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Second Sunday after Christmas

January 3, 2021 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Christmas

Passage: Ephesians 1:3–1:14

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
Date: January 3rd, 2020; Christmas 2; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Throughout his 20 years of life, Mark had been bothered by the question of his own identity.  He really didn’t know who he was.  
  • He had known from the beginning that he was adopted - and he was happy and thankful for the love and care he received from his adopted family.
  • But Mark felt like he really didn’t know who he was because he didn’t know who his biological parents were.  
  • All Mark knew was that he had been given up for adoption at a young age and that he had an older brother.  
  • His mother, the agency reported, had been unable to care for the boys.
  • Mark could remember nothing from his life before the adoption.  He drew his entire sense of identity from his adoptive parents and their other children.
  • But the question of who he was seemed to require an answer.  It kept nagging him.  
  • He wanted to find a way to connect with his biological family – maybe this would help.
  • During the weekly Bible study he attended at the university chapel, Mark heard something strange.  
  • The chaplain read from Ephesians: “In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
  • It was the reference to adoption that caught Mark’s attention.
  • “I’ve been adopted by my parents and given a new family.  Is that what has happened because of my faith in Christ?”  Mark asked himself.  
  • “Have I become a member of God’s family and been given a new identity, God’s identity?”  
  • Mark had never thought of his faith in that way before, but this made a lot of sense to him – he had a new appreciation and understanding of his relationship with God -  his heavenly Father.
  • Brothers and sisters in Christ, because of our faith in what God has done for us in Jesus, we too have been adopted into the family of God.  
  • We also have been given a new identity.  
  • You see, ever since sin entered this world - we have been orphans.  
  • That is, we have not been God’s children.  
  • We have been separated from him, orphans who have been cut off from our Heavenly Father because of our sin. 
  • Our sin cuts us off from God and leads us to do things that hurt ourselves, and others - even those we love.
  • Our sin can lead us feeling like we are a long way from our Heavenly Father’s home - lost, confused, hopeless.
  • Without God, we feel this sense of being orphans, of incompleteness, of not being fully who we are.  
  • We ask questions like, “Who am I?”  “Where do I belong?”  “What is my purpose in life?”   
  • These questions point to the fact that something is not right between us and God.
  • But hear the Good News that God has given us the answer to our questions, the answer to our sin and death - in Christ.
  • We continue to celebrate this Christmas Season, and throughout the entire year, that God “sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Ephesians 4:4-5). 
  • Jesus was born under the Law – that is, he suffered the consequences of our breaking God’s law, our sin - and in exchange gives us his holiness and righteousness.
  • We, who are under the Law - have been redeemed by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and now we receive the full rights of being God’s children.
  • We have been adopted by our loving heavenly Father. 
  • Our Baptism makes it official.  Through our baptism God has gathered us and brought us into his household.  He has declared us to be his children.
  • Now we know who we are because we know whose we are.  We know our identity - we are the children of God.
  • Now we know what our purpose in life is.  
  • Our purpose is to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and life, to worship him, and to live in a close relationship with him.
  • Our purpose in life is to love and serve God by loving and serving all of those people that he has put in our lives: our family, our friends and neighbours, our co-workers, the people we meet in our lives wherever we might be.
  • We know what our purpose in life is - love and service.
  • And God has not only adopted us and given us our identity, he has not only given us our purpose in life, he has also promised us an inheritance like none other.
  • Verse 11 in our Ephesians text tells us that, “In him we have obtained an inheritance.”  
  • And St. Peter gives us some more detail about our inheritance in his letter. 
  • He says, “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” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
  • Have you ever thought, or dreamt, about what it would be like if you got a letter in the mail telling you that you have inherited millions of dollars from a relative you never knew about?  
  • Think about how exciting that would be!  Think about how that would change your life!
  • Well, we have been promised an inheritance that is far better than any amount of money.  
  • And this inheritance is not just a thought or dream – it is certain.  
  • This inheritance is indestructible.  It can “never perish, spoil or fade” as other inheritances always do.  
  • Through faith in Christ, we come into an inheritance that will never pass away, never run out, never be exhausted.  
  • This inheritance is ours now - but we will enjoy it fully in the life that is to come.  
  • We all experience the consequences of living in a world that is separated from God.  
  • We continue to sin and do things that we know God’s children should not do.  
  • But God continually calls us to repent of our sin and come home.
  • Because of our faith in the mercy God has shown us in Jesus Christ, we have been adopted by our heavenly Father and we are welcome in his house.  
  • We have been declared innocent and righteous, holy and blameless.  
  • We have been given the inheritance of salvation and eternal life – a life lived with God and the rest of our family in the faith.  
  • How blessed we are to be the children of God!  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

More in Christmas

December 27, 2020

First Sunday after Christmas

December 25, 2020

Christmas Day

December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve