Fine, I pray you stir our hearts and and fill us with the passion of St. Paul and Lord, that the truth which empowered him and drove him and controlled his life might control last. I pray that when we when we read his words that there won’t be words on a piece of paper, but, Lord, that they’d be words of life which would stir us and challenge us and our Lord. I pray you’d give us fruit in our lives as you gave that man fruit all those years ago.
Oh, that threw us. Many would come into your kingdom for the praise and glory of your name. I pray in Jesus name. Amen. I am particularly excited about the series. I am because the content of it, although in one sense it still will develop week to week. As I prepare, it’s part of a broader process of what I’m on, a much more major issue I’m doing in my own life and thinking about and reflecting on.
I’ve been reflecting on the whole nature of Christian leadership, and it’s to do with the role I have with a Christian organization which is developing a Christian leadership program. And as part of this, I’ve been pondering what what makes a leader a leader. And I’ve developed a model or paradigm, I guess is a modern word as the elements of Christian leadership that it involves, Christian character it involves. And I was an ethics and morality and Christian virtue in the life of a leader.
It involves a visionary capacity. Uh, leaders see things others don’t see and and they see them because they see them. Others follow. And then there’s a third element of it where leadership is, is skills, team building and planning and all of that. But I’ve been persuaded that there’s something more. Yeah, that is what I call the fact that there’s there’s something in the heart of someone which is more than holiness. It’s it’s more than a visionary capacity.
It’s more than leadership skills. There’s this extra dimension to it. And so I call it the L factor. It is as I began to explore this and I was reading and thinking about things and looking at some of the books on leadership in my library, I became more and more dissatisfied that every book I had on leadership dealt with the three factors I understood. And they were all silent on this fourth dimension. As I said, what I’ve for the sake of a term of something called the L factor.
And then also I’ve been seeking the Lord and praying. I came to a realization that, uh, it is really a belief system that this person has and about which they feel passionately and they are driven by this belief system. And I want everyone else to believe what they believe. And in fact, the word which is often used of them in a derogatory sense is that they’re opinionated, you know, and I just that’s what they like. And you can’t shut them up.
They they know what they believe and they want us to believe. And yet someone else who may be godly and and visionary and with the skills through training programs and so on are just not leaders. They’re just not leaders. They’re just not that fact is not there.
And and Helenka, reach this conclusion that that this is what it is. I I went further and have begun to unpack where does this belief system come from. And and I’ve gone the next step and said that it comes from three sources in a person’s life. Number one, it comes from information and people say things. To them, they get taught, they read books, you know. It’s our beliefs in part come, you know, through hearing, you know, reading the issue is that secondly, it comes from experiences.
And it’s an obvious kind of thing that that we are profoundly affected by experiences in our life. And and if someone says, you know, all girls reject you, if you ask them out, you may believe it until you invite one. And she says yes and you no longer believe what you’ve been taught. Or conversely, you know, if you think all girls will go out with you because they always have and you believe in to ask one and they won’t, she won’t.
And your belief is actually altered by experience. Right. So experience is the second and the third is the third source of it is a pivotal relationship or relationships. That is the impact of relationships upon us. And I think if you are around strong people, I have relationship with strong people, it does something to you on the inside. And if you spend your time with weak people, it does something to you on the inside as well. It’s the impact of relationships on you.
And when you go further than that, I suppose, and say if you’re treated badly in a relationship, you could have a negative view of yourself, you could have unbelief and and so on. But it’s relationships. Now, if I’m right, there are three pivotal things in the formation of a relationship. Let’s now turn that as a general model into a Christian perspective and say that Paul was affected first and foremost by the scriptures as your information. He was a rabbi trained and the Gamaliel, he was brought up as a student of the scripture.
And for years he was taught and taught and taught and given a belief system based out of the Old Testament. And he tells us that, you know, there’s plenty of evidence of that. So part of his belief system was formed by the scripture. And that’s going to be interesting as we work through Ephesians. Secondly, it is his belief system is then reshaped.
By his conversion experience that as a persecutor of the church, he on the way to Damascus, he has an encounter with Christ and that experience of God willing to love him and embrace him and call him transforms him from illegalize to a man of grace. And so that, I would say, is Paul’s pivotal experience, his conversion experience, and thirdly is his relationship with Christ, what Paul calls back being in Christ, his relationship with Christ. Now. Coming to that as a general sense that that that poll was what he was because he had this profound belief system on the inside which drove him, which caused him to do what he did as a as a man of God, as an apostle, that it was it was coming out of this belief system.
Godly, yes. A visionary. Yes. With team building skills as a missionary leader. With a large team. Yes. But primarily out of this belief system, I asked myself the question, what was the belief system? You know, what could I could I capture at the heart of this belief system? Could it be summarized? Could it be drawn into a series of of statements that this is what Paul believed, which which made him the leader that he was?
And so I chose to use the epistle of Ephesians to explore that. And out of a study of Ephesians, I was able to conclude there are these six or seven major beliefs, beliefs or themes of belief which which Paul is passionate about and having found them innovations and basically is an outline, a summary outline of the teaching of Ephesians, I thought, well, if it’s really true, if I’ve got it right, innovations, then as I read the rest of his epistles, it’ll be their.
And what I found and what I found to be in quite an extraordinary way not is not only are these themes present right through his epistles, but in some cases they are kind of summaries of each of the themes concluded in a kind of a test, the way he would use his testimony or log also saying or something that that he actually seems to have had summaries of them, which he would give. And and so, so strong was he was so clear in his mind with these things that he could summarize them.
So what I wants to do is to add, if you got your notes there and you’re following an outline from the beginning, is I want in in session to introduce the general theme about which I believe Paul felt passionately. And we will follow Ephesians in a general chronological order. But I want to draw on Paul’s other letters to take these themes deeper so we’ll find them innovations and we will deal with them in a kind of sequential way as they as they come up innovations.
But we won’t just kind of physicians will move in and out of Ephesians to take them than deeper. And that’s that’s what I want to do. And in the first of these, we’ll look at the theme, which I’ve called the plan and purpose of God, which to me is at the heart of the first 14 or so verses of Ephesians. Chapter one, I want to warn you. Right. I’m going to warn you because, you know, we teach and I’ll allow time for questions.
If in your questioning, I feel you’re taking us away from the theme, I’ll say that’s very interesting. But it’s not the general thing that Paul’s wanting to say. And he’s making a general statement in various ways. But it would be a distraction for us to get bogged down in that, because if we do that, we won’t care. I want to go to the depth of the theme in general rather than getting bogged down on something which is outside of this thing.
So. So I warn you, you may find that. I’m actually saying that’s all very interesting, but that’s not at the heart of what Paul is dealing with. So let’s begin by reading Paul, an apostle of Christ, Jesus, by the will of God to the Saints who are at Ephesus. And there is a debate as to where that emphasis is there. But that’s not part of our general theme. So we want to buy into it, in my personal opinion is more likely that the emphasis is not in the original.
And this is not a pistol to a local church. It’s a pistol to the churches of Asia, of which emphasis was the leading church, which the bishop of Asia, namely the apostle John, was resident and said, but we went buy into that other than to make that statement. Grace to you and praise from God, our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. So that’s Paul’s denigrating, which he gives and in most of his letters. And so we’ll pass from that verse three.
Blessed be the garden father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places or literally in the heavenly in Christ. How? First of all, how how will we bless, just as he chose us and him before the foundation of the world, that we should be wholly and blameless before him in love? Well, that’s the first way I will come back to that. Secondly, he predestined us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to himself according to his current intention of his will.
So verse that he has blessed us by choosing us and but verse five, he’s blessed us by adopting us, his son’s first six to the praise of his glory, of his grace, which he freely bestowed upon us in the beloved of the purpose of these blessings is for his glory in him, probably point three in him. We have redemption through his blood to forgive us our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, you know, wisdom and insight so firmly.
We would say so. And we’re chosen, we’re adopted, we’re redeemed and so on. Now, verse nine, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his current intention, which he purposed in him with you to an administration suitable to the phones of the times. That is the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens, things on the earth in him. Also, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to his purposes, who works at all things after the council of his will.
Which is a very important statement to the end that we were the first to hope in Christ should be to the price of his glorious replaces and then in verses 13, 14, that’s kind of a testimony concerning the efficiency, which will come back to. Now, what Paul is saying in this is that God has a has fulfilled a plan and purpose, which he says in terms of this, that God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us.
But the blessing is according to his intention. Verse nine, that it’s that it’s part of a plan and a purpose. Now, this is what I want to do, is now unpack Paul’s understanding and passionate conviction that God had a plan and purpose which was fulfilled in Christ, and that this is what he came to believe, that that that God, when he sent Christ, did it according to a plan and purpose. And this is not unique to Paul.
If you think about Peter’s speech in the Book of Acts, the very first page, you know, he speaks about Christ being crucified by sinful men according to the plan and purpose of God and the words that it’s not just the events, it’s not just Christ, but the fact that there’s this plan that God has. And it’s that’s what I want to unfold to us, the nature of this plan. And so we begin and we will come back to where we begin.
It was for he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that should we be wholly blameless. Now, what is what is Paul saying? I’ll give you a given you and your knights a series of scriptures simply because of the phrase a phrase which is used in this, that he chose us before the foundation of the world as kind of a distraction. But we have to deal with it. The the phrase before the foundation of the world is, I give it to you.
It’s I have to give it to you. Give it to you in an anglicised. Great. If the Romans. Cannibalised is the
translated foundation, and Cosmos is one of those movies that is the foundation of the world, ballet comes from ballet, which means to throw. Sample ballot and Khartoum is down. There there has been speculation as to how to correctly translate this particular phrase, whether it meant the fall or whether it means creation, and people have tried to to make something of the fact that if it’s a reference to the fall, then when God made creation, he was optimistic.
And then he and then he comes up with a plan kind of after the fall and, you know, to do with the fall. But to me, I’m giving a whole list of scriptures where this phrase is used and you can look for yourself at every verse where it occurs. And I think creation is probably the safest way to translate. It probably gives you some insight as to how they view creation taking place, that there was a casting down of the world because the sense of the world came into existence from God is the way they viewed reality.
For me, however, that is in fact a kind of a sidetrack.
But I want to throw in what is important for Paul is that God is sovereign, God knows what he’s doing, but is capable of surprising us. But what happened was, is near what happens is never a surprise to God. And that was the plan of God is before creation. It’s not like the plan of redemption is God’s response to something he didn’t know about. And in making this statement at the beginning that it’s that he has this plan before the foundation of the world.
Paul is is making a statement about God who made the plan. He’s not kind of wanting to enter us to enter into some speculative discussion about the nature of creation so much or even the nature of the fall. But about God, Paul, passionately believe that, oh, well, God had a plan. And that’s the God he believed in and he believes in. And in each of these points, in your notes, I’d like you to put a response.
What’s their response then? And what was his response? His response was to declare that that plan that was Paul’s response when he came to believe that God had a plan and had always been there, Paul felt, well, if that was God’s plan from before the world began, I must tell people about the plan. That’s that’s his response, which will say secondly, and we’ll do a couple of them that will have a kind of a laugh type of discussion.
Secondly, is that Paul believe that this plan, although it had always been there had been a mystery and the words that that people hadn’t realized the plan was there, but that that plan is no longer a mystery has now been revealed. So he says in verse nine, he made known to us the mystery of his will or plan according to his current intention, which he purposed in him. Now, in this case, I want to take us to a series of scriptures outside of Ephesians.
Tonight is the theme, so I will just quickly flick through them. But Romans 16. And versus twenty five and twenty six. Paul says that to him, he was able to establish you, according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which has been kept secret for long, ages past, but now is manifested and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandments of the eternal God has been known to all nations, leading to leading to obedience of faith.
Here is a sense of a mystery which has been kept secret but is now manifest. Let’s let’s look at a couple of more of them in a second, Timothy. And you’ll find this going back to this particular passage throughout our study tonight to Timothy. Chapter one, verse nine. He says, who who has saved us and called us with the holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which he granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, and now has been revealed by the appearing of our savior Jesus Christ to abolish faith from both life and immortality to life through the gospel.
You know, it was there.
His purpose was from eternity, but has now been revealed that the sense you can read Matthew 13, you can look at that one. Romans 11. Verse 25. Paul says, I do not want you to be better than to be
uninformed of this mystery, again, referring to to something which will deal with much more clearly as the episode goes on. But a mystery, which is there. A very interesting passage in First Corinthians, chapter two. Verse seven, we speak of God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages.
But this is this whole concept, very similar to what we’ve been seeing in innovations for to our glory, the wisdom that is none of the rulers of this age and understood, for if they understood, they would not have crucified they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But just as written things which I has not seen or he has heard, no have entered into the heart of man, for God has prepared for those who love him. This is palsies understanding that there was a plan, but it was a mystery.
And the mystery was, of course, that Christ is going to redeem us and that through the cross. That’s part of the mystery. But if God is going to bring about a great victory through the cross, then the very people who who needed to be overcome would not have taken him to the cross. And if they had known God’s plan, they would not have crucified because in that what they thought was victory was in fact, their defeat. And this is this is his understanding and affiliations.
Three. That’s a very important passage. He says, we felt we should have started this, if you’ve heard of the stewardship of God’s grace, which was given to me for you, that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote beforehand in brief. And that’s at the beginning of Ephesians one by referring to this, when you read, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men and has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit or in the Spirit and in what is it that the Gentiles of fellow heirs and fellow members of the body of of the body and fellow Pattakos of the promises in Christ Jesus through the Gospel and of which I was made a minister and so on?
Now this is we could go carry on down first and to bring to light what is the administration of the ministry, which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things. And this is the mystery. Now, what is the mystery? What is the plan? No one, Paul says, well, it’s there in the Old Testament. But I was we couldn’t say it. And secondly, you say it was only understandable when Christ came, you know, it was you know, it was it was there, but you couldn’t understand it.
But thirdly, that when it was revealed that the heart of the mystery involves two simple things, number one, that in Christ in the cross, there’s redemption. That’s the first part of it. And secondly, and this is the most shocking thing, it was for Gentiles as well as Jews. If you go back, as we did earlier in the year and when we did a series on Covenant’s, the promise of the blessing of the Gentiles was there, you can find that.
You can find it in the mining profits you can find and the promise given to Abraham in Genesis that it was there, but the Jews were just totally blind to the plan process. And then Abraham threw the seed of Abraham. All the nations that have been blessed. It was there, but no Jew understood it was for the Gentiles. That was just a mystery. And so was Paul’s response. Paul’s response is not just to proclaim the plan. You know, in Christ, we all we have all spiritual blessings, but to proclaim it to you and to Gentile, you know, he’s his his once he understands that God’s plan is to save the Gentiles as the Jew, what can he do but to proclaim it to Jew and Gentile?
And if we were to follow the narrative of X, he begins he goes to the synagogues and when they reject him says, right now I’m going to Gentiles. And he quotes this Old Testament first, I’ve made you a light for revelation to the Gentiles and to the glory of my people, Israel. And and it’s clear from reading the Book of Acts that until Paul gets the revelation and Peter has his encounter with Cornelius and sees a vision taken heat, what’s unclean and extended next 11.
Peter didn’t understand it either. And I am, you know, and this is yeah, this is incredible to think that these folk who discipled into to psychologists and follower of Jesus, that there was this time of a limited focus to believe that Jesus had only died for Jews, not for Gentiles. It was there, the purposes were there, the scriptures were there, the promise was there, but they couldn’t say it was a mystery. But it’s now revealed.
And, you know, sometimes books circulated here, these tapes, and it offers, you know, that’s revealed to you the hidden mystery of the scriptures. This kind of language, you know, there’s something that no other Christians know. But once there is such a mystery. But Paul only uses the word mystery when he’s talking about something which was hidden but has now been manifest and it’s now been revealed. And I think about, you know, the response to this that isn’t that true of someone that that when suddenly the revelation that Christ has died for them?
And not just for them, but for others when they really get that revelation. That’s the belief which will implement to try and save the world and which will without them, without that belief, there’s no motivation, you know, and sometimes people have only half the population. They have a revelation as Christ has died for them. They like the Jew. He died for me, but they don’t have the other half of the mystery that actually Christ died for everyone.
But once you understand that, once you have that, how can you not be driven to be a witness to others? And Paul was. All right, let me pause for a little bit, not too worried about whether we finished all of this, because a couple of these points are introductions to what are major themes as we go on the plan. But they become major themes themselves. But so we have time if we want to just explore these first, that the broad theme playing in these first two elements in it.
Anyone like to say there is the mystery remains to unfold.
We see don’t think of it as a mystery. Think of it as a plan. And and the plan is now fulfilled. Christ has come. So there’s no further mystery in terms of because the plan not only is it fulfilled, but in its fulfillment, it’s been revealed it only remains a mystery to those who don’t understand it. But there’s nothing hidden. Paul doesn’t believe there’s some part of the plan which is still hidden, that that, you know, one day someone will have an insight into which he didn’t have.
There’s no sense of that in Paul. He actually believes it’s now all manifest. It’s now all revealed and having it been revealed, his response is to proclaim. It was I was really the first realized as that were realized when I saw Jesus come back when I started. Now this is depends on how you handle the Book of Acts, but in terms of how the chronology quite works. But it seems that Paul, because he’s chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles against the revelation, you know, that the gospel is for the gentiles, not just for the Jews, because he’s the one chosen to preach it to, but that it might be validated and accepted in Jerusalem, which is a major controversy in the Book of Acts of God, also takes hold of Peter and uses him in that conversion of Cornelius’s household.
And not only does he preach the gospel to Cornelius, but Cornelius in his household respond with faith and Peter baptizes them. And Peter goes from Caesarea, which is on the Mediterranean in about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, you know, and he and he kind of goes back to Jerusalem and I say, Peter, what have you done here? What are you doing baptizing gentiles? You can’t do it. You know, they’re going to become Jews first.
He says you can’t do it. And Peter said, well, I’m glad we got it. I was just preaching while I was preaching that same Holy Spirit fell on them, fell on us when we first believed. Yeah. Let me tell you, if I was there and I saw the sheet and I’d said, taken it and I said, Lord, I can’t. It’s unclean. As a Jew, I’ve never seen this. This is what I have declared.
Clean is clean. And what can I do? You know, I have this vision and so goes to the house. And for the first time in his life, and it’s the home of a gentile. And you guys simply has no choice because God’s blowing his worldview apart. What’s he doing is revealing to him the mystery and he gets there now and he gets there as he preaches. They they believe. And then you have the discussion next 15 and minorities of God will amongst the gentiles, but they don’t have to become Jews.
They can enter into the covenant as gentiles. And that’s the mystery that’s revealed. And the mystery which one has to see is not just the cross. You have to see the second element of it that it is the gentile’s fellow is with the Jews, that was a complete and utter mystery to the Jews, but was revealed
was that because it was a complete mystery, because they were ignoring all that or understanding what they wanted?
Well, Paul says we’ve read some of the scriptures was kind of it was just concealed. It was there. And as we say, because it was a timing issue involved until Christ came, it couldn’t be understood. And the one scripture, which we didn’t read as we went through, we stopped it. We actually didn’t finish Colossians one, which you can read as well. But in Matthew 13 11, Jesus is where there’s a mystery which is now unfolding to this.
His disciples, which they were others have long to understand but been unable to understand. So Jesus understand that there is this element of the plan as part was there, but it was not understood that a right of the Jews to accept Jesus would lie to some extent a great example of this fact that Gentiles. So wait until they hear me. Yeah, it was a couple of answers to that one.
Firstly, you’re right, and Romans nine, 10, 11 are all about this problem of how the Jews responded to the Gentiles and how the Gentiles responded to the Jews. And Paul, it’s this big issue he discusses in those three chapters the consequence of it, you know, what happens. But having said that, the the the Jewish leaders of the Jewish rejected Jesus, but for the first gentile convert. The schism between Judaism as a state religion in Israel and the way which is the only name for the Christian church, occurs with Stephen’s martyrdom and in exile.
And Stephen’s martyrdom is before the conversion of Paul on his calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and so on. So certainly strongly reinforced. And by the time Paul comes to write Romans, you know, it’s a major issue, not an unfortunate issue and unfortunate issue where the Gentiles are saying, you know, ha ha, you’re rejected and we’re not. And and Paul and writing Romans is now you be careful. Yeah. A partial hardening has become one Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
But when that’s completed, then there’ll be a mass turning of the Jews back and and the Jews are still the true vine if they’re still God’s people. And, you know, he deals with that as an issue. And in fact, Matthew, in his gospel, in the parable of the of the wedding, faced whether these two parables as a wedding, faced with a sense that they send out messages to say, come to the wedding face, that everyone says, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Who are the most to the Jews? The people first invited. And so they send the messengers out into the to the highways and byways. They bring in the gentiles and the gentiles come willingly. But when they the mast of the wedding face comes and they find someone without a wedding gown. It’s the second parable which we discussed in the parables. Even he gets thrown out because as a as a gentile, you still must have true repentance. And Matthew, in this in this gospel and writing this parable is a way, by the time he writes his gospel is a problem.
And the problem developing of the kind of same smugness amongst the gentile believers as was present amongst the Jews. So that’s the mystery. And it’s really important that we grasp it. You know, as I say, because this is at the heart of Paul’s gentile mission, I want to say a belief that we drove him. It wasn’t just and I don’t like using the word just, but it’s not just that the God’s plan in Christ. It’s the fact that it was for the Gentiles, which both those things drive him.
He drives him out into the world to preach to the gentiles. And so. All right, let’s move on, the next element is the question of time, says an efficiency one with 10 with a view to administrates suitable to the fullness of the times.
There’s an issue of timing in the plan of God in Galatians four and verse four, Paul says. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his son that there was there was a timing in it. If he again, if we go back to that passage and second, Timothy, which is this little passage verse right through town where all these points pretty much are all contained. In a simple summary concerning the plan of God in two Timothy, one verse eight percent.
Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord of me, his prisoner, but join with me in the sufferings of the four, the gospel according to the power of God who saved us and called us with the Holy quoting, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which he granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, and has now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, brought to life and immortality to life through the Gospel.
But now, in this justiceship, these are then and now the plan. But now so they are for Paul, he says there was a time when people asked why did not choose that time? And the most common answer to that is what is called the Pax Romana. Which translated means the Roman peace MPAC, that when Christ came, the world, as it was then known, was at peace and was under a stable period of government.
The Romans had built highways right across the known world. So travel was was never more accessible, their garrisons of troops all over the place. So that brigandage and highway robbers, as we would call them, were largely under control. So it was the safest ever time to travel there. As a result of Alexander the Great and the Hellenized ization of the Middle East. There was one language spoken right across the area, Hellenistic Greek or Koine Greek. So you had a highway system, you had a common language, you had safety, you had no national barriers because the empire was the empire.
And you could you can travel from Alexandria in North Africa, um, you know, up into northern Europe, parts of Europe conquered by the Romans and so on, up into Germany in that way. And and you could go to India, you could go to Spain, all of these areas, and you could travel. They were postal systems to completely separate postal systems from Rome out to every extremity of the there was an official one and private postal system.
There were if you ever had a time when a message could be proclaimed and spread, there was no period in history prior to remotely like it. And with the collapse of the Roman Empire and in the fifth century and so on, that period also ceased inside. The generally held view is that that that, uh, what a great time to send his son. Now, the the interesting the interesting thing about the concept of time in Greek, there are two words full time.
There is the work force. And the word Karl. The points final product is elapsing time once we get a chronometer. One of the issues that that’s what this was originally called, a chronometers, something which tells time is gone. But Chorost is often in our Bibles, translated with the word opportunity. It is a time with possibility, a special time. And in Galatians four, for example, verse four, in the fullness of time, it’s a chiros, it was a moment of opportunity and God at that time since forced his son.
And how do we respond to that in terms of the planet? Is this this understanding that God not only had a plan which was in Christ, a plan which was a mystery which has been revealed, but a plan which relates to time? And if we’re looking at how God worked, Paul understood that God works in time and in the chronology of time. There are collaroy there are these moments and these opportunities and Groppi this you know, he he he believes it himself that for him this is his moment, this is his destiny.
This is his opportunity. And because of his conviction about the plan which has come one of the scripture, we can look at our.
This one to. Where he says, we have received not the grace of God in vain. He says that the acceptable time I listen to you and on the day of salvation, I helped you behold. Now is the acceptable time to behold. Now is the day of salvation. This is this is what Paul believed, that this was a time for for it to be proclaimed. And he did. He didn’t miss the time in terms of it. I’m just flicking through to have a quick look at the Greek at that point.
But he says. Um, yeah, this is this is the time, and it’s a Cairo to behold now is the chiros. And two Corinthians six to he he understands now, you know, how do we respond to ourselves? You know, if we know the plan, we understand in Christ people are saved. And and for us, it’s been revealed as not a mystery. We know that others don’t. Isn’t there a truth that that although our lives are kind of in a
chronological sense, had this, but there are these moments, there are these opportunities, and it’s at that time we need to proclaim the message if we really believe it, if we really believe it, we will be motivated by it and we’ll seize the time.
We’ll understand what it is and why has to say, of course, there are wrong times as well. Although it’s a Cronos, it’s not a curse. And one needs to know when to be silent, when to speak. But when there is this, the faith within and the belief within us rises up and we realize this is a time I must I must take this time. Because some people believe that that they’re that that they have to preach to everyone all the time, and I was and failed to realize that there are collaroy there are the opportunities out there.
Opportune time. There is a need for wisdom. Again, let we deal with another one and we’ll come back and talk about both these concepts for thinking about it. And this is really important because this has been sadly one of the controversies about this passage in Ephesians, where I think people have missed the whole point about this first message. Is it Paul believes that this plan is accomplished by God and we can we can start with three and say, blessed be the godfather of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us so clearly.
God has blessed us and calls Paul Noisettes of God in verse 10, he says, with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of times.
That is the summing up of all things in Christ, Heavens and the Earth. You know, it’s what he always thought he purposed, which he purposed in him with a view to an administration suitable that God has this. What administration is economic, the sense of the God is ruling. What’s going on now? This is this is the confusion. And we’ve talked about this. I don’t know whether it’s in this year. I’ve been teaching at another time.
This is the confusion.
Paul is convinced that the plan is God conceived. In God’s time, he’s revealed it and he’s brought it about and in all of those things, God is sovereign, right? It’s God’s plan, not our plan. God reveals that when he wants to, it’s his choice. The time is right. It’s God’s doing. And in Titus, we have a look at the entire history would be a good example of of the heart of this. Entire history in verses one through three describes what we were before the plans revealed.
So verse three, we also once were furneaux, disobedient, deceived and enslaved with various last pleasures spitting in life and malice envy, hateful hating one another. But when the kindness of God, our savior and his love for mankind appeared, this is the plan. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we’ve done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the worsening regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, which he pulled out upon us ritually through Jesus Christ.
I say, Yeah, he did it. Yeah, this is the tragedy. Paul is passionately convinced that it’s all God’s doing in terms of the plan, how would it be safe when it’s happened? How is it how the plan is to be revealed by which we can be saved, which is the gospel which has been preached, in which we believe for Jew and Gentile, his passion, I believe, and it’s all God’s doing. But we have to respond to it.
We have to hear and believe and we save. And then people take this incredible, glorious message and turn it into a controversy once saved, always saved as some predestined to hell and some predestined to salvation. You know, the plan is predestined. The plan is totally sovereign. Tony, of course, making the implementation of the plan that we could be saved by grace and not by works is totally Coldstone in its own way. And then Paul will say, but we have to believe and to him, who believes they receive the salvation and the richness of this incredible, glorious faith that he has in the kindness, you know.
And this is what he says. And when the kindness of God, our savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us. And you get this wretched gospel. That, you know, portraying an unkind, wicked, malicious. And just God, he says, you saved your life, you’re destined to hell your destined salvation, you know, and and Paul would weep and weep and weep. Funnily enough, not so much for
the poor person who thinks he’s going to hell because he’s destined to go to hell because of the way God has portrayed.
And they do it out of impatience and they do it because they haven’t caught the heart of God’s understanding of the plan. You know, that that God in his goodness and his love and his kindness and his mercy has chosen a plan whereby we can be saved, not on the basis of anything we do and better on the basis of faith, through grace. It’s just the. Early polls convinced that only God could accomplish the plan. And what’s their response that we proclaim its benefits?
You know, we proclaim the benefits of the plan and offer it to everybody being convinced that anyone, whosoever believes, can be saved. You know, that’s what we offer. We offer them the benefits of the plan. I suppose for me, that’s the second sense of of this, is that for me, I proclaim it and I’ll persuade people of it. But I ultimately believe it’s God’s doing the people inside and they respond by God’s concern and God leads them.
God woos them. God loves them. And and and and I look back and I you know, impulse is testament. Philippians when he talks about love, he kind of balks. And he says, when I speak of when God took hold of me, says no, rather not that I took hold of him, but he took hold of me. There is this sense of his his his glory in the sovereignty of God. But he does not turn sovereignty, you know, into a wicked God, you know, of of an unjust God.
He just doesn’t do it. And so I know I know the controversy is there, but to me, the controversy is more than a controversy. It’s it’s kind of lost the heart of some Paul. You know, Paul was saying Timothy to write to Timothy, in fact, and to Timothy first, Timothy two. Paul will write these words. He says. And this he he prayed for kings and rulers, he says, Verstraete, this is good and acceptable in the sight of God as savior who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, you know, and how you know, how can God do that?
Unless, you know, unless he has a plan whereby a woman might be saved. So, again, let’s pause and have a little bit of a discussion here to say I’m not so much concerned about what’s in the back of the page, which will cover very briefly, because each of these becomes a major theme within the plan. But they’re introduced in the plan and then an expanded version of a patients as we go through. We’ve got be reasonable cited in our daily lives as Christians that God’s plan was determined just as he wanted us to come to self and set up situations like this.
This is not suggesting so far a very interesting God, and they’re absolutely involved in race relations. And this goes on and on.
Yeah. Yes, it does. And why is most of the time we’re not conscious of it’s even happening. That’s part of the mystery. You know, not this mystery, but that is a mystery to me at times when I can look back and see how God’s hand was in my life and see it again. You can only see when you look back and you realize God was and how on earth he achieved it is beyond me, the art of living day, to look for these moments of opportunity, for example.
Mm hmm. Yeah. And Paul will write that he will strike it later in the you know, he’ll say, you know, don’t don’t be foolish, but know what the will of God is, you know, making the most of the fact. I think that’s a quick look at it. That is B, Ephesians five. Yeah. In Ephesians five. Paul, I think it’s worth 20 to something, if that’s the right verse and it’s no better than that verse 15, therefore, be careful how you walk not as unwise member as as making the most of your time or redeeming the time because the days are evil.
They so they do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the voters. It’s, uh, yeah, you know, live as those who actually are living with God and can know the will of that. So this notion of predestiny, you and you use it. Mm hmm. Yeah, well, in the back of the fireplace, when they talk about pre-existing medical records, you said it’s to do with the plan. Yeah. So it’s not like predetermined this will happen.
The plan is predetermined, but not who benefits from the plan is predetermined. That’s the big
mistake. So people have the ability, even in their sinfulness, to to exercise faith and repent. The confusion is to say not only is the plan predetermined, but who benefits from the plan is predetermined. That is the is the great error. Beginning of a process. Hmm. The chosen is is this concept of the core, which is the proclamation.
Um, it’s again, you strike at the core of that waiting for its passage in Matthew 21, where it ends up saying many are called, but few are chosen. There’s a sense of that. The call, the invitation, the proclamation of the plan goes out as we respond to it then, which, as you know, is this what God has done in our response to it is all part of election or calling or chosen, whichever term he is.
He is a good a good passage for that is. And second, we want have a quick look at two people. One. Say three to one, verse three says that. God is granted by his divine power, his greatness, everything pertaining to life, and God is through the knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and excellence, for by these, he’s granted to us his precious and magnificent promises. In order to buy them, you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped corruptions in the world by last year.
And that was through the preaching, the gospel, through the through the scriptures, the revelation of all that we can we can come into a state of being called or elected. And he says now, for this very reason, applying more diligence in you to your faith and moral excellence, your moral excellence, knowledge, your knowledge, self-control, self-control, perseverance and your perseverance, godliness and godliness, brotherly kindness and your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities of yours are increasing, they render, you know, that useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of a God.
If you lack these qualities, someone who does so is blind and short sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins, therefore be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you. For as long as you practice these things, you’ll never stumble. And so there’s this sense of the call comes out. We hear the message, we believe, and then we continue to add to our faith these qualities. And as we as we respond to the invitation, then then our calling is secure and and, uh.
Yeah. Anyone else? Just a couple of minutes and then I want to just basically introduce the next four themes or five themes just briefly, because they become a bit of an agenda for each of the studies, which follows. OK, over the page, I put them for you here, an introduction to major elements of the plan. Firstly, that it started in Christ and you can look at the scriptures, but there’s no question that the whole plan revolves around Christ himself and what was accomplished by him and how we respond to him.
There’s there’s no question that’s at the heart of it. It’s Christ. I want to read you didn’t have this written down, so I’ll give it to you. I want to read the Colation version of this now. I’ve met many of you might not understand this, but Colossians in Ephesians were probably written by Paul on the same afternoon, along with the letter to Filemon, and all three letters were delivered by the same person. And Paul seems to have had one in front of him when he was writing the other.
In other words, he’s because it’s to a slightly different destination. He changes the letters, but they are basically in content, exact, very parallel. And in fact, it’s hard to know which one was written first, about one or the other is quoting the other word for word. And and so sometimes by reading one and then reading the other, it gets expanded a little bit and he just expands on the theme. And at the end of Colossians, chapter one, verse twenty four, he’s talking about his ministries as I rejoice in my sufferings.
For your sake, Colossians one twenty four. And and then he says of the church in verse twenty five I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit that I might fully carry out the preaching of the Word of God. What is the word of God? The Ministry which has been hidden from ages, past ages and generations, which is now being manifested to his saints, to whom God will to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery amongst the Gentiles.
Right. So it’s amongst the Gentiles.
What is it, Christ in you? The hope of glory to the Gentiles, Christ in your tabernacle and will proclaim him admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we must present every man complete in him in Christ and for this purpose also our lives striving according to his power, which mightily works within me. Sir Paul saying it’s centered in Christ. I proclaim him. I teach him, I admonish him about him. That is, that the plan is about the riches which occur.
When a person comes into a relationship with Christ, it’s all in him and it’s for the Gentiles. And and I have to say, you know, a man I feel passionately about this. That’s why I’m a leader. And I you know, it’s not in the church. It’s not in the Bible. You know, it’s not theology. It’s in Christ. The origins of the blessing of the force of God can be found. And that in the proclamation of the plan and purpose of God is to bring people into maturity in their relationship with Christ, because if they mature in their relationship with Christ, all the riches that God’s got for them can be experienced.
And the tragedy so often is in the church is when that people get born again and they come to know Christ, there’s an excitement is a passion is allowed, there’s joy, there’s a freedom. And then I fall in love with the church and their loyalty switches from Christ to the church. And I lose the riches and the wealth and whatever. And Paul and I can tell he believes in the church. You know, that’s the next passage we’re going to look at next week.
But the purpose of his message is to bring them in. Centered in Christ will be no doubt why this will just open up and open up for us. Is this pistol’s space in Christ purpose is our redemption. And will will unfold that for us. I’ve given you some verses to have a look at and read. I just want to say it’s yeah, it’s a plan of deliverance for us. What’s interesting and we’ll open it up, but I’ll give you a clue right on this.
It leads to our adoption’s the sons. And I don’t know how many how many turn at times you’ve ever had a sermon on adoption of sons. And I’ll bet you most of them missed the point. And I’ll give you the clear read Romans Chapter nine and verse four and then get ready because we’re all it in Chapter two, Ephesians two, because the term adoption as sons is a Jewish term related to a covenant relationship with God, and it will kind of come alive for you.
So the plan is the Gentiles become adopted as sons for his glory, and then we get the benefits. He gets the glory. And I want to finish with this verse. In chapter one, we back to Ephesians. And at the end of the end of this passage, where he’s just rejoicing in the plan and purposes and the will of God and his role in proclaiming it, he says in verse thirteen in him that’s in Christ. You also I love this one right here.
You’re also after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believe you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of Promise, which is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possessions, the price of his glory. You know, it’s like, you know, he talks about God’s plan for the creation of the world. You know, it’s there. And it was a mystery.
It’s been revealed he was at the right time. God did it. It’s all about Christ. It’s about redemption. It’s about coming into God’s family. It’s a reprise of his glory. And then he looks at them across them. He says, you know, and you you know, you’re part of his plan and you’ve benefited from the plan. And you got it. You got when it was preached, you believed and you receive your first fruits of the plan, the Holy Spirit.
You got it. And isn’t the tragedy when someone has the plan and they miss it, but they didn’t. I got it. I got it. And I said, you guys are sitting here today. I say, you will say. And the plan was for you and for me, and we got it Haliday. Father, we thank you that this plan is not a mystery to us. It’s been proclaimed to us. We have heard it, it was preached to us.
We believed in our hearts. We’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit, a promise that we have an eternal
destiny because of this plan. And we thank you, Lord, that that it’s you doing. It’s by grace that we’re saved. And Father, we thank you. We thank you for what we cannot we could never do. You did for us in sending Jesus for us, our father. I just pray that because of this, we’re going to live to the price of your glory and we will not live for ourselves or in gratitude for this plan which you accomplished in Christ.
We will live a holy life, a life dedicated to you and for the glory of your name in Jesus name. Amen. Not here next week. A reminder for you. I have to do a wedding next Wednesday night, so we have just one week gap and then we’ll finish the series.