EPHESIANS – SERIES NR 1
Theme: Spiritual blessings
Scripture: Ephesians 1: 1-14
At that time the city of Ephesus was the capitol of – what is known today as – Turkey. The breath-taking temple to the goddess Diana was there – one of the 7 wonders of the world at that time. Idolatry was the order of the day.
Within this wicked Ephesus, the Lord Jesus established a small church through the labours of Priscilla and Aquila, whom the Apostle Paul appointed while on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18: 18-19). On his 3rd missionary journey Paul himself ministered there for almost 3 years (Acts 19), and after him, Timothy ministered there for a couple of years.
Paul wrote this letter approximately A.D. 60 while he was in prison in Rome, to spiritually strengthen them with the Apostolic teaching. And it is solid spiritual food, not milk.
To the Corinthians he said: “You are still worldly, so I can give you only milk”. (1 Cor 3: 1-2).
But here in Ephesus, in the midst of the idolatry, is a small church, on fire for the Lord, for whom the Apostle can feed solid food. And that is what we will find in this letter: solid spiritual food.
Noticeable that this letter is neatly divided into two parts: Chapters 1-3: What we must know that God has done/given. Chapters 4-6: What we must do based on what God has done (how that which God has done affects our lives).
Therefore: For the next 6 messages (dealing with chapters 1-3) we will hear very little about what we as humans must do. Everything is about the great deeds of the Triune God.
It is always amazing to see how different the Scriptures are in comparison with how we as humans think/reason.
Who of us will (for example) regard ourselves as “saints”? Who of us will think that God – before He has said anything – immediately (before-hand) pronounces His grace (His favour which can never be deserved) and peace (shalom: spiritual prosperity) over His people. Just like that! Our heads simply don’t work that way.
Yet that is exactly what the Holy Spirit (through Paul’s pen) is doing in verses 1-2. He is calling everyone in Ephesus who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, SAINTS. That means: washed by the blood of Jesus and set apart for Him!
Every child of the Lord is holy and is called a “saint”!
And then, before He says anything more, He pronounces His grace and peace over them (just like that)! “It is yours”. NOT: MAY it be yours”. No, unconditionally: “it is yours”. His favour and His spiritual prosperity. Favour: Like the blue heavens over me, and Shalom: like the still deep ocean in me.
Also thrilling in 1: 3-14: Without first enquiring after the welfare of the Ephesians’ spiritual life, Paul simply tells them how rich they ARE in Christ! “Your lives will change once you realize what God has already paid into your spiritual bank accounts!”
Merely the fact that you ARE a child of the Lord, means that you already are in possession of a spiritual bank balance. Realize that, and you will change!
The same as the participants of the TV programme “Noot-vir-Noot”, who starts with money in the bank even before they have done anything. The sponsors give it to them beforehand. They start with that!
The same for a Christian-believer.
Look at verse 3 > Look at the Trinity in action > Praise be to “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Incidentally: That is His NT name. Hebrew name is unnecessary) because He has (past tense) blessed us (Greek: “blessed with the ability to bring it to fruition “) with all (all kinds) spiritual blessings (not earthly) of the Holy Spirit.
The moment when someone becomes a child of the Lord, your package appears against your name in red letters (with reference to the TV programme)! You ARE allotted with spiritual blessings. Nothing/nobody can take it away from you. You can only build upon it. Let it change/motivate you.
Imagine for yourself the following picture:
All Christian-believing people are standing at little counters the way “Noot-vir-Noot” participants do on TV. Literally millions of counters. Multitudes of people. Children of the Lord throughout the centuries. Against everyone’s name is written the amount with which they have started. It was given to them. They cannot be a true Christ-believer without it.
Let us now see in verses 4-14 WHAT that amount comprises.
What did God deposit into every Christian’s bank account? What are those spiritual blessings with which every born-again person IS blessed with – without any counter-performance – only by God’s pure favour?
Look at verses 4-14 and you will see how active the holy Trinity is in the distribution of these blessings. Certain blessings are from the Father, some are from Christ, and some from the Holy Spirit. Some of the blessings are concerned with the past. Others with the future. Others with the present. Perhaps we should divide it up that way: Blessings of past, future and present. Then we will see what exactly the package is that every Christian-believer starts with.
FUTURE > We must not think that planet earth and all its inhabitants are merely plodding along aimlessly, and that everything is controlled by powers of fate and chance. People look at for example catastrophes in nature – and then think like that. But it is a big mistake.
Yes, after the Fall God did subject the creation to a curse – that is true – hence the disturbed weather patterns (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 8:19-22). And according to Revelation 8 & 16 He uses these things to warn and judge humanity.
BUT: In Ephesians 1: 9-10, 11,14 there is written a very significant thing: God has a future object for planet earth and its people. At the time He predetermined, He will bring it to fulfilment.
What will He bring to fulfilment? What is the plan towards which everything is moving?
He is going to bring all things (that means: everyone who was/is in Christ) together under one head: Christ (v 10). Then He will FULLY redeem everyone who now already belongs to Him! (v14) He is working according to an intention/decision/eternal Purpose (v 9). He is working according to a Divine Plan (v 11). Nothing by chance. And due to that, His born-again children have a rock steady future, because they will be there when God bring all things together under Christ!
PAST > Spiritual blessing: the believer’s redemption is rock steady, because it doesn’t rest upon anything in man. The Christ-believer has already been chosen before creation!! (v 4).
That does not mean that some people are automatically included in Christ. Verses 13 & 14 are clear about that.
How does a person become included in Christ? The good news of the fact that Jesus redeemed you on the cross is preached to you. You hear it. You come to faith (v 14). You turn to Him. That means that you find rest by start trusting on Jesus Christ’s perfect work of salvation.
It does not happen automatically. You do not have it when you woke up one morning. It is a conscious repentance.
But, repentance-and-faith is only the consequence of the fact that God already had His eye on you. Your repentance is the result of the fact that He chose you as His child already before the creation, and therefore passed others by, and in all righteousness decided to let them remain in the wretchedness they had chosen for themselves!
Yes, the moment you come to faith and repentance, it FEELS as if everything depends on you. It is you who have to grab hold of the Message etc.
But, later, when you look back, you realize that it all depended on HIM – from your side you NEVER should/would/could have accept Him. Before creation already He intended for you to be His child through Jesus Christ (v5).
And it is all based only upon His great love, because what should He have done with you and me? He should have left us on the lost path we had chosen. Remember: man is a rebel who deliberately chooses against the Lord. Not one single person deserves to be saved.
But, instead of leaving everybody to go their own self-chosen lost way, God chose a whole heaven full of people to turn to Him and experience His salvation. Everything is from A-Z based on His love (v 5). That is why He can merely be praised for the grace that He has so freely poured out upon every believer (v 6).
But, can you see the spiritual blessing? The amazement of: “Wow, to think that He took notice of me! Even before creation! To think that my redemption is so sure and fixed in HIS CHOICE for me!”
And yet this assurance/rest does not make me lazy and careless and complacent. Can I now live any way I please? Because my adoption is assured and fixed!
No. Look at verse 4: “before the creation of the world He chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight”. The person who has truly discovered the comfort and joy of divine predestination, will PRECISELY live holier/seriously and more devoted to the Lord. The reason WHY the Lord chose me, is precisely to hate sin more and more and to fear Him. See Proverbs 8:13. The free grace of God teaches me to say NO to the world’s spirit and to live a godly life with self control (Tit 2:12).
PRESENT > There is something that a child of God owns/experiences TODAY of which an unsaved person, who is outside Christ, has no idea. And that is: You are completely accepted/adopted in God’s household and totally saved and forgiven. See verses 5-7.
Those are blessings I NOW own and experience.
It is wonderful for a guilty person to be acquitted in a court of law. He walks around outside and cannot believe it to be true!
But there is something even more wonderful.
If the judge is to take the person he has acquitted to his own home – despite what he had done in the past – and adopts him as his lawful child and allows him to share in all the benefits of the household – yes – even to inherit.
Just imagine something like that.
A judge acquits the guilty person – on the basis of a friend who has paid the fine – takes him home, treats him fully as his child, lawfully adopts him, makes him an heir. No, he is not a second class servant in the least. He is an adopted son!
Exactly the same as the prodigal son in Luke 15, received back and treated AS SON. The warm welcoming arms of his father was ALWAYS around him. Exactly that is the Gospel message!
I am an adopted son in the household of the God of heaven and earth – acquitted and forgiven! And I am His lawful heir! And all that is only possible based on the gruesome death that the actual lawful Son died – Jesus our Lord (v 7). That I can walk out of the courthouse and move into the judge’s house as his adopted son – is only based upon Jesus’s blood alone. That is what Jesus’s blood achieved/obtained! Enormous, is it not!?
And in addition I have received the Holy Spirit (verses 13-14). That is also part of the blessings that I am enjoying now/at present experience. The person of God the Holy Spirit that is with /in me, is the guarantee that my life has changed ownership. It is also the guarantee that I – when the Lord returns – will inherit complete salvation.
Almost like a deposit that has been paid, to guarantee that the full amount will most certainly be paid.
Those are blessings I am experiencing now already.
I experience the presence and immanence of the Spirit. I hear His voice through His Word. I experience how He is leading me. I experience how He gives me other desires/appetites than what I had before. I experience literally how He is changing me day after day. And His presence and working guarantees that I am a true child of the Lord. And that I will inherit the full redemption one day. The Holy Spirit that is with me NOW is the assurance/guarantee of what I will receive THEN.
To sum up: A born-again Christ-believer can be compared with a “Noot-vir-Noot” TV contestant.
Even before he/she even takes part, he/she STARTS with a bank balance which was a free gift and cannot be taken away. Paul calls it “spiritual blessings”. If you become a child of the Lord, it is automatically part of your package.
The package looks like this:
1 You are now already a part of God’s future end-product with the world: everything united under One Head.
2 You are not standing on the shaky foundation of your subjective devotion, but on the firm rock of His objective choice for you.
3 From A-Z your relationship with Him (and your entire life) is based on His free grace.
4 You are accepted/adopted child/redeemed/forgiven – everything based on Jesus’s blood shed on the cross.
5 The Holy Spirit is a reality in your life and His presence is the guarantee that you have a different owner and that you will one day receive the complete blessing.
Tell me: If one could grasp something of this package-of-blessings at all, can your life remain the same?
If you touch a live electrical wire, will you remain the same and walk away whistling a happy tune?
Or will the electricity “change” you?
I know it is a negative picture, but think of the positive principle: God’s power – which is already our portion – changes us.
Translated by Marthie Wilson