Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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PENTECOST 8 – July 15, 2018 – Eph. 1:3-14 “TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, from Ephesians 1.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

 

  • Our text highlights just how wonderful and blessed God the Father truly is, and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Over and over in this chapter Paul describes the eternal blessedness that is ours because of God’s gracious love.
  • He also informs us that His goodness and love are “TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE.” Think about this for a minute.  God is filled with goodness and love for humanity, and deserves to be recognized for this.  He is to be praised – precisely because of His glorious love.  We’ll review all that He has blessed us with in a few moments.
  • However, the dispensing of God’s grace and blessings, the publishing of His love, is generally not well accepted. This we also must consider – mankind’s rebellious reaction to God’s Word.  For this sinfulness also exists in our own hearts and minds and surfaces in various ways. 
  • We see this stubborn and cynical reaction to God’s Word in the Old Testament Lesson and also in the Gospel reading. Both Amos and John the Baptist were targeted and persecuted for their service to God, their proclaiming of His Word.  Obviously, they were by no means the only prophets of God so targeted and rejected. 
  • But the wondrous grace of God is only properly seen and understood against the backdrop of human sin and wickedness, and so we must understand first that:

 

I.  The Plumb Line Of Good And Evil Is Set By The Prophets – Amos, John, And All Other Servants Of God’s Word

 

Text:  “This is what the Lord God showed me:  Behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.  And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’  And I said, ‘A plumb line.’  Then the Lord said, ‘Behold I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.'”

 

A.  Evil Is Evil, It Shall Perish

 

Gospel:  “Herod had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her.  For John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.'”

 

B.  The Response To Such Preaching Is Rejection And Rebellion

 

1.  Accusation against the messengers

 

OT:  “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel.  The land is not able to bear all his words.  For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'”

 

2.  The demand that they cease their ministry

 

OT:  “Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.'”

 

3.  And if God’s spokesmen will not cease, violence may ensue

 

Gospel:  “Ask me whatever you wish and I will give it to you. . . . and she asked, saying, ‘I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’  And the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head.”

 

Statement:  Knowing as we do that the preaching of God’s Law is intended to bring people to repentance, that they might take advantage of God’s wondrous grace by faith in His promises, it seems horribly wicked that people like Herod and Amaziah would do such things to God’s spokesmen.  But alas, our reaction to God’s Word of Law is at times the same.  And our response to those who insist upon speaking it to us is at times less than welcoming and accepting.  In fact, we have no problem judging, begrudging, and even rejecting those preaching to us today.

 

Application:  But one thing is certain – what is evil has been clearly identified as such by God, including the rejection of His Word, and evil will always be evil.  There will always be servants of God’s Word to condemn that evil, and there will always be Amaziahs and cynics – who think that all religion is just a game.  But in the end, the continued rejection of God’s Word, and especially His glorious grace, will bring disaster.  For as Jesus said, “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” [Jn. 3:36]

 

Transition:  And all of this is such a wasteful tragedy, so contrary to God’s good and gracious will, for as we see in our text:

 

II.  How Blessed Are Those Who Are Chosen And Predestined For God’s Adoption

 

A.  They Have Redemption, Are Redeemed From Sin And Guilt And Are Saved

 

Text:  “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 through Jesus Christ.”

 

B.  They Are Blessed With The Knowledge Of God’s Will And Purpose

 

Text:  “According to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. . . . 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.”

 

C.  They Have An Eternal Inheritance

 

Text:  “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him Who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

 

D.  So They Are Made To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace

 

Text:  “So that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also, when you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”

 

Statement:  It is almost too glorious and blessed for us to grasp, that we who are sinful human beings should be so loved and blessed by God, that He would adopt us as His dearly loved children.  But this is the grace that we have received to the praise of God’s glory.  We have redemption, we know what God’s will and purpose and plan is, we have an eternal inheritance, and we have a glorious purpose in cosmic history – we are the evidence of God’s glorious grace, and so by our very existence we bring glory to God.  

 

Application:  This is what is foolishly and insanely rejected and thrown away by those who would prefer to argue with God and His spokesmen, and reject them.  By rejecting them they place themselves above them, and see no need to God’s gracious mercy and blessing.  Cynically, they think that whatever THEY determine will be the plumb line, and not God and His Word. 

 

How thankful we should be that God has chosen and predestined us to a life of repentance and faith in His gracious and glorious love.  Let us never forget Who it is Who has so richly blessed us! 

 

Conclusion:  Against the backdrop of God’s gracious love and salvation, the actions of Amaziah, Jeroboam, and Herod seem even darker and more hideous.  The same is true of all unbelief today, and all efforts to diminish and thwart God’s servants. 

 

Thankfully, we are among those who know and believe His great love for us, and who join in blessing the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His grace.  We can be sure that we are playing an important cosmic role as well, as God points to us, His children, as the evidence of the blessedness of His glorious grace.  May it always be so, Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.