Sermon for Sunday January 29th, 2012


Chosen In Christ by Steve Shepherd

Ephesians 1:3-1:4

INTRO.- Special children we are. My mother and father were probably greatly surprised on December 9, 1944 when they got two babies instead of one: Steven Ray and Sharon Rae. I’m not sure if they knew at that time if they were getting one or two babies. Sharon was the fat baby at over 5 lbs. and I was the skinny baby at just over 4 lbs. She was fatter than me!

I had to stay in the hospital until I gained up to 5 lbs. before they could take me home. I used to torment and tease my mother, saying, “You didn’t want me. You left me in that hospital to die!”

Sister Sharon has always been the saint of the two. I don’t think she’s perfect but as far as I know she’s never done much of anything wrong in life and was always more obedient to mom and dad than I was. Did her homework. Didn’t get into trouble.

However, I must say that after the passing of dad in Dec. 1982 mom always made me feel somewhat special. Special in what way? We had a good relationship. I always went home to help her whenever I could: mow grass, take her to eat, take to the movies, etc. And if she had to enter the hospital for any reason I always tried to be there for her. When she had to go into a nursing home in Joplin I went back every month to visit with her a few days even though we lived over 400 miles away. And as mom aged and her health declined we talked quite a bit. I tried as best I could to make mother laugh since laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). But she loved me more than I loved her!

Do you realize that you, too, are special to someone? Even if you never felt special to your mom and dad, you are extremely special in the eyes of God!

ILL.- Max Lucado put it this way: “God is crazy about you. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If God had a wallet, your picture would be in it. Whenever you would talk, He would listen. And you might go days without thinking of Him, but there would never be a moment when He would not be thinking of you.”

Isn’t this a wonderful thought? And I believe it’s true! I do believe that we who are in Christ are God’s special people!

I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Oh boy! A chosen people! Royal, holy, a people belonging to God. And it’s all because of Jesus. We are God’s chosen people because of Christ.

PROP.- Paul explains our chosen position in Christ in this text.
1- We are chosen in Christ
2- We were chosen in Christ before the world
3- We were chosen in Christ for a purpose

I. WE ARE CHOSEN IN CHRIST

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. IN HIM WE WERE CHOSEN!

Matthew 16:13-16 “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked." Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” And is not this the crux of the matter into regard to all of life? Or the most important question that any person could answer? The reason is because the answer to this question can well determine what we will do in life and where we will spend eternity! The answer to this question will have affect on everything we do in life. Or should.

ILL.- I saw a survey on the internet where people were asked in New York City, “Who was Jesus?” Here were some answers they gave: White guy with a beard. Blond-headed dude. Made up person. Gandhi-like person. A guy with super powers. A Jew. A fisherman.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THESE ANSWERS?

ILL.- One writer asked: “Who Was Jesus? Not one recognized religious leader—as Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed—ever claimed to be God. Jesus is the only person who has ever convinced a great portion of the world that He is God. This claim can either be true or false. If false, Jesus either knew His claims were false and He lied, or He was deluded and a lunatic.

“If Jesus knowingly lied, he was the world’s greatest hypocrite and a charlatan of the worse kind. He would also be the greatest fool, for what person would die for a lie?

“If Jesus was deluded, how could His precepts help so many people for so long a time? His critics and enemies had nothing but the highest accolades on His character.”

The philosopher John Stuart Mill called him a “preeminent genius” and “probably the greatest moral reformer and martyr who ever existed on earth, the ideal representative and guide of humanity.” There is no other choice. Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is your Lord.

Do you believe that this Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God?

ILL.- This is a letter of Daniel Webster to Rev. T. Worcester: “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. The miracles which he wrought establish, in my mind, his personal authority, and render it proper for me to believe whatever he asserts. I believe, therefore, all his declarations, as well when he declares himself to be the Son of God, as when he declares any other proposition. And I believe that there is no other way of salvation than through the merits of his atonement.”

Make no mistake about it: Jesus is who He claimed to be and He can do what He said He could do! Give us eternal life!

We are chosen in Christ. We are privileged characters to God and it’s all because of Jesus. We became God’s chosen ones when we chose Christ as our Lord and Savior!

The choosing of God part comes when we chose Christ. I’ve heard it said that it was like God said, “Those who accept my Son will be chosen ones.”

II. WE WERE CHOSEN IN CHRIST BEFORE THE WORLD

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.

1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Before the world. What was before the world? That depends on who you’re talking to.

ILL.- During the French Revolution, some men were determined to abolish Christianity. One night an atheist was loudly proclaiming his wicked doctrine to a poor countryman “Everything,” he said, “will be abolished—churches, Bibles, clergymen; yes, even the word ‘God’ itself. We shall remove everything which speaks of religion!”

The poor countryman chuckled. “Why do you laugh?” said the other. The peasant pointed to the stars and replied, “I was just wondering how you and your crew would manage to get them down!”

If people are going to destroy everything about God they better include His creation as well, stars and all! Now when we’re talking about what was before the world, we are talking about what or whom? Many people would say, “Before the world there was nothing!” WRONG! Before the world was GOD!

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God....” “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Before planet earth and the whole immense universe existed, there was God! Before everything existed, there was God! It’s hard for most people to wrap their minds around that idea but it’s true. God has always existed. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He has no beginning and no end.

1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

ILL.- An old woman, hearing of some preachers who spoke on the doctrine of predestination, said: “Ah, I have long settled that point, for if God had not chosen me before I was born. I am sure He would have seen nothing in me to have chosen me afterward.”

I’m sure that many people probably feel like that old woman, however, what she said was not exactly accurate. Part of it was accurate but part of it wasn’t.

She said that God would not have seen anything in her after she had born that would have caused Him to choose her. Well, that’s true in the sense that she was a sinner and we’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God. When we sin, we’re all unlovely in His eyes. But God didn’t choose us to be His children because of who we are, but because of who He is and who Christ is!

That old woman said she was chosen by God before she was born. There is some truth in what she was saying.

God knew us all before we were ever born. Do you realize this? He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. How amazing is that?! How could this be? Because He is God who knows all, sees all, and is limitless in power.

How could God choose us to be His children before we were born? He knew man would sin and would need a Savior so He planned to send Jesus before mankind came into existence. We were chosen in Christ before the world began in the sense that God knew we would choose Jesus as our Savior. But God’s plan started before earth and man came into existence.

III. WE WERE CHOSEN IN CHRIST FOR A PURPOSE

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

ILL.- I know of a lady who bought a brand new car nearly three years ago and it only has a little over a thousand miles on it. I want to ask, “Why did you buy that car? Are you are just going to keep it in your garage to look at it?”

Most people buy a car to drive. They need to transportation. That’s the purpose of a car. Why are you here? What’s your purpose in life? God didn’t save you in Jesus, just to look at you and admire you, like you are some kind of trophy in a museum case! What’s your purpose in life? God has a purpose for your life.

Did you know what your purpose in life was while you were still in high school? I didn’t. I didn’t have a clue other than knowing that I had to go to work. That was something that was either taught or caught in my home. Mom and dad worked hard and they expected us children to work. Beyond work, I really didn’t know what life was all about.

DID YOU? You might have had some idea about your real purpose in life if you were raised by devout Christian parents.

ILL.- For example, my preacher friend, Bob Stacy, who was also my English professor at Ozark Christian College said he was raised by strong Christian parents in Tonawanda, New York.

I believe that Bob’s father was an elder in the church and they always went to church. They went every time the door was open for a service. And Bob said that when he was a little kid he would often “play” church and attempt to preach. So you know that Bob had a strong spiritual influence in his life and I suspect that he knew life’s real purpose early on in life which was to believe in the Lord and serve Him any way you could.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? And do you know your life’s purpose right now?

ILL.- Rick Warren, in his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, wrote, “Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself. You didn’t create yourself, so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for!”

Warren wrote, “Dr. Hugh Moorehead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern IL University once wrote to 250 of the best known philosophers, scientists, writers, and intellectuals in the world, asking them, ’What is the meaning of life?’ He then published their responses in a book. Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were clueless.”

Colossians 1:15-16 The Message Bible reads: “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”

Do you get the picture? Our purpose in life is not that we are here for us, but rather we are here for Him, to know Him, to please Him, to live for Him, to live for His glory! We are: God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Colossians 3:1-4 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Christ is our life!

I Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

We have been chosen for a purpose and that purpose is to live for Christ, and for His glory no matter what we choose for our life’s work or whom we marry, etc. He is God in the flesh and He alone gives the promise of eternal life. He alone gives purpose and meaning to life!

CONCLUSION-----------------

We are chosen in Christ. We are God’s chosen people and it’s all because of Jesus. It matters not who we are or what we do in life to make a living, or how much money we make, or where we live.

Life is about knowing our Creator and we can only come to know Him through Jesus. Jesus came to show us the Father. And He came to seek and to save the lost. We find that which is truly life when we find Him and come to know Him. And when we know Him we will know our Creator God!

John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” There is nothing better!

Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR
jonesborochristianchurch@suddenlink.net