In this sermon, Pastor Neil begins his series on the top ten reasons for praising God, based on Ephesians Chapter 1. Here are some excerpts:
The first of the reasons for praising God is because, as it says in verse 3, He “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
The reference to the “heavenly realms” is a little unclear. What I think Paul is getting at is that these blessings are not limited to here and now. They are not for this life only– they transcend the boundaries of time and space. They are eternal blessings, secure in heaven, which we who belong to Christ can never lose. You may be subject to all kinds of troubles or temptations or tragedies or disappointments. Temporarily, you may turn away from God or lose your way or be tempted to doubt God’s goodness. You may wonder why He allows you to go through such hard times or to experience the pain or loss He allows. But if you truly belong to Him by faith – if you are His and He is yours – you will never lose the spiritual blessings with which He has endowed you. They are yours forever – “kept in heaven for you,” as it says in 1 Peter 1:4…
The second of the reasons for praising God is in verse 4. We praise God because “He chose us in (Christ) before thefoundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” Chosen by God. Elect… One theologian (Klyne Snodgrass) explains the meaning of the doctrine of election this way: “Election means that God chooses people, and this teaching cannot be turned around to the thought that people choose God. Election means that the existence of the people of God can be explained only on the basis of God’s character, plan, and action, not on some quality in the people who are chosen. The initiative is always God’s based on His grace. Election is not some strange, unnecessary” – or unbiblical – “doctrine, but merely another way of speaking of God’s grace and salvation” (Snodgrass, The NIV Life Application Commentary: Ephesians, 48-49).
The third of the reasons for praising God is in verse 5. It actually begins at the end of verse 4, where Paul says: “In love (God) predestined us to be adopted as His sons” – His children – “through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will” (1:4-5). We praise God because He predestined us in love – as an act of His unconditional, self-giving love – to become His adopted sons and daughters through the saving work of His Son Jesus Christ. He chose us for relationship with Him, to be His children, to adopt us as His very own children and to give us all the rights and privileges of sons and daughters whom He loves. He was under no obligation to adopt us, no obligation to make us part of His family, no obligation to save us from the totally deserved consequences of our sin and guilt. No, He didn’t owe it to us. He didn’t owe us a thing.