Sermon:  God's Definition

Summary:  God identifies and defines us according to his everlasting purpose and his will, 
which is to purchase and adopt us as his children who will love and serve him.  That 
should be the identifying mark that guides and defines every aspect of our life.

Know:  We should define all our plans, difficulties, and relationships in light of God's 
purpose and will for us.

Feel:  A need to reflect on who I am, and who we are as a church

Do:  Reflect on your plans, difficulties and relationships at this time in your life and 
what role God's purpose and will plays in them.  Evaluate how intentionally centered you 
are on God's purposes for you and for the church.

Text:  Eph 1:1-14

Scripture Reading:  Phil 1:21

Meditation Scripture:  Phil 1:21

1.  Farmer found young eagle that fell out of nest
	a.  Brought home and raised on farm, grew up among the chickens
	b.  When it grew, tried to get it to fly away, but insisted on being a chicken
	c.  Every time in threw it, it went back to barn, ate seed off the ground
	d.  Eagle didn't know who he was.
2.  Who are you?  How would you answer that question?
3.  (Eph 1:1-2) In his introduction in Ephesians, Paul identifies himself and the church 
    through the will and purpose of God.
	a.  How?  In typical Jewish thanksgiving, he blesses God for what God 
            has done for us
	b.  Why?
		- Could say the thanksgiving after the introduction is typical
		- However, this one is unusual and long
		- Reason: To exalt God's cosmic, overarching purpose from the beginning
4.  Text:  (Eph 1:3-14)
	a.  God identifies us according to "his will" and "his purpose"
	b.  These words appear over and over again
	c.  His will and purpose is that we should be "holy" and "blameless" - v.4
	d.  What does that mean?  How?  Ways

I.  Through Adoption (v.5-6)
	A.  This was God's plan from the beginning
	B.  He predestined us to adoption.  What does that mean?
		1.  What it doesn't mean
			a.  He predestined some to not be adopted
			b.  He does not allow people to make a choice
			c.  Joshua said - "Choose for yourselves today whom you 
     			    will serve - Josh 24:15."
		2.  What it does mean
			a.  God thought ahead, he had a plan from the beginning
			b.  Free will would cause all kinds of problems
			c.  But it wasn't something God couldn't handle
			d.  God made plan, and brought it about
		3.  His plan goes back before foundation of the world
			a.  He saw you way back then
			b.  In his infinite wisdom, came up with a plan
			c.  To adopt you without violating free will, you have choice
		4.  He chose you, and you have ability to choose him
			a.  I want to adopt you, he says
			b.  You have ability to say yes or no
	C.  ILL:  I knew someone who was upset growing up
		1.  Found out he was adopted
			a.  For awhile, it turned his world upside down
			b.  He wondered about his birth parents
		2.  He despised his adopted parents
			a.  Ran away regularly
			b.  Disobedient - "You aren't my parent, you adopted me"
		3.  Realized difference between adopted and birth parents
			a.  Birth parents, children are often "accidents"
				- Doesn't mean you don't love them
				- But it is a very natural thing
			b.  Adopted parents "choose" you
				- v.11 - Lit: - "in whom we have even been chosen"
				- A conscious decision
				- Usually a lot of cost, time, and effort involved
			c.  Adopted parents are just as special, if not more so
		4.  Not his son because you chose him, but because he chose you
			a.  If God didn't choose you, your choice wouldn't matter
			b.  God chose the Christian to be his children
			c.  If you are a Christian, then he chooses you
			D.  Imagine the great cost, time, and effort God went through to adopt you
				1.  Imagine - God wanted to adopt unworthy sinners
				2.  In love he predestined us to adoption
				3.  He had a long plan, which involved the sacrifice of Jesus

II.  Through Purchase (v.7, 14)
	A.  There was a great, great cost to adopt you as his child
	B.  Two images of God's purchase of us in this passage
		1.  v.7 - Redemption
			a.  "Redeem" - apolutrosis - To buy back from slavery
				- Typically used of redeeming slaves from slavery
				- Redeemer pays the redemption price
			b.  God redeemed us out of slavery through blood of Christ
			c.  v.7 - According to the "riches of his grace"
				- Grace means "favor" - He "owes" us nothing
				- God favored us, he chose us
		2.  v.13 - "Seal" of the Holy Spirit
			a.  One function of a seal was to identify ownership, 
			b.  Rom 8:15 - We have received the spirit of adoption
				- He testifies that we are children of God
				- The Spirit is like our official adoption paper
			c.  Since Spirit identifies us a children, also as heirs
				- As God's children we have a promised inheritance
	C.  ILL:  Kevin and his overcomers award at camp
		1.  Just a piece of paper, but he look liked he valued it.  Why?
		2.  He went through a lot to get that award
			a.  He had to face several fears
			b.  Fear of crossing the creek on the log
			c.  Fear of getting in a canoe
			d.  Fear of bugs
		3.  So he valued it greatly
	D.  God went through much more than this to get his prize
		1.  It took suffering on the cross as though he were guilty
			a.  He was treated as a criminal
			b.  Yet he was innocent in every sense of the word
		2.  His prize?  You!
		3.  v.14 - Lit - "Who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption 
     		    of the possession, to the praise of his glory"
	     		a.  God has given us a guarantee of an inheritance
			b.  He will ultimately  "redeem" his possession - you
		4.  Some day, it will all come together
			a.  We be fully redeemed in Heaven
			b.  With God eternally, to love and serve him in his presence
			c.  All come togetherů.

III.  Through Christ  (v.9-10) 
	A.  Summing up of all things in Christ (v.9-10)
		1.  This is the foundation of the letter to the Ephesians
		2.  We came back to his plan, will, intention, purpose
		3.  These words and synonymns occur repeatedly
		4.  What is Paul trying to do?
	B.  He begins the letter with the big picture, God's cosmic plan
		1.  It all comes together in Christ, in Heaven and on earth
		2.  At the center of God's plan is Jesus Christ
		3.  It is not about what I want, my accomplishments, my plans
		4.  It is about God's plan, his purpose, his will
			a.  "Will, purpose, plan, intention, predestined" occur here
			b.  Identifies self as apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
	C.  Paul's life was defined by the purpose of God
		1.  Phil 1:22 -  "for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
		2.  Phil 3:8 - "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing 
     		    value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."
		3.  Whether he was in prison, stoned, shipwrecked, on trial, etc.
		     He defined his life in terms of his Lord, Jesus Christ
		4.  Men didn't define him, his accomplishments didn't define him, 
     		    His Lord is the one who defined him
	D.  ILL:  Knew a man who never seemed to fret about anything
		1.  When insulted, threatened, put down, lost job opportunities
		2.  Often due to his extreme love for God, didn't bother him
		3.  Why?  His identity was not wrapped up in those things
		4.  Jesus Christ alone identified and defined his life

Concl:  Who or what defines your life?
1.  Is it an object, hobby, job, clothes, appearance?
	a.  And someone insults it, you are overly sensitive about it?
	b.  Maybe that defines you more than you realize.
2.  Is it people, friends, co-workers, etc.
	a.  Want to belong, so you dress like, think like, listen to same music
	b.  Someone says something negative about it, get overly defensive?
	c.  Maybe they identify you more than you realize
3.  As a Christian, the only identity and definition that matters is Christ
	a.  (v.13) - Hear Gospel, become "sealed" - God identifies you (invitation)
	b.  No one can mess with that identity, because you are his workmanship 
4.  Rest of Ephesians deals with 2 aspects of the issue of identity:
	a.  What defines me?
		-  Every plan, thought, relationship should be defined by Christ
-  We are Adopted, purchased Christians by the will of God
-  Our whole life should be summed up in Christ
-  Marriage, child, parent, employer, employee, friends, etc.
	b.  What defines us as a church?  What would you say?
		-  May have several different answers to that question
		-  Paul deals with this question in Ephesians
		-  In the weeks ahead will be looking at how this applies to us
5.  Farmer couldn't get the eagle to fly, so he took him out of the barn to a cliff
	a.  Eagle finally spread his wings and soared into the sunset!
	b.  No longer let the barnyard define him, he wasn't of the barnyard
	c.  We are not of the barnyard, it does not define us.  God does.
	d.  How does he define you?
6.  So we have returned to the question - Who are you?  Spend time reflecting, studying, 
    discussing, and sharing with others on this question

Questions for Small Group Discussion