Ephesians 1:8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Common English Bible)
Believe it or not, verses 3-14 of Ephesians chapter one, 12 verses in all, are one single sentence in the Greek language the Apostle Paul originally wrote this in. Thankfully, and understandably, English translators have created multiple sentences for us so that we can better make sense of the text. It’s almost as if Paul was so excited to talk with the Ephesian church about who they are in Jesus Christ and what they possess in him that he blurted out with enthusiasm and wrote with fervor without stopping to take a breath.
Paul heaps word after significant word on top of each other in a flurry of provided spiritual blessings the believer in Christ enjoys. Redemption, forgiveness, insight, protection, inheritance, and salvation are just some of the blessings given. If that wasn’t enough, God has graciously given us his Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the one who comes alongside and helps us to live into the blessings we possess because of the person and work of Christ.
It’s as if we came to Christmas day expecting a package of underwear and found instead a bunch of big boxes with some of the most lavish and expensive gifts we’ve ever seen! This says much more about the giver than it says about us. It was according to God’s good pleasure in Christ that believers in Jesus have such privileges. Like the parent who sits back and watches the unpackaging of presents happen with great joy, so God delights and is pleased with what he has given to us.
First and foremost, in the entirety of Holy Scripture, all the stories and narratives, teachings and writings, are about God. He is both the subject and object of each book of the Bible. Every good thing we have in this life is because of God’s grace. Each positive experience is a direct result of God’s steadfast love toward his people. All good gifts come from a good God who is pleased to give them.
Not a one of us purchased our own gifts and stuck them under the tree. God bought them all with the precious blood of Jesus and sent the Spirit to deliver them to us.
Take some time today in a quiet place and reflect on just one of these words in the text. Think about redemption or forgiveness, salvation or grace, or any of the words which grab you. Say it over and over, quietly and loudly, thoughtfully and with flavor. Consider what God did to bring you that gift. Contemplate the way(s) in which you have received the gift. Plan one way in which you might share your gift with another person. Then, give glory and praise to God for his grace to you.
May your meditation lead to a deeper appreciation of what God has done for you; and may that revelation result in praise, honor, and glory to the One who accomplished so much on your behalf.
Gracious God, you have revealed and made known the way of deliverance from the power of darkness and brought me into your marvelous light. Help me to better understand all the ways you have acted on my behalf so that my life might reflect your grace and steadfast love to the world; through Jesus Christ, my Savior, in the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Amen.