Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 11
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|What is the marvel of our redemption? Dr. Barber begins to answer this question as he looks at who is included and who is not excluded in God’s plan of salvation.|
The Marvel of our Redemption – Part 1
Turn to Ephesians chapter 1. We’re going to pick up the last part of verse 10 and go down through verse 13. The title of the message is “The Marvel of Our Redemption.”
Diana and I had a few days together recently, and we were talking. We’re both studying the book of the Revelation again. Diana made a statement that really blessed me. She said, “You know, the more I study it and the more careful I am in going slow in studying it, the more I see the sovereign hand of God at work.” What is exciting to me is to know that God is in control. He is orchestrating events that were planned before the foundation of the world.”
Have you ever been around an orchestra? When I was in high school, I was an usher for the Roanoke Symphony orchestra group. I got in free to all of the concerts, and I enjoyed that. The thing that used to grab me was when they would come together and warm up the instruments. That’s the worst sound you’ve ever heard in your life. Then the orchestra conductor would walk up and tap on the rostrum. Everybody gets quiet, and all of those strange sounds somehow are orchestrated to the point that they become harmonious and understandable and appreciated.
That’s the way it is in the world. Things are going on in this world that are far beyond our understanding, but God, the great conductor, knows the piece. He arranged it. He is bringing those strange sounds together and orchestrating them so they make sense to those of us that are believers. How well our salvation was thought through by the Godhead before the foundation of this world. He made a plan, and He is carrying it out.
I want you to know He has the authority and He has the power to carry out what He came up with before the foundation of the world. There’s a difference in authority and power. For instance, two men may have a gun. Each has power. One of them has a badge. He has the authority to use that power. Our Lord has both the authority and the power. God is one God in three persons. Now if you say that you understand that, I wish you would help my feeble mind. I cannot grasp that. There’s one God in three persons. Most people try to make three Gods out of Him. God the Father is completely equal to God the Son, who is completely equal to God the Holy Spirit. There’s not a bit of jealousy in the Trinity. Each gives credit to the other. The Father gives it to the Son, and the Son gives it to the Spirit. The Spirit edifies the Son, and the Son gives it right back to the Father. It’s incredible the fluid oneness that’s in the Trinity, God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. All of them had a role in our redemption.
As we continue to marvel in our redemption, verses 3 through 6 tell us that God the Father blessed us in Christ with all spiritual blessings, before the foundation of the world. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself. I see the picture of the Father, as we have already studied, holding His hands out. He’s weeping over His children that have gone astray. They have lost their right to a relationship, and He chooses to adopt them back into His family. He has His arms open wide to receive all of those who would come back to Him. We have a loving, graceful Father.
What did God the Son do to effect our plan of redemption? He came to pay a ransom. He was the ransom that we might be redeemed back into the family. Not only was He the sacrifice that was sacrificed on Calvary, but He is also the offerer. He is the High Priest of Hebrews. He is our High Priest, and He did what the High Priest of old did except He did it for all eternity. He separated us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. The Old Testament High Priest would put his hands on that scapegoat and name the names of the sins of Israel and send that goat off into the wilderness. That’s what it means for us to be forgiven of our sin. We’ve been released from them. They’ll never come back to haunt us. I don’t know what that does to you. That just overwhelms me. Ephesians 1 says He lavished forgiveness upon us.
What was God the Holy Spirit’s role? In Ephesians 1:13-14 He sealed us. We’re going to be talking about that later. He sealed us and guaranteed our inheritance. God’s plan of redemption for His lost creation did not leave us once we were saved. It did not leave us in a vacuum.
He gave us wisdom and insight so that we might understand how to walk with Him and how to know what’s going on in the world, not to be lost as if we don’t understand. The world thinks everything is falling apart. The believer knows everything is coming together. Let’s pick up there in verse 7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.” In other words, the bringing up of everything under the headship of Christ. Implied in that also is the bringing of Jew and Gentile together and making them one in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we know what’s going on in this world. Why? Because God has given us wisdom, and He has given us insight. We’re not left in a vacuum. He’s bringing everything together, and He knows that this plan was predetermined before the foundation of the world.
Well, we want to move on. Let’s begin to look again at the marvel of our redemption. First of all, I want us to see the sphere of our redemption. Who is included? Who is not excluded? Who is involved in His plan of redemption? Look at the last two words of verse 10 and down through verse 13. Let’s read it together. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Now, when we think of the sphere of our redemption, we begin to marvel at who is included. We think of those to whom the plan of redemption was first revealed.
Sometimes people think that Christianity began in America. It did not begin with us. Paul beautifully shows here in this passage who is not excluded. Not only that, he shows who was marvelously, and by grace, included into the plan of redemption. Look at the first of the verse. It says, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance,…” Who is this he is talking about?
Now we have to put verse 11 with verse 12 if we’re going to come to a conclusion. Verse 11 says, “we have obtained an inheritance.” Literally it should be: “by lot it has befallen us to be heirs in Him.” The Greek word there is the aorist passive indicative. Aorist means that at one point in time. Passive means we didn’t do anything to get it. Something happened to us. Somebody else initiated the action. Indicative simply means it was a historical fact. It happened. The word is the aorist passive indicative of the word kleroo. In Classical Greek kleroo had to do with casting a lot. As a matter of fact, it had the strong, strong meaning of chance built into it. Now we know that’s not what he’s using here, but that’s what the word in Classical Greek meant. It has the idea of being chosen. The New International Version says, “we have been chosen.” The word came to mean becoming an heir to something. It meant to allot a portion to someone.
We want to discover who he’s talking about in verse 11 when he says, “we also.” Whoever he’s talking about are heirs, not by chance—they’re heirs because of something else. Follow in verse 11: “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Now this is when it begins to get a lot clearer. The word “predestined” there is the same word we found back in verse 5. Remember? The word “predestined” means to make a decision beforehand based on knowledge that one has. So God made a decision beforehand, before the foundation of the world, that whoever he’s talking about in verse 11 would be heirs in Christ. They would be a part. Their inheritance would be in Christ. God made a decision before the foundation of the world. That decision is now being carried out.
It says, “having been predestined according to His purpose.” That word “purpose” grabbed my attention. It’s prothesis. It means to make up your mind to do something and then to pursue it with all diligence. That’s what the word “purpose” means. Now when you and I decide to do something, most of the time we haven’t made up our minds. Everybody tells me, “Wayne, you can lose weight if you will make up your mind.” It’s very obvious I haven’t yet made up my mind. But once I make up my mind, when I make a predetermined decision, I’m going to put that in front of me, and I’m going to pursue it with all diligence.
Who is he talking about in verse 11? I’m not going to tell you yet. However, we do know something about them. They’re heirs in Christ. Why are they heirs in Christ? By chance? Was it by lot that it fell upon them? Oh no! They were predestined. There was a decision made before the foundation of the world that they be heirs in Christ. And this became a purpose to a holy God who set it before Him and now is diligently bringing it to pass. Look at the rest of the verse. “Having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” That word “counsel” there is the Greek word boule. It means a conference or discussion in the Trinity. Now I don’t understand this. I’m just trying to illustrate it. It’s very difficult to illustrate what you don’t understand. It is the discussion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word boule, means the decision made after there has been counsel in the Trinity.
Remember those huddles you have in sports? I remember in football we would get together, and from the stands everybody thought we were very concerned about the game. But in the huddle we might be talking about where we’re going to get pizza after the game or who is that girl in the third row over there? But we would huddle together, and decisions would come out of that huddle. What it’s saying here is, before the foundation of the world, the Trinity huddled. There is one God in three persons. How do you do that? I don’t know. But they huddled, and there was a counsel made, and a decision came out of it. It was made before the foundation of the world based on what they as God knew, and now they are bringing it to pass. They have put it before them, and they are diligently pursuing its accomplishments in this world.
Whoever they are in verse 11 who “have also obtained an inheritance,” ought to be rejoicing because they didn’t earn it. It was not by chance. It was by a predetermined decision, and God is continuing to bring about the results of that decision which was made.
Who are they? Paul says, “we also have obtained an inheritance.” Well, if you’ll tie in verse 12 there’s a thought here I would like to suggest to you. It’s a very difficult and sometimes controversial passage, but verse 12 says, “to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Wait a minute! “We who were the first to hope in Christ.” Who is he talking about? Well, it could be translated “we who hoped beforehand.” To me he’s saying something here of the sphere of our redemption. First of all, He did not exclude the Jews. The plan of redemption started with them. Who was it who hoped in Christ beforehand? It had to have been the Jews. They hoped before He came, and they believed after He came. Now listen, it wasn’t all the Jews, but the spiritual Israel. God did not exclude them. The plan of redemption, as we said earlier, did not start in America. It started with the Jews. It was all built upon a covenant that was made with Abraham.
Let me explain that to you. Look with me at John 8:42. He’s not talking about all Jews here. He’s only talking about those who hoped in Christ beforehand, those who hoped in Christ first. In John 8:42 you’ll find that just because someone was born in the lineage of Abraham that did not mean that he was considered by God to be a true Jew or the child of Abraham. It was more a spiritual Israel that God talked about even though He has never forgotten literal Israel. He will continue to deal with them. As He talked about Israel and talked about being children of Abraham, it was in a spiritual sense. Look in John 8:42-47: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.’”
He said that to those who said they were the children of Abraham. There is a spiritual sense here that He said, “If you are the true spiritual Israel then you will believe in me. You will not reject me. You have hoped in Christ before the cross, and after the cross you will believe in Christ. You will come into the family of God.” He did not exclude the Jew.
We also know He did not exclude Israel as a nation. We know that their day of atonement will come. As you marvel at your redemption you’ve got to go back to where it began, to those who first hoped in Christ. As a matter of fact, if you’ll look in John 8:56 it says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Abraham believed the gospel.
Look over in Galatians 3:8. I want you to see that the gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand. Abraham knew about Christ’s coming. Somehow he understood, and he believed, and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He hoped in Christ beforehand: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All nations shall be blessed in you.’” Abraham rejoiced to see His day. He saw it and was glad.
Look with me at Zechariah 2:12. In the sense of inheritance, in the sense of what God has as His own possessions, I want you to see He did not exclude Israel. It says in verse 12, “And the Lord will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.” You see, when you think of the marvelous sphere of our redemption you’ve got to go back and realize where it started. Part of the marvel is He did not exclude them.
He is a covenant keeping God. The plan of redemption started with Him. Even though as a nation they have rejected Him, He has not rejected them. Those who have already received Him or have hoped in Him are part of this plan of redemption. Of course Israel will have their day of atonement. He’s not through with them.
Ephesians 1:10 says all things are being summed up in Christ. The Jew and the Gentile are being made one. You’re seeing part of that right here in this verse. Then he says in verse 12: “we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” I want you to see something that perhaps we might miss. I want you to realize it’s not in the fact that He did not exclude Israel. That’s not the marvel of my redemption. I’m so grateful He did not exclude them, but the marvel of marvels is He includes us. That’s what I want you to see. Certainly when it says we have an inheritance in Him, it’s talking about Jewish believers and Gentile believers being made one in Jesus. So often we think, “Oh God, I can’t believe that you did not exclude Israel. They became rebellious. They forsook you. They turned their back on you, and you did not exclude them.” That’s right. But, oh folks, that comes from proud lips, because if you’ll turn it around the other way, it’s overwhelming that He included us. We’re Gentiles today, folks.
Look at verse 13 and see how the text flows. He says, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Who are the “yous” there? Look in Ephesians 3:1. “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.” The thing we need to remember as we marvel at our salvation is that God included us. What’s the sphere of the plan of redemption? Not only the Jews from which it started, but also the Gentiles so that all nations might be blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you remember the day when you were saved? Can you remember that time? Sometimes it’s not bad to do this, because if we can go back and remember, it might overwhelm us afresh to realize that Gentiles were called “dogs” throughout all Scripture. They had no covenants. They were far away from God’s sight as far as that’s concerned. Jesus said He did not come for them. He came for the Jews, to seek and to save the lost. His main ministry was not really to the Gentiles, even though what He did on the cross was for all men, Jew or Gentile. Folks, listen, to call someone a Gentile was the worse thing you could say about them. If you were a Gentile you were scum. Nevertheless, God included us. “How do you know He included me, Brother Wayne? I’m not so sure.” Well, have you ever been drawn by the Father? You can’t get to Jesus unless the Father draws you. Why are you at church on Sunday? What draws you there? What draws you to the Gospel? What draws you to the Word of God? I tell you what it is. It’s the fact of a loving, gracious God who includes even the Gentiles in His plan of redemption.
When I got saved I was thirty-two years old, having been in the ministry for eight years. One day I prayed to die. I said, “Lord, if this is it, take me on.” I’m really grateful God doesn’t answer all those prayers. I woke up the next morning about a quarter to six, and I was so miserable, just miserable. Diana said, “You know, maybe God wants to speak with you, Wayne. Why don’t you get up and get alone with Him?” At that time there weren’t too many places I could get alone with God with the children and the small house we had. I went into the living room. It became a sanctuary when everybody was still in bed. I got down on my knees, and I said, “Lord, there’s something desperately wrong in my life, and I don’t know what it is.” I could think of about four sins, so I reran them just to make sure. Then I said, “God, will you show me what you see about me and in me?” For two hours I cried when God showed me the filth of Wayne Barber, and He showed me that anything that Wayne Barber had ever done to cause good was really only filthy and ugly and dirty rags. I had never seen that before, folks. I knew I had sinned, but I had never seen myself as a sinner. I asked God to forgive me. I didn’t know that was salvation because in those days I didn’t understand the vocabulary. I didn’t understand all this. I was raised in a good Southern Baptist Church, and I walked forward when they gave the invitation. I thought that saved me, but I had never heard of repentance and seeing yourself as a sinner unable to produce anything worthy of being called righteousness in God’s eyes. I was changed when I asked the Lord to forgive me and cleanse me. I had heard people talk and give testimonies before that the sky got bluer and the grass got greener. That’s exactly what happened to me. I mean, it’s like something turned on inside of me. It just seemed like something different happened in me. I’ve never been the same since that time.
Oh, I’m not perfect. I’ve got a long way to go, but I understand something: God included the Gentiles. Folks, I want you to know I’m included in that bunch. We are all included. The marvel of our redemption is not that He didn’t exclude Israel. The marvel of our redemption is that He included us, the Gentiles. It started with the Jews. Aren’t you glad that Paul heard that Macedonian cry at Troas. He came up into Macedonia which was the southern most tip of Europe. Christianity spread on up through Europe and England and then one day skipped over the Atlantic Ocean and dropped in on America. We’re a product of what happened way back here. It’s not that God didn’t exclude Israel, it’s the fact that He included you and me.
Look in Ephesians 2:11-22. Remember where Paul comes from? He was born in Tarsus, but yet he was a Jew. He was raised and schooled by Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Every time he sends letters or talks he’s always got on his heart the Jewish brethren and the Gentiles being made one in Christ. This is especially so in Ephesians. “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called `Uncircumcision’ by the so-called `Circumcison’, which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
Oh, the marvel of our redemption. If you ever had any problem with the security of your salvation, stay with us because we’re coming up on that. We’re going to nail that once and for all in Ephesians 1. I hope that you will never doubt again. Once you’re saved you are always saved. For what God decides God makes happen and will bring it to pass, and man cannot touch what God does. Man may think he has power, but buddy, he has no authority to step into that which God has previously planned. The marvel of our redemption. He included us.