Net Questions:

1. Why is it so important that choice be a part of any good relationship?

2. The Bible is clear that God has chosen us to be a part of His family and to have a personal relationship with Him. It is also clear that many choose not to have a relationship with God. Why do you think many choose to reject and how do you think it makes God feel? Luke 13:34  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

3. God chose to know you, to love you, and to guide you regardless of your mistakes, mess-ups, and mis-directions. How does knowing this help you in your decision to trust God with your life, and If God pre-chose you, don’t you think He has a plan for your life? Ephesians 1:4-6(NIV) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. 5 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

4. Have you ever known someone you thought there was no hope for? Maybe you are tempted to say, “maybe they just weren’t chosen”. However, the word predestine does not mean that God arbitrarily chose some folks to be saved and others to be forever lost. Here’s what God’s Word says about the subject...2 Pet 3:9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. John 1:12  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- John 1:13  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. {Discuss your thoughts.}


Sermon Notes:

Church Defined Part 1-Chosen to Choose
Ephesians 1:1-14

This morning we begin a brand new series that will last into the month of June. We will be studying the book of Ephesians. I'm super excited about this study as it will help us define the church.

What is a church, or what is the church, or what makes up the church, or who makes up the church? Who is the head of the church or who leads the church?

What is the church's purpose, or why does it exist?
What is the church's mission, or just what  is the church supposed to do?
What is the church's vision, or what does the church hope to accomplish anyway?

 Boy that's some really good questions.
But there's more... how does the church do what it does? How can the church be effective? Can the church really be relevant in our world today?
Can the church make a real difference in its people, its families, its community, its world? How can the church survive in the hostile environment of the post-modern world?

What is the definition of the word
Church anyway?

Church [defined] - Church is the English translation of the Greek word "ekklesia".
It means "called out ones!"
The Greeks would "assemble" together as privileged people, thus an assembly.
The word congregation, those who congregate, is in the same vein.

Back in the day, the Greeks saw themselves privileged because of their status as citizens of the Roman empire. They considered themselves to be above and better than foreigners or slaves.
However, the Christian use of the word "ekklesia" was not like this.

It was used to speak of the special privilege they were given to be a part of the Body of Christ. Not based on merit, or physical birth, or nationality, or social standing, but based on something very different than any thing the world had ever known.

By the end of today's message I hope you will know without any question who the called out ones are and what makes them so special. I hope, by the end of the day you will find yourself a part of this very special group.

Again, it is not based on merit, physical birth, nationality, how smart you are, or how good you are. It is based on something I'll explain to you as we study our passage this morning.

So this morning we're going to begin by looking at who gets to be a part of the church. Who are these privileged ones?

It has something to do with our message title this morning…
"Chosen to Choose!"

 Chosen to Choose!

 Let's look at our text for this morning in Ephesians 1:1-14

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:1 (NIV)

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:2 (NIV)

3Praise 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.
Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Ephesians 1:5 (NIV)

6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:6 (NIV)

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:8 (NIV)

9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
Ephesians 1:9 (NIV)

10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment —to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Ephesians 1:10 (NIV)

11In 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,
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)

12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:12 (NIV)

13And 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,
Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)

14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:14 (NIV)

Now that we've read this text as a whole, we're going to take those verses one by one and see what it takes to become a member of this amazing "ekklesia" or assembly, and what it means to be chosen to choose!

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:1 (NIV)

 Paul made sure that everyone knew his authority to teach and lead was not based on his own goodness or wisdom or power, but based on a Divine call from God!
"An apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God!"

 Paul was a called out one. And just in case your thinking God would never call you because of your sins and your past, think again.
Paul was a persecutor of Christians and had even supported the stoning of Stephen in the early church.
He was on his way to arrest more Christians when God called out to him on the road to Damascus.

 Paul goes on to say in this verse...

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:1 (NIV)

Saints are not the few special people appointed by the church to be saints, Saints are those who have received Jesus as their Savior and who are faithful in Christ! You don't have to be a minister, or a priest, or a full time worker in the church to be a saint!

The Hebrew and Greek words for Saint mean "Holy". You might be inclined to say, "well if that's what it means, I'm no saint!" Listen, if you've allowed Jesus to come into your heart and soul and you've let His precious Blood wash away your sins, then you are made holy by what Jesus has done on your behalf.

Paul put it well in his letter to the Colossians…

Col 1:22  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--


Col 1:23  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Ok, we've got to get back to his letter to the Ephesians...

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:2 (NIV)

What a beautiful greeting and he starts off with the word "Grace!"
You will see this word two more times in our text and eight more times in The Letter of Ephesians.

Membership into this special assembly or congregation was available to the "called out ones!" based on the Grace of God which had been given freely, not to the worthy ones, but to the needy ones willing to admit their need.

 And what is grace?

 Grace [defined] - Undeserved favor of God!

 I know we'll see this again later in our study of this letter and I know you've heard me quote it many times because it is one of my all time favorite verses, but just humor me here...

 Eph 2:8  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
Eph 2:9  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Two statements that go hand in hand...

You don't get saved by works and you don't stay saved by works.

You get saved by grace and you stay saved by grace!!

Paul then says...

3Praise 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.
Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)

Make doubt about it, the blessing of grace can not be earned, it's not for sale, and you and I don't deserve it, but God gives it. He blesses us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ!!


Grace is just one of them. You'll discover so many more blessings as you grow in your faith and in your spiritual walk with Christ!!!

John put it this way in his gospel...

John 1:16  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

John 1:17  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Now the next few verses are a real stumbling block for some folks, and were for me until I read them in context...

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight...
Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

So He chose us before He even created us. Before we had done any good or any bad! He chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight.

Now I've got a question for you. Anyone here that can raise your hand and say "I'm holy and blameless"? "I've never done anything wrong and have lived a perfectly holy life"? If we're honest, none of us can say that.

God's desire was for us to live holy and blameless lives in His sight, but, as Romans 3:23 says, "we've all sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

But all is not lost. There is hope. Let's continue...

...In love
Ephesians 1:4b (NIV)
5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Ephesians 1:5 (NIV)

 Predestined [defined]

pre - destino
pre - appoint

To predetermine or foreordain; to appoint or ordain beforehand by an unchangeable purpose.

1828 Noah Webster American Dictionary of the English Language

 Now let's read that verse again and add the next verse...

...In love
Ephesians 1:4b (NIV)
5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Ephesians 1:5 (NIV)

6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:6 (NIV)

In other words, God pre-appointed or pre chose us to be adopted as His children. It was His pleasure and His will to freely give us forgiveness in order to showcase His glorious grace that comes through Jesus, the One He loves!!  
In fact, let's read on...

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

 Make no mistake about it, redemption, which includes forgiveness, salvation, mercy, cleansing, new life, eternal life and so much more, comes only through His blood!!
There's nothing you could ever do to bring about your own redemption.
It's all in accordance with the riches of God's grace - undeserved favor!

Let's read on...

8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:8 (NIV)

9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
Ephesians 1:9 (NIV)

10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment —to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Ephesians 1:10 (NIV)

He lavished His love and grace on us. He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ! And let me point out that it says according to His GOOD Pleasure. God wants what's best for every man, woman, boy and girl in the world.

Remember the definition of "predestine"?

To predetermine or foreordain; to appoint or ordain beforehand by an unchangeable purpose.

God's purpose has never changed from the moment of creation to today. He created us in love and desires to fellowship with us and to love us and to care for us and to walk with us in life. That has never changed. What changed was us.

Isa 53:6a  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way...

Let's read on...

11In 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,
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)

Okay, it says we were chosen, having been predestined, or pre-chosen,  according to the plan of Him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.

Remember, the Word says, according to His good purpose. So the word predestine does not mean that God arbitrarily chose some folks to be saved and others to be forever lost. In fact everyone is called to be saved, but not all accept the calling. You might ask, "How do you know this"?
2nd Peter...

2 Pet 3:9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Jesus put it this way when talking to His disciples about the Kingdom of God. He compared the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast a king was planning for his son. Many who were invited refused to come. So they went out into the streets and invited everyone they saw. Listen...

Mat 22:14  "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

The ones who got in are the ones who responded to the invitation. The ones who accepted the call.
In fact let's just see if this matches up with other Scripture found in our text today...

11In 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,
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)

12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:12 (NIV)

13And 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,
Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)

14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:14 (NIV)

There you go! Salvation goes to those who put their hope in Christ. Those who choose to believe. Those who accept God's invitation, His call to come out of the world and into His assembly, to come out of the darkness into the light, to be adopted into the family of God. To become a part of the Body of Christ.

You've been chosen to choose!

 I like the way the writer of Romans put in the verses surrounding a verse we've already read. Let me show you...

Rom 3:22  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Rom 3:24  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Isaiah prophesied the way God would make salvation possible for you and me in  the verses following a verse I've already quoted…

6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

7He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:7 (NIV)

8By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
Isaiah 53:8 (NIV)

9He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah 53:9 (NIV)

10Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 53:10 (NIV)

Who are His offspring? You and me. We are the spiritual decedents of Jesus because we have placed our hope in what He did on the Cross. We have believed and as a result have been clothed in His righteousness. His holiness. Our sins have been forgiven.

Remember the wedding feast I talked about. Many were called, but few chosen. The chosen ones were the ones who
accepted the invitation.
And you might remember, that only one guy was sent away. He wasn't wearing a wedding robe. All guest had been given a wedding robe to wear.

What does this mean? You were chosen by God to choose. Chosen to choose God's mercy, His grace, His love, and to be clothed in His righteousness.

Your own righteousness and goodness will not do! You can't work your way to heaven. You can't be good enough. You must depend on Him!!

Today, you can be a part of God's amazing family. The church is God's family assembled. He wants you to be a part of His family. The adoption papers are ready. You've been a spiritual orphan for to long. You're poor and needy and your clothing is stained, dirty and soured. God wants to put a beautiful, clean robe on you and welcome you to the family. He has invited you, He has called you.

You were chosen to choose, but it's your choice. God will not force His will, His ways, or His love on you. Whatever you decide, Jesus will always love you and God's purpose to love you will never change.

I like the way it was once put to an atheist...

The atheist said to an old man,
"I don't believe in God!"
To which the old man replied,
"Well that's sad son, because God believes in you!"

Let's pray!