Introduction – Paul is showing us all that we have as people who are “in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3-14, is a long dense theological sentence. But one great way to understand what is happening is to think of someone showing you the capabilities of a new piece of technology. You buy a new phone, car or computer and often you don’t realize all that it is capable of. Then an expert shows you what you have, application by application. Paul is doing that here except what he is showing us is all that we have when we are in Christ.
Ephesians is a great book to study after Easter. On Easter we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death. The resurrection reveals that Jesus is who he said he is and we are called to follow. Now in Ephesians Paul is writing to people who have made the decision to follow Jesus. They are “in Christ.” He begins to explain all that their salvation means.
Transition: Paul wants us to know all that comes with being in Christ. It is for those who have made the commitment. But just like standing over someone who is getting a new phone, you might be listening in, wondering if all those blessings could be your as well.
God has chosen us in Christ according to his will before we chose him.
This is all one sentence in the form of a praise to God. When we read it we can get caught up in election and freewill because the language of calling and predestination is here. But as understandable as it is to consider this, Paul’s main point seems to be two-fold:
o All these blessings are ours “in Christ;” this was God’s plan from the beginning.
o Our salvation both collectively and individually was God’s idea long before we even considered following him.
Here is why it is important: we experience our salvation as it is described in verse 13:
13 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
We heard, we believed and then our lives began to change. This is our perception of salvation. But now Paul wants us to know that God planned this before time began. He chose you to be holy and blameless. When we believe and receive Christ we are set aside by God. That makes us holy. Throughout the scriptures the word holy means set aside for God use. We are blameless because our sin and blemish have been removed through Christ. God sees us this way already and indeed has seen us this way since the beginning of time. That does not mean that our response to God is not authentic. It is a real choice and an act of faith. But it is also something pre-destined by God.
Before your story ever began God was working in you, drawing and setting you aside, to remove your guilt when you received him. This is amazing and hard to conceive because we can only experience this is real time, in our time.
He has made us his sons redeemed us and forgiven us
Paul says we have been adopted. It is an important image, especially since it is according to his pleasure and grace. Why do people adopt children? They want to love, share love and share life. Again, the biggest theme is that this is “in Christ,” and it is God acting. Adoption means inheritance, it mean permanence. It is also a picture of God’s initiative. Yes we may experience our adoption as a child in the orphanage being asked if he wants a new home. But we know that the process started with the parents.
Paul also says that we are redeemed and forgiven.
“Redeemed” is an image from business and from the ugly business of buying and selling people. It is from the slave market. He has redeemed us in the blood of Christ. His blood was the price he paid and he secured freedom for us, freedom from death and freedom from sin. Freedom from sin is the freedom to live and to change
There is so much more: God will bring all things together in unity. This includes things in heaven – breaking the power of sin – and things on earth – the fracture between Jew and Gentile. But that is all to come. Let’s look at the effect of being “in Christ” on our future.
He will bring all things together in Christ and has sealed us until that day
The Holy Spirit is many things but what Paul wants you to know right now is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life is a seal. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a deposit, a guarantee that he will bring us to himself at the end of our lives or at the end of time. When we believed we were marked. When God sees us he sees the Holy Spirit in us. And the Spirit will carry us through our lives until we are home with the Lord. It is like the words of the hymn Amazing Grace: “Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”
There are so many things that come with being a child of God through Jesus Christ. We often feel like we chose God or worse that we are performing for God hoping that he will continue to like us. But the truth is God chose us way before we chose him. He adopted us into his family and forgave our sins. He paid the adoption price in his own blood. And he has put his Holy Spirit in us to guarantee our journey to himself.