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Ephesians 1:1-10: We Are Blessed in Christ, Part 1 Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 October 2017

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As followers of Jesus Christ, we must walk worthy of the gospel. Our belief impacts our behavior and our identity defines our practice. We see such an expectation in character clauses of contracts. A corporation expects an employee to behave in a way that complies with their standards. A university expects its coaches to do the same. These men and women are representatives of their particular institutions and as such, they are under contract to live a certain way. I experienced this gowing up. In my family, I was expected to act like a Marshall (which my father often explained in mostly unpleasant situations). In my school, I was expected to act appropriately as a basketball player (of course our school mascot made that ironic since we were the Rebels). At church, the youth were expected to not get too crazy on trips because it looked bad since we were normally riding around in a bus with ďFirst Baptist DoverĒ plastered on the side. There was a clear connection between who I was (son, student, member) and how I was supposed to live.

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In the book of Ephesians, Paul makes the connection between who we are in Christ and how we should live for Him. He is bringing together our belief and our behavior. In fact, the letter can be divided along those lines: chapters 1-3 teach us who we are in Christ and chapters 4-6 teach us how to live. Over and over again we see this connection. He begins the letter with an introduction and a greeting. Look at verses 1-2. Paul identifies himself as an apostle, one who witnessed Christ and was set apart as His messenger. He did not earn this title but was given it by the will of God. He is writing to the saints who are in Ephesus. We already see in this how Paul views believers in Jesus: they are saints. The word means Ďset apart by Godí and does not just apply to really holy people but to all the followers of Jesus. He is writing to the Ďset apart onesí in and around the city of Ephesus. He greets them with grace and peace from the Father and the Son.

After the greeting, Paul begins one long sentence that runs all the way to verse 14. It is essentially a sentence of high praise for God. Look at verse 3. Paul is praising God for giving believers every spiritual blessing. And where are those blessings found? They are found in Christ, in union with Him! If you are in Christ, if you have turned from your sins and believed in Him, then these wonderful blessings belong to you. Although we could make a long list of these blessings, I want to group them under three headings: adoption, redemption, and inheritance. They stretch from eternity past to eternity future and they involve the Father (who adopts us), the Son (who redeems us), and the Holy Spirit (who seals us). Letís consider the first two in our time together this morning, namely our adoption and our redemption.

The Blessing of our Adoption (v. 4-6)

Paul teaches us the how, the what, and the why of our adoption and redemption. Letís begin with the how, or the means of our adoption. Look at verses 4-6. We are adopted because he (the Father) chose us in him (the Son). Paul praises God for choosing us in Christ. He introduces here the doctrine of Godís election of a people, which runs throughout this sentence of praise. This is some of the clearest teaching concerning Godís election in the New Testament. Before we get to the controversy surrounding this doctrine, letís look closer at what Paul says here. When did this choosing happen? Paul answers: before the foundation of the world. This blessing came to believers in eternity past and will stretch into eternity future. Even before we were born, before anyone was born, God in His sovereign grace chose to save all those who put their faith in Christ. What an amazing blessing from God!

What is Paulís description of those who were chosen? He writes: In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. God chose to make us sons and daughters. He elected us to be in His family through faith in Jesus. Before the foundation of the world, God loved you and had a plan to make you His own. How incredible is that?! And what does it mean to be His sons and daughters? It means that we will be holy and blameless before him. This description should be taken in two ways. First, we are holy and blameless positionally. Christís perfect life has been credited to our account. We call this justification. Second, we are becoming holy and blameless practically. We are growing in our holiness every day as a follower of Jesus. We call this sanctification, and it will culminate in our glorification in Heaven. So then, God has chosen us to be his holy and blameless sons and daughters through faith in Jesus. Amazing!

Yet, we must ask the difficult question: what is the basis for Godís election of us? Why did He chose us to be His sons and daughters? Look at the end of verse 5: according to the purpose of his will. God predestined us for adoption according to His will. It was not according to anything that He saw in us or anything that we would do. Paul tells us that God chose us for His good purposes, because He loved us and wanted to lavish His grace upon us. Our salvation was part of His amazing plan to redeem a people for Himself. A plan that began in eternity past.

Finally, what is the purpose of God choosing to adopt us as His sons and daughters? Look at verse 6: to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Our adoption brings praise to Godís grace. Our election screams out His mercy and love. None of us were worthy. None of us earned our way into Godís family. No, we were brought in by His grace, so that the world could see just how gracious our God really is. Notice the connection between His glory and our good. Our election brings praise to His grace and blessing to us. So then, let me address the elephant in the room.

The doctrine of election is controversial and divisive. But in light of the text today, let me just say a few words about that. First, we all have to believe something about election and predestination because it is in the Bible. Second, we all need to be humble about whatever we believe about it because it can be difficult to understand. It is not easy to see how Godís sovereignty and manís responsibility come together, but we must affirm both. Finally, donít stop studying this doctrine until it ends with praise. Paul is not giving us theological arguments for us to debate, he is giving us a glorious reason to praise our God! He has chosen to make us His children! We may not agree on all of the details, but we should be able to worship our God for such amazing grace.

The Blessing of our Redemption (v. 7-10)

Again, Paul gives us the how, the what, and the why, this time of our redemption. How is it that sinful men could be redeemed? How could we now be called saints, sons and daughters of God? Look at verse 7a. Redemption means that we have been bought with a price out of slavery. We were slaves to sin, but God has redeemed us. And what price was paid for our redemption? Our redemption was secured through his blood. Jesus lived a holy and blameless life in our place and then died on cross for our sins. He paid the price on the cross. And when God raised Him from the dead three days later, He was demonstrating that our redemption was paid for by Christ.

So how does Paul describe this redemption? Look at verse 7b. Redemption is the forgiveness of sins. Jesus came to meet our greatest need at the cross. He came to pay the penalty for our sins. He did this by suffering under the Fatherís wrath in our place and being raised from the dead. Would you like your sins against God to be forgiven? Would you like the blessing of such a redemption? Then repent of your sins and put your faith in the finished work of Christ. Be forgiven through the blood of Jesus.

And what was the reason behind the work of Jesus for our redemption? Look at 7c-8. Our sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ because of Godís great grace! Not because of any good in us. No, our redemption, just like our adoption, scream out the grace of our God. The best news in the world is that Godís grace in Jesus is enough to forgive your sins. Our sins kept us from Him, but through Christ we can now be His sons and daughters. What marvelous grace!

Why did God redeem us? Look at verses 9-10. The plan of God has always been to unite all things in Christ. As we will see in the letter, this includes both Jews and Gentiles. The Lord is not concerned with your resume. His love is not held back by your country of origin, or your skin color, or how much money you do or donít have in the bank. His plan was always to send us Christ so that men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation could be united in Him. Our election, our adoption, and our redemption is for this purpose. This will happen at the fullness of time, when Jesus comes back, which we will look at more next week.

How should we respond to these blessings? We should bless and be blessed! We should bless the Lord for these amazing spiritual blessings in Christ. We should praise Him for our election and our adoption and our redemption. As we will see in the weeks ahead, such praise will overflow into a life of obedience, a life of love and service to others for the glory of Christ. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in our salvation. We should respond with worship!

Maybe you are here this morning and you have yet to experience these blessings. Perhaps you have never turned from your sins and trusted in Jesusí work on the cross. My challenge to you? Be blessed! Not with money and possessions, which will just fade away. No, be blessed with adoption and redemption. Be blessed by becoming a part of the family of God through faith in Jesus. Do not delay! The Lord has given us all we need in Christ, embrace that today. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 October 2017 )

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