Ephesians 1:3-6 – Blessed with Every Spiritual Blessing

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. (NIV)

We tend to live up to how we view ourselves.

If we see ourselves as never getting ahead and needing to lie, cheat, and steal to obtain anything in this life, then we will view ourselves as common thieves. If we think the only way to have love and security in this life is to hustle for it – to make ourselves as presentable as we possibly can, then we will view ourselves as basically unlovely and search for love in all the wrong places by trying to keep up appearances. If we look at ourselves as stupid, then we will tend to make poor decisions even when it’s in our ability to make good choices because we see ourselves as unable to compete with those smarter than us. 

The common theme in all these scenarios are people living apart from God. Without the Lord Jesus, we are like lost street children trying to survive from day to day. What we need, what we search for, is to have a good, blessed life in a loving home, a place to belong in a world of disconnection.

To be “blessed,” to have “blessing” in the Holy Scriptures, is to have God’s stamp of approval on your life – to know, experience, and feel Divine favor resting upon you.

The picture being painted at the very beginning of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is of wayward children roaming the streets as orphans. The Ephesians were ensconced in their idol worship of Artemis, the fertility cult goddess. They were going about life without a whim about the true and living God. In sheer grace God plucked them from their worthless condition and adopted them. God placed blessing upon them because of love and gave them a reason to rejoice and praise.

What’s more, the Ephesians were chosen and predestined for holiness and purity. God set them apart for divine blessing. It’s as if God brought them into the kingly palace, provided lavishly for them, and let them have the run of the place. They get to enjoy every privilege that comes with being children of the king.

The focus and orientation of today’s New Testament lesson is about how tremendously special the believer in Jesus really is. And it has nothing to do with how presentable we are to a holy God. Instead, out of the vast storehouse of blessed grace, God chose and adopted. On top of all that, God did it out of pleasure. Yes, that’s right.

God chooses, predestines, and adopts with a willing heart because it brings great pleasure and divine joy to do so!

There was no arm-twisting from the Father to the Son in securing redemption for lost humanity. And there was no persuasion necessary for the Father and Son to send the Spirit for our ongoing benefit and help in this life. Each redemptive event of Jesus was done out of the grace and love of God in Christ.

My friend, do you see how God views you? Do you know how special you truly are?  Have you an understanding of the incredible position and majesty you have as a human being in God’s image and likeness?

As a child of the king, you live up to the position you know you possess. Freedom from worry and anxiety don’t come from willpower but from an understanding that God owns all things, and we will never be in need. 

Deliverance from the power of darkness doesn’t come by trying to do better; it comes through the knowledge that God has redeemed us and chosen us to live in the gracious realm of divine love forever.

There is no need to hustle for love with God because you and I already have it.

The believer has every spiritual blessing in Christ. God has your back. We belong to God. And to belong to Jesus Christ is to be blessed. It makes all the difference in the world. It is our reason for gratitude and praise.

Gracious God, your loving activity has snatched me from the barren streets of sin and brought me into a realm of incredible blessing.  Thank you for blessing me and giving me a place to belong forever; through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit reign forever and ever in a celebration of redeeming love.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:3-6 – Blessed to Belong

blessed to belong

“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.” (NIV)

We tend to live up to how we view ourselves.  If we see ourselves as never getting ahead and needing to lie, cheat, and steal to obtain anything in this life, then we will view ourselves as common thieves.  If we think that the only way to have love and security in this life is to make ourselves as presentable as we possible can, then we will view ourselves as basically unlovely and search for love in all the wrong places by always trying to keep up appearances.  If we look at ourselves as stupid, then we will tend to make poor decisions even when it’s in our ability to make good choices because we see ourselves as unable to compete with those smarter than us.

The common theme in all these scenarios is that it is life lived apart from God.  Without him, we are like lost street children trying to just survive from day to day.  What we need, what we search for is to have a good blessed life in a loving home, a place to belong in a world of disconnection.

To be “blessed,” to have “blessing” in the Holy Scriptures is to have God’s stamp of approval on your life.  Let that reality sink-in for a moment….

The picture being painted at the very beginning of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus was that they were like wayward children roaming the streets as orphans.  The Ephesians were ensconced in their idol worship of Artemis, the fertility cult goddess.  They were going about life without a whim about the true and living God of all.  In sheer grace God plucked them from their worthless condition and adopted them.  He placed his blessing upon them because of his love.

What’s more, the Ephesians were chosen and predestined for holiness and purity.  God set them apart for his blessing.  It’s as if he brought them into his kingly palace, provided lavishly for them, and let them have the run of the place.  They got to enjoy every blessing that came with being children of the king.

The focus and orientation of these verses is about how tremendously special the believer in Jesus really is.  And it has nothing to do with how presentable we are to a holy God.  Instead, out of the storehouse of his blessed grace, God chose and adopted.

On top of all that, God did it simply because he was pleased to do it.  God does not choose, predestine, and adopt with a begrudging attitude, but because it brings him great pleasure to do so.  My friend, do you see how God views you?  Do you know how special you really are?  Have you an understanding of the incredible position you have in Jesus Christ, as his follower?

As a child of the king, you live up to the position you know you possess.  Freedom from worry and anxiety don’t come from willpower, but from the understanding that our Father owns all things and we will never be in need.  Deliverance from the power of darkness doesn’t come by trying to do better, but through the knowledge that God has redeemed us and chosen us to live in his gracious realm forever.

The believer has every spiritual blessing in Christ.  God has your back.  You belong to him.  And to belong to Jesus Christ is to be blessed.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Gracious God, your loving activity has snatched me from the barren streets of sin and brought me into a realm of incredible blessing.  Thank you for blessing me and giving me a place to belong forever; through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit reign forever and ever in a celebration of redeeming love.  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.