Sermon Recap — December 8, 2019

Sermon Recap

The Gospel In Three Words

Ken Mellinger
Ephesians 1:3-7
December 8, 2019
Sermon Audio 


  • A clear definition of the gospel is vitally important for those who are Christians.
  • We need a clear definition of the good news about Jesus Christ.
  • We can’t afford to get this definition wrong (Galatians 1:8).
  • The gospel doesn’t include our response to the gospel.
  • If we include our response in the gospel, we are in dangerous territory.

“ … were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.”  J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 214

  • We can’t bank on our circumstances of life to give us warm thoughts of God.
  • We must have strong and true thoughts about God

I. Adoption

“Theologically, the act of God by which believers become members of “God’s family” with all the privileges and obligations of family membership.”  Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

“ … that judicial act of God by which He confers or bestows upon us the status or standing of children.”  Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Great Doctrines of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 184

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) “[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

“What is a Christian?  The question can be answered many ways, but the richest answer I know  is that a Christian is one who has God as Father…. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father.  In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship – he establishes us as his children and heirs.  Closeness, affection, and generosity are at the heart of the relationship.  To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.”  J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 200 & 206

  • If you are thinking “closeness” “affection” “generosity” you are not at a place of truth and health.
  • We are loved by God. There is love from God that is special towards us – his children.
  • The NT gives us a few ways to measure the love of God.

1 John 3:1a “[1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

  • What do you think of when you think of the love of the Father for you? Think of the story of the prodigal son.
  • In the parable, don’t miss the father.

Zephaniah 3:16-17 (ESV) “[16] On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. [17] The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

John 1:12-13 (ESV) “[12] But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

John 6:37-40 (ESV) “[37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. [40] For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 10:27-29 (ESV) “[27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

“Christians may act the prodigal, but God will not cease to act the prodigal’s father.”  J. I. Packer in Knowing God, p. 225

“So the old axiom in Reformed theology about the perseverance of the saints is this: If you have it—that is, if you have genuine faith and are in a state of saving grace—you will never lose it. If you lose it, you never had it.”  R. C. Sproul

II. Propitiation

Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) “[7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

“How can the holy love of God come to terms with the unholy lovelessness of man?”  John Stott, Cross of Christ, p. 133

“God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and, being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his very own self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.”  Dr. Charles Cranfield, Romans, p. 217

“God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger often is.  It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil.” J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 151

“The only way for God’s holy love to be satisfied is for his holiness to be directed in judgment upon his appointed substitute, in order that his love may be directed toward us in forgiveness.  The substitute bears the penalty, that we sinners may receive the pardon.”  John Stott, Cross of Christ, p. 158

Isaiah 53:3-6 (ESV) “[3] He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  [4] Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. [5] But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  [6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”


  • Gospel of Mark — Mary Magdalene – she did this out of love. This was extravagant love poured out on Jesus.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) [20] “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

  • Gospel In Three Words – Adoption Through Propitiation

Questions For Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read Ephesians 1:3-7. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
  • Re-read the Packer quote in the Introduction of the Sermon Recap. What is Packer saying here?
  • What does it actually mean that we have been adopted into God’s family?
  • What are some of the implications for us as believers, that we are children of God? In other words, what practical difference can this precious doctrine make in our lives?
  • Personally, how would you describe your own awareness of God’s love on a day in and day out basis? Is this something you think about often? Do you struggle to grasp and feel that God loves you? Explain where you are at when it comes to living in the good of God’s love.
  • Consider reviewing the scriptures and quotes under point two in the serom recap entitled “Propitiation.” What does propitiation mean? What practical difference can understanding that God’s wrath has been fully satisfied make in your life and mine?
  • Consider taking time in prayer to thank God that for our adoption as sons and daughters of God as well as the fact that Jesus bore the wrath of God in our place on the Cross.

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