3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will - 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even 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, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. 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.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.
15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
The Bible is the book that reveals to us the way of salvation. While it contains many life lessons and wisdom that applies to all aspects of life, the Bible concerns itself first and foremost with the salvation that God offers to us through faith in Jesus Christ. It speaks about how Jesus came into the world to be our Saviour. He died on the cross to save us from sin. He conquered death and the grave and He lives eternally. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”
The Bible teaches us about what has been called ‘our great salvation.’ What makes it so great?
It is great because of the love that bought it. It is great because of the love that brought it, and it is great because of the love that wrought it (or achieved it).
Our great salvation is the great theme of Scripture, and it is the one message above all others that the Bible points us to. As it draws us into a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and why He came, it teaches us that our eternal salvation comes from Him and Him alone.
The fact that the salvation Jesus offers us is eternal is what makes it so great, yet sadly, many people fail to grasp this truth. Many use God as nothing more than a God of convenience – the Church is regarded as a place to go when we need a wedding or a funeral to be arranged. Instead of belonging to the Church family and being part of the body as we bring the message of our great salvation to the world, there are many who turn to the Church in times of need or distress, but they’re nowhere to be seen when life is good.
What a great tragedy it is that so many have such a limited concept of the great salvation that God offers us so freely, and how He can change our lives so dramatically. The word salvation is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. It speaks about salvation from things like physical harm, disease, failure and despair. All of these and the many other forms of salvation are wonderful, but the great salvation that God offers to us through Jesus Christ is far greater than we realise sometimes.
During the past two Sundays we have looked at how God’s grace applies to our past and present, and today we conclude this series as we consider how His grace applies to our eternal future.
Our great salvation brings us deliverance from the penalty of sin. We’re told in Romans 3:23 that we are all sinners, and Romans 6:23 tells us that the penalty of our sin is death. This is not physical death, but an infinitely greater death – the spiritual death whereby our souls will be separated from God forever. We all have images in our minds of what hell will look like, but one thing we do know about hell is this: it is a place where God is not. Jesus though, came into the world not in order to condemn us to that place, but to offer us release from the penalty of our sin, and to save us from that place. Paul refers to this salvation in Ephesians 2:8 in the past tense: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” You have been saved. It is a past event that has been accomplished in all its fullness. He wrote these words to the Church in order to reassure us that through faith in Jesus Christ we are already saved. He speaks about our deliverance from the penalty of our sin, which is death. All of this takes place in the miracle of the new birth, and the legal term for this is justification. Being justified by grace was our theme two weeks ago. It is the act of God by which He declares us justified in His sight as He receives us on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ.
But this past event is only the beginning of the great salvation that God offers us through Jesus. As we are justified we experience the wonder of God’s grace in a very real way as He welcomes us home as a lost child reunited with our Father. Once we are justified we begin to experience the grace of God in a whole new way as our relationship with Him begins to grow. And this is where we are right now. If there was a point in your past, whether it was fifty years ago or five minutes ago that you accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are now living in the power of His grace as He is in the process of freeing you and offering you salvation from the power of sin in your life.
He is not only interested in saving you in your sin. He is just as interested in saving you from your sin and the mess it has made of your life.
Someone once said that God not only wants to get us into Heaven, but He wants to get Heaven into us, and that begins here and now - not when we draw our last breath in this life.
The point is that the Bible speaks about our great salvation as not only a past accomplishment but also as a present process. The theological term for this experience is sanctification. Being sanctified by His grace is what we looked at last Sunday. At the moment of our conversion, God, by His Spirit quite literally takes up residence in our hearts, and He begins the work of redeeming and delivering us from the power and practice of sin in our lives. Philippians 1:6 says “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We are called and challenged to cooperate with God if we want to experience deliverance from the power of sin or from the practice of sin in our daily lives. God gives us the tools: Holy Spirit power, but it is up to us to choose to walk in that power and to utilise it. Not only that, but when things go wrong and we fall off the rails we need to know that God does not condemn us. He is a God of grace and mercy, and He will continue to help us as He sanctifies us by His grace.
It is a mistake for us to believe that although we’re going to Heaven when we die, we’ve got to kind of work out the rest of this journey on our own.
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Salvation from the power or practice of sin in our daily lives is a vital part of God’s great salvation for us. He has saved us for His glory, and He has saved us for service. We’re not sitting in some kind of cosmic waiting room, just counting the days and years until we get to Heaven. We are to be part of the life and work of the Church. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There is work to be done, but we cannot do all of this on our own. It is only as we experience the sanctifying power of His grace that we’re able to take our focus away from ourselves, and give ourselves for others.
So we are able to experience God’s grace in both our past and the present. But that’s not the end of the story. The great salvation we have in Christ will ultimately find its climax in Heaven for all of eternity. We already have the promise that it is approaching. Romans 13:11 says, “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” When you woke up this morning you were one day nearer glory than you were yesterday!
Hebrews 9:28 speaks about how our salvation will be completely manifested as we will be glorified by His grace: “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”
The apostle John puts it like this in 1 John 3:1-2. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
“We shall be like Him.” For now, in this life we are being slowly but surely transformed into the likeness of Jesus. But in eternity, we shall be like Him. Completely. We will be glorified.
There are many references in the New Testament to salvation in the future tense, and we’ll look at a few of them in a moment. But we do need to pause here first. Because the Bible speaks of salvation in the future, there are many who have made the mistake of thinking that assurance of salvation in the present is impossible, and that we have to adopt a kind of “wait and see” attitude. We must keep on trying to do the right thing and walk as closely to God as we possibly can, but we need to wait until some future time before we can be certain that Heaven is going to be our eternal home.
That is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification by grace. Part of our reading from Ephesians 1 deals directly with this issue: “You 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, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory.” It’s in the future, but it is guaranteed. When we adopt the attitude of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, we are trusting in salvation based on works instead of grace.
The Bible is absolutely clear on this. If you have put your faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, then your eternal salvation is secure. And it was signed, sealed and delivered nearly two thousand years ago at a place called Calvary. Remember the promises of Hebrews 6 from a few weeks ago: “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
The importance of those words cannot be emphasised enough. Your soul is anchored by your hope. You are anchored in Christ and in His promises. Remember Hebrews 6:19 whenever you have doubts. We may well doubt, and our faith can be very unsure at times, but our faith or lack of faith has no influence whatsoever on the promises of God. It’s about who He is, what He has done and what He has promised. You can be sure about your future eternal glory because God has promised it to you, and that is what anchors your soul. Your security and your steadfastness is anchored by this hope. Remember that you are not anchored down into the seabed. You are anchored up – in Him.
You have fixed your hope completely in Him for a glorious, eternal future, where you will be completely glorified by His grace.
1 Peter 1:3-6 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice.” The Message translation says, “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven - and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all - life healed and whole.”
Peter calls this hope we have a “living hope.” Just as Jesus died and is alive, so we too will die, but live eternally. This is why our hope is a living hope. And Peter goes on to describe that hope as an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade away. It is yours, and it is yours forever.
Paul talks about this promise and this hope in Romans 8:15-17: “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Those words are simply amazing.
God has not only provided a place called Heaven that involves eternal resurrection life after death, but a place of inheritance. And this inheritance is so vast we will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ Himself. He is the inheritor of everything that God possesses, and we will share in that! You will share in that! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and if you have accepted salvation through Him, then all of these promises are for you, and you are protected and secured by the power of God, and all because you put your faith in Him.
And if that is not enough to fill you with excitement about seeing the Lord in all His glory one day, then just listen to these words from 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
I’ve said many times over the past few weeks that we will never fully understand God’s grace. But we can grasp some idea of how He justifies us by His grace. We can also see how His grace sanctifies us – we all experience it on a daily basis, but to be glorified by His grace? That is just beyond anything we can possibly comprehend. But He does promise it to us, and that is why we do not lose hope, because one day we will see the glory of Jesus Christ in all His fullness with our very own eyes!
The Bible speaks of salvation in the past tense, in the present tense, and in the future tense. Salvation in the past tense is justification. Salvation in the present tense is sanctification. And salvation in the future tense is glorification. You have the power to live a life of victory here and now because this is God’s gift to you. In the words of Paul’s letter to Titus again, “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own.”
Ours is a great, a glorious and a wonderful salvation!
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Ephesians 1:3-14
During the past 3 Sundays we have looked at the grace of God from 3 perspectives: past, present and future.
Justification is how we experience His grace in the past (our once-off event of conversion), sanctification is how His grace affects our daily lives in the present, and one day we will be glorified by His grace for all of eternity.
Remembering that there is only one grace, discuss briefly these 3 different aspects of grace in your group.
How are you able to define the way God’s grace works?
Glorification by grace is undoubtedly the most difficult of these three to grasp, for the simple reason that we have yet to experience it for ourselves, but what is your understanding of being “glorified?”
Read Romans 8:15-17
We are all aware of how far short we fall of the glory of God, yet the Bible promises that we are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
What does this mean? Is it even possible to understand this promise?
What are some of your struggles in holding onto the eternal promises of God as the “anchor for your soul?” (Hebrews 6:19)
Close in prayer. Thank God for His grace shown to you in your past and the present. Ask Him also to remind you of who He is, and how He has promised you His glorifying grace for all of eternity.