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Ephesians 1:11-14: We Are Blessed in Christ, Part 2 Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 October 2017


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The promise of a future inheritance brings great hope for our present lives. The Bibleís teaching about Heaven is meant to give us great encouragement for the struggles we are daily facing. Paul ends his teaching on the resurrection with these words: Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Peter concludes his discussion of the coming day of the Lord with these words: Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness (2 Peter 3:11). And Johnís book on the return of Christ was written as an encouragement to churches who were suffering persecution for the faith (see Revelation 2-3). All of these authors wrote about our future inheritance through faith in Jesus to give us hope for our present lives.

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Paul does this as well in his one long sentence of praise that begins the letter to the Ephesians. The sentence begins with these words: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly placesÖ (1:3). From there he lists many incredible blessings that we have in Jesus. I have grouped them under three headings: the blessing of adoption, redemption, and inheritance. Last week we looked at adoption and redemption so our focus this morning will be the blessing of our inheritance. Paul begins this section of the sentence using the pronoun Ďweí, which refers to himself and other Jews who hoped in the Messiah. Yet, he concludes it with the pronoun Ďyouí, which refers to the Gentiles and those who later came to believe in Jesus as the hope of their salvation. Putting these together, I believe we can see these promises concerning our future inheritance as applicable for all who have turned from their sins and believed in Jesus. So what does Paul teach us about this inheritance? He gives us the means, the purpose, and the guarantee. Letís consider these.

The means: Our inheritance through union with Christ

How can sinners like us expect to inherit eternal life? How can we have hope for the future? Look at verses 12-13. Last week we saw the glorious blessing of our adoption and redemption through faith in Jesus. We have been adopted because he chose us in him before the foundation of the world...he predestined us for adoption as sons (v. 4-5). God had a plan to save all those who believe in Jesus. This plan began before the foundation of the world. And now Paul says that it will last even into eternity. Our adoption and redemption mean that we have a future inheritance. Now we need to say a word about what Paul is communicating here and in verse 14. The language could actually be taken to mean that we are Godís inheritance. He has chosen us and sent Christ to redeem us to make us His own possession. By turning from our sins and believing in Jesus, we belong to God. We are His inheritance. Of course if that is true, then it also means that we have a glorious future inheritance. Not just streets of gold or the crystal sea, if we belong to God then that means God is our inheritance. We will be His people and He will be our God (Revelation 21:3). We will be His possession and dwelling in His presence will be our inheritance. All of this comes as the fulfillment of His great plan to unite all things in Christ.

Yet, how exactly does someone obtain this promised inheritance? Well, on the one hand, it happens through Godís sovereignty: having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Thus, our promise for eternal life is based on Godís choice in eternity past. Our election is based upon His purpose and the counsel of His will. But that does not mean that we are not responsible. Notice Paulís language in verse 12: so that we who were the first to hope in Christ. He says something similar when referencing the Gentile believers in verse 13: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and believed in him. It is our responsibility to believe in the gospel, to turn from our sins and place our trust in the finished work of Christ at the cross. Godís sovereignty does not negate our responsibility and our responsibility does not diminish His sovereignty. Both are true because both are taught in the Bible. Through Godís sovereign choice and our faith in Jesus, we have obtained a glorious inheritance.

The purpose: Our inheritance for our good and His glory

Why did God save us through faith in Christ? He did it for our good. He did it so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could live with hope until we go home to Heaven. Right now we can have hope for Heaven. No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we have a hope that cannot be taken from us. We have an incredible promise from the God who never breaks His promises! And one Day that promise will be realized. Look at verse 14. The Spirit is our present guarantee, which we will look at more in a moment, of the future reality of us belonging to God. God gives us the promise of inheritance for our great good.

God also gives us an inheritance and makes us His inheritance for His great glory. Look at the end of verse 12. Why has God set the amazing plan of our redemption in motion: to the praise of his glory. Look at verse 14. What will happen when He takes us to be with Him forever: to the praise of his glory. Our salvation is for His glory. The Lord is great and greatly to be praised for saving former sinners like us! His plans and purposes are perfect. His redemption of the Church is glorious. The reason why He chose to adopt a people was for their great good and His great glory! That is why we have a promised future inheritance.

The guarantee: Our inheritance is sealed with the Holy Spirit

Yes, but how can we know for sure that this is all going to happen? How can we be certain about this future inheritance? The answer involves the work of the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Paul describes the Spiritís work in two important ways. First, the Spirit is our seal. Look at verse 13. In those days a letter or an important document would be sealed (normally with wax and a ring) to indicate its authenticity. It was a way to signify the truthfulness of the letter or work. God has sealed our salvation by giving us the Holy Spirit. If you have turned from your sins and placed your faith in Christís death and resurrection, then you have been given the Holy Spirit. And if you have the Holy Spirit, then you can know that you have truly been adopted into the family of God and redeemed by the blood of Christ. His presence in your life represents the authenticity of your salvation. He is the seal.

Second, the Spirit is the guarantee, or down-payment, of our future inheritance. Look at verse 14. The Lord has given us His Spirit as a down-payment of what is to come. If the Spirit is the down-payment, then what does our future inheritance include? Nothing less than God Himself! The Lord has made us His own. He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. His plan is to unite all things in Jesus. When He returns, we will go to be with Him forever and He will be our God. We will dwell in His presence and He will shelter us under His wings. We belong to Him for He has given Himself for us and to us! Notice the footnote in the ESV. We are Godís possession and He is our inheritance. What an amazing promise! And what has God done so that we can be sure that it is true? He has given us the promised Holy Spirit, who confirms that we are children of God. Paul writes in Romans: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. How amazing is that! The down-payment for our future inheritance is nothing less that the Spirit of God. And if He is the down-payment, how great will it be when we finally have the full inheritance! Blessed be our God for such an amazing promise!

Paul begins the letter to the Ephesians with an amazing sentence of praise. He blesses God for adopting us before the foundation of the world, redeeming us through the blood of Christ, and sealing our future inheritance with the gift of the Spirit. How do we respond to such a sentence with such amazing blessings? We praise! We bless the Lord! Specifically we praise Him for the assurance that we have through the Spirit. Instead of being wary of the Spiritís work in our lives, we should welcome it! We should long for more assurance and more encouragement and more edification through the Spiritís work in our lives. Through His presence in our lives may we be certain of our future and filled with praise in our present. For those who have never trusted in Jesus, I encourage you to turn from your sins, believe in His death and resurrection for your sins, and be blessed today. The good news is that any who believe in Him are sealed with the Spirit and guaranteed a future inheritance. May that be true for you today. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Friday, 10 November 2017 )

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