daily biblical sermons


By believing in the gospel of our salvation we have been predestined to live for the praise of Christ's glory
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Friday, 28th Week of the Year, October 16, 2020
Ephesians 1:11-14, Psalm 32, Luke 12:1-7


 

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

11 “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the council of his will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 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” (Ephesians 1:11-14 NKJV).

 

 

The above verses are difficult to follow because they are so tightly packed together and dense with meaning, with one new concept being added after another without any explanation of their meaning. But let us see what we can draw out of these verses.

 

 

St. Paul starts out by saying that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance, namely that we should live to the praise of his glory. We have been predestined to this vocation. Then St. Paul says that many other people, presumably those who were Gentiles, have also heard the word of truth, namely the gospel of their salvation, and they too put their faith in it and were sealed and kept safe by the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit is the first fruits of the full inheritance which is still to come at the second coming of Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us already a foretaste of the final redemption at the Lord’s return.

 

 

This seems to be a summary of what St. Paul is saying in these verses. But unfortunately for us he doesn’t take time to develop any of these points, but rather simply lists one major point after another. So, let us try to reflect on these verses and space them out a bit and try to develop something of the great mystery that he is talking about.

 

 

What is this great inheritance that we have received? It is to live to the praise of the glory of Christ in whom we have hoped and believed. All who are Christians, whether they were previously Jews or Gentiles, whether they believed long ago at the early part of their life or just recently and are new converts – all have heard the word of truth, which is the gospel of our salvation in which we have placed our faith, and in which we were all sealed by the Holy Spirit, which is the first fruits of our ultimate inheritance, when the full work of our redemption will be complete.

 

 

Of all of these points what shall we focus on? I think that verse thirteen is a good place to start, “In Him [Christ] 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” (Ephesians 1:13 NKJV).

 

 

What is this word of truth, this gospel of our salvation in which we have believed? We saw that in yesterday’s reading in Ephesians 1:7: “In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NKJV). This is the word of truth. This is the gospel of our salvation, namely that we have redemption through Christ’s blood, which leads to the forgiveness of our sins.

 

 

It is this gospel of our salvation that needs to be proclaimed throughout the world in many different ways to many different people. This is the transforming message that enables people to be justified by God, through their faith, because of the work of Christ on the cross. But many people become confused and think that God can’t give us a free gift, but that we have to work for it to earn it. If God justifies us, they figure that they have to do some work to earn it.

 

 

Yes, it is true, justification does not come without hard work. But the point is that the work that needs to be done so that we can be justified is not done by us, but by Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom God sent into the world to do the work that is necessary to earn and merit our justification for us. And what is this work? He had to suffer our death penalty for our sins for us so that we would not have to suffer it, because our death sentence is eternal death in hell, which, of course, would prevent us from being justified and saved, for we would be serving it forever in hell.

 

 

But since God in his goodness and mercy wants as many people as possible to be justified, live in his presence, overcome their alienation from God, be reconciled to him, and live forever with him in heaven when we die, he decided to suffer our death penalty for us, since he is also perfectly just, and justice must be done. But since God cannot suffer and die, he sent his Son to become a man and be crucified for our sins as our representative and substitute so that he could suffer our death penalty for our sins for us.

 

 

So, then the question comes back to us again, “But what do we have to do to be justified?” There is no work that we have to do, for Christ, the Son of God, did the work for us that has to be done so that we can be justified, and that work is that our death sentence for our sins has to be suffered by someone. If it is not severed by us, it has to be suffered by a proxy, and that proxy is Jesus Christ, whom God himself sent into the world for that purpose. So that is the work that must be done for our justification, and the fact is that it has already been done by Christ’s death on the cross.

 

 

But again, the question returns to us, “But what do we have to do to be justified? We have to accept Jesus as our proxy and believe that he really is the substitute that God sent to us to take our place and suffer our death sentence for our sins for us, and then we have to put our trusting faith in him for our justification and call out to him asking him to save us from our sins. In other words, we have to sincerely want to be saved from our sins, and we have to believe that Jesus is the Savior that God sent to us for that purpose. So, what do we have to do to sincerely want to be saved from our sins?

 

 

Does this mean that we can continue sinning gravely? Does it mean that we can continue living in adultery or fornication or a homosexual relationship? Does it mean that we can continue living in a constant state of objective mortal sin? Surprisingly, there are some Roman Catholic leaders in the Church today that are actually proclaiming this, namely that we can put our faith in Christ and call out to him for salvation from our sins and continue to enjoy a life of objective mortal sin. I know it’s hard for many people and for many Catholics to believe that there are high Church leaders in the Catholic Church today who are actually proclaiming this. If you haven’t heard it, you are lucky. But if you have, lest you be deceived by it into living a life of grave sin and jeopardizing your eternal salvation it is good that someone call your attention to this grave error now being taught in the Catholic Church today, especially during the past four years.

 

 

This teaching is destroying the foundation of all Christian morality as it is taught in the Scriptures from one end to the other and throughout the whole Tradition of the Catholic Church. It is a new departure from the faith. It is a path that goes astray from the teaching of God’s word in the Scriptures and from the Tradition of the Church throughout her history, and so it is not authentic teaching, it is not authentic magisterium, even though some of our highest Church leaders claim that it is. We must beware of this false teaching lest we be deceived by it.

 

 

So, what does it mean to sincerely want to be saved from our sins, for we need to be sincerely sorry and repentant for God to justify us? To be sincerely sorry for our sins means that we have a firm intention to immediately stop sinning. This is the meaning of sincere repentance, which we need to be justified. Someone who sincerely repents will not continue sinning gravely, but will immediately stop sinning.

 

 

In the New Testament we often hear the gospel preached with the message that we must repent. Other times it is preached with the message that we must believe. And sometimes it is preached with the message that we must repent and believe. So, which is it? It’s both repentance and belief, even though both are not always stated, even though sometimes only repentance is stated, and sometimes only belief is stated, and at other times both repentance and belief are stated in the proclamation of the gospel. Both are needed, and, in fact, sincere repentance is part of authentic justifying faith.

 

 

So, anyone who has faith that Jesus is our substitute who suffers our penalty for our sins for us must also sincerely repent in order for his faith to be genuine justifying faith. If he does not repent, that is, if he does not intend to immediately abandon his grave sins, then he does not have justifying faith. His faith is not a sincere faith that will justify him. So, this answers the question, “what do we have to do to be justified?” We have to have sincere justifying faith in Jesus Christ, which means that we must genuinely repent of our sins, that is, intend to immediately amend our life and stop sinning. Anything short of this is insufficient for justification, for it is not true justifying faith. So that is what we have to do to be justified for our sins.

 

 

And what does being justified mean? It means that God sees that we have sincere faith and therefore he considers that Christ’s death on the cross pays our debt of suffering and death that we have with God in punishment for our sins; and therefore since he sees that our sins have been duly punished in the flesh of Christ on the cross (Romans 8:3-4), he declares, and thereby makes us ungodly sinners righteous and reckons to us his own righteousness (Romans 4:5).

 

 

Of course, St. Paul doesn’t spell all this out in these few verses that we have today, but if you are someone who has to preach a sermon on these four versus, you have to say something that comes from these verses that is meaningful to people’s lives and will help them be better Christians. So, I think this is the main point that St. Paul is talking about and the most important point that we need to focus on.

 

 

In summary, then, we are predestined to receive an inheritance which is salvation and redemption, which leads us to live a life praising Christ’s glory for such a wonderful gift that comes to us from hearing the word of truth, namely the gospel of our salvation, in which we have put our faith.

 

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