2005-05-15 — The Spirit Creates A New People In Christ, Hallelujah!

Easter 7:
Date: May 15, 2005

Theme: The Spirit Creates A New People In Christ, Hallelujah!

1. Hearing the Word
2. Marking us in Christ
3. Pledging our Inheritance
– Ephesians 1:13,14

– Ude, John

The Order of Worship:

Liturgy: TLH, p. 5 ff.


TLH 224 : Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord Hymnary.org link
TLH 231 : We Now Implore God the Holy Ghost Hymnary.org link

Theme: The Spirit Creates A New People In Christ, Hallelujah!

1. Hearing the Word
2. Marking us in Christ
3. Pledging our Inheritance

Ephesians 1:13

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,

Ephesians 1:14

14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

Sermon: Ephesians 1:13,14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

In the Name of Jesus All three signs on Pentecost: the roaring wind, the tongues of fire, and foreign languages were given to call attention to, verify, and magnify the greatest sign: the wonderful work of God in Christ, namely redeeming all sinners in His death and justifying the world in His resurrection. Ephesian’s is a celebration of the Spirit’s creating a new people in Christ. When the Apostle Paul contemplated the Holy Spirit creating the Church, He didn’t think in terms of concrete: concrete buildings or groups man builds, concrete formulas we recite, concrete forms we rely on. No, his heart filled with the personal miracle of the Holy Spirit stopping him on the road to Damascus, intervening in his march on the path to his own self destruction and turning him around to see Jesus. The Spirit’s creation of the Church is for the apostle Paul no mere intellectual dogma memorized in catechism class and recited by rote. It is a miracle of grace defying intellectual comprehension and surpassing human language. Thus the praise of God’s glory erupts from Paul in these chapters in songs of Hallelujah while the strain to give proper voice to this praise interrupts his songs with bursts of fervent prayer. Surely such “Hallelujahs” will stir our souls. The Spirit Creates A New People In Christ, Hallelujah!
Listen again to V. 13 and notice how Paul certainly has in mind the personal miracle of the Spirit stopping the Ephesians from marching on in the path to their own destruction by worshiping gods made with hands and turning them to see Jesus. V.13 “In Christ, you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” It was different with almost every one of them as with virtually each one of us and yet all the same. We were born in darkness, pursuing the gods of our own hands, but hearing the truth, the Spirit turned us to Christ. The book of Acts tells us how some of the Ephesians first heard the gospel. (Acts 18:18ff) At the close of Paul’s second missionary journey, he is rushing to Jerusalem, with his head shaved indicating his singular intent to fulfill a vow to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem. While waiting for his ship passage, he was sharing the gospel and some of them had wanted to learn more but Paul had to rush on. The beginnings of the Spirit’s work in Ephesus were like a seed dropped in haste along the path. But from that insignificant beginning the Spirit brought the Gospel to what became a large church at Ephesus and even to all Asia Minor. Surely we are to see here the same personal miracles in how the gospel came to us and through us to others as we drop seeds along our path today. Paul’s return to Ephesus revealed that Pentecost today is vital also for those who already believe. You heard in our scripture lesson how Paul returning (Acts 19:1-10) met twelve who were converted by followers of John the Baptist. It is unclear how this cult to John the Baptist had arisen believing John’s message about Jesus, yet in error still following John rather than Jesus and ignorant of John’s teaching on the Spirit. But three things are clear: 1. The Spirit wanted them to hear the Word and follow it. 2. When they left error to follow the truth, He bestowed a special gift to demonstrate the unity of these twelve with all believers in Christ. 3. He separates believers from any form of godliness outside of Jesus. It’s hearing the Word that brought the miracle of faith to each of us. Often over the years, we have been tempted to follow gods of our own making, but hearing the truth the Spirit preserves our unity in Christ by separating us from the gods of man’s making. Urgently thus, the Spirit calls us to hear the Word in Church, Bible study and devotion that we might live in the truth of Christ which alone washes away our sin in His blood and crowns our head with His resurrection life.
“In Christ also,” V. 13 continues, “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The picture is not of sealing us inside a big baggie but of marking us as Christ’s own. The seal was the signet ring that marked something as a person’s possession both to certify its authenticity and protect it. Believing in Christ is the Spirit’s marking us as Christ’s own possession, bought with His blood, certified as authentic heirs who can enter eternal life, and protected from every assault of sin and guilt in Jesus own righteousness. Being in Christ is then not just knowing the facts of what Christ did. It’s like riding in one of those great air balloons. His grace like the helium lifts us up and carries us. His will like the wind guides and moves us. And His perspective determines our view on everything. There at Ephesus Jewish exorcists and people seeking power through magical arts noticed the great miracles Jesus did through Paul. (Acts 19:11-20) They thought they could tap this “in Christ” power for themselves. But they were not in Christ. It was not His grace lifting them, His will guiding them, nor His perspective filling them. Claiming Christ’s name as a formula for their own power was like a free fall out of the sky. The evil spirit knew their forgery: “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you.” And he so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded. But the Spirit used this to create in others that faith in Christ which so renounced selfish interest and idolatrous formulas that people brought magical books worth fifty thousand pieces of silver, the year’s wages for about 200 men, to be burnt – a bonfire of the Spirit. Surely those not in Christ considered it a real waste. But then the greatest possessions and powers of this world will be burnt up. Only the balloon of being in Christ can lift us out of that conflagration. The Spirit has set you in that balloon relying on His grace, moved by His will, filled with His perspective. So where do we need a bonfire of the Spirit?
“This Spirit” V. 14 continues “is the down payment pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory,” Hallelujah. This work of the Spirit creating faith in Christ by hearing the Word and marking us as Christ’s own is part of the heavenly inheritance we’ve already received and the pledge that the rest will follow. The Spirit assures us that since Christ’s blood has purchased us to be His own possession certainly He will redeem us from every evil to be in Christ for eternity. The Spirit’s own beginning in Ephesus again gave glorious evidence of that pledge. For in that beginning Acts 19:21-31 records one more demonic attack on the gospel. Ephesus was home at Paul’s time to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, a magnificent temple to Diana, whose image had supposedly fallen down from the sky, from Zeus to them. The silversmith guild held the profitable monopoly on selling silver images of that temple. Demetrius, a leader of the silversmith’s union, himself testified their gods were made by hand and the Word of Jesus was prevailing over their idol forms. Yet because their pocketbooks were being affected, they started a city wide uproar against Paul and the Christians. Multitudes flowed into their great arena riotously chanting: “Great is Diana.” Can you imagine 50,000 people thus roaring for two whole hours? Yet the Spirit used the city clerk to defuse the uproar and still pledges to preserve us from every evil. He can even deliver us from our own pocketbook preservation uproar against God’s will for us. Yes, the Spirit’s creating a new people in Christ is a miracle of grace defying comprehension, surpassing language, and stirring our souls to the praise of His glory, Hallelujah. Amen.