Ephesians 1: 3-14 (Study of Ephesians – Part 5
Your life has a story. It is your story and no one else’s. Your story is special only to you, as painful or as wonderful as that may be. God also has a story – and you are a part of it. If you’ll recall from the last blog, Ephesians 1: 3-14 is one thought, and in the original language of Greek, one sentence. The Apostle Paul is taking a large look at God’s story and how we as humanity fit in that story.
We had already dealt lightly with the concept of predestination two blogs ago. To summarize my take on predestination, God had a plan from before the creation of the world. And that plan was to restore a fallen humanity back into a relationship with him. God’s plan that he predestined was to send his Son to this world to offer a message of restoration through faith to those who would believe in the Son. This plan was a mystery prior to the Son’s arrival on earth in the person of Jesus, the Christ. God has chosen all people to come to know him and trust in him, but many will not due to unbelief. People can choose, of their own free will, to believe in God or reject his message of restoration. Shh! There’s a bonus at the end of this passage for those who do believe.
As a reminder from the last blog, this passage of twelve verses (but one sentence) can be referred to as a “doxology” (literally, “glory words”) as it recites what God has done and the passage is an expression of worship to honor God and to appreciate his blessings and provision. Paul talks of blessings that came through the Father (v. 3), then blessings through the Son (vv. 4-13a), then blessings from the Holy Spirit (vv. 13b-14). This is the big picture of God’s story.
There are blessings that come through God the Father, per verse 3:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, . . . ” [Ephesians 1: 3. Revised Standard Version (RSV)]
This word “blessed” is interesting in that the Greek word “eulogia” that we translate as “blessing” is the word from which we obtain “eulogy” in the English language. A eulogy is almost always a time of remembrance by saying or writing good thoughts about a person, usually deceased. This passage displays good thoughts toward the good things God has done for us by making us a part of his big plan, his story.
We’ve discussed God’s plan in Jesus Christ. Now we come to a personal part in God’s plan, his big story.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, . . .” [Ephesians 1: 13. NIV]
In God’s big plan, he included us humans in that plan. Our choice is to believe in the message of God through Jesus Christ (or not) and be counted as one of God’s children, but as ones who have been adopted (see verse 5). To be adopted in our legal system is to be chosen by the prospective parents. However, the person being adopted also gets to choose or confirm that adoption choice in many states. Similarly, we choose to accept God’s adoption offer to be one of his children with all the rights of being members of his family.
As with civil adoptions, God doesn’t willy-nilly disown us for disobedience or for straying. His Holy Spirit comes to live (“dwell” – as in, “make himself at home with us”). The Holy Spirit within us serves as a “seal” to our faith to show that we are God’s indeed. In the United States, we have a TV cable box on the outside of our homes. There is a thick plastic strap through the clasp of the box to prevent unauthorized people from getting inside the cable box. That strap is a seal that shows the world that the cable company owns that box. Electric meters have the same set-up. No one is authorized to tamper with the electric meter except the electric company, and there is a wire seal to indicate that the electric company owns the meter. The Holy Spirit is that same kind of seal. His presence in our lives is a seal, indicating we are owned by God and no being can tamper with God’s ownership and protection for us. It’s a promise that we can count on.
“. . . [the Holy Spirit] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” [Ephesians 1: 14. NIV]
Have you ever bought a house or rented an apartment? Chances are that you had to put down some sort of deposit to show your intention to take possession of the dwelling. Once the owner or landlord accepts that deposit, the owner guarantees that no one else can come along to take the dwelling away from you prior to your possession of said property. In this passage, Paul is looking at the long-term view. That dwelling is not just a temporary dwelling but a permanent one – forever. He sees it as an inheritance based on our relationship with God. And no one can take that away. The guarantee is a rock-solid agreement that will never end and our full move-in date is when God comes to bring fulfillment to his plan through Jesus Christ:
“For [God] has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in heaven and things on earth.” [Ephesians 1: 9-10. RSV]
If you are a believer, go forth each day with confidence of your permanent place in God’s plan as a result of your faith (belief AND trust) in him.
May you have a wonderful, safe weekend. I hope these blogs are helpful to you in some way.
– John M –
Categories: How Can the Bible Relate to Us Today?