Ephesians 1:7-14 – God Is Good

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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.

redemption

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.

Chosen by God

 
 
We are blessed people because God is active in the world he has made.  Before I gave my life to Christ, I thought God was some old grandpa sitting in heaven twiddling his thumbs and watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie.  But the truth is that God is an Eternal Being and involved in his creation.  God has a vision and a clear picture of what he wants the end of all his activity on his earth to result in, and it isn’t just to see Nellie Olsen get her come-uppance.  God is busy reconciling people back to himself, and to each other; and, restoring the entire world back under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).  So, in order to accomplish this, God has initiated and given us, the church, the spiritual blessing of “election.”
 
            Even before the creation of the world, God had the conclusion to his story in mind and began making divine decisions about how to have the result he desired.  This, by the way, is how we are to approach ministry in the church.  That is, we begin with an end in mind of what we want to accomplish; then, we gather the people and begin making the decisions we need to make in order to see that end purpose realized.  Too often, churches begin with a group of people and wonder about what they should do – that is completely backwards from how God operates. 
  
            In eternity past, in love, God predestined us to be adopted as his children (Ephesians 1:5).  Believers are so loved by God that we became special to him before we were ever born!  Election means that God has a purpose for us.  On our human level of operation, we elect political candidates not for the end purpose of merely winning an office, but so that those elected officials may serve the common good and put their energies into accomplishing some noble cause.  So it is with God.  We were not elected by God simply to go to heaven when we die, and sit on some celestial couch eating popcorn with Jesus, and maybe Michael Landon.  The reason we were chosen by God was so that we would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4), and might be for the praise of God’s glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12).  In other words, we are not in some sort of holding pattern here on earth simply doing whatever we want with our time while we wait to die.  No, we are to be busy accomplishing God’s purposes in election. 
 
We are receiving an inheritance from God.  It will be put into effect when God’s timing and purpose is accomplished:  to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ.  The chosen and redeemed of God will one day die; after death they will go to be with Christ; but that is not yet the end.  It is not yet the end because the entire world still needs redemption.  This is why the writer to the 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).
 
            In other words, there is not just life after death; there is, as New Testament scholar N.T. Wright puts it, “life after life-after-death.”  All those people of faith, including our 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.  And what we are waiting for is the reconciliation and restoration of all things, a new heaven and a new earth in which we will all together be 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 (Ephesians 1:12-13). 
 

 

            Let us, then, live into the election we have received by engaging in ministry that is concerned for the restoration of all things.  That is a worthy resolution no matter what time of year it is.