Welcome to the first message series in the book of Ephesians! For the next seven to eight weeks, I’ll be taking a look at what Paul writes in this very important letter to the church at Ephesus. We start today by examining God’s grace in the blessings of the believer.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”–1:1-2
By saying, “Grace to you,” Paul makes it clear that we never outgrow our need to receive grace and remember the grace we’ve been shown in Christ. This enables us to live the Christian life with joy, and not get stuck going through the motions.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places..” 1:3
I feel safe in assuming that nearly every Christian has asked God to bless him or her at least two or three times in their life. We want a good job, a good house, a good family, and a life free from pain and suffering. However, the Bible never tells us that these things are guaranteed for us, even as believers. But it does tell us that in Christ, we have every spiritual blessing available to us. What Paul has in mind here is our union with Christ, and the privileges that come with that, meaning that everything Christ has, we have.
Do you see this? Does it motivate you to worship God? Think about it–all the privileges Christ enjoys as the Son of God: the father-son relationship with God the Father, the rule and reign over the earth, love and acceptance by the God of creation–the Bible says WE now have, in Christ!
“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” 1:4
Dwell on this, Christian: Before He formed the world, before He said, “Let there be light,” before you were a thought in your mother’s mind…God knew you. He knew your name, your face, your personality…and He knew your sin. He knew all our sin. He knew how, after creating us in His image and tasking us to enjoy Him and rule over His creation, we would slap His face and say, “No.” And He still made us. He still chose to create us and, more than that, initiated a foolproof plan to save us and bring us back to Himself. He chose us.
How does this help us in this life? For those who struggle with worth—if you are in Christ, the Creator of the universe knows you by name. You were chosen before the world began. Our worth and our identity is secure, not in what we have done, are doing, or will do, but in that our Father in heaven chose to glorify Himself by saving us by His grace.
“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” 1:5-6
Do you ever feel like God is simply putting up with you? That all of your sin gets you one step closer to being thrown out of God’s house, and the next screw-up will be the last straw?
There’s good news for you: In Christ, all believers are adopted by God the Father as His children. We are not just God’s servants, we are God’s children. We are His dearly beloved, blood-bought children, and He will never forsake us nor abandon us.
Indeed, it was the “purpose of His will.” This means that God didn’t begrudgingly save you! God wished it, God willed it…He chose to save you! We remember that we are working for God’s glory and seeking to be like Jesus as God’s children. We are joyfully imitating our Father and telling the world how great our God is!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” 1:7-10
No one is free from the problem of guilt, because guilt is a very real problem. It cannot be solved in therapy, it cannot be medicated, and you cannot stuff it way down your subconscious and hope that it goes away.
Praise God we don’t have to live in our guilt or suffer eternity apart from Him, because Christ dealt with our guilt on the cross. If we are in Christ, we are forgiven by His blood, and our guilt is done away with. We no longer are slaves to guilt or fear.
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” 1:11-12
In Christ, God gives us an eternal inheritance with Him. The richest man in the world couldn’t leave a better inheritance for his kids than God does with us. We receive fellowship with Him forever, the right to reign with Christ, and eternal holiness and happiness in Him. So when we lose everything in this life, remember that we have an inheritance in Christ that cannot be taken away or lost.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” 1:11-14
Lastly, God blesses us with Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God Himself, not God’s power or God’s anointing. God actually dwells within us! The Spirit assures us we are God’s children (Rom. 8:16) and is the guarantee of all God’s heavenly blessings for us.
All of this leads Paul to pray in verses 15-23 that the church would dwell on and grow in the knowledge of God’s love and blessings for them in Christ. He prays that the “eyes of (their) hearts (be) enlightened, that (they) may know what is the hope to which” God calls them. He wants them to know more and more of the greatness of God and His blessings.
This should be our prayer for one another in the church, that we would remember all God has done for us in Christ, so that we may have fullness of joy and grow in our walk with Him.
If you are in Christ, remember all God has done for you. Remember it, dwell on it, and walk with God in fullness of joy and faith. If you are not in Christ, I urge you to recognize you cannot save yourself, and I urge you to trust in Jesus to save you and turn away from your sin to trust Him to help you live in righteousness.
Lord, may we remember all that we have in you. May we dwell on your goodness to us, and how you chose us before the foundation of the world, how you redeem us and adopt us, and give us an inheritance that cannot be taken away. May we make your name famous as we joyfully imitate you.
Join us next week as we examine Ephesians 2, where we see the grace of God in giving us spiritual life and saving us.