Thanks Be to God for His Indescribable Gifts!
I wrote a 15 page paper on this text and Pastor Brian wanted me to preach it, but he said I couldn’t do all 15 pages. So I’m only doing 14!
How many accounts have we heard about where an individual was extremely wealthy, yet lived like a pauper? We hear how they would clean off and reuse paper plates or trash bags or eat cold food because they didn’t want to spend money on heating it up. One woman’s son lost a leg because she didn’t want to spend the money for them to fix it. Some have lived in broken down, condemned houses but yet had millions of dollars scattered around different places. That, we would say, is insane. It’s bizarre. It ridiculous.
Yet it is that way oftentimes with many Christians who are so incredibly rich because of Jesus Christ yet live so far beneath what He has suffered so much to give us. Paul’s goal in his letter to the Ephesians was to instruct them of their lofty position, immeasurable possessions, and the required practice of every child of God. It was written to continually remind all believers, then and now, of who we are and what we have in Christ.
Paul writes this letter from a prison in Rome. Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia which is modern day Turkey. The church was possibly started by Priscilla and Aquilla and Paul left them there in his second missionary journey. It was further strengthened by Paul on his 3rd missionary journey where he served as their pastor for approximately 3 years. After Paul left, Timothy would go on to pastor there for a year and a half.
While much has been written on the illustrious second chapter of Ephesians, a quick search shows that little seems to have been written on its foundational forerunner, chapter one. In this short amount of time, I pray that we will joyfully discover more of our beloved Trinity as we see how Paul profusely blesses our God.
TT: Our Father has chosen us, predestined us, and bestowed on us the twin blessings of redemption and forgiveness. All this should result in an uninhibited and constant praise to Him for the supreme riches of His grace.
Verses 3-14 in this 1st chapter comprise one sentence! Paul starts and it’s as if he builds up so much steam in his praise that he just can’t stop. Essentially, he blesses the Father for blessing us with blessings. The Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. This is past tense. It has already been done. These blessings are ones which we ALREADY possess.
Our physical blessings alone are more than we can take in, yet He has given us so much more! Unfortunately, we tend to desire and recognize these tangible gifts more than the spiritual. That’s certainly true of our health and wealth friends. We see it in the Word. In Luke chapter 10, Jesus sent out seventy disciples to spread the gospel. They came back rejoicing because ‘even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ (v. 17) He responds to them in verse 20, ‘Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.’ The spiritual blessings are far weightier, and we have EVERY ONE THAT WE NEED, but they ONLY come when we belong to Christ. Five times in the five verses of our text, we are reminded that it is ONLY IN CHRIST. We could spend many pages listing all that we are and all that we have because of our identification with Christ. That is one of the thrusts of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. As God’s children, we MUST realize who we are! It is long overdue for His people to realize what we have! Our Savior paid too severe a price for us not to.
The first blessing that Paul blesses the Father for is that He chose us in Him (again) before the foundation of the world. Here we have the doctrine of election. This choosing is once again, past tense. It is an election beforehand.
It is not up to men to choose. Many twist Truth to say that salvation is possible for all men so that all men can decide for themselves whether or not to accept Him. Yet choosing Christ is a good work; the very best work a man could ever do. Man cannot do anything good when he is extremely corrupt; when he is ‘deceitful and desperately wicked’ (Jer. 17:9 KJV)?
Many others grab at the idea that God looked down through the corridor of time and saw which men would give in to Him and chose them based on that. He indeed looks down through the corridor of time but sees only wickedness and evil and rebellion that all men are saturated with and can do nothing about.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “God, for Christ’s sake, dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them, not according to anything that He sees in them or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy.” This eliminates immediately and resoundingly any efforts man uses to trust in himself for “his part” in salvation. It cannot be said that it is man’s choice if it takes place before anything that was created was created.
Jn. 6:44-No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. The word draws here means to drag. What an interesting word choice from the Spirit of God!
Many bristle against this truth of God’s Word perhaps more than any other. The reason this doctrine is so volatile is because it strikes against the pride and self-sufficiency of man. Our Christ did not merely make it possible for men to be saved, He saved many! We must begin to believe God and His Word and not the presuppositions and traditions and the “fairness” of man.
We see in our text not only does Paul detail what God has done, but he also gives us a reason. Notice what He has chosen us for: that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Don’t miss this. We are chosen in order to become like Him. If there is no advancement or growth in holiness and blamelessness, we have to surmise that there has been no choosing. Holy and blameless, or without blemish, is a phrase Paul uses multiple times in Ephesians and Colossians. Elsewhere, we are to be holy as He is holy (Lev. 19:2). We are to be perfect as He is perfect (Matt. 5:48). This word perfect means having reached its end; complete. He continually conforms us to the image of His Son—IF we belong to Him.
Ex.-the “Free-Gracer.” (California)
The second reason Paul blesses God is because In love, He predestined us for adoption. We are not to be holy and blameless in love. This love is not from us. This love belongs to our Father. It is the reason, the foundation, of why He predestined us. It is consistent with the rest of Paul’s defense in this section indicating what The Trinity has done and why they’ve done it. Deuteronomy sheds light on our text in Ephesians.
Predestined means to predetermine or foreordain. It is to determine beforehand.
Acts 13:48- “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
We see the plan of the Father who enacts His will before time for the purpose of adopting us. Again, Pastor Spurgeon writes, “Men are not by nature the children of God but they are heirs of wrath. And this is very clear, because a man never adopts his own children. But adoption in itself proves that by nature we are not the children of God, but he adopts us.”
Now we must ask, in any culture, does the one being adopted have anything to do with his adoption? Will that one determine who his adopted parents are? Will he or she be the one to go to a room full of parents and choose which set he would prefer? Absolutely not! It is never the privilege of the child being adopted to be a part of this process of choosing. Then how could we ever fathom that rebellious man would choose that thing that he hates?!
In God’s plan, He chose us, then proceeded to adopt us, all because of His great love and according to the kind intention of His will. He did it because it pleases Him to do it. If that was the only reason, it would be enough. It is because He wanted to. God does whatever He wants and whatever He does is always right.
Next, Paul makes known the goal of God’s blessings: it is to the praise of the glory of His grace. God desires to be praised for the extreme, unfathomable glory of His grace. That is exactly what happens when we realize that He chooses us before the foundation of the world in spite of our wickedness. And why not? How could we not? The only thing we contribute to the Trinity is the rebellion and unspeakable wickedness that we must be rescued from.
III. He Redeemed and Forgives Us-v. 7
Paul blesses God for a third and final blessing, at least for our text, in what I call the twin blessings of redemption and forgiveness. Paul says that we have redemption. This is the older of the twins. This is our initial forgiveness from sin. This word redemption means, to release on payment of ransom. It is the process of paying the price for a slave from the slave market and then setting him free. Through His blood is the phrase that simply implies death. Jesus paid the price for those who were chosen but were slaves of sin and death. Then He set us free—though at great cost! He paid the ransom to God by giving up His life on the cross. Because of this payment, He set us free from the penalty and power of sin. It is also this same payment that one day, when He returns, will set us free from the presence of sin. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
The younger of the two twins is the forgiveness of our trespasses. The result of redemption is forgiveness. Where redemption has more of a past and a future element, forgiveness too has a past element, but continues to have a very present one. It is ongoing. Forgiveness means, release or pardon.
Paul finishes our text off by declaring that all of this is done, again, according to the riches of His grace. What a vast and eternal well this is! It is significant that the Holy Spirit uses the word ‘according to’. This does not mean that God gave it to us out of His wealth, but against or according to His wealth. To make it clearer, He did not give us a tiny portion of the wealth He possesses. He gave; gives; us fully from the wealth He possesses.
This is the part where we always need to get to in our sermons. The part where we apply the Truths to our lives. But you know what? We CANNOT make proper application of THIS Truth. You know why? Because this is a gift that defies explanation; defies understanding; defies any description we could give for it in any language! But it still is an application that we must still attempt to make. This is the one Truth that we MUST make application to EVERY area in our lives. We must overflow with praise and love and gratitude and obedience. And that must be EVER INCREASING as we go along. The time is done; the time is over; for us to wallow and stagnate and retreat and live in constant defeat.
In a magnificent, exquisitely conducted symphony of praise, Paul profusely blesses the Trinity for a few of the initial–and desperately vital–spiritual blessings of the many that They have lavished upon us. He lays out for us that from before the creation of the world, the plan of the Father in eternity past was to choose many whom He would adopt as His children. Because of His great love and simply because He was pleased to do it, He sent His Son, who alone–and completely–accomplished all that the Father had planned. Jesus; God the Son; the Beloved; gave His life on the cross, willingly receiving the full wrath from His Father, to pay the penalty for the sins of those the Father had determined beforehand. Then, Jesus rose from the dead, making it possible for us to become holy and blameless like Them. Because we have experienced the glory of His outrageous grace, we are now to take up this mantle of praise from our hearts, our lips, and the rest of our lives. This should produce in us a passionate love, a sharing of the Gospel, and an obedient life. This song of David should ring out from us in this life and throughout eternity.