistakes.

Verse 7 then clarifies specifically our topic this morning as it says there, "In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace." Very, very specific here. The redemption is mentioned as being given to us on a condition, the condition that the blood was shed and as you and I know Christ went to Calvary and shed the blood. In fact, as He shed the blood, He did so, it tells us here in the same verse, so that we might have forgiveness of sins. So here again, redemption, purchasing and paying the price. But what was that purchase and that price that was paid? Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood. Through that blood, what does it do for us? It gives us forgiveness. It brings us back before the throne of God as pure and holy and righteous and without blemish even though once again we are human and even though once again we do make mistakes.

Now I'd like you to go on down to about verse 9 and notice that this redemption that we know of today and are a part of really of Jesus Christ was something that is a newer revelation, something that now is just specifically for us today. In other words, they weren't redeemed under the Old Law by Jesus Christ at that time because Christ had not yet come and He had not yet died. But today, it says, "The mystery was made known." That's what verse 9 tells us. "Having made known to us the mystery of His Will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself." Notice here he says that it was according to the Will of God and that it says He had made known the mystery, not that He will or that He did in the past but that He now at this point had made known the mystery. The mystery of what? Of the death of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, thus the redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Notice in verse 10 that it says that "it has always been the plan, eternally," that as he says there "in the dispensation of the fullness of time that He might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are on the earth to Him or in Him." There we have it that all things would be found to be perfect, to be righteous, to be holy, to be godlike. Through what act? Through Jesus Christ. Through His life on the earth and through the death that He also gave through the cross and the sacrifice made there. So certainly it was in Christ. It was through His sacrifice that we are given this opportunity to again to have redemption.

And then verse 11 tells us that that redemption is directly connected to our inheritance, to obtaining the promises of God. In other words, once again that we have shown ourselves faithful and therefore God has turned around and blessed us even further, not to mention the great sacrifice of Christ and all that He has already done. He continues to bless and bless and bless those who strive to be like Him. And then finally, the great reward, the great promise mentioned here, the great hope of heaven.

But I also wanted to bring out in verse 13 a very interesting point because there he mentions in connection to what that redemption is found. In other words through what? Obviously it is the Son of God who made it possible, His sacrifice. But there in verse 13 it says, "In Him you also trusted after you heard the word of truth the gospel of your salvation." The same concept that Romans 1:16 talks about where there Paul told the Romans that "the power of salvation is found in the gospel." Here he says, "The word of God, the word of truth, the word of the gospel, that is the salvation." Why? Because that is the good news that tells us about Jesus, that tells us about His life, His death, and His burial and resurrection. It tells us about the shedding of the blood and how it is able to redeem us and to bring us into a state of righteousness and goodness before God. So certainly once again the promises and redemption and all of these things that have been done have been done according to the Will of the Father for you and for me.

And in verse 14 it says, "That was the purchase price. That was the price that had to be paid in order that we might be able to have all things."

Well after then, he mentions clearly about the redemption, the redemption of those who will follow God through Christ Jesus, that is ours and that also gives us the promises of this life and the life to come there in heaven. He goes on to commend them in verse 15 and he talks about their great faith and the great love that he has for them and how he gives thanks everyday almost, it seems, for them and makes mention of them in His prayers because He knows that they are faithful. A good strong and a mighty congregation and that they are striving to grow in the things of God.

Furthermore, if you go down to about verse 20, he again reminds us that He knows that they are doing these things because he says in verse 20, "Because He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in heavenly places." In other words, because of Christ, He knows you're doing those things. Paul realized that they were, as well as we must be doing, all that which God has asked. Why? Because again of what Christ has done as He was on this earth and now as He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We certainly know that He is real and that He has done these things and that we can count on Him.

But then the last four verses or so, verse 20 that we've looked at, 21, 22 and 23, really have summed up for us who Jesus is and His power. Read with me as it says, "Far above principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but in that which is to come and He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who feels all in all." Here we have that Jesus, that same Lord who gave His life. Who better, as it says here, to be placed over all things? Who better to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven? Who better, as it mentions here, that not only all things be put under His feet but that He be head of the church? And who better, as it says here, that His body be the fullness of all in all that fits all in all? Jesus Christ. Why? Because according to the Will of the Father, before time ever began as far as we know it, the world and existence, it was the plan of God that Jesus would come and that He would live and He would die and He would rise again, that He would do these things to shed the blood, His precious and perfect blood to redeem man, to give us the great opportunity of redemption so that we might be saved through His blood, forgiven of sins, and added to the church or the body that is mentioned here so that we might be a part of that greatest plan that has ever been put in force by our Almighty God. So that today as we serve Him and as we live as best we can still that blood cleanses us and presents us as God would have us a redeemed individual before all as well as the throne of God to receive the reward of heaven when our time comes in the end.

(SONG # 3 - "Mansions Over The Hilltop!")


Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope it has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!

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How privileged we are as God's creation, to be able to be redeemed according to His Will, through the blessed gift of His Son - Jesus!

(Program closing)