Today we are beginning a two month sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace. Some of you, if not most of you, have no clue what I mean when I say the Doctrines of Grace. Many of you, however, may recognize them by their other name, Calvinism. What is interesting is when I say Doctrines of Grace, all of us feel comfortable with this phrase, almost like we are sitting in an easy chair. However, when I say Calvinism, you tighten up as if you are sitting on a cold hard bench. So as we start, I want to be abundantly clear that this sermon series is not about labels, it is about the Bible. So do not get hung up on a word and the emotional response a word may cause in you. Charles Spurgeon said this about Calvinism, “It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” These next two months I will use the term Doctrines of Grace, instead of Calvinism. The reason is not because of the emotional response, for I am not afraid to call myself a Calvinist, but it is because these five points that I will be discussing are doctrines, first and foremost, meaning that they do not originate from the mouth of Calvin but from the mouth of God, and second these doctrines are all about the Sovereign Grace of God in the salvation of man.
The second thing I want to speak briefly about is how these Biblical truths have shaped my life. Other than the revelation of Jesus Christ, there has been no greater enlightenment in my life than the Doctrines of Grace. There has been an entire re-orientation in how see the world and eternity. These doctrines are not academic to me, they life-changing. Last week we ended on our study on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount by examining Matthew 7:24
- Matthew 7:24-25 – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.“
Third, I want to say this. There are some people, maybe in this room, who do not believe pastors should preach on such things. That instead we should teach around the Doctrines of Grace, as if we could. This is because they believe Sunday morning is for the unsaved not the saved, and do not want sermons that may rock the boat. Instead they want sermons that tickle ears. Listen to what Paul says to the Church in Ephesus when he is departing.
- Acts 20:27 – “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
With that said, today I want to show you using the Bible that God wants you to embrace the doctrines of grace. So turn with me to Ephesians 1:1-23.
- Ephesians 1:1-23 - “ Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.3 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, 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 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 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, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 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, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
- Ephesians 1:1 – “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”
- Ephesians 1:4 – “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world”
- Ephesians 1:5 – “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
Once again, before the foundation of the world, God is setting up our destiny. That is what predestination means. The Greek word is proorizō , which literally means predetermined. God predetermines our adoption through Jesus. And this is all according to His will. God's pleasure.
- Ephesians 1:13-14– “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, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
So what have we seen in this opening letter? The will of God to chose us before time, and the determination of our destiny as his adopted children, through the blood of Jesus, and our inheritance as God's children we 100% guaranteed. The first 14 verse of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is dripping with the doctrines of Grace. They are inescapable. Paul pushing it into our face forcing us to deal with it. Forcing us dwell upon our salvation in, perhaps an entire new way, a way that may flip your spiritual paradigm.
So the question I have now is why? Why does God, through Paul, reveal to us that our salvation is ultimately dependent on God's Sovereign Grace? Why does he want us to know that the surpassing power of our salvation belongs to God, not man? God doesn’t have to tell us all these things. Remember it is God's inspired Word, he could have left Ephesians 1:1-14 out of the Canon, let these verses fall to the cutting room floor, like so many people. Why can’t he just keep these truths to himself; because they are just too abrasive for our modern day cowboy evangelism? Not only that, look at verse 16-20. Paul says this:
- Ephesians 1:16-20 – “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”
Of all the things Paul could have prayed for, Paul prayed, without ceasing that God would reveal to us the immeasurable greatness of God's power when it came to their salvation. A salvation that began before before the foundation of the earth was laid.
Once again, why? Why do believers, new and old, need to be taught these doctrines. Why is it so important that Paul prays for it without ceasing? Because Paul is pursuing something. He has a purpose, and his purpose is the same as God’s purpose. I want you to look at verse 6, 12 and 14. What do you see?
- Ephesians 1:6 – “ to the praise of his glorious grace,”
- Ephesians 1:12 – “to the praise of his glory.”
- Ephesians 1:14 – “to the praise of his glory.”
- Isaiah 43:6-7 - I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
- Isaiah 42:8 - “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other,”
So in these next two months, my purpose in preaching the Doctrines of Grace is Paul's purpose, and my prayer is Paul's prayer, that you will see that immeasurable riches of God's grace and be left with one option, to praise His Glorious Grace.