Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him 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. (New International Version)
God has blessed us. The word “blessing” comes from the same word for “giving thanks.” So, when, we consider the ways God has spiritually blessed us, it leads us to effusive gratitude and praise. And this was exactly the case for the Apostle Paul.
In writing these words, Paul was so excited to share with the church at Ephesus about the blessings of God that he could not stop. In our English translations we have broken these verses up into several sentences and two paragraphs. But Paul originally penned this as one sentence!
More than anything, Paul wanted the church to know the wonderful blessings of God to them. Throughout the book of Ephesians, Paul’s constant theme to the church is reconciliation and restoration. In fact, that is the end game for God. God has cares about reconciling people to himself, and others. The Lord deeply cares about restoring the entire world to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
To accomplish this gigantic feat, God intervened into humanity by giving the church three main blessings: election, redemption, and inheritance.
The word “chose” and “chosen” in some English translations is the Greek word ἐκλεκτός (eklektos) or “election.” This is where it all begins for us. Even before the creation of the world, God had the end of the story in mind. Divine decisions were made about outcomes and results.
This approach, by the way, is how we are to engage ministry in the church. That is, we begin with the end in mind of what we want to accomplish. Then, we gather the people and begin making the needed decisions to see that end purpose realized. Too often, churches begin with a group of people and wonder about what they should do – which is backwards from how God does it.
In eternity past, in love, God predestined us to be adopted as his children. You and I are so loved by God that we were special to him before we were even ever born! Election means God has a purpose for us. On the human level, we elect candidates so that they may serve the common good and put their energies into accomplishing some noble cause.
Likewise with God. We were not elected or chosen by God solely to go to heaven when we die. Although that is true and shall happen, the reason we were chosen by God was for us to be holy and blameless, to be for the praise of God’s glory. We are not in some sort of holding pattern on earth, impatiently waiting for the afterlife. Rather, we are to be active in accomplishing God’s purposes for our election. And what is that purpose?
We are to participate with God in the grand scheme of reconciling and restoring all of creation back to the original design. Therefore, every act of forgiveness, grace, love, and kindness; every overture of faith and communication of the gospel to others; and all steps of obedience are small movements toward the great restoration story God is writing.
For example, the book of Acts ends on a dramatic note with no resolution to it. That’s because the story is still being written. We are chosen to be a part of it.
To be redeemed means to be delivered by a payment of a price. In the ancient world, slavery was an entrenched part of the society. The picture of the slave market provided a means for Paul to communicate a spiritual blessing: We have been redeemed from the slave market of sin through the payment of Christ’s blood, and so now, we enjoy the freedom from and forgiveness of sin.
This is not just redemption from something (sin, death, and hell); it is also redemption to reconciliation and restoration. God elected us to receive redemption so that the grand design of bringing all the earth under the lordship of Christ will happen. God has and is creating a new society, the community of the redeemed, that will realize the original design of unhindered connection with God and others.
We are receiving an inheritance. It will be put into effect when God’s timing and purpose is accomplished – and Paul spells the purpose out: To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ.
Here is how Paul envisions what is coming: The chosen and redeemed of God will one day die, then they will go to be with Christ. But that is not yet the end because the entire world still needs redemption. This is why the preacher of Hebrews could say about the great heroes of the faith:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40, NIV)
There is not just life after death; there is life after life-after-death. All those people of faith, including our believing friends and relatives who have gone before us to be with Jesus, are waiting. They, along with us, have not yet received all the promised blessings of our inheritance.
We are waiting for the reconciliation and restoration of all things, a new heaven and a new earth in which we will be together as sons and daughters in the kingdom of God with Jesus as King over us. The possession of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that this is the case, and it will happen.
Our blessings of election, redemption, and inheritance are all activated by faith. Belief is the switch that turns on the blessings to us in a real and actual way. The electricity is there in the person of the Holy Spirit. The light bulb is there, and it is us.
So, the question for us today is: Are we turned on and shining brightly, or is the switch off? We must access our blessings by belief in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
God is on a mission to reconcile and restore the world. Our salvation is part of God’s plan to make that happen. God is a missionary. The Lord has chosen us to be emissaries to a world that needs redemption and restoration.
The church is like no other institution on earth – existing for the life of the world, and not for itself. Like a mighty army, we are to train ourselves for godliness so that we can engage an invisible enemy and see the kingdom of God come and the will of God done here on earth as it is always done in heaven.
The camaraderie we enjoy as fellow soldiers is not the end purpose – restoring enemy territory back to its original government is. So, we care for our wounded and do everything we can for them. There are yet more spiritual battles to be won and hearts captured for King Jesus.
May you and I, then, give thanks with grateful hearts for the great spiritual blessings of election, redemption, and inheritance so that God’s benevolent and merciful rule might spread everywhere to everyone.
God our Savior, you desire that none should perish, and you have taught us through your Son that there is great joy in heaven over every sinner who repents: Grant that our hearts may ache for a lost and broken world. May your Holy Spirit work through our words, deeds, and prayers, that the lost may be found and the dead made alive, and that all your redeemed may rejoice around your throne, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.