Jack Graham - Who Do You Think You Are?
The Scriptures says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. And I'm looking here in verses 3 to 14 of Ephesians 1 at the longest sentence in the Bible. It's just a massive paragraph filled with the blessings of God, describing - listen to this -our identity, our security and our destiny in Christ. It's all right here, to all who are in Christ, who are abundantly super blessed with all the blessings of God in Christ. The triune God, the fullness of the Godhead is present in this passage: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We're told that we have been selected by the Father, that we have been redeemed, forgiven, saved by the Son, and that we have been secured, sealed by the Holy Spirit.
We're going to look at each one of these as best we can in the time that we have today. And that we have been blessed by the Father, through the Son, or in the Son, through the Holy Spirit. Let me say that again: We have been blessed by the Father, in the Son-Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. And again and again and again from the Apostle Paul in the Word of God we read this phrase, "in Christ, in Christ, in Christ, in Christ, in Christ, in the Beloved". It's all about Jesus! The Christian faith is all about Him! That's because everything that we have in life and in the future life, the life to come, is in Him! That we have salvation in Christ, the forgiveness of sins in Christ, the blessings and favor of God in Christ, freedom in Christ, hope in Christ, love in Christ. Because every thing that He is, listen to this, everything that He is, the Great I AM, I can say I am, if I am in Christ and Christ is in me.
Paul said, 1 Corinthians 15:10, "I am what I am by the grace of God"! So we have all things according to the Scripture pertaining to life and godliness. Sometimes we think, "Well, I don't have enough faith". Yes, you do! You've been given all the faith you need in Jesus Christ. "I don't have enough hope". You have hope in Christ, you just need to access that hope in Christ. You have all the love that you need. You say, "I need more love"! No, you don't. The love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And in Christ you have all the love that you need. Anything that you can imagine, any spiritual blessing that you need is in Christ. It's all in Him! And Paul is so excited about that. He's so fired up about that, that he begins to praise God, and what we have here in verses 3 to 14 is a hymn of praise, a hymn to the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And he just pours out his praise.
Let me remind you that this is Paul in prison, not in the praise service. And regardless of our circumstances in life, we can always pray through it and praise through it. Paul could have said, "I'm a prisoner". No, he said, "I'm in Christ"! You may think, "Well, you know, I just don't have much and I've never been much. I'm a loser", and so many people feel inadequate and insecure. What we're about to see in this passage today that in Christ you never need to feel less than, you never need to feel inadequate. You can know that every provision has been made, that you are a child of the most high God! That you are a child of God, the heavenly Father! And everything that He has He makes available to you! That ought to cause your heart to soar in praise to God like Paul!
This is why, I started to call this message "Breathless" because when we read this passage you get breathless reading it. I'm sure Paul was just, as he was just pouring our this praise, he just can't stop. He's like. He can't stop. They asked a little second-grader to spell banana and he went B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A-N-A-N-A. He just couldn't stop! And when you when you begin praising God you just pour out blessing after blessing! You ought to get excited about what you're about to hear! So get ready, we're going to unpack this passage in the few minutes that we have, but I'm going to read it first, beginning in verse 3, Ephesians 1: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". Blessed means to praise. It's the word eulogy or eulogize. And so we are to bless the Blesser. He's saying "Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".
Now, an important note here. Sometimes you hear that we all worship the same God; that whether it's the God of the Christians, the god of the Muslims, the God of the Jews, the god of the Hindus, the god of the religious world, whatever god you choose to worship, it's all the same god; that we Christians worship the same God. No, as followers of Jesus Christ the God that we worship is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a world of eclectic religion and a world in which all gods are considered equal and all believe systems are considered equal, this is what sets the Christian faith apart, and, frankly, it's where we take a lot of the heat and the flack from the world because we're viewed as bigots and those who are ostracizing others, when in fact, the Gospel message is for anyone and everyone who will come to Him. But the fact is all truth is narrow. Two plus two is four no matter how many times you may try to slice it.
Truth is truth and so truth is narrow. But he says to: "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ", there's our phrase, "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places". I've written a book called Unseen in which I talk about the heavenly realms, beyond the earthly realms. The realm of the supernatural. You say "Tell me something real". The supernatural is real. In fact real estate isn't real; it's all going up in smoke some day. What is real is what is eternal. What is real are the things that last forever. What is real is love and peace and hope. What is real is salvation. And more real than what you can see in the natural. And sometimes you think in the natural realm you don't think you're blessed.
You think, "Well, I'm having a hard time and I'm sick and I don't have a job and I'm not blessed". In the natural it may appear that you are unblessed, but God says that you have been blessed by God with all spiritual blessings; not when you get to heaven some day, but right now. And what we need to do is simply access. We have on deposit for us the eternal dividends of God Himself. The benefits, the blessings, the worth, the wealth of God, all spiritual blessings are yours in Christ right now! And what we need to do is possess our possessions. We need to claim our inheritance. Too many of us are living beneath our blessings. We're living below God's standard of living for us. We're not accessing the incredible wealth and worth that we have in Christ. And what is that?
He starts with verse 4: "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 as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 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", he's breathless, "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things in earth. In him we have obtained the inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory".
What's the purpose of mankind; the purpose of every man and woman? The Westminster catechism put it this way: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". That's what the Scripture is saying here. And "as a plan", verse 10, "for the fullness of time, to unite all things 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 the will", I read that verse 13, "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation". By the way, you need more than positive thinking! Now positive thinking is really good! I like positive thinking a lot better than negative thinking! But this is more than a feel-good passage; this is the word of truth! It's not what I say to myself about myself; it's what God says to me about me! It's truth! And that's why the Scripture says "The truth will set you free".
So, while it's good to think positively, it's even better to think positively biblically! "The word of truth", I told you he couldn't stop, and neither can I, "the gospel of your salvation, who believed in him, who were", now here's the work of the Holy Spirit, "sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory". So you see why we say that we have been saved by the Father, all these blessings come by the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. We have been selected by God the Father. We have been redeemed or saved by God the Son. We have been secured, sealed by the Holy Spirit. Graced and highly favored! Our God is a good God who delights to give good things to His children! Every good and perfect gift comes down from above!
Now certainly every material blessing that we have comes from God, and we are so abundantly blessed. We've been given so much. And every blessing that we have financially and otherwise certainly we give praise to God. But beyond the material blessings come the spiritual blessings in Christ, so that we never need to live feeling insecure or insignificant or inadequate. In unpacking these verses the take-away... Really if you walk out of here today, you say, "What did Jack Graham speak about"? Just say that God really likes to bless us in Christ! And let's praise God for that! Regardless of our circumstances.
"Well, I don't feel very blessed". I didn't say feel blessed; he said you are blessed! You may be having a no good, terrible, very, very bad day or a no good, terrible very bad, bad month or year, or even, you might say life, but in Christ, regardless of your physical circumstances you are with Him and in His blessing, in His grip in the heavenlies! Take God at His word! Not what somebody else says about you, not even what you say about you, but what God says about you! Who do you think you are?
Proverbs 23:7, "As we think in our heart so are we"! And so if we get this in our hearts, these blessings of God, when we say "I am a chosen child of God, I belong to a heavenly Father! I have been redeemed, set free from the power of sin and death! I have been forgiven of all of my sin, and I have been secured in Christ! I have a blessed assurance every day of my life! Not because of me, but because of Christ Himself"! And this is the truth that will set you free. This is what will change your life, because you're identity is not your age, "Well, I'm a teenager". No, you're a teenager in Christ. "Well, I'm old and I can't do what I used to do". No, you may be old, but you're old in Christ! So don't walk around half dead! You're alive in what? In Christ! In who! You're alive in Christ!
You say, "I'm sick"! Well, you may be sick but in Christ! He is your Jehovah Rafay, He is your strength, He is your life! "I'm a loser, I'm unemployed! I'm this; I'm that"! No! You are a man, a woman in Christ! You're blessed! Take God at His word and play your position. He said you're blessed that you would be, look at this in verse 4, "holy and blameless before Him". What? You're looking at a holy man. You say, "Well, you don't look that holy to me". Well, in the sight of God in Christ, when God views you and me He sees us as holy. That's our position in Christ. We tell athletes play your position. Coach, don't we? Do your job. Don't worry about, you know, the next play or the play that just happened. Just do your job right in front of you. Play your position!
In Christ we have a position and we are to play it. That is, live it out! And therefore, our position in Christ motivates us to live this out so you are not just a student or a teenager, you are a holy child of God, therefore, that motivates you to live like God's child because you already are. That's our position in Christ. And therefore, we are blameless before Him. That is no sin is laid to our charge. Can you imagine that? In the sight of God... so many of you think God is so angry with you, that God can never forgive you, that God will never get over what you just did. No, in the sight of God, because of the fact that you are in Christ, He sees you as pure and holy and blameless.
A little girl was asked what she learned in Sunday school. She said, "Well, the teacher asked, 'Is there anything that God can't do?' You know what I said, mom"? "What did you say"? She said, "Yes, there's something God can't do". "What"? "He can't see my sin through the blood of Jesus". That's right, because He chooses in Christ to accept us and adopt us legally into His family. And fact is He says that we are predestined to be like Christ. That we have been called and chosen by God before the foundation of the world.
Now we can walk a little theological truth right here because when you study your Bible, you know there's an issue regarding what is predestination and what is election and the sovereignty of God, especially as it relates to the humanity and the will of man and so on. And so a lot of people get really bent out of shape about this and there are theological systems that try to define this, but look, know this: that God did pick you out, He did choose you before the foundation of the world.
Spurgeon used to say, "It's a good thing that God chose me before I was born because He would have never chosen me after I was born"! But before you were born, before there were stars in outer space, God sent His love, His heart, His affection upon you in Christ and He has called you and is calling you if you don't know Him. You're not here by chance or accident. He has brought you here by divine appointment to come to Him. Maybe you're watching on television, listening on radio, and you're in your car, you're in your home and you sense this strange drawing to Christ. That's God loving you. And we love Him because He first what? Loved us. He set His love upon us.
And I do know this, when I read my Bible it's clear to me that while God has chosen me, this doesn't mean that God is cruel or capricious. He didn't stand before eternity and say, "You saved, you lost, you lost, you saved. Heaven bound, hell bound, you're kindling, you're not". No, the Bible tells us that even in this passage that we have the responsibility to believe. That "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved". The last invitation of the Bible, God put it at the end of the Word, I think, just to remind us that "whosoever will, may come". Anyone! The Spirit says come, the church, the bride of Christ, says come! And let anyone who is athirst, come!
John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son". First John 2:2 says that Jesus died for the sins of the world, not just for the sins of the elect, but for the sins of the whole world! Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that: "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". Anyone who wants to be saved can be saved if you will believe in Christ. I like what D. L. Moody, the evangelist, said about election. He said, "The whosoever wills are the elect; the whosoever won't are the non-elects". I've noticed in my own life and ministry, the more people I tell about Jesus, the more people get elected. Yes, God is sovereign! Yes, God is in control! Yes, God has chosen us, but at the same time, God has given us a will to respond in belief to Him.
You say, "Well that's contrary. I can't figure that out". And if you could, you'd be God Himself! I don't have to figure out. His ways are higher than our ways. And the divine sovereignty of God and the freedom of the will of man are not adversaries; they are allies, and they're side by side in scripture. You let God work out the details. But he says you have been chosen. It says you have been accepted, adopted and accepted into the family of God. You see that, verses 4 and 5? These are such rich words. If you had a wonderful, loving, caring father, you're blessed by that. Some of you had fathers that were angry, even abusive; maybe abandoned by your father and you wonder, you know, does anyone want me, does anyone care about me? You have a heavenly Father who's a perfect Father, who loves you. Your Father is God; God is your Father! He's given you a Father, He's given you a family.
That's what all this talk was about the uniting together in Christ. We had this spiritual family, this destiny with Him. We have a future with Him. All in Christ! And then the Holy Spirit, for he says we have the guarantee, the sealing of the Holy Spirit. If you go to buy a house or a piece of property, you'll get a stack of papers and you sign them, sign them, sign them, sign them. And then at the end someone gets a stamp, an official stamp for the state of Texas and puts a stamp on there to make it a legal document. That's the kind of legal terminology. In fact, Paul laces this passage with legal terminology, adoption is one; the Holy Spirit being the guarantee, the seal is another.
So the Holy Spirit seals and settles the salvation issue and the security of your life. It also means a brand mark just like you would brand an animal, a cow, and you put the brand on it. The Holy Spirit is the seal, the Holy Spirit is the brand, the Holy Spirit is the security that we have in Christ. And God's Holy Spirit then, we are in His grip because we are signed, sealed and already delivered. That's why we can say we are as good for heaven as if we'd already been there ten billion years. Praise God is right! We are sure because we've been blessed with this identity, this significance, this security in Christ! And when we are in Christ even Satan himself could not snatch us from the grip.
You say, "Well, what if I could fall through His fingers"? Don't you know that's impossible because you're a part of the body! In Christ you're in His body! You are in Christ, in Christ, in Christ by the Father, by the Son, by the Holy Spirit! And therefore, experience and enjoy your blessings! Don't live beneath your privileges, but as a holy, blameless child of God praise Him with your life and with your lips and with your witness! And never stop throughout all eternity! You are a child of God! Amen?