Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:3-10).
This is one of the greatest passages of Scripture. You cannot help but feel that Paul is totally overwhelmed with the subject matter. In the original Greek the sentences from verse 3 to 14 are all one long sentence (220 words!). There are no full stops. He is so caught up with the wonder of these blessings in Christ that he doesn’t even pause for breath. But not only is he conveying the wonder of these great truths to us, he is also showing that they must all be taken together or not at all. These many blessing are united as one and the glue that holds them all together is the Lord Jesus Christ. These blessings are so knit together that they all make up but one blessing. Where God gives any one of them, He gives all of them (ad. John Trapp). So we see that biblical truth is like the hexagonal segments on a football. Remove any one segment and the ball falls flat. These great doctrines are like masonry in an archway, if you begin to remove bricks then the archway will crumble to pieces. So it is all or nothing. Every piece of truth in this passage counts. You cannot say, ‘I will believe in adoption and redemption but not election and predestination’. You cannot say, ‘I will believe in a great inheritance, but not in redemption by Jesus blood’. We have no right to pick and choose which truths we will believe. This is God’s holy and infallible Word and we are called to believe, teach, preach, and live by the whole counsel of God. Every word of Scripture counts. Half a Christianity is no Christianity at all; it is a crumbling archway, a flat ball faith. Moreover, this passage is not an optional extra for upper crust Christians; these privileges are for every true child of God to believe and enjoy. These things should not daunt us or make us bitter; these are truths to rejoice in and blessings to cherish because they all centre on that one great Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the central hub around which these blessings revolve because all of them are found ‘in Christ’, ‘in Him’. Think of it like a bicycle wheel: Christ is at the centre and the blessings are the spokes. The plan of salvation has this Christological focus. Christ is the sum and centre of God’s eternal plan. And what a plan it is! It is inconceivable that a loving and merciful God would create this entire universe, create men and women in His own image and likeness, but not make a plan for His creation and for His people. Of course He has a plan. He is not a divine watchmaker. He didn’t wind up the mechanics of this universe and then leave us to our own devices. On the contrary, He is personally and intimately in involved in His creation. So He has the plan of all plans; a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in Christ. I came across this hymn while reading Geoff Thomas’ sermons on Ephesians on the internet:
Hail, sovereign love that first began
The plan to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,
That gave my soul a hiding-place.
(Jehoida Brewer 1752-1817)
Jesus Christ is the one who unites this plan together. The most important words in this text are ‘in Him’. Christians are savingly blessed in Him. We chosen in Him, predestined to be sons through Him, redeemed in Him, we obtain an inheritance in Him, we believe in Him, our hope is in Him, and we are sealed by the Spirit in Him. The Father has ‘blessed us’ (v.3) through the Son by ‘making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth’ (v.9-10). ‘Just as a great landowner appoints a manager to put into execution his plans for the estate, so the Father has given Christ full authority to administer and bring to completion the entire plan of salvation’ (G. B. Wilson).
Undoubtedly, there is a Trinitarian dynamic here. The three persons of the Godhead are united in their purpose to save a people for themselves. They cooperate and work together to bring about the salvation of souls. We could certainly examine the text before us from this Trinitarian perspective. However, I would like us focus upon the saving blessings found by virtue of being ‘in Christ’. This idea of being ‘in Christ’ means that we are united to Him. This union is ‘that intimate, vital, and spiritual union between Christ and His people, in virtue of which He is the source of their life and strength, of their blessedness and salvation’ (Louis Berkhof). In ourselves there is no hope because we are sinners, but in Christ there is every hope of full salvation, rich and free. They who gain Christ lose nothing and win everything. There is this fullness, this completeness, this finality to the work of redemption. God does not offer fallen men and women the mere possibility of salvation. The Lord Christ did not suffer and die in order to make salvation merely possible. He died to save. The final salvation of God’s people is absolutely certain. There are no loopholes, no flaws, in the plan of God.
What from Christ my soul can sever,
Bound by everlasting bands?
Once in Him, in Him forever,
Thus the eternal cov'nant stands:
From the Strength of Israel’s hands.
(John Kent, 1766-1834)
There is much that could be said about these verses. You could spend a few months opening up the treasures of each verse. When you look upon a great painting, you could explore all the various elements – the foreground, the middle distance, the background, the textures, the choice of colours and tones, and the activities within the painting that grab your attention. But the best way to get an overall understanding of the painting would be to take a step back and survey the whole. This is what I would like us to do with the text before us, we don’t have time to consider everything, and so I’d like us to look specifically at verses 3 to 10.
1] The Christian is chosen before the creation of the world (1:4). Paul says that ‘God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world’. This choosing, electing, selecting work of God is the basis for all the other blessing that follow. So you cannot take this truth out. It is the foundation and groundwork upon which all the others rest. ‘If the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?’ (Psalm 11:3). Paul does not say that we chose God, but that God chose us. The Apostle John puts it like this: ‘We love Him, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). ‘The only ground of God’s love is His love. The ground of God’s love is only and wholly within Himself. There is neither love nor loveliness in us that should cause a beam of His love to shine upon us’ (Thomas Brooks). God doesn't love us because we first loved Him; rather, God’s love for His elect children is the ground of their love to Him. His love is the fountain, ours the stream. The attribute of God’s love is the motive, the incentive, and the wellspring of ours.
But for some reason, this wonderful doctrine has been terribly controversial, and yet here it is, so clearly explained by Paul in our text. God, before the foundation of the world, knowing that mankind would fall and rebel in sin, chose to save a people for Himself to the praise of His mercy and grace (Romans 9:17-23). Paul says that the Father chose us in Him. The ‘us’ here refers specifically to the saints who are in Ephesus, they who are faithful in Christ Jesus. Paul is not saying that God has chosen everybody, but a particular people, a people that includes Paul, the Ephesian Christians, and all those who God has eternally planned to save. Notice that those whom God chooses are chosen ‘in Christ’. Their names have been written upon the palms of His hands in marks of indelible grace. Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and so if sinners are to be saved, then they must be saved ‘in Him’. God delivers His people out of the estate of sin and misery and brings them into a state of salvation only through Jesus, the Redeemer of God’s elect. John Calvin describes this work of election ‘as a registering of us in writing’ in which ‘Jesus Christ serves as a register. It is in Him that we are written down and acknowledged by God as His children. Seeing, then, that God had an eye to us in the person of Jesus Christ, it follows that He did not find anything in us which we might lay before Him to cause Him to elect us’. There was nothing ‘in us’ worth saving because by nature we are vile and full of sin, by nature we are children of wrath, and so it is that God chose us ‘in Christ’. Do you understand what Paul is saying? This is a very basic Christian truth. There is nothing in us meritorious of salvation. No amount of good works, efforts, decisions, or resolutions on our part can bring salvation to us. Salvation is not by works but by grace alone. Paul goes on to say in the second chapter that by nature we are ‘dead in our trespasses and sins’, there was not an ounce of spiritual life in our hearts, not a drop of faith, not an inkling of love toward God. We were spiritually dead, not partially dead, not half dead, not un-dead, but dead, really and truly dead to God. And dead men don’t contribute anything to their salvation. They are wholly and totally dependent upon God. This is why salvation must be ‘in Christ’. He alone is the source of true life, blessedness and salvation. That God should choose to save some by giving them new life ‘in Christ’ is a tremendous testimony to His mercy and grace. Paul’s point in this text is that we are chosen ‘in Christ’. We are made worthy and well pleasing to God, ‘In Him’ alone.
Now this work of election was not some accidental backup plan. It was not some historical afterthought. God did not look down upon man some time after the fall and think ‘Oh crumbs, I’d better choose to save some of them’. It has always been God’s eternal purpose to choose and save a people for Himself through Christ Jesus. This is why Paul says that we were chosen before the foundation (the creation) of the world. God’s people were chosen for salvation in the depths of eternity. But why were we chosen? What did God have in mind for us? Pauls says that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. And from this it follows that we were not elected because we were holy, but in order that we may be holy. If men are chosen in order to become holy, then they cannot be chosen because they were already holy. Holiness is the evidence of election, not the ground for it. Sometimes people abuse the doctrine of grace, they say ‘because God is so gracious then let us live how we please’. But Paul says, ‘Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? May it never be’ (Romans 6:1). You have been chosen to live holy and blameless lives. The doctrine of sovereign election should move us to diligently live holy lives that are well pleasing to God. Matthew Henry puts it like this: All who are chosen to happiness as the end are chosen to holiness as the means. Their sanctification, as well as their salvation, is the result of the counsels of divine love.
Those whom God chooses He changes. Those whom God saves He sanctifies. If you think about it, holiness is the only fitting response to God’s grace. How can we not desire to love, serve and obey the one who has lavished such love upon us? It is a believer’s privilege and delight to live to the glory of God. Of course, none of us will ever be perfectly holy in this life, the blamelessness and holiness that Paul has in view here is that perfect state of righteousness found only in heaven. Here, on earth, holiness is a struggle; it is a fight with sin, a war with the world, and battle with Satan. But we must persevere by the grace of God, we must run the race until we see His face, we must fight the good fight and make our calling and election sure.
So I think that it is sufficiently clear from all of this that God teaches sovereign election in His Word, and we must believe it because God’s Word teaches it. We need no other reason than that. We should not be ashamed of this doctrine; we should not hide it from others, but proclaim the gracious election of God from the rooftops. It is precisely because there is such a thing as election that there is such a thing as salvation. So this doctrine humbles all our pride, doesn’t it? We cannot contribute one brass bean to our salvation. It is all of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. We can do nothing to save ourselves – God alone saves sinners. Salvation belongs to the Lord (Psalm 3:8). But if you don’t believe this truth, then you don’t truly believe that salvation is by grace alone. You leave some place for human merit, effort and pride. But this assumption of human autonomy and ability in the sphere of salvation lies at the very heart of sin and unbelief. Charles Spurgeon said, ‘It always seems inexplicable to me that those who claim free will so very boldly for man should not also allow some free will to God. Why should not Jesus Christ have the right to choose His own bride?’ Why should not God have the right to choose His own children? So here is the doctrine of God’s sovereign choice set before you so very clearly in the words of the Apostle Paul. If only those of us who struggle with this doctrine could see that it lies at the heart of salvation by grace! If only we who believe could see that God has chosen us for salvation! Why if we could see and feel the beauty of this truth, we would dance for joy. I believe wholeheartedly that God will save His own elect. This doctrine is the basis for all the other blessings of salvation in our text. And it is because I know that God will save a people for Himself that I can say with confidence to any man, ‘Come and welcome Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour’. Because I know that God will save a people for Himself, I have the utmost confidence that the Gospel message will not be proclaimed in vain, but believed on by all whom God favours. It is impossible for God’s Word to return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11). The doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation, far from destroying human responsibility, actually establishes it. We are responsible to repent and believe the Gospel precisely because God is sovereign. The doctrine of election is the heartbeat of divine, sovereign grace and it is given to us so that we might be confident in proclaiming salvation by grace alone.
In love eternal Thou didst choose
To save Thy sheep; their bonds to loose.
No good did we within us have
To claim Thy gracious plan to save.
Elected by Thy grace alone;
Made holy to stand before Thy throne!
None can pluck me; none can pluck me
(Rev. Paul Treick)
This very grace is the only hope for men and women in a fallen world. It is the only hope for the Church. ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). Let us praise God for Jesus Christ has said, ‘I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her’ (Matthew 16:18). Let us be confident in evangelism and in praying for mission because we know that God has chosen a people for Himself and will most certainly save them from their sins. He is the God who declares the end from the beginning. He is the God who has said, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:10). His plan to save a people for Himself will not and cannot fail.
2] The Christian is predestined for adoption into the family of God (1:5-6). This is exactly what Paul says, ‘In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved’ (1:5-6). The wellspring and source of predestination is the loving heart of the Father. ‘In love He predestined us’. This isn’t a cold and impersonal fate; it isn’t randomness, chance or luck. The source of our salvation, of our predestination for adoption the family of God, is the good pleasure and love of God. So if you didn’t get it from the previous verse, Paul presses this point further by commending divine love and grace to us again and again. God has predestined His people, according to the good pleasure of His will, for the adoption as sons, and has made us acceptable in His sight by grace. In adopting us, God does not inquire what we are, how we have lived, or where we have come from, and He is not moved to love us by any personal worth of our own (for we have none). This love, this predestinating love, this adopting love is free, unmerited, undeserved, gracious, sovereign and divine. You cannot force God’s hand in this matter. He is the one adopting, not us. And surely, He has the right to eternally destine for adoption those whom He will. His single motive is His eternal good pleasure.
Notice that we are blessed with the privilege of adoption ‘in Christ the Beloved’. This name of the Beloved is set before us to remind us that by Him the love of God is communicated to us. All the communications of divine grace, love, and mercy come to us through Jesus Christ. Don’t you see? The Father loves Jesus Christ and us ‘in Him’. You remember what the Father said at the Lord Christ’s baptism, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). And, so, if we are united to Christ, then we are loved by the Father. The Lord Christ is, in every way, infinitely lovely. He is the lily of the valleys, the rose of Sharon. He is white and ruddy, fair to see. He is the fairest among ten thousand. He is altogether lovely. So when the Father looks upon us, by virtue of our union with Christ, He does not see our many sins but He sees the beauty and glory of His own Son. ‘We are hateful in ourselves as sinners, but accepted in Christ as sons’ (Matthew Poole). The Lord Christ ‘is the treasury in which the Father disposes all the riches of His grace, taken from the bottomless mine of His eternal love’ (John Owen). The Father sent His beloved Son into the world in order to bring fallen sinners back to God –and brought back, not merely to have the slate wiped clean and grime of sin removed, but to be declared sons and daughters of the living God, and to know that never-ending fellowship with God Himself.
J. I. Packer once wrote: ‘If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father’. The greatest privilege of salvation is adoption into the family of God. In the new birth, we are given a new heart with new desires, we given newness of life, faith and repentance are created in our hearts, and we are given that divine and supernatural light, that new sense to perceive, understand and embrace the great things of the Gospel. In justification, we are declared ‘not guilty’ in the law courts of heaven. We are legally and forensically declared to be right with God, right with the righteousness of Christ. In sanctification, we are progressively conformed to be more like Jesus Christ. Sins are chiselled away and Christ-like virtues are cemented on. But in adoption, we are carried beyond all these things. In adoption, we are carried into the loving bosom of our heavenly Father and declared to be His own children. There can be no higher privilege, no sweeter assurance, and no greater love shown toward sinners, than to be called children of the living God.
Behold the amazing gift of love
The Father hath bestowed
On us, the sinful sons of men,
To call us sons of God!
(Isaac Watts 1674-1748)
John tells us that ‘Jesus Christ came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God’. Christ will never be without followers. Though many reject Him, still some will receive Him. To those who receive He gives the greatest privilege that can ever be received. To those who receive Him, who believe in Him, He gives the right to become children of God. If you believe in Jesus Christ, He adopts you in to His own family. He becomes your Elder Brother and His Father becomes your Father. He’ll count you as His own brother or sister, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. He will make you sons and daughters of the living God. This great privilege belongs to all who receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour, to all who come to Him believing, and follow Him as their King. Those who trust in Him are children of God. Yes, they will be despised and rejected by the world, just like Jesus was, but they will be loved forever by their heavenly Father. Those who trust in Jesus are cared for with an infinite love by the Father in heaven, who, for His Son’s sake, is well pleased with them. In eternity He will give them a crown of glory that fades not away and a seat at His table. These are great privileges, but only faith in Christ will give you title to such blessings. We cannot know the secret will of God, we cannot tell whom God has chosen for adoption. The secret things belong to God alone but we know that His revealed promises are sure. The Bible is clear: if you receive Christ as Lord and Saviour, if you believe in His name, you will be adopted into the family of God. Adoption belongs only to those who trust in Jesus. God is not the Father of those who have not received His Son.
3] The Christian is redeemed through Christ’s blood (1:7-8). ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood’ (1:7). The sovereign purpose of election is fulfilled through Christ’s redemption. It is not merely that Christ has made salvation possible by His death. He has truly purchased life for His elect people by His death. The Cross reveals God’s power to actually save. J. I. Packer puts it like this: ‘Christ did not win a hypothetical salvation for hypothetical believers, a mere possibility of salvation for any who might possibly believe, but a real salvation for His own chosen people’. His precious blood really does save His people from their sins. The saving power of the blood of Christ does not reside in man’s faith, the saving power of the cross does not depend upon man’s faith or works being added to it; its saving power is such that faith itself flows from it. The Cross secured the full salvation of all for whom Christ died (ad. J. I. Packer). ‘God forbid,’ says Paul, ‘that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 4:14). There is no room for self-glorification. No flesh can glory in the light of the Cross. Our confession of faith is this: God saves sinners; Jesus Christ has redeemed us by His own precious blood.
There is a path of pardon
In His blood;
There is a sure salvation
In His blood!
The Law’s full consummation,
A Father’s approbation!
In His blood–
Atonement and redemption
In His blood! In His blood!
Williams Williams (1801-76)
This work of redemption is not in us but ‘in Him’. The path of pardon is in His blood. The guilt and stain of sin could only be removed by the blood of Jesus Christ. The elect people of God, His Church, could only be saved through the substitutionary death of His Son. This is why we call Him Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He did not die in vain. Isaiah says that ‘He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied’ (Isaiah 53:11).
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word;
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.
(Samuel John Stone, 1839-1900)
He died for His Church and bought her with His own blood. He has paid the price for sin. He has rescued us by ransom. The blood reminds us of that painful and shameful death. It reminds of the violence He suffered for our sakes. It reminds us that He willingly endured the death of the Cross as our substitute. The death we deserved, He died. He died our death. The death we deserved died in the death of Christ. The people of God have life because Christ died. Let us never forget that. Let us treasure this glorious truth with all our hearts, for it is the very heartbeat of our faith. What Wales today need? It needs preachers, elders, deacons, laymen, who will stand up for Jesus and be soldiers of the Cross. Oh may God send us more preachers who are on fire with the Cross and whose only glory shall be the Saviour who loved them and gave Himself for them!
‘In him we have redemption through His blood; the forgiveness of our trespasses’. In Him is redemption, the forgiveness of sins. There is this linking of ‘forgiveness’ with the death of Christ. This shows that the remission, the removal, the cancellation of our sins and the penalty due to us is founded upon the price He paid for us. He paid the debt we owed. We all, each one of us, owe a great debt. Our sins are stacked against us. We are deeply in the red. We have trespassed the standard of God’s absolute righteousness. We have broken His holy laws. Every one of us stands in desperate need of His forgiveness. There is only one way to receive such forgiveness. You must come to Christ and receive Him by faith. Forgiveness is found only in Him. You can never pay off your debt. Redemption, the forgiveness of sins, is found in Him alone.
There was none other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven, and let us in.
(Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-95)
The good news is that this costly forgiveness is freely offered to all. ‘You don’t need to bring one penny. God is rich enough’ (Thomas Goodwin). He lavishes these blessings upon His people according to the riches of His grace. ‘Who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things’ (Romans 11:35-36). We have no riches to bring, but He gives us infinite riches in Jesus. Isaiah says that ‘He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7). You may have a great abundance of sin. Your sins may be stacked like skyscrapers against you. But here, in Christ, there is abundant pardon. You may mourn an abundant hardness of heart. But the abundant pardon found in Christ will melt your hard heart like candle wax. There truly is forgiveness for all who call upon the name of the Lord. He cries aloud, ‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1). Are you thirsting for the grace of God and the blessings of the gospel? Are you poor and heavy laden? Those who are most worthless and wicked, the poorest of the poor, if they do but thirst, they are welcome to come and buy to receive that wine and milk which is freely offered in the Gospel. The wine and milk speak of the sweetness and luxury of Gospel blessings; in particular, that peace and joy that comes with the forgiveness of sins, joys which are better than wine and a love which nourishes the soul, as milk does the body. Come to Christ and find salvation full and free.
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more!
(Joseph Hart, 1712-68)
1] Of comfort for believers: The Christian is part of God’s master plan; a plan which began in eternity and swoops down into history in the death of Christ; a plan which centres upon this remarkable person, the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ. This is a plan for the fullness of time, a plan to unite all things in Him, our living head, things in heaven and things on earth. Eternity and time collide together in this incredible plan – a plan to unite the immortal son of God with the mortal sons of sinful men. This incredible plan of salvation shows us that we are totally dependent upon the grace of God for our salvation.
Grace first inscribed my name,
In God's eternal book:
`Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb
Who all my sorrows took.
Grace taught my soul to pray,
And pardoning love to know,
`Twas grace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.
(Phillip Doddridge, 1702-51)
My grandmother has lots of chiming clocks in her house – some go ‘cuckoo,’ others ‘ding dong’ and so on. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a clock that chimed, on the hour, every hour, ‘by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:8)? Charles Spurgeon thought that everyone should have just such a clock. We need to remind ourselves of this awesome fact as often as we can. Oh that such grace would cause us to praise Him more, live to His glory and enjoy His riches forever!
2] Of exhortation for unbelievers: Death is a terrible reality. You could die today, tomorrow, a week from now, twenty, thirty, forty, years from now – the question is: are you ready to die? One day you will be gone from this earth and immediately you will stand in the presence of your Maker. Are you ready for that? He will know everything about you – all your sins, all your words, deeds, all your thoughts, He will know them all. Who will be your advocate? Without Christ, you will stand alone; alone before your God. What will you plead? What will you say to the almighty God? Will you offer Him excuses? You have none. ‘For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made’ (Romans 1:20). So you are without excuse. The Lord Christ died for sinners like you and offers salvation to all who will savingly believe in Him. But how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
This is serious. This is not a joke. This is not religiosity. Your eternity is at stake. Yet you lack conviction of your sinfulness before a holy God and imagine that you are somehow good enough. You are not sensible of the seriousness and exceeding sinfulness of sin, and how dreadfully your sin has provoked the one true God unto anger. You are held above the fiery pit of God’s wrath by a string as thin as a spider’s web and should your string of life break and death come sweeping upon you, then you will know that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But, right now, you are alive and well. You do not see your sins nor feel their weight. You are insensible of the heinousness of sin, as sin against God Himself, and of the unrelenting opposition of the holy nature of God against all that is evil. Our God is of purer eyes than to even look upon sin and His wrath is unimaginably great. The Bible says that you must come to Jesus today and that you must trust in Him, in order to partake of the great plan of salvation. Jesus Christ is your only hope. Don’t you feel the weight of sin hanging upon your shoulders? If not, ask Him to show you your sins. But do more than that, plead with Him to forgive you and accept you in Christ. Don’t go to sleep until you know that you are safe in the arms of Jesus.
Hail, sovereign love that first began
The plan to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,
That gave my soul a hiding-place.
(Jehoida Brewer 1752-1817)
References & Further Reading
Beeke, Joel, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (RHB). See chapters 7, 15, 16, and 30 in particular.
Berkhof, Louis, ‘The Mystical Union’ in Systematic Theology (Banner of Truth), pp. 447–53.
Calvin, John, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, vol. xxi (Baker Books).
Carter, Tom (ed.), 2200 Quotations from the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon (Baker Books).
Henry, Matthew, Commentary: Acts to Revelation, vol. 6 (Hendrickson)
Macleod, Donald, A Faith to Live By: Understanding Christian Doctrine (Christian Focus). See chapters 5 and 9 in particular.
Paker, J. I., Knowing God (Hodder & Stoughton)
Packer, J. I., “‘Saved by his precious blood’: an introduction to John Owen’s ‘The Death of Death in the Death of Christ’”, in Among God’s Giants: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Eastbourne, 1991), pp. 163–195.
Poole Matthew, Commentary on the Holy Bible: Matthew to Revelation, vol. 3 (Hendrickson)
Thomas, Geoffrey, Sermons on Ephesians (www.alfredplacechurch.org.uk)
Thomas, I. D. E., A Puritan Golden Treasury (Banner of Truth).
Wilson, Geoffrey B., New Testament Commentaries: Romans to Ephesians, vol. 1 (Banner of Truth).