Sunday, June 7, 2015, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “The Party’s Over,” which is from the musical production, “Bells Are Ringing.” The Party’s Over Betty Comden & Adolph Green / Jule Styne Artist: Judy Holliday The party's over, it's time to call it a day No matter how you pretend You knew it would end this way It's time to wind up the masquerade Just make your mind up The piper must be paid… http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/t/thepartysover.shtml Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 1:1-14 (NASB). Predestination and Free Will (vv. 1-8) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Because I am a human being, I have a finite (limited) mind. I think in terms of beginning and end. So, when I think of God as having always existed, although I accept that by faith, it is difficult, at times, for me to “wrap my mind” around that concept. Yet, in reality, God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – has always existed. He (they) created the world, and they (he) created humankind. Jesus Christ, God the Son, when on the earth, in human flesh, was fully God and yet fully man. He was God incarnate, and yet sinless, which is why he was able to be our perfect (spotless) Lamb sacrifice to take away the sins of the entire world. Another difficult concept for some of us, as humans, is this idea of predestination, especially in light of scriptures which seem to suggest we have free will to receive Christ or to not receive him; to turn from our sin or to not turn from our sin. Many Christians are conflicted between the teachings in scripture on predestination and what appears to be free will. I admit that I do not have total understanding on either of those subjects, but I accept both, by faith, and believe that they coexist, and that they harmonize one with the other. I believe that God chose us in Christ, even before he created the world, to be holy and blameless in his sight and to be adopted as his sons and daughters. And, I believe the chosen of God in Christ will come to Christ, if they have not already done so (See: Jn. 6:37). Yet, I also believe the scripture that says that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (See: 2 Pet. 3:9), and the one where it says Jesus died, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world (See: 1 Jn. 2:2), and the one that says that God so loves the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever is believing in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life (See: Jn. 3:16). Yet, I don’t believe God would have me try to resolve predestination and free will right now. What I believe he would have me focus on in this passage today is what we were chosen to and for, and how that ultimately affects our future. To and For He chose us to be holy. “Holy” means to be set apart (different) from the world because we are becoming like Christ. He chose us to be blameless in his sight. When Jesus Christ died on the cross he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. Our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. By his stripes we are healed. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected to new lives in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith, in order that we might live to righteousness. All this is the working of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives, as we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ in repentance and faith. By faith in Jesus Christ we are made righteous in God’s sight, because Christ’s righteousness is credited to our accounts. Yet, faith in Jesus Christ also means we walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, empowered by the Spirit. He predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the pleasure of his will – to the praise of his glorious grace. So, what is the pleasure of his will? It is that we be adopted, yet it doesn’t end there. We are not saved (past), and then life goes by, and then we go to heaven (future). There is an in-between. He didn’t save us just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He saved us so we would die to sin and live to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24). It is his will that we no longer walk according to the flesh, but that we walk according to the Spirit. These are those in whom the righteous requirements of the law will be fully met (See: Ro. 8:3-14). It is his will that we walk in his love, and in his truth, and that we abide in him, and his words abide in us. It is his will that we follow (obey) him, and that we be his servants and witnesses. And, all this and more is for the praise of his glorious grace, because his grace which brings salvation teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to life self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. This is true grace! The Party’s Over (vv. 9-10) In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. I read several different plot summaries for the musical production, “Bells are Ringing.” They varied, one from the other, so I will share generally what I picked up from them collectively. The lead role in the play (1956) was that of a woman named Ella who worked for Sue’s answering service, and as a switchboard operator. As best as I can surmise, Ella used her position in this company to listen in on her client’s phone conversations – to spy on them - in order to gather information about them, which she then used to meet them in person, but without revealing to them who she really was. As well, on the job she used fake identities with each of these people (clients), pretending to be someone different with each one. So, she was living a lie. One of the clients was a man named Jeff. She fell in love with Jeff, and he with her. He invited her to a party. The people at the party were all pretentious and snubbed her, evidently, and she felt out of place. She realized her relationship with Jeff was founded on a lie, and so she left him. I believe that is when she sang the song, “The Party’s Over,” which is about stopping the masquerade, realizing she knew it would end this way, and that there would be consequences to pay for her deceit. This reminds me much of all that is going on within our nation and with our government (nationally and globally) in the area of spying on the citizens of nations without them knowing, by listening in on their phone conversations, and reading their emails, text messages, social media or other chat messages in order to collect data on them which is to be used to classify people in various groups, particularly for the purpose of determining which ones they consider a threat to national security, or who might be anti-government, or who might be a religious “extremist,” etc. Yet, it also reminds me of what I have read about the government engaging citizens to spy on their neighbors and to report things about them back to the government. One day all this information is going to be used against the people in this nation, and truly the party will be over then. What has been hidden behind closed doors will come out in the open. And, all hell will literally break loose. Yet, I also see that these who are the targets of the spying will not be the only ones to have their private lives on display for all to see. I also see that those who are doing these acts will also have to “pay the piper,” i.e. there will be consequences for their actions, too. One day all the lies will be exposed, and the party will be over. One day, when the times will have reached their fulfillment, God is going to do some housecleaning, and he will put all things back in the order they were supposed to be. The church will not be excluded from this. He will cleanse his body of all its impurities, and he will revive his adulterous church, and he will expose all the lies and all the liars for what they are, and the church will no longer serve man as her head, or the government as her head, but she will truly serve only Jesus Christ as her only true head. When this happens, the party will truly be over. No more fun and games and role playing and pretending and wearing masks and spying and cheating and stealing. All will come crashing down. And there will be consequences to pay. And, then, life as we now know it will be over. God made his will known to us, with a view in mind of this time at the end when he will judge the world, and “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God” (Ro. 14:11; cf. Phil. 2:10-11). His will for us, his chosen, is for us to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be adopted as his children, in accordance (agreement; harmony) with his pleasure (what brings him pleasure) and will – to the praise of his glorious grace. It is his will that we be for the praise of his glory (v. 12). So, he works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (v. 11). So, God will do what is necessary to bring us, his chosen, into conformity to his will and to his purposes for our lives. And, I believe he will do it in judgment before the end in order to purify his bride so she is ready to meet her husband. And, what he is showing me today, I believe, is one of the ways in which he will purify her. He will allow spies to be used against her, and she will be severely persecuted, and via that persecution he will make his bride ready for the wedding banquet. Much of the church in America has been living like church is a party where we are supposed to have fun and be entertained, etc. I believe the Lord is saying one day the party will be over, and all the masquerades will cease, and there will be consequences to be paid, but through it all God will accomplish his purposes and his will for his chosen ones who have been marked in Christ with a seal, “the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” (vv. 13-14).