Sermon on Ephesians 1:3-4 By John Calvin
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ: According to his choosing of us in him before the foundation of the world, in order that we should be holy and unblameable before him in love. - Ephesians 1:3-4
We have already seen how St. Paul exhorts us to praise and bless God because he has blessed us, and that not after an earthly manner but after a spiritual manner, so that we should content ourselves with God’s showing of his fatherly goodness and love towards us in opening the gate of the kingdom of heaven to us by hope. Although we are subject to much misery in this world, yet there is good reason for us to content ourselves with God’s choosing of us after that fashion and with his calling of us to himself, for it is witnessed to us by the gospel that he is our Father [Matt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2] inasmuch as he has joined us to our Lord Jesus Christ as members to their Head.
And now St. Paul brings us to the origin and source, or rather to the principal cause that moved God to take us into his favour. For it is not enough that God has revealed the treasures of his goodness and mercy to us to draw us to the hope of the heavenly life by the gospel—and yet that is very much. For had not St. Paul added that which we see now, it might have been surmised that God’s grace is common to all men and that he offers it and presents it to all without exception, and, consequently, that it is in every man s power to receive it according to his own free will, by which means there would be some merit in us. For if there were no distinction between men except that some receive God’s grace and others refuse it, what could be said but that God has shown himself liberal to all mankind But they that are partakers of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ attain to it by faith. And so you see what might be judged of it. But St. Paul, to exclude all merit on man’s part and to show that all comes from God’s pure goodness and grace, says that he has blessed us according to his election of us beforehand. As if he should say that to exalt God’s grace as becomes us, we must look upon the diversity that is found among men. For the gospel is preached to some, and others do not know what it is but are utterly shut out from it, as if God should make it rain in one quarter and allow another quarter to remain very dry.
Now if it is demanded why God pities the one part and forsakes and leaves and abandons the other, there is no other answer but that it so pleases him. Upon the preaching of the gospel in a place, some will be affected with lively faith in their hearts and others will go away as they came without benefiting at all, or else they harden themselves against God and betray the stubbornness that was hidden in them before. What is the reason for this difference Even this, that God directs the one sort by his Holy Spirit and leaves the other sort in their natural corruption.
You see then that the thing in which God’s goodness shines forth most to us, is that by the preaching of the gospel to us we have, as it were, a token that he has pitied us, loves us, calls us and allures us to him. But when the doctrine preached to us is received by us with heart and affection, that is yet a further and more special token by which we perceive that God intends to be our Father and has adopted us to be his children. Not without reason, then, St. Paul says in this passage that we are blessed by God even according to his election of us beforehand. For it is not that we have come to him; it is not that we have sought him. But the saying of the prophet Isaiah [65:i] must be fulfilled in every respect, namely, that God shows himself to such as did not seek him, and that such as were far off see him near at hand, and he says to them, ‘Here I am, here I am. Although you have despised me, yet I vouchsafe to come to you because I have a care of your salvation’. Thus we see what St. Paul was aiming at in this passage.
In short, we have to note here that we shall never know where our salvation comes from till we have lifted up our minds to God’s eternal counsel by which he has chosen whom he pleased and left the remainder in their confusion and ruin. Now then it is no marvel that some men think this doctrine to be strange and hard, for it does not fit in at all with man’s natural understanding. If a man asks of the philosophers, they will always tell him that God loves such as are worthy of it, and that, since virtue pleases him, he also marks out such as are given that way to claim them for his people. You see then that, after our own imagination, we shall judge that God puts no other difference between men, in loving some and in hating others, than each man’s own worthiness and deserving. But, at the same time, let us also remember that in our own understanding there is nothing but vanity and that we must not measure God by our own yardstick, and that it is too excessive a presumption to impose law upon God so that it would not be lawful for him to do anything but that which we could conceive and which might seem just in our eyes. The matter here, therefore, concerns the reverencing of God’s secrets which are incomprehensible to us, and unless we do so, we shall never taste the principles of faith. For we know that our wisdom ought always to begin with humility, and this humility imports that we must not come weighing God’s judgments in our own balances or take it upon ourselves to be judges and arbiters of them. We must be sober because of the smallness of our minds, and since we are gross and dull, we must magnify God and say, as we are taught by the holy Scripture [Ps. 36:6], Lord, thy counsels are as a great deep, and no man is able to give an account of them.
You see then that the reason why some men find this doctrine hard and irksome is because they are too much wedded to their own opinion and cannot submit themselves to God’s wisdom, to receive his sayings soberly and modestly. And truly we ought to take warning from what St. Paul says, namely, that the natural man does not understand God’s secrets but regards them as stark foolishness [I Cor. 2:14]. And why Because we are not his counsellors but must have things revealed to us by his Holy Spirit, or else we shall never know them, and we must have them in such measure as he gives them to us.
St. Paul speaks here of the things we know by experience, namely, that we are God’s children, that he governs us by his Holy Spirit, that he comforts us in our miseries and that he strengthens us through patience. We should not conceive any of all these things unless we were enlightened by his Holy Spirit. How then shall we understand that which is much higher, namely, that God elected us before the creation of the world? Since the matter stands thus, let us learn to put away all that we conceive in our own brain and put it under foot, and let us be ready to receive whatever God says to us, casting away our own judgment and assuring ourselves that we cannot bring anything from our side but utter stupidity. Thus you see what we have to bear in mind.
And, in fact, we see how St. Paul exhorts us to come to the same point. ‘Who art thou, O man (he says) who contends against thy God?’ [Rom. 9:20]. After he had set down many replies we are accustomed to make, he says, ‘O man’. By the word ‘man’ he meant to make us perceive our own frailty, for we are but worms of earth and rottenness [Ps. 103:14]. Now then, what audacity it is to open our mouths to reply against God. Is it not a perverting of the whole order of nature? Is it in our power to pluck the sun out of the sky, or to take the moon between our teeth, as they say? Much less is it lawful for us to contend with God and to advance reasons for controlling his judgments which we cannot comprehend.
There are those who will grant this doctrine of predestination, which St. Paul treats here, to be true, for they dare not contradict the Holy Spirit, yet they would it were buried so that it might never be spoken of. But they merely show themselves to be nothing but fools in controlling the Holy Spirit who spoke it by the prophets and apostles, and even by the mouth of God’s only Son. For when our Lord intends to assure us of our salvation, he brings us back to this eternal election; and similarly when he intends to magnify the gift of faith, the one in the tenth chapter of John and the other in the sixth. And therefore that kind of people come too late to put God to silence and to efface from the holy Scripture the things which are shown there. For the whole Scripture is profitable [2 Tim. 3:16]. St Paul said that of the Law and the Prophets. Therefore we may also conclude that there is nothing superfluous in the gospel, nor anything which serves no good purpose and by which we may not be edified both in faith and in the fear of God.
THE SIN OF UNBELIEF by C.H. Spuregon
ONE wise man may deliver a whole city. One good man may be the means of safety to a thousand others. The holy ones are “the salt of the earth,” the means of the preservation of the wicked. Without the godly as a buffer, the race would be utterly destroyed. In the city of Samaria there was one righteous man—Elisha, the servant of the Lord. Piety was altogether extinct in the court. The king was a sinner of the blackest dye, his iniquity was glaring and infamous. Jehoram walked in the ways of his father, Ahab, and made unto himself false gods. The people of Samaria were fallen like their monarch—they had gone astray from Jehovah.
They had forsaken the God of Israel—they remembered not the watchword of Jacob, “The Lord your God is one God.” And in wicked idolatry they bowed before the idols of the Heathens. Therefore the Lord of Hosts suffered their enemies to oppress them until the curse of Ebal was fulfilled in the streets of Samaria, for “the tender and delicate woman who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness,” had an evil eye to her own children and devoured her offspring by reason of fierce hunger (Deut 28:56-58). In this awful extremity the one holy man was the medium of salvation. The one grain of salt preserved the entire city—the one warrior for God was the means of the deliverance of the whole beleaguered multitude. For Elisha’s sake, the Lord sent the promise that the next day food which could not be obtained at any price, should be had at the cheapest possible rate—at the very gates of Samaria. We may picture the joy of the multitude when first the Seer uttered this prediction. They knew him to be a Prophet of the Lord. He had Divine credentials. All his past prophecies had been fulfilled. They knew that he was a man sent of God and uttering Jehovah’s message. Surely the monarch’s eyes would glisten with delight and the emaciated multitude would leap for joy at the prospects of so speedy a release from famine. “Tomorrow,” would they shout, “tomorrow our hunger shall be over and we shall feast to the full.”
However, the officer on whom the king leaned expressed his disbelief. We hear not that any of the common people, the plebeians, ever did so. But an aristocrat did it. Strange it is that God has seldom chosen the great men of this world. High places and faith in Christ do seldom agree. This great man said, “Impossible!” And, with an insult to the Prophet, he added, “If the Lord should make windows in Heaven, might such a thing be”? His sin lay in the fact that after repeated proofs of Elisha’s ministry, he yet disbelieved the assurances uttered by the Prophet on God’s behalf. He had, doubtless seen the marvelous defeat of Moab—he had been startled at tidings of the resurrection of the Shunamite’s son. He knew that Elisha had revealed Benhadad’s secrets and smitten his marauding hosts with blindness.
MP3s by Eric Alexander
Eric J Alexander has been an ordained as a minister in the Church of Scotland for over fifty years. He is one of the finest preachers of the word we know of an would encourage you to take the time to listen to one of his fine sermon series. He studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating Master of Arts in 1954 and Bachelor of Divinity in 1958. It was in 1962 that he was called to the parish of Loudoun East Church, in the Covenanting district of Ayrshire, in the village of Newmilns. After 15 years there, in 1977, he was aware of God's call to the city centre church of St George's Tron, in Glasgow, where he served as senior minister for 20 years, until his retirement in 1997. During these 20 years, large congregations, of all ages, gathered, both morning and evening, to listen to expository sermons from both Old and New Testaments.
Abraham, The Cross, The Biblical Teaching on Man, Who Jesus Is, Acceptable Worship, Life of Peter, The Bible, the Godhead, the Church, The Person and Power of the Holy Spirit, Him We Proclaim, Studies in the Life of Paul, The Law of God, The Character of God, Spiritual Warfare, The Sermon on the Mount, In Christ, Living the Christian Life, Biblical Newness, Advent, Approaching Calvary, The Church and the Holy Spirit, Relationships, The Life of Moses, Knowing Christ, The Subject of Prayer, On Temptation, A Tale of Two Cities, The Life of David, Seven Words from the Cross, The Bible, The Authority of Jesus, Apostolic Evangelism, The Feast of Pentecost, Priorities, Being Children of God
Sermons on Lamentations by C. H. Spurgeon
Lamentations 1:12 Is It Nothing to You?
Lamentations 1:12 Pleading with the Indifferent
Lamentations 2:19: Watch-Night Service
Lamentations 3:12, 13 Satan's Arrows and God's Watch-Night Service
Lamentations 3:21 Memory—the Handmaid of Hope
Lamentations 3:22, 23 The Novelties of Divine Mercy
Lamentations 3:24 Choice Portions
Lamentations 3:25 “How Good to Those Who Seek”
Lamentations 3:27 The Best Burden for Young Shoulders
Lamentations 3:28, 29 Solitude, Silence, Submission
Lamentations 3:56 Comfort for those Whose Prayers are Feeble
Lamentations 3:57 A Wonder Explained by Greater Wonders
Lamentations 3:58 God Pleading for Saints, and Saints Pleading for God
Lamentations 4:22 A Message from God for Thee
The Resolved Lamb of God
From Resolved 2012 - A most remarkable Christ centered, Cross centered, Gospel centered message by C. J. Mahaney.
John 3:16 - Sermon Notes
Yesterday, for the first time ever in any of my sermons, I focused exclusively on the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Here are my sermon notes:
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
GOD SO LOVED - The word “so” often denotes intensity. For instance, a man may say to his wife, “I love you sooooo much,” as he wishes to express the measure and depth of his love. Though this is a popular understanding of this verse, that is NOT how the word “so” is being used in John 3:16.
There is another way of using the word “so” in English, which describes the way in which something occurs. When a mother is seeking to train her children how to place cutlery on the dining room table, she might well place the knife and fork in position and say, "now when you put the knife and fork down on the table, place them just so" (or in this way).
In John 3:16 it is this “just so” concept that is in view. We could rightly read the text as “God’s love for the world is seen in this way…” A note in the margin of the ESV states this concerning “For God so loved the world” as it reads, "Or For this is how God loved the world."
THE WORLD – There are at least ten different uses of the word “world” (Greek kosmos) in John’s gospel. Context is a most vital component in determining the meaning of words. Here, the word kosmos is being used in a general way to speak of humanity, of Jews and Gentiles.
GOD GAVE HIS SON - God’s love for the world is seen in tangible terms - the giving of His Son…
PURPOSE - God gave His Son with a particular goal in mind.
Notice there is a strong element of particularity (rather than universality) here. The purpose was not to save everybody on the planet (past, present and future) but to save those who believe in Christ.
WHOEVER BELIEVES - Literally, the text reads “in order that every the one believing in Him…” It says “every” or “all the ones believing…” That’s hard to express in English but in essence, it is saying “all the believing ones.” That’s what is being communicated. It is saying that there is no such thing as a believing one who does not receive eternal life, but who perishes. Though our English translation says “whoever believes,” the literal rendering is accurately translated as “every believing one” and the emphasis is NOT AT ALL on the “whosoever,” but on the belief.
The ones BELIEVING will not have one consequence, but will have another. They will not perish but will have everlasting life.
Because of the main verb – God GAVE His Son. God gave His Son for the purpose (Greek: hina) that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.
As mentioned earlier, John 3:16 actually speaks of a limitation -- of a particular, rather than a universal, redemption. Clearly, not everyone will be saved. Only those who believe in Christ will be saved. The Father loved the world in this way: He gave His Son for the purpose of saving those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but by contrast, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.
So, what John 3:16 teaches is:
ALL who do A (believe in Him) will not B (perish) but will have C (everlasting life)
PERISH - The word does not mean merely the end of physical existence or annihilation. We know this from the context. Verse 17 indicates that the perishing involves divine condemnation, complete and everlasting so that a person is banished from the presence of the God of love and dwells forever under His wrath.
Lectures to My Students by C. H. Spurgeon (.pdf)
HT: On the Wing
Hypocrites Beyond All Hope of Cure
The first three verses of Hosea chapter six, as we discovered last week, provide for all the elect remnant a most hopeful and comfortable promise of the mercy and life which will certainly follow all of God's righteous tearing and breaking down of his people. This sure promise of grace, to which the faithful clung for many generations, finally received its full vindication and ultimate fulfillment on the third day after the death of Christ, the last legitimate Seed of Abraham and true Israel in himself, when, true to the prophecy, God raised him from the dead, and in him, all of his people as well, who had been broken down by exile, plague, captivity, and many other such things. This final confirmation of God's promise of grace was so great beyond all expectation, that even today, we who are in any distress whatsoever, if we belong to Christ, may look to his resurrection and consider it a seal and pledge that God will work everything, even the most difficult of things, for our eternal good, just as the apostle later assures us at the end of Romans chapter eight.
Breaking Us Down to Bind Us Up
Context of the Prophecy
The prophet Hosea, as indeed all the other prophets in some manner or another, was concerned most especially with the terrible coming exile first predicted by Moses, which would actually be brought about because of the people's hardheartedness and impenitent breaking of the Law; and yet, as strongly as Hosea thundered his threatenings of this fearful judgment of exile against the people, God did not leave them entirely without hope, but by many strong and sure consolations promised to them a later restoration which, however his Law may have been broken, was nevertheless promised by the Gospel, which from the beginning assured the elect remnant of God's free mercy and salvation, and which the Law, coming four hundred and thirty years after, could never abrogate (Gal. 3:17).
Strangers in a Hostile Land
Throughout the first epistle of Peter, the apostle is addressing a group of believers who are manifestly different from the citizens of the lands in which they find themselves compelled to live, and who are therefore misunderstood, maligned, and persecuted. Although at one time these believers were at home in their places of earthly residence, they have now been vastly transformed by the great power of the gospel. They were formerly not a people of God, but have now become a people (2:10). They had been full of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander, but were now constrained as newborn infants to desire something altogether different, that is, the true milk of the Word of God (2:1). In times past they had carried out the will of the Gentiles, giving themselves over to debauchery, sensuality, drunkenness, idolatry, etc., but that time has all passed, and now their former compatriots consider them strange and alien, and mock and slander them, because they no longer do those wicked things (4:-3-4; 1:14). Because of this great change, they who had once been citizens of this world, and loved by their own, and partners with them in this world's lusts, are now exiles and sojourners, whether in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, or any other place they may live (1:1-3). Hence, Peter exhorts them to live in accordance with their new character as temporary pilgrims in this world, and not according to their former futile ways (1:17-18).
"God's Electing Love in Christ"- Ephesians 1:3-14
â€œGODâ€™S ELECTING LOVE IN CHRISTâ€
REV. CHARLES R. BIGGS
Part Two in a sermon series on Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians
Last week we learned from the Book of Ephesians that Grace and peace are the two main ingredients for life in the Christian community. Grace and peace should inform our ultimate identity in Jesus so that we can live worshiping and serving God as we are called to do.
Summary statement for today's sermon: Predestination and election (or being chosen) humbles and exalts Godâ€™s purposes, power and glory. The path of our apprehension of this Biblical teaching must begin at the foot of the cross. The cross is the realization of predestination and election and the beginning of the response of the true worship of God.
There was a real and radical change of the Apostle Paul by Godâ€™s grace from inside-out- -he was a new creation- -with a new identity in Jesus Christ: â€œPaul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God: (1:1b)
â€œAn Apostle of Christ Jesusâ€- No longer, a blasphemer and persecutor of the Church: Not â€œSaul, a Pharisee of Pharisee, self-righteous, proud, according to the â€œtraditions of the fathersâ€.
â€œBy the will of Godâ€- Not his own idea, but according to Christâ€™s call.
Paul now encourages the Ephesians who were part of a wicked worldly environment, that there greatest hope is in Godâ€™s electing love in Christ.
"Grace to You and Peace..."
I have been on a short sabbatical this past summer and did not have the time to post. I would like to begin posting some studies/sermons I have been writing on Ephesians.
Study them and use them if they are helpful. May God stand by and watch to perform his Word in you. My first sermon is from Ephesians 1:1-2:
ESV Ephesians 1:1-2: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful(1 )in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you would like to receive these sermons in pdf, then email me at [email protected]
Summary: Grace and peace are the two main ingredients for life in the Christian community. Grace and peace should inform our ultimate identity in Jesus so that we can live worshiping and serving God as we are called to do.
In Christ's love,
Kiss the Son
I had the opportunity to preach again yesterday, and took the time to manuscript my sermon, "Kiss the Son," from Psalm 2. As follows.
It is a commonly accepted notion, and doubtless true, that the first and second psalms stand together as an introduction to the entire psalter, and provide all the information necessary to interpret and make sense of all which follows. Thus, there is contained in these two psalms every major doctrine that the remaining one-hundred forty-eight unfold so variously and wonderfully, from the lives of so many different psalmists, in so many different conditions. But not only is there a true summary of all the major heads of the psalter; there is contained in the first two, moreover, the very root from which those doctrines all spring, the one immovable foundation upon which the entire house is built. So that, if one were to attempt to interpret the things contained in the one-hundred and forty-eight without first being familiar with the two, he would doubtless cast himself into many needless snares and discover certain foolish and dangerous doctrines, that ought not at all to be derived from the psalms, when they are treated of as they should be.
John Macarthur - USA Abandoned by God
Christ the Breath of Our Nostrils
I was given the opportunity to preach at my church yesterday (Trinity Church in Minot), in preparation for which, I prepared a "guideline manuscript" -- in other words, I manuscripted the whole sermon, but primarily just to solidify the flow-of-thought, not to read verbatim. I chose my text from Lamentations, a rich, sober, and very beautiful but somewhat obscure passage, that is admittedly more appropriate for Good Friday than Palm Sunday; but in any case, I thought it a fitting prelude to the celebration of Easter Sunday. Following is my manuscript.
Regeneration v. The Idolatry of Decisional "Evangelism" by Paul Washer
HT: Lanes' Blog
MP3 Library - This Week's Features
Here are 'This Week's Features' we have been working at the Monergism MP3 Library.
We have added the Celebrate Reformation Day to the main page of the MP3 Library. Reformation Day is celebrated on October 31st each year or the Sunday before or after. This day is a great holiday alternative to Halloween. Why not celebrate it by learning the history of this day with your small group, church, friends and family? It's important to cook some German sausage, German potato salad and German Chocolate cake for your guests. The Reformed churches here in Portland usually have a Reformation Day special service and focus on those biblical doctrines that were so important in the Reformation.
Desiring God Ministries National Conference had just finished up this weekend. Check out all the audio and video sermons from the conference.
I know that many of this blog's readers (and contributors!) don't share my conviction regarding paedobaptism (lit., "infant baptism"); I'm glad we can still get along so well! I used to be an ardent anti-paedobaptist (and I use this term because people on both sides are "credobaptists," thinking that believers ought to be baptized). But after much study and many conversations, the baptism of believers' children is something I've come to believe is biblical (there's no other good reason to believe in it).
As good Christians often disagree strongly on the matter, there is a potential threat to loving unity in the Church. One factor in this is that the Presbyterian (as differentiated from the Roman Catholic) perspective on infant baptism is often misunderstood and caricatured. In the pursuit of civility between brethren who differ on the matter, then, I thought I'd post the mp3 of this sermon that I preached on Acts 2.36-39 at Intown Presbyterian Church (Portland, OR) on August 24, 2008.
It's a sermonâ€”not a systematics lecture intended to answer everyone's questions. But hopefully it will help anti-paedobaptists to understand how their paedobaptist brothers and sisters can desire to glorify God through the baptism of their children.