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Description: Pre-Determined as Sons
Pre-Determined as Sons
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Will you take a Bible please and turn to Ephesians 1. I think you remember the illustration that
goes something like this; there was a group of blind Indians and they had never seen an elephant
before. One of them brought an elephant into the village and while they couldn’t see it, they felt
it. One felt the side of the elephant and said, “It’s a wall.” And the other felt the big ear and
said, “No, it’s a leaf.” And the other felt the foot and leg and said, “Oh, it’s a big tree.”
Another felt the trunk and said, “Oh, it’s a rope.” And of course the illustration shows that if
you only look at a bit of a thing you don’t see the whole thing as it really is and you can be
This ties up with reading scripture. We’ve all learned about reading in context and remember the
context. One of the dangers of the careful analysis of a book verse-by-verse is that you get
wrapped up in that verse and lose the sense of the argument or the trend of the whole book. So I
thought that we ought to look just at the verses we talked about so far just to catch up together.
There is a progression in them if you look at verse 3, thinking of verses 3-5. Ephesians 1:3,
“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.” I think the word that’s used is “eulogos” . You
remember, we said that it’s the first aorist tense. In Greek the first aorist means blessed at a
We often translate it as “has blessed” but really the emphasis is on the definite moment of
blessing. And what Paul is saying is, that’s the timeline. This is 1997 and this is 4 BC and in 28
or maybe 57 AD he’s saying, “God blessed us in Christ in the heavenly places.” The heavenly places
are what we call heaven where God himself is. God blessed us in Christ in the heavenly places. He
blessed us at a definite moment in the past. And that’s what he’s saying, after this definite
moment here, “God blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.” That is really the gospel,
that God has already done that, that he’s blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
Spiritual blessings – you can see some of them are in Psalms 103. Psalms 103:1, “Bless the LORD, O
my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not
all his benefits.” And these are some of the spiritual blessings, or benefits, “Who forgives all
your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with
steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live.” And what Paul is saying
is, God blessed you in Christ with those things in the heavenly places. They are ours and so you
don’t have to strive for healing. You don’t have to make healing occur by the strong exercise of
your faith. You simply have to have faith and believe that God gave you healing in Christ. That’s
done and it is yours.
It seems to me vital in all cases of sickness or physical weakness, to set our minds clearly upon
that. That is what faith is. It is to take our minds well away from the symptoms whether they’re
appearing or disappearing. And I think that applies to all kinds of sicknesses, aches and pains,
back aches, and all the things that we have that are normally part of our life. It seems vital to
see that that is the truth, that it’s in the heavenly places. That’s pretty important to see.
“Ouranios” is the Greek word. It means “in heaven”. There’s a verse in Colossians that I think is
as good a direction about how to exercise faith as any. If you look at it, it’s Colossians 3:1-2,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated
at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
It seems to me when the pain comes and you allow your mind to be drawn to the pain, at that moment
you’ve ceased to exercise faith because you’re looking at things upon the earth not on things in
heaven where you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
I don’t think it’s a question of saying, “I have no pain, I have no pain.” I think it’s a question
of setting your mind plainly and clearly in the place where God has blessed you with every spiritual
blessing. He will make that real here on earth as he pleases. Sometimes by removing the symptom of
the pain, sometimes by giving you strength to go independent of the pain. But faith is setting our
minds on the place where we have received that spiritual blessing and that spiritual blessing has
been given us already in Christ. It seems always wrong to think, “Am I healed? Am I healed?” It
seems to me that’s a direct contradiction of the gospel. The gospel is, “God has blessed you at a
definite moment,” and we see that moment more clearly in a few minutes, “God has blessed me at a
definite moment in Christ with every spiritual blessing. And that spiritual blessing includes this
one of healing my diseases. Therefore my job is to set my mind on that.”
If you say to me, “Well, what about medicine and all that kind of thing?” I think that’s really a
separate world. By all means do what you think there but be very clear where the healing comes from.
Some of us are guided therefore to take action, on some things some of us are guided not to take
action but in both cases the one thing that is necessary is faith. Jesus did put mud on a man’s
eyes. That was a kindly gracious act. It wasn’t the mud that healed him but he did something to
help his faith.
So it’s not unbelief or lack of faith if you go to a doctor. God guides us all differently and some
of us do go to a doctor in certain situations and some of us don’t. That really is irrelevant. The
important thing is that you set your mind firmly on the heavenly place, on your position in Jesus,
on the fact that God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ. You set your mind upon
that and you thank him for that. It seems to me that’s what faith is.
Faith is not throwing away your glasses to get healed. Faith is not going to the doctor. Faith is
not all those outward things. Those are really irrelevant. Faith is setting your mind on the
things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. It’s believing the gospel
that God blessed you in Christ at a definite moment with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly
places, and there’s where it is as opposed to earth.
Obviously, God allows the pain to come for really only one reason. It’s so faith will be exercised,
because that is the key to all our knowledge of him. So often, he allows things to come day after
day that will drive us into that. Of course, you can think of other things besides healing of
sicknesses. You can think of finances, or you can think of your own personal life, or you can think
of things that you’re doing or trying to achieve in your work, or in your writing, or in your
reading, and they’re all in the same situation. God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing
so it’s the same with money. If you set your mind on the pain then you’re not exercising faith. If
you set your mind constantly on the lack of money or the problems with money, then you’re on earth
and you’re ignoring and indeed rejecting reality. Reality is that God has blessed you in the
heavenly places in Christ with all that you need there.
So, I think one of the old saints said in regard to the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”,
he said, “We are beggars that expect to live off the wealth of God. So it’s turning your mind away
from all the lacks and inadequacies that you feel on earth and turning it up to the true situation
in heaven. That’s a definite act and you can actually do that in all kinds of situations.
You open your eyes in the morning and it’s a grey rainy morning. The elemental spirits of the earth
pour in and say, “Monday, it’s terrible.” And what’s the thing you have to do at that very moment?
You can choose. You choose either to set your mind on those things, on unreality, (on something
that is passing like weather) or, you take your mind off that and set your mind there.
So faith is always setting your mind on the gospel. And the gospel is that God has blessed you in
Christ with every spiritual blessing — everything that you need in Christ. Now, it’s quite
interesting because the second verse takes it a step further and if you look at Ephesians 1:4.
Verse 3 is, “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, even as he chose us in him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” And so the verse knocks
it back one step. Here is the blessing but it knocks it back to that fact that God chose us before
the foundation of the world. So here is the “foundation of the world” and “blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing” just the same way as he chose us in him before the foundation of the
world. He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.
In other words, God saw us in Christ and chose us in him even before the world was founded. And
because of that, he blessed us in Christ in the heavenly places with every spiritual blessing that
we need. But it’s quite important for us to see that that’s when it happened. God did not send us
down here as little bits of flesh to float around and get ourselves into trouble and then he rescued
us. God foresaw the whole thing. He foresaw the pain that you would feel next year. He foresaw
the financial difficulty that you would face next week. He foresaw the people that we would meet
tomorrow who would be awkward and difficult to deal with. God saw all those when he choose us in
Christ from before the foundation of the world.
And it takes away that feeling, “Well, I’m fighting a battle here day-by-day. Sometimes I’m
winning, sometimes I’m not. When I’m winning I’m really in Christ and in the Spirit and when I’m not
winning I’m really down.” It’s not that at all. God chose us in Jesus. He put you and me in Jesus
before the foundation of the world and blessing us with every spiritual blessing occurred there at
that point. And so we have had all we’ve needed all along. Where we trip ourselves up is when we
immediately think, “Well then we should get it whenever we need it and we should see it evident
whenever we want to see it.” And that’s where we get ourselves into trouble because that’s what
causes the skepticism in us.
We say, “Wait a minute, he blessed us with every spiritual blessing but I haven’t had every
spiritual blessing that I needed. At times I’ve been in real trouble.” Yes, but you’re judging it
from your point of view. You’re saying, “Wait a minute, God has the right to manifest those
blessings when and in the way that he chooses. But the fact that he’s done it, the fact that he has
already delivered me from all kinds of sickness problems, all kinds of financial problems, all kinds
of emotional difficulties, all kinds of personal problems, the fact that he has done that, that is
clear. That is done. It is up to him how he applies it. My job is to look at that fact and to be
confident of it.”
When somebody says, “Yes, but look at the wounds.” And you say, “Wounds? But they’re nothing.
Jesus had wounds. He had open holes but he still stayed alive. That’s the life I live. I may still
have the apparent inadequacies other people have but it doesn’t stop God from fulfilling his plan
for my life and it doesn’t stop me marching on as if those were not there.” So that is part of the
firmness of faith. But it’s interesting, these verses take it back another stage when you go to the
Ephesians 1:4, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be
holy and blameless before him.” That’s the way the Greek goes, it is “exelexato” and it’s the
aorist participle. And so actually the other translations do it more correctly when they say not,
“he destined” but “having destined” so that the verse reads like this, “Even as he chose us in him
before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him having destined
us in love.” The word in Greek is “exelexato” and it’s predestinated. You also get it in almost all
the other translations — predestinated, having predestinated us.
So he chose us in Christ because way back he had already predestinated us. And that’s the way we’ve
explained it before. The millisecond in which God conceived of his only begotten Son Jesus, the
Bible is saying at that same millisecond, or if you like to put it for the sake of our weak minds, a
fraction of a millisecond after that millisecond, God conceived of us as his sons and daughters in
Jesus. He predestinated us at that point to be his sons and daughters in Christ. And so it’s going
way back into the very heart of the eternal God.
It’s saying that at the same moment he conceived of his only begotten Son, he conceived of us in his
Son, and as part of his Son. He predestinated us at that point to be adopted as sons. The Greek is
actually predestined us to adoption as sons.
And predestinated means planned beforehand.
Indeed, the root meaning of it is “determined beforehand”. And so what his word is saying is, “He
blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us even as he
had already chosen us in Christ having before that predestinated us or determined beforehand that we
should be adopted as his sons in Christ.” And so God had an only begotten Son and a millisecond
after he had his only begotten Son he determined beforehand that you and I should be his children in
That’s how close we are to the Father’s heart. That’s how fixed and certain our position is. This
does not cause that. This appreciates it, or this allows it to be manifested here on earth, but this
does not cause it. We are not saved by our faith but by God’s grace. What he has done through our
faith is manifested here. But the work itself is God’s. And so each of us is a son and daughter of
God. A moment after he conceived of his only begotten Son, he conceived of Greg Leitschuh. God
determined beforehand that he would be adopted as his son in Jesus.
That’s how much of a part we are of God and of his dear Son Christ. The last time we studied this
verse we said that the Roman concept of adoption was a legal one and it meant that the child that
was adopted had all the rights and privileges of a natural born son. You have all the rights and
privileges of Jesus. I know it’s overwhelming, but that’s what it means. And it’s repeated again,
and again. Christ became what we were so that we could become what he is.
But that is the truth of it. Long before the foundation of the world God determined that he would
adopt us into his Son Jesus Christ and give us the same rights and privileges as his Son. Satan’s
job of course, is to get us to disbelieve and to question it, and to therefore try to bring it
about. But God has said to us plainly, “This is reality and I want you to live in that reality.”
Do you see what doubting God is? Doubting God is just rank unbelief. It’s rejection of God and it’s
total unreality. That’s why the Bible says whatever is not of faith is sin. Doubt is not of faith.
We’ve all wrestled ourselves into positions where we’ve wondered, “Am I really in Christ?” But you
can see now that it is simple rejection of what God has done when you question that. The only
position one can take that is realistic is to set our minds clearly on the fact that God did bless
us in Christ, with every spiritual blessing that we need. Just in the same way as he had chosen us
in him to be blameless before him having already predestinated us even before the foundation of the
world to be adopted as his sons in Christ and to have all the rights and privileges of his only
begotten Son. And so when God looks upon the apple of his eye, he looks upon you and me and that’s
how dear we are to him. That’s how much he has made available to us — all that we need.
That’s why I read that chapter on faith, because I saw again that that’s the only realistic way to
live. Satan’s method is to get you to let your mind drift off to enjoy the comforts or the “benies”,
or the weekend at Lille France, or the holiday, or even just each other. He pulls you along
gradually and gets you more and more to enjoy the “sense” things, the pleasure things and material
things. Then he whacks you because he takes one of them away and tries to get you to go down with
it. And so it’s vital in good times as much as in bad times to live by this and to live with our
minds set on the reality that is clearly in Jesus himself.
Let us pray.
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