A Father Like No Other

Series: A Unity Like No Other

February 21, 2021 | Chad Gilbert
Passage: Ephesians 1:1-23

We have a Father like no other, but only “in Christ.” 

In Christ, He Chose and Predestined Us 

When did He choose and predestine us? 

  • Before the foundation of the world 
    • Before Genesis 1 
    • Before Adam and Eve 
    • Before the Fall 
    • Before Abraham and the Jewish people 
    • Before Moses and the Law 
    • Before kings 
    • Before prophets 
  • Because this sovereign and gracious act took place “before the foundation of the world,” the text therefore implicitly teaches the preexistence of Christ. 
    • John uses the same expression in John 17:24 to speak of the Father's love for the Son prior to his creation of the universe. 
    • Peter uses it to describe God’s foreknowledge of how he would save the world through his Son in 1 Peter 1:20 
  • God did his choosing in the pretemporal period strongly underlines his initiative and grace in salvation. 
    • Chad, are you suggesting that God is in charge of salvation? 
      • Yes! 
    • Chad, are you suggesting that God gives salvation as a gift? 
      • Yes, exactly! 
    • Chad, are you suggesting that our salvation is something God the Father through Jesus Christ gets the credit? 
      • Yes, precisely! 

What keeps us from embracing this message of grace? 

  • First, pride.  
    • In Matthew 18, Jesus had a child stand before the disciples one day and said to them, ““Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  
    • What I have observed is it is often adults who struggle to receive gifts, not children. 
    • I have observed that adults often struggle to admit wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness, not children. 
    • What I have observed is it is often adults who struggle to trust and believe, not children. 
    • It was the pride of the Pharisees that kept them from Jesus, it was the pride of the disciples that wanted to keep Jesus from talk of the cross, and it is pride today that still causes us to resist His grace and His means of grace – the cross of Jesus Christ. 
  • Second, previous hurts. 
    • For some of us, mention of God the Father immediately causes us to resist God, avoid God, be afraid of God, not want God, not trust God, and these emotions and more stem from our earthly experience fathers.  
    • My strongest encouragement, outside of highlighting the tremendous value of Licensed Christian Counseling, is to acknowledge those hurts and deep wounds to God Your Father. Saying to God Your Father, “I struggle to trust You because I am afraid You will abandon me as my dad did,” places you in a position to hear Him speak to your wounded heart and show you His faithful love.  
    • We must be careful at this point to not allow ourselves to misread the Bible – Paul does not say “God is like a father” – He says “Blessed is the God and Father.” God IS the True Father! Rather than thinking of your earthly father first, we are invited, in Christ, to having God as our Father and then to pattern fatherhood after the Almighty Father’s love for the Son. As a dad, I am to be like the Heavenly Father in my love for my children, but my greatest hope is that they will each know The Father. My role is important in their lives, but it is not ultimate. Therefore bring to the Perfect, Ultimate God and Father your hurts from your earthly fathers, and He will comfort and heal you, for nothing is impossible with God.  

Why did he choose and predestine us? 

  • So that we would be holy and blameless in his presence 
    • Holiness has never been an end in itself – throughout the Old Testament, holiness was a means to seeing and knowing God.  
    • In Hebrews 12:14, God’s Word says, “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, without it no one will see the Lord.” 
    • God desires others to see Himself in you and me, like living billboards, proclaiming the message of His grace in word and deed. 
    • Not only that, living lives of holiness is the most liberating existence there is 
    • In Psalm 2, the message of this world is that God’s ways are like chains and bonds from which we need to burst free! But that is one of the great lies of sin – it promises freedom and joy but only gives us bondage and misery. A life of holiness is a free life. A life of holiness is a joyful life. A life of holiness is the life you have always wanted, but it is only available in Christ.  

How did he choose and predestine us? 

  • In love, he predestined us to adoption through Jesus Christ to himself. 
    • The phrase “in love” could either be the end of verse 4 or the beginning of verse 5. The reality is, either way would be true. God desires us to be holy and blameless in love before him. AND In love, He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself. 
    • For the moment, let us consider the phrase “in love” as leading verse 5.  
    • “In love,” he predestined us. This is biblically important to our understanding of this word that can represent tension in many churches. If you hear the word “predestined” and hear it as a message of hate or evil about God, then I invite you to hear the Word of the Lord.  
      • “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.” 
      • “In love” is synonymous with “in Christ.” 
    • God not only chose us to be in Christ, but at the same time, he decided to bring us into a relationship with himself that could best be described through the metaphor of adoption.  
    • Here we receive an endearing picture of God as one who has chosen people to be in a relationship with himself, contemplating this out of a heart of love. This runs counter to any picture of God where he appears as cold, calculating, or austere in His ways.  
    • Under Roman law, an adopted child acquired all of the legal rights of a natural-born child and was released from his natural father's control. The child also received the adoptive parent’s family name and a share in the new family's status. 
    • The main message of adoption is about belonging, a belonging where God the Father occupies center stage in his family. 

Why has God done all of this? 

  • On the basis of the good pleasure of his will 
    • The final purpose of election is relational. God is bringing together a people whom he can delight in and enjoy.  
    • God took great delight in thinking of his future people and being kindly disposed toward them. 
  • To the praise of his glorious grace 
    • God’s ultimate purpose in choosing and predestining a people for himself is that it would lead to his own glory.  
    • Paul leads his readers to conclude that the only proper way to respond to the incredible favor and love God shows to his people is by rendering praise to him, magnifying his glory.  

For many reasons, passages like this can cause Christians to pause and weigh words like “chose” “predestined.” This is good, but we must not consider these words as if Paul were writing from an ivory tower or on Twitter – meaning he is not trying to wax eloquently about some theological dispute, nor was he trying to cause a stir in the church by tweeting out a few controversial sentences.  

No, Paul leads the church in worship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is reminding them that like an adoptive dad who gets down on his knees and pulls all of his adopted kids in close and says, “Boys and girls, I want you to know how much I love you. I loved you before I knew you. I love you not because of anything you have ever done or will ever do. I simply love to love you.” 

In that moment, a child could hear his father saying that he is intentionally choosing not to love other children. But that is not what the father is saying – the father IS saying I love you, I choose to love you, and I chose each of you – a message meant to secure, nurture, and strengthen the heart of his children.  

And that is the message of this text – if we chose to hear these verses in any way other than a message from our Father, communicating His incredible love to us in Christ, a message meant to secure, nurture and strengthen our relationship with Him as our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord, then we have missed the message. This passage is supposed to result in worship of the Father – if we end up doing anything else – fuming, debating, thinking prideful thoughts – then we need to keep rereading the passage until it results in praise.  

In Christ, He Forgave Our Sins and Revealed His Plan To Us

Ephesians 1:7-10

Focus on verse 10 with me for just a moment 

  • “to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.” 

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” in Matthew 28:19.  

This is good news for divided times. 

  • When nations experience division within their nation, divisions that can often creep into and poison churches, the authority of Christ speaks a message of true togetherness, true unity 
  • In every nation, politics divide. 
    • But in every nation, Christ unites. 
  • In every nation, racism divides 
    • But in every nation, Christ unites. 
  • In every nation, COVID 19 restrictions divide. 
    • But in every nation, Christ unites. 
  • For too long, we have believed that saying Christ unites is cheap when facing real divisions, such as racism, but I say that these divisions are cheap and the true togetherness of Christ is our treasure.  
  • How pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  
  • We magnify the divisions and dilute the greatness of Christ. We don’t want cheap answers, but the substance of Christ is not cheap. His blood was not cheap. Our forgiveness was not cheap. His grace is not cheap.  
  • What is cheap is ushering into the church the shallow “unity” of this world – a unity so fragile that one slight misstep, one carelessly worded tweet, one failure to post or share a post, one moment of thinking about a situation from a different angle can cause you not simply to slip off the cliff, but to be thrown off the cliff by the very group you moments before belonged to, were part of, were your people, were your tribe.  
  • FBNO, have we allowed that sort of cheap unity to replace the robust unity of Christ – may we return to the riches of Christ by returning to the Great Commission.  
  • You see, we must hold the two passages in tension, Ephesians 1:10 and Matthew 28:18-20 – it is the Father’s plan to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him, and it is the command of Christ us as His disciples to make disciples of all nations. Let those two realities be seen as means and end – the end of bringing everything together in Christ is accomplished through the means of making disciples of all nations.  
  • FBNO, we will never be more united in Christ than when we are deeply committed to laboring together to make disciples of all nations. To be united in the mission of Christ will fuel our unity in Christ as a church.  

In Christ, He Sealed Us With His Spirit

Ephesians 1:11-14

We are immediately at a disadvantage in quickly embracing this incredible truth because of the way inheritances work today, including how divisive inheritance issues can become for families. 

Today, the more people named in a will to receive an inheritance, the smaller each piece of the pie becomes. If I have a million dollars to leave to my children when I die, then commonly speaking, each of my 4 children will get $250,000. But if I add my grandchildren – I don’t have any grandchildren, but we are speaking of the future – then that starts to cut into what my children receive. On top of that, one of my children might have 5 kids while another only has 1, which could cause that child and grandchild to think perhaps they should not be penalized for not having more children and should receive an amount equal to that of the other grandchildren combined. To complicate things more, in life, I might have helped one child more than another with a purchase, a big event, a private college, and so on, leading the other children to feel the amount for that child should be less since they got more during my life.  

We should not be surprised, then, when we show up to a passage like this and don’t jump for joy over the word “inheritance.” 

But such is also a major barrier to our humility – just as in the illustration I provided, my children had forgotten one central truth – the money was mine to purpose and distribute however I deemed good – so salvation is the Lord’s, and ours should be the prayer of Psalm 51:12 – “Restore to me the joy of YOUR salvation.” 

But our current understanding of inheritance is also an advantage because we understand the significance of what it means to be an only child with no other living relatives – the entire inheritance will go to that one person – and for us, that One Person is Christ. You see, we only participate in the Holy Spirit if we are in Christ. And if we have received the Holy Spirit, then we are in Christ.  

Series Information

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