Ephesians 1:1-14, John 1:12-13, Colossians 1:16
The letter from the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians opens with a command: Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why? That question is what the rest of the letter endeavors to solve. But Paul summarizes the answer in verse 3: praise God because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
Here’s the thing: if God hasn’t blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, then both the teachings of the rest of this letter and their applications are out of our reach. We may as well put the letter away. But what Paul says in this first verse is that, when our faith is in Christ, the riches of life in Christ are ours.
The problem is that we often still live as spiritual paupers. Why do we do this? One reason is because we often do not understand the foundation under such a promise. So Paul opens this letter by pouring some heavy theological footings on which our hope in Christ stands. How heavy? Let’s look.
1. God chooses man. Paul says in vs. 4 “He chose us,” and in vs 5, “He predestined us.” Throughout Scripture, you see God choosing people—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Joseph. Moses. David. Jesus chose his apostles, even Paul. Though we, from our earthbound perspective, struggle to understand reality, Jesus taught, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
2. God’s redemption is accomplished by the unmerited grace of Jesus. God’s choosing His people is neither deserved nor earned by those He has chosen. The basis of our salvation is “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3-9). Salvation, from beginning to end, is an act of God’s undeserved grace.
3. God calls His people into a relationship with Him that is intimate. Why does God call His people? Are we just His worker bees? No, God chooses His people so they might spend eternity in intimate proximity with Him. “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5).
When we put these opening verses together, what do we get? God chose His people before the foundation of the world, according to His mercy and grace and not by any work of our own, in order that we might know Him as our Father, and know ourselves as His beloved children.
This, Paul says, should draw from us a response of praise. Why? Because a great darkness has been pushed back. The breathtaking beauty of God choosing us in Him before the foundation of the world to be His adopted children is that, had He not, ours would only be a story of perishing in the wreckage of our sin. But praise be to God: He has intervened. God doesn’t rescue us to give us a second chance. He saves us from spiritual death and then gives us a new identity as His adopted sons.
written by Russ Ramsey