Ryan Burgett, June 20, 2012
Ephesians is a wonderful book for the church to dwell on, because it is a book of encouragement and positive exhortation. It is like a pep rally for the people of God. Unlike most of Paul’s other writings, this was not written to address any local issues in a particular church. Instead it was a book of broad truths written for the purpose of being passed around from the Ephesian church to all the other surrounding churches. This truth is directly applicable to all of us in the body of Christ today.
What we are going to look at here, is how Paul opens the letter. Before he begins talking about Christian living and spiritual warfare, he gives a wonderful, short section on our identity. If you are a born-again disciple of Jesus, this section is a description of who you are. Many in the church allow who they are to be defined by their circumstances (e.g. “My spouse does not show me love, therefore I am unloved” or “They do not treat me right at work, therefore I am a victim,” etc.), but is that God’s will for us? The reality is that we need to make a choice. Are we going to allow who we are to be defined by our experiences, or by the truth of God’s Word? There is a right answer to that question. If we are going to live in the fullness of what God has for us, we need to live out of the identity He has given us. A great place to start is with these verses in the opening of Ephesians. Let us now look at the text.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
So number one on Paul’s list is this, we are blessed! So what are we blessed with? A few blessings? Many blessings? We are blessed with “every spiritual blessing!” We need to grasp this important fact. Because of who we are “in Christ,” God offers to us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. So the question is, are we going to look at our lives and feel as if we are lacking something? Or are we going to stand in the truth of what God has promised us, knowing that we are blessed, and then reach out to God so that He might apply all those promised blessings to our lives! The truth is that you are lacking NOTHING, you are blessed by God!
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
So first we are blessed, and now we see that we are chosen! “Before the foundation of the world,” God looked forward through time and said, “I want you!” And what did He choose for us? To be “Holy and without blame before Him.” He chose us and then gave His life for us to make this a reality. Because of what Jesus did for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross, we are now holy and without blame before Him! But now, why did He choose us in the first place? It was “in love” that He chose us. He looked forward to each of us and said, “I love you so much! I choose you to be mine, completely holy and free of guilt and condemnation.” This is the truth about you, you were chosen in love by God even before the world began! How can we let our present circumstances get us down when that is our reality? We are chosen by God!
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
We are blessed, we are chosen, and we are adopted! God “predestined” that we would be adopted by Jesus Christ to be His children. We are sons and daughters of God! What earthly relationships have the power to trump that? Many in the church tend to focus on our flaws, calling us “depraved” and “wretched” until the day we die and enter into God’s presence, but the reality is that we are the blessed, chosen and adopted children of God! When He sees us, He does not see our flaws. Instead, He sees His own children! And why did He adopt us? Because it brought Him “pleasure.” God did not hold His nose and grit His teeth as He signed the papers, the reality is that it pleased Him! In fact, the Bible says that it “pleased the Lord” to see Jesus sacrificed for us (Isaiah 53.10). That is how excited He was to have us as His children! God was willing to sacrifice His own Son for your sake in order to bring you into His family. Do not ever look at yourself in the mirror and think you are a “screw-up” or a “sinner” or a “wretch.” The truth is that You are loved and adopted by God! When He sees you, He sees His precious creation that He blessed, chose, and adopted for His own pleasure. You have no right to see yourself as anything less!
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
To be “redeemed” mean to be “bought back.” When we were created, we were perfect and “in God’s image.” But none us of have lived completely out of that image. At some point in our lives we looked to things other than God to fulfill and complete us, but came away with regrets and feelings of shame and condemnation. But that was not and is not God’s will for us. So with His own blood, He purchased us out of our fallen condition and “redeemed” us! He has bought us back, and brought us back to our original created value! We have been forgiven because of His wonderful grace toward us! We have been blessed, chosen, adopted and redeemed by God! This shows how much we are valued by God. If He values us so much, what does it matter to us how the world treats us? Whose opinion is more important, almighty God or your co-workers?
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
As if those truths were not enough, we see now that we are also given an “inheritance.” And what is that inheritance? That we “who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Our inheritance is to bring glory to God. Can there be any greater fulfillment in this life than to know that we have brought glory to our heavenly Father, our loving Creator? Never look at your life and feel like it has been worthless. If you have trusted in Christ, your life is guaranteed an inheritance of glory to God. You life has purpose, and you are guaranteed to fulfill it for the glory of God.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
When we came to salvation, we were “sealed” with the “Holy Spirit.” He lives in us and guarantees two things to us. First He is our guarantee that we will receive our inheritance for the glory of God. And second, He is our guarantee of a future redemption when we will enter into the perfect fulfillment of the kingdom of God where we will live with Him in perfect communion and joy for the rest of eternity. This is our guaranteed destiny by the word of God and the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that incredible! With that in mind, how can we possibly allow our circumstances here on earth to get us down!
So there we have it. What defines us? We are blessed, chosen, adopted as children, redeemed, given an inheritance, and sealed with the Holy Spirit. That is what defines us! When you look in the mirror, remind yourself who you were predestined to be. Never let your experiences trump the truth of who you are. You will never be able to live out your full potential as a born-again disciple of Jesus unless you know and accept the truth about yourself. As God sees you, so you are to see yourself. That is the truth!