(1/10) I was taken back last week when a man told me that my sermon reminded him of Godís peace and love. My head began to swell just a little, so I asked him how it reminded him of Godís peace and love. He said, "Well Preacher, it was like Godís peace because it passed all understanding and it was like His love because it endured forever." Iím just
kidding that didnít really happen.
Most of you know that I love Dickensí, A Christmas Carol. As much as I love that one, I confess that I am only familiar with 3 of his novels; the one mentioned, A Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist. Because I have seen Biblical references in all three, I decided to try to find out about Mr. Charles Dickens faith. I was a little confused. Mr. Dickens
loved the New Testament and the person of Jesus. He read the New Testament to each of his 10 children before they could read themselves and instructed them to live by its teachings. But, he seldom attended church and, in fact, had no use for organized church or religion. One of His biggest problems that is expressed in his literature is how professed Christians could care so
little about the welfare of the poor and destitute and especially the children. Some of this may have come out of Dickens own childhood as his father lost his position and was forced to debtorís prison and Charles was assigned to 12 hour days in a workhouse as a young boy.
Dickens focused on passages like Matthew 25 and the activity of the sheep and goats, and Jesusí love for Children. I bet he loved the book of James as it focuses on the fruit and work of our faith.
In 1849, Dickens wrote an important manuscript that would not be printed until 1934. This work was so personal to him that he requested it not be made public for 85 years after his death. The work was a retelling of the Gospel narratives, titled The Life of Our Lord. Marie Dickens, Charles Dickensís daughter-in-law, offered this fitting description of
Dickensís secret work:
"This book, the last work of Charles Dickens to be published, has an individual interest and purpose that separated it completely from everything else that Dickens wrote. Quite apart from its Divine Subject, the manuscript is peculiarly personal to the novelist, and is not so much a revelation of his mind as a tribute to his heart and humanity, and
also, his deep devotion to Our Lord." I should like to read it.
In his last will and testament, written on May 12, 1869, Dickens wrote, "I commit my soul to the mercy of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and I exhort my dear children humbly to try to guide themselves by the teaching of the New Testament in its broad spirit, and to put no faith in any manís narrow construction of its letter here or
So, was he a saved man? I hope so. But all of this came up as I thought of todayís text which reminded me of his novel, Oliver Twist. Oliver was orphaned at a young age and forced to live in an orphanage until the administrator, anxious to get rid of him, apprenticed him to an undertaker. Oliver was beaten unmercifully and ran away, and ended up being
taken in with a gang of young pick pockets. The young thieves were under the leadership and tutelage of one called Fagin. During a robbery attempt young Oliver is wounded but taken in and cared for by the people he was trying to rob. His life would be one of flux between the thieves and Mr. Brownlow, the man they attempted to rob who would eventually rescue and adopt Oliver.
Oliver would soon learn that he was connected to the family and, in fact, had an inheritance. Fagin would be caught and hanged.
Many of us are like Oliver. We didnít know who we are or where we belonged until the one we sinned against took us in and adopted us as His own and has an inheritance for us. Thatís what the Apostle Paul is reminding us of here in Ephesians 1. He is writing to these Ephesians and reminding them that though they are not all Jewish, and had sinned
greatly against God, they had received the greatest of kindnesses and grace from God. Letís read Ch. 1:3-6
We are to Praise God, that is the basis of the words Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is to be spoken well of, or praised by us. Why? Because He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things. This second word blessed means to favor. Did you ever get a great gift from someone and you werenít expecting
anything? Or even if you expected a gift like on your birthday or Christmas and it was so much more than you could have imagined or hoped for. You have been blessed.
God has blessed us with priceless spiritual gifts that relate to our existence with Him in heaven. Some Bibles say in the heavenlies, and some say in heavenly places. But it is heavenly things just as the same words are used in John 3:12. Our Lord asked Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell
you heavenly things?" What is about to follow are heavenly things that result in our forever being with our Lord. Notice:
ē V. 4 He chose us
ē V. 5 He Predestined us to adoption
ē V. 6 He accepted us
ē V. 7a He redeemed us
ē V. 7b He forgave us
ē V. 9 He made His mystery known to us
ē V. 11 He has made us an heir with an inheritance
ē V. 13 He sealed us with the Holy Spirit of Promise
What did we do to get these gifts? Nothing! Letís look at a few of them today.
1. He Chose us in Him (v.4) I was fortunate in my youth to have been fairly
good in sports. So when we were in gym class or even in a neighborhood gathering to play ball, I was usually among the first ones chosen. I always felt bad for the last ones chosen and the ones that captains wanted to give away. It had to be humiliating. It feels good to be chosen. You were chosen in Christ. God chose you to be part of His family and
notice this with me:
a. Before He created anything, you were on His mind. Before he hung one star in space or created one animal, you were on His mind. He was thinking of you; how He would pursue you and bring you into His family. Thousands of years before you existed when the Son of God decided to come on a rescue mission you were what He was thinking about. PRAISE GOD.
b. He chose you to be Holy and without Blame. This is conferred holiness and blamelessness. That is, this is what is necessary for you and I to enter heaven. God is Holy and only Holiness can enter his presence. Now, you and I may know that we still sin, but because Jesusí blood and sacrifice was sufficient to cover all your sins, God our Father sees
you as Holy and with no blame at all. This is a conferred gift. Judeís benediction says this, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Paul will say in chapter 5, when he instructs husbands in loving their wives, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and
gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27) God sees you as guiltless, sinless, clean, righteous, holy and unable to be blamed for anything because
of Jesusí sacrifice for you. PRAISE GOD.
This always begs the question, if I am considered clean and blameless and I canít lose that position in Christ, canít I do whatever I want? The answer is, Absolutely Ė Not! The one who asks this has no concept of the cost of Jesus leaving heaven to come and suffer at the hands of those He came to rescue and then He died one of the cruelest deaths man
has ever devised by the hands of those He came to save. The person who asks that question has no concept of grace, and gratefulness, and is only thinking of his or her own self-centeredness.
A second question is; on what basis does God chose us? The answer is, I donít know and donít want to venture a guess. Theologians and preachers have been debating, arguing, and sharing opinions for over 1600 years since Augustine. And if they canít come up with an answer, I canít either. It is above my ability to comprehend. There are scriptures that ,
the saved were chosen by God to be saved, and there are scriptures that say, God is not willing for any to perish and wants all to be saved. The scriptures also say, that whoever believes will be saved. In the same 6th chapter of John Jesus says this, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;" (6:44) and, in 37-40. "All that the Father gives Me will come
to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and
believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
One of my favorite verses, lately, is 2 Tim. 1:9, "God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began."
I had a theology professor try to explain it like this, "The gate to heaven has written on it, on the outside, "Whoever will be believe may enter." But on the inside of the gate is written, "Chosen from the foundation of the world."
I donít know how our freewill and his sovereign choices go together. I know that somethings are too wonderful for me such as, "The origin of God; God creating something from nothing; the Tri-unity of God. How could He die and sufficiently pay for billions of peoples, billions or trillions or quad-zillions of sins? But the evidence says that all are
true. Some old preacher once said, "That trying to understand the infinite mind of God with our finite minds is like trying to put the Atlantic Ocean in a Dixie cup." And like Abraham, I believe that the judge of all the earth will do right (Gen 18:25).
2. In Love He Predestined us to Adoption as Sons by Jesus Christ.
The love here is agape love. I have said many times that the definition of this love is that it seeks the highest good for the objects of its affection. Now the Bible says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and 1 John 4:19 reminds us that He loved us before we loved Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that God showed His love in that
while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Now, listen carefully, the highest good of Godís love is not our forgiveness though that is great; it is not our being able to go to heaven although that is awesome; it is not having peace, love and joy with God, though I love that; it is not having Him as my constant companion. While all of those are awesome and more than we
could ever imagine, the highest good of Godís love is to adopt us as His own child or children and Ė and to love us as much as He loves Jesus. PRAISE GOD!
He determined this when He chose us before the world began. He always wanted you to be His child, to call him Abba Father or Dearest Papa or D addy. Adoption is the conclusion of a legal action whereby one is received into a new family, a new home, and a new name, with new rights and benefits as one born in the family, and at the same time loses all
the rights and name associated with his or her former life or home.
The God of heaven wanted us who were His enemies, and had done Him wrong to be forever His child. He knew what you would be like and what you are capable of; He knew all your flaws and faults and said I am going to rescue and adopt that Buchman kid, and that Buffington, and that Lerman. They are going to call me Father, and I am going to make them
co-heirs with my Son Jesus (Romans 8:14-17). Just like Brownlow adopted Oliver Twist and Quintas Arrius adopted Judah Ben Hur, and we adopted Amanda, God adopted you. And He will adopt anyone who will receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord. John 1:11-12, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become
children of God, to those who believe in His name. Listen to the writer of Hebrews, "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not
ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." 13 And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." Jesus is our Savior and Jesus is our Lord, Jesus is our King, but He is also our brother and He is not ashamed to say so. That is
absolutely awesome. It was kind of like Joseph who was a physical savior for his family, and he was their Lord and Master, second only to the Pharaoh, yet he was their brother. And the Father loves you as He loves Jesus. PRAISE GOD!
3. This was according to the Good Pleasure of His will. Simply stated this decision to choose you and to adopt you as His own gave God enormous pleasure. You know the pleasure of giving birth to a child that you have wanted and waited for, or adopting a child whose only connection to you is a picture that you fell in love with. Adopting you brought the
Father enormous pleasure. One of these days, Zephaniah says He is going to rejoice over you with singing. Our Lord Jesus hints at this when He says there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents. And:
4. This results in the Praise of the Glory of His Grace. Our Lord God and Father gets pleasure from adopting sinners and He is praised forever by us for what He has done for us all by His grace. When we are in His presence we will always be in awe of the Grace that would pay the price and would patiently pursue us and then adopt as His children. I
loved my daughter from the time she was placed into our arms but it was so awesome and I will never forget when she was about 6 years old that she sat on my lap and said, "I am so glad you are my daddy." You have no idea what that means to my heart. Thatís what our Father feels when you say, "I am so glad, you are my Father." Amazing Grace ought to be the theme song for every
Christ-Follower in the world.
5. Grace is the basis of all God has given to us in the Beloved. Your acceptance is not based on any quality, or goodness in you; rather, it is all because of Jesus. God will give great riches and position to all who respond to the love demonstrated in the cross of Jesus. It is like the story of the wealthy man whose son was killed in the war. He had
someone paint a portrait of his son. It wasnít that great of a portrait but it was his son. When he died he had wiled that his estate be auctioned off. The first item to be auctioned was to be the portrait of his son. No one wanted the portrait as there were treasures to bid on. But the servant of the house bid $10 and was awarded the portrait at which time the auctioneer
announced the action was over. The Father had secretly decreed that the one who loved his son and would buy the portrait would receive his entire estate. God says that the one who loves His Son is heir to His Entire Estate. You are part of the whosoever, the world that Jesus died for. You are accepted on Jesusí merits and not your own. We were Oliver Twist, living with no
hope beyond survival, but now we have a tremendous inheritance and a Father. Remember Jesusí words to Mary Magdalene? "Go to My brethren and say to them, ĎI am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.í (John 20:17)
Now how should these few verse impact our lives. I have a few suggestions.
1. Begin every day thanking God for Grace. You have a Hope and a future not because of who you are but because of who He is and what He has done. Thank Him for His patience with you. Thank you to be able to call Him Father and Christ our Brother.
2. Can you honestly say God is your Father, have you received Jesus as your Savior and Lord? John 1:11-12, "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," and Rev. 21:6-7 says, "And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son." He doesnít ask you to clean up first; He just asks you to receive Him and he will forgive you and receive you as His own child.
3. Determine to live as He proclaimed you to be. Holy and without blame. Donít see how close you can get to sin to satisfy yourself, see how much you can honor him with your life and body. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Rom. 6:11-13).
Paul also says that men should be blameless not sinless, but blameless. A reputation for wanting to do what is right. It is a reasonable way to worship God for what he has done for us (Rom. 12:1)
4. Determine to tell someone that God wants more children in His family. It will bring Him great pleasure to receive more children.
Letís pray about it
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman