God the Holy Spirit, enlighten us with Your gifts. Amen.
Text: Ephesians 1:8-14
Which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
To gather, to gather, is the Lord’s pleasure. Understand that that is the way of love, and hear what the Apostle says about it. Then you will pray for grace to gather, but be horrified at being divided. It is the purpose of God’s good pleasure from eternity, that “He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” The fullness of time has come, the stewardship is concluded, and the ingathering takes place. One Church is built with one Gospel and one Baptism and one Supper. One Spirit unites Jews and Gentiles into one Body, whose head is Christ. Just as all in heaven and on earth were created by Him and continue by Him, so all things are reconciled to God by Him, having made peace through the blood of His cross (Col 1:16-20). The angels in heaven needed no atonement, since they never fell. But God’s love in Christ is also their bliss, so that they are received into the same household. He is the head of the Church, of thrones and principalities and Jews and Gentiles who have been saved. We too have obtained an inheritance in Him. God “who works all things for His good pleasure” has determined that now there shall be a gathering into the kingdom here in our country, and appointed us who hear and believe as partakers in this salvation. Therefore we also received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee (2Co 5:5). Every believer holds on to God in Christ, cannot let Him go, expects salvation with Him, worships Him with childlike fear and confidence, and has peace and joy in Him. In our heart we say: “Heavenly Father, I praise You for salvation in the blood of Your Son! Help me to believe to my last hour and to praise You forever!” See, this is the Spirit, this is not flesh and blood. Longing for God and joy in God’s love is a foretaste, and He who has given you this guarantee does not deceive. He Himself is the seal on you; should it not be valid? Believe Him, have faith in Him, and you shall receive the inheritance. “Inheritance” – yes, it is inheritance with Jesus, and all grace: faith and foretaste and cleansing and sanctification; everything is pure grace. Don’t let your sin and imperfection make you uncertain, for the grace of Christ’s blood does it all.
Praise to You, God the Father, praise to You, God’s Son, praise to You, Holy Spirit! Enlighten us, so that we can know the glory of our inheritance. Give us grace to gather and unite in Christ from far and near, and every day to advance toward perfect glory. Amen.
God from eternity gave us His Son as our Savior;
Great is His name and most worthy of praising forever;
Heaven and earth: Praise Him, obeying His Word;
Jesus our Lord brings His favor.
O come together, ye people from ev’ry far nation,
You are redeemed by the Lord’s overwhelming salvation;
Make known abroad: Jesus, our Lord and our God,
Spares us from endless damnation.
Kampmann: Gud har fra evighed givet sin Søn os til Herre L 537:1.4 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Lobe den Herren (ELH 65); alternate hymn: Jerusalem, thou city fair and high ELH 541