a report live-blogged by Andy Naselli

March 24 and 26, 2009 | Dr. Greg Waybright | Lake Avenue Evangelical Free Church, Pasadena, CA

The Center is pleased to welcome Trinity’s former president back to campus.  Dr. Waybright will cover the subject of ecclesiology through consideration of two passages in Ephesians. His talks are entitled “The Dream Church.”  His first sermon will cover Ephesians 1:3-14 and is entitled “God’s Idea–Not Mine,” while his second will cover Ephesians 2:11-22 and is entitled “From Dream to Reality.”


You should learn to love the church as she is, not just as you want her to be! You should have a renewed sense of thrill of being in God’s family. God has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3).

Paul shares four thrilling realities in Eph 1:3–8:

1. This family of God is God’s idea.

God had this idea before he created the world (Eph 1:4). Note the consistent language: “he chose” (1:4), “he predestined us” (1:5; cf. 1:11), and “he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” (1:9). The church is not a “parenthesis.” It’s not an afterthought or Plan B.

2. This family is filled with unexpected, unlikely people.

The people whom God chooses to adopt into his family are people that “we sometimes kind of wish hadn’t been adopted.” God is not going to be done until that family is composed of people “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev 7:9). A church is not a social club, political organization, sports team, or an entertainment center; it’s an adopted group of grace-needing people “in Christ” who are grateful for the gospel.

3. This family is called into being by God.

It is God’s “workmanship.” We still, however, have a responsibility to place our faith in Christ, though the faith itself is not something we should brag about (Eph 2:8–10).

We must not lose the thrill that God is the one who is choosing his family; we must not become divided over this issue and focus only on the theological issues of election and predestination.

The controversy: God’s Sovereignty or Our Responsibility?

  1. From whose perspective are we looking at this mission? Eph 1 gives God’s perspective.
  2. Whose problem is this issue? The problem is our limitation—not God’s justice. We cannot fathom all that God is. (Waybright shared a story from a class he took at Trinity on John and Hebrews, team-taught by D. A. Carson and Grant Osborne.) God gives us the opportunity to make responsible decisions.
  3. The main point is that this is God’s doing.
  4. God will be loving and just both with “us” and “them.” Cf. what Aslan tells Shasta in The Horse and His Boy: “Child, I am telling you your own story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
  5. There are two boundaries: (1) no personal boasting in heaven and (2) “whosoever believes” in Jesus will be saved (John 3:16).

4. This family is a privilege, a blessing of grace from God.

God chooses us “in love” (Eph 1:4) and “in accordance with his pleasure and will” (1:5). God works “with all wisdom and understanding.”


All of this happens to the praise of God’s glorious grace (1:6, 12, 14). Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where? “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (3:21).