Hello, here are some questions or topics to consider and discuss together from this past sermon on Ephesians 1:3-4 – that God chose to bless us in Christ with every spiritual blessing before we chose to trust him. Eric explained the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in an effort to show us the blessings that we have been given in Christ. Sorry this post is a bit long, I went ahead and included some quotes and lists that were mentioned in the sermon.
A Blessing to Rejoice In
What were your thoughts coming in to this topic? What experiences or teachings have shaped you in this area? Have those been helpful or harmful as you try to understand this tension? Have you ever been caught up in the debate of this topic and missed the blessing that Paul is describing to us?
Eric said that God’s sovereignty and men’s responsibility are two pillars without which we can’t understand the Bible, and he used the illustration of the tension in a band. That we are secure in the middle, but as we drift too far to either end, we have issues. Do you tend to drift toward either end? Have you noticed any effects of that, positive or negative? Do you agree with Eric that we need both to have the gospel? Discuss together how that works out.
Tensions in the Bible
Eric gave the following list of tensions in Paul and the Bible:
1. The already and the Not yet (the kingdom has been inaugurated, but we are waiting for it to be consummated).
2. The Father knows the future, but he asks us to pray
3. We are justified and yet sinful
4. Holy in his sight, yet we are to pursue holiness
5. God is Sovereign—Man is responsible.
Are some of these easier or more difficult to hold on to the tension in? These areas might be helpful just to talk through and encourage each other in.
Eric gave a few passages in Acts that help us to work through this as homework:
Acts 27: 21-26 and 30-32. (See if you see both as equally true and equally necessary.)
Acts 2:22-24, this one is more critical to our faith.
Every Spiritual Blessing
The blessing – God chose to bless us with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ even before we chose to trust him. What are some of the blessings that includes? Which are the most precious to you?
Eric spoke about how this shows God’s generosity. But that this is tough for us at times because of how our values of earthly blessings over spiritual ones. Have you had any cases of this? How does this play out in our lives? What can we do to shift our values?
This blessing frees is from the good day/bad day treadmill – our position in Christ is fixed. We are held firmly in his hands. How do we move from mentally assenting to this truth to living in light of it? Have you found ways to remind yourself of this in the day to day? Eric shared the following quote from Jerry Bridges to remind us of this:
“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” (Jerry Bridges)
This truth also gives us hope when we fail to walk in our King’s gospel movement. Were you surprised at the idea of our thoughts that ‘we will never change’ as arrogance? What does that statement say about Christ’s sacrifice or the King’s war?
Eric encouraged us to stop working at start believing in the power at work in us – the same resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the heavenly places. Stop trying to earn what has already been given to you freely. You are holy and blameless and that is fixed and held by Christ himself.
Now go learn to live in this new identity and position.
Also here are the two Spurgeon quotes if you missed them or want to read them in their entirety:
C.H. Spurgeon was once asked if he could reconcile these two truths [God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility] to each other.
“I wouldn’t try,” he replied; “I never reconcile friends.” Friends? – yes, friends. This is the point that we have to grasp. In the Bible, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are not enemies. They are not uneasy neighbors; they are not in an endless state of cold war with each other. They are friends, and they work together.
I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have chosen me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.