Greg Laurie — Signed, Sealed, Delivered
The story is told of a man who was speaking with a student about his future plans. So the older man said to the younger, "Tell me son about your plans after law school". The student replied, "Well I hope to get a job with a good firm and start making some money". The older guy said, "All right. Then what"? "Well then I would like to get married and start a family. Get myself a nice house". "OK. Then what"? "Well I think eventually have some children. Get them in good schools. Earn enough money for maybe a second home". "Right. Then what"? "Well if I made enough money I could slow down and take more vacations with the family". "Right. Then what"? "Well I would like to see my kids get married and eventually have some grandchildren. I hear grandchildren are actually even better than children". The older guy said, "There is truth to that. Then what"? "Well I hope to be healthy enough to enjoy my later years. Maybe travel around the world with my wife and see everything there is to see". "Right. Then what"? "Well I guess then I will eventually die" the young man said. And the older man said, "True? Then what"?
Then what? Well then comes eternity. The afterlife. I tell you it is so easy to waste one's life on this earth in the pursuit of nothingness because we don't know where to go in life. We don't know what to do in life. It has been said, "If you aim at nothing you are bound to hit it". There are a lot of people today that are just aiming at nothing. And those significant questions are asked by every generation such as why am I here on this earth? Why do I exist? Well actually the answer to that question is found in the text before us. We are going to find out why we exist and why we are here.
I don't know if you have an iPhone. There is this app on it called Siri. Right. Have you ever asked her questions? Every now and then I ask her really absurd questions just to see what she will say. Whoever programmed this thing is really clever. I am going to ask Siri now what the meaning of life is. You ready. Siri what is the meaning of life?
Siri: That is easy. It is a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general.
Greg Laurie: Siri why are you such an idiot?
Siri: I am just trying to help you.
Greg Laurie: So what is the meaning of life?
Siri: A movie.
Greg Laurie: A movie. Brilliant.
So if you are looking for the meaning of life do not use Siri. Some of the other answers she came up with were, "I don't know but I think there is an app for that". And, "All evidence to date points to chocolate". It is pretty funny whoever programmed that thing. What is the meaning of life? I mean seriously now? A poll taken among Americans revealed that 61% thought the main purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment. Really? That is the purpose of life? Here is where it gets interesting. Fifty percent of those who call themselves born again Christians felt that the purpose of life is enjoyment and self-satisfaction. News flash. If you are a Christian that is not the purpose of life. But the answer to that question is found before us here in Ephesians 1.
Let's read verse 5. "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will". You might underline that phrase. "To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he has made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence". We still stop there.
The key phrase I want to draw your attention to is found right there in verses 5 and 6. "He predestined us". Remember that means he chose us long ago. He chose us before we even existed. He predestined us that we would be adopted as his children. Listen to this. "According to the good pleasure of his will to the praise of the glory of his grace". So here is the answer to the big question. Why do I exist? You ready for it. If you are taking notes write it down. You exist to bring glory to God. You do not exist to enjoy life and find personal fulfillment.
I know this bugs some people because they think the world revolves around them. Maybe they had helicopter parents. Ever heard that phrase? These are parents who are just hovering over you all of the time. They were always told they were the best. They were the smartest. The parent had the bumper sticker you know I have the smartest kid at whatever elementary school. They always were praised and rarely corrected. So they went off in life thinking that the world owed them a living. They went off in life with sort of a mentality of being entitled. Like I should have all of these things given to me. They were coddled and excused and financed and affirmed.
So now they just think I am going to go out and find my happiness and they end up wasting their lives. They are never going to find it in the pursuit of other things. So here is the answer. If you want to be a fulfilled person, if you want to be a happy person, if you want to be a joyful person don't seek happiness. Seek God. If you seek God, check this out. Fringe benefit big time. You will find the happiness that has always eluded you in life.
God has redeemed you. God has given you access to his throne. But now so you can be certain he means business he is going to give a down payment. He is going to put a down payment in your life sort of like coming attractions. This is what is coming. When you go to the movie and you sit there through all of those trailers. You go, "Ooh. I like that. Hate that. Like that. Hate that". You make your evaluations on the trailers. Then you go see the movie and find out the trailer was better than the film. All of the best parts were in the trailer. Then sometimes the film surpasses your expectation. God is saying, "This is a trailer if you will. This is coming attractions. To let you know I mean this I have sealed you," according to Ephesians 1, "With the Holy Spirit of promise".
Now what does that even mean? We read over stuff like that and we don't even know the significance of it. Long before there was FedEx and Amazon there was the ancient way of sending merchandise. I read recently that Amazon is planning on using drones now to deliver packages. Would that be freaky to have a knock on your door? You open it. Buzzing, holding your box. I hope this thing isn't weaponized. Well in the old days. I mean the really old days of the first century when they would send goods from one place to another they would be stamped with a wax seal imprinted with a signet ring bearing a unique mark of ownership. This is long before they had the find my iPhone feature. Ok. How do you know who this belongs to? It has been stamped in wax by this signet ring of the owner which means don't mess with this thing. The same with an important document say from a king. It would be sealed in wax and imprinted with the royal seal. If you opened it you would be defying the king himself.
In the same way God has put his royal seal on you. Now maybe you don't see it but God sees it. I will tell you who else sees it. The devil. And he respects it. Why? Because the Bible says, "Even the demons believe and tremble". You see satan is not going to mess with that. Let's say a thief was going to rip off a bag in an airport. He saw a really nice briefcase. Gold plated hardware on it. "Whoa that is really nice". They reach in to grab it and run and suddenly they see a nametag hanging off of it. It says Tyson. "Tyson. Like Tyson chicken". Then you see a guy walking toward you that you remember from fights. Yeah, that is Mike Tyson the former heavyweight champion of the world. He is coming to you. You decide to not take his briefcase. Why? Because you want to live. That's why?
So here comes satan. "I think I will mess with this life. I am going to wreak havoc here. Whoa? What is that id tag? Property of Jesus Christ. Redeemed by and sealed by the Holy Spirit". Satan says, "Whoa. Whoa. I am backing off". That is the seal of ownership God has given to each of us. The devil knows when he is outgunned. But wait. There is more as they say in the commercials. The Holy Spirit is also called in verse 13 the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. What does that mean? Let's say you want to buy a car. You don't just go down to the car dealership and say, "I will take this car," get in it, and drive away. If you do that is Grand Theft Auto. You will be arrested. You have to fill out 300 pages first and then you have to give them the money. It has to be a certified check. It has to be some transaction. If you take a loan out and pay 300% interest or whatever you do. You complete the transaction. They give you the keys so you can drive the car off of the lot. It is now worth half of what it was five minutes ago.
You have to indicate how serious you are by putting money on the table. Let's say you see something you want in the store. "I love this. Hey will you hold this for me"? They will say, "We can't really hold it because someone else might buy it". "How about if I put a deposit down"? "Ok. If you put a deposit down of this much we will hold it for you". Right. They keep it for you. That is what this verse means. It means God has said, "Ok. Here is what I am going to do for you. One day you are going to be in heaven. Day all of your sins will be forgiven and forgotten. One day you will be in a perfected body". "Ah that's great but that is a long time from now". "Ok", the Lord says, "I want you to know I mean business so I am going to put a deposit in your life. That deposit is the Holy Spirit".
Listen to this. Don't you agree with me when I say that if there was not a heaven, which there is of course, but let's say there wasn't a heaven, let's say all there was of the Christian life was just this relationship with Jesus. That was it. No afterlife. No future reward. Just this relationship with Jesus who loves you and guides you and forgives you and protects you. Wouldn't you be a Christian for that alone? I would. To me it is more than good enough. Then to think there is heaven as well. Actually this word used here for guarantee also was used by the Greeks for an engagement ring.
So girls listen up. Let's say a guy comes to you and says, "I love you and I want to marry you". "Thank you. When"? "Not so sure". "Are we talking days, weeks, months"? "I don't know. A decade or so". A decade? No. You have to demonstrate that you really love me. He brings you a pair of shoes. This isn't going to do it. Some of you girls are saying, "What shoes are we talking about here"? "Really good shoes I don't know. Might buy a week". He says, "I love you and I got you a pizza. I got you two pizzas". Ok. Well that is a nice gesture. But that doesn't show anything. No. What he needs to do is put a ring on it. Right. Put a ring on the finger. You want him to propose marriage and give you an engagement ring which is followed by a wedding ring which was followed by suffering. Just kidding.
So it would be like finding out you had a great inheritance coming your way when you are 80. When you are 80 you will inherit $1 billion. That is awesome. What if I don't make it until 80? That's too bad. Minimum wage up until then. But let's say knowing you would receive $1 billion and someone said, "I will give you $100 million. Will that hold you over"? Yeah. Yeah. I am good. Yeah". Ok so God says, "I am going to give you heaven. I am going to give you glory. I am going to give you perfection. But until that day I am going to give you the Holy Spirit so then you will know I mean business".
Paul closes this section with a beautiful prayer. It is a prayer that has three movements. 1. Pray for their enlightenment. Look at verse 15. "Therefore, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in all of my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sather of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, and that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened". I am just praying that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened. You are thinking, "The eyes of my heart. The last time I checked I don't think my heart has eyes".
We have to understand what the word heart means. Now in our culture we use the word heart to speak of emotion largely. We will say, "My mind says one thing and my heart says another". We will say of a person, "They wear their heart on their sleeve". Or we might say, "Hey stop dragging my heart around". Right? Whatever. It is emotion. It is emoting. It is feeling. Well for the Jews and more to the point for what the Bible teaches the heart did not speak only of the emotion. In the Bible the heart speaks of yes the emotions and also the mind and also the will. So here is what Paul is saying. I pray that you would have your eyes opened in your mind, in your heart, and in your will, and that you would see God's glory.
2. Paul prays that they or us would know God's riches that he has blessed us with. That we would know our riches. Not financial riches but spiritual wealth. Verse 18. "What are the riches of his glory of his inheritance in the saints". Now listen to this. This phrase is not referring to our inheritance in Christ as vast as that is. It is referring to his inheritance in us. When God looks at you, he is thinking, "You are my greatest treasure. You are the most valuable thing that I have. You. I love you so much". He looks at you with eyes of love. You see God sees you for what you are going to be. Not just for what you are.
I watch my grandkids and they all have such distinct personalities. I wonder what they are going to be like when they grow up because you see little flashes of it even as they get older and you know they get that distinct look and they are out of that baby phase or toddler phase. You say, "Wow I think I have a sense of what that child will be". Well God with complete foreknowledge knows exactly will be and he looks at us in that way. Remember this. God deals with us on the basis of our future and not on our past. Let me repeat that again. God deals with us on the basis of our future not our past. He doesn't just see you an unfinished work. He sees you completed. He sees the done deal. He says, "Oh man I love you so much. You are my inheritance".
The great artist Michelangelo once said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free". Here we are. We just see a chunk of rock. God says, "I am already seeing David here. I am already seeing my finished product here and I am chipping away". So through life we are chipped at and things happen. These things don't make sense to us. God is just seeing what he is going to make you into because you are his inheritance. Paul is saying, "I am praying you get that. I am praying you see how much you are loved by God".
Thirdly and lastly it is a prayer for power. Paul is saying, "I want you to know you have unlimited power to reach your objectives in Christ". Look at verses 19-20 of Ephesians 1. "That you would know what is the greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power".
See our power to live the Christian life is a result of being plugged in. If you have ever had trouble with your TV set or your computer or any electronic gizmo or device that plugs in you will call for help. You will get someone on the line. The two questions they always ask you before anything else is, is it plugged in and is it turned on. You would be amazed how many people can't figure out why things don't work because they are not plugged in and they are not turned on. And so we need to be plugged into God. Now we plug into him. We are plugged in through prayer. We are plugged in through Bible study. It is not like we are running on a battery. We stay plugged in all of the time.
I think some people think they come to church maybe on Sunday. They get their charge and they are trying to make it through the week. Like you are with your phone and it is starting to redline. You are looking for a place to juice it up or whatever. Hey you are not running on a battery. You are plugged in all of the time. Paul is saying, "I hope you see how much power is there for you right now". You have all of the power you need. In fact you have more power than you need. You just need to lay hold of it. You need to appropriate it. You need to start using it. God wants us plugged in all of the time. We don't have to be in church to do it. We can be anywhere plugged into him. We should be in church. But in addition to that we should walk in fellowship with him each and every day. Like the Psalmist says in Psalm 63, "O God, you are my God: I earnestly search for you: my soul thirsts for you: my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and I have gazed upon your power and glory".
Here is what he is saying. Lord I saw you in the temple but I want to see you that way all of the time. Or we would say Lord hey you have blessed us in church and that was amazing but Lord I want to walk with you all of the time and hear from you all of the time and have this sweet fellowship with you all of the time. And I have good news for you. God wants that too. Why? Because you are signed, sealed, and delivered. So plug in and walk in this fellowship with God. And remember this. He loves you as much as he loves his Son Jesus Christ.