Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chosen and Claimed

Unit I - Victory in Jesus. We shall begin the winter quarter with a review of the book of Ephesians. The emphasis is on the exaltation of Christ over all principalities and powers – from the beginning of time to the end of time. The lesson text for today is recorded at Eph 1:3-14. It is a review of God’s redemption plan for all believers from a Triune perspective. The first section (vs. 3-6) Paul praises God for choosing us to redeem us and in the next section (vs. 7-12) he discusses our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In the last section the Holy Spirit is revealed as the seal of guarantee. The devotional reading is recorded at Ps 33:8-12.

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:’ Eph 1:3 This epistle was written to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul called them saints who were faithful in Christ Jesus. As such he greeted them with the grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ. This was not an empty greeting; it was extremely spiritual. He wished for them divine undeserved favor (grace) and peace in their spirit daily Eph 1:1-2 Paul then began to give thanks and praise to the blessed one, God the Father (first person of the Trinity) of our Lord Jesus (second person of the Trinity). He continues to write his thanks and praise to God for having blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Who is “us” that Paul referred to that were blessed? Is he speaking to nations, believers and unbelievers alike? No, Paul is speaking of the saints referred to in Eph 1:1 All Christians must be saints, if they are faithful to Christ. The saints are blessed with spiritual blessings versus material blessings that are always seen. The spiritual blessings are the benefits of grace given by God. They are in heavenly places instead of on earth. All spiritual blessings are in Christ.

‘According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:’ Eph 1:4 God chose the saints before the creation of the world based upon His foreknowledge. The saints were chosen to be holy (separated unto Him and His will) and blameless (without fault) before Him (in Christ) in love. This is one of the spiritual blessings. The spiritual blessing will be completed in the heavenly place. It is considered the doctrine of election1 to be chosen to salvation. (See 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Thess 1:4-7) Many people, even Christians, have a problem with this doctrine. Some believe it clashes with their choice to accept God’s offer of salvation. John 3:16; Rom 10:9, 13. Both theological doctrines can be found in John 6:37. ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’ Our finite minds are not able to understand both doctrines at the same time. God is just and, by no ways, would choose to condemn everyone else simply because He chose the saints before the creation of the world. He, in His infinite wisdom, offers salvation to everyone who repents of their sins and believes in His Son, Jesus Christ.

‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,’ Eph 1:5 Similar to the doctrine of election, the doctrine of predestination was a foreordained predetermined plan by God1 to adopt all believers of His Son, Jesus, in His family as sons. It too was a spiritual blessing to be completed in heaven. God did more than simply plan our redemption beforehand. He caused it to happen. He even planned the crucifixion of Jesus. It pleased Him to include all of the saints. ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ Rom 8:14-15 This was in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham and his spiritual seed. Gen 26:4; Rom 11

‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. ‘Eph 1:6 It seems Paul is overwhelmed by God’s spiritual blessings and plan for salvation. He pauses to once again thank and praise Him. Blessings to the Father God for giving them hope for salvation. The ultimate spiritual gift was His Son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 God should be praised for the gift of Jesus Christ. Money could not purchase the spiritual gifts so freely given. All He expected in exchange was thanksgiving and praise for His magnificent glory. He had made the saints accepted in His Beloved Jesus.

‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;’ Eph 1:7-8 Paul now switches to the role of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church, the second person of the Trinity, and most importantly our Savior. Through Him we are able to have access to God the Father. All of the blessings of salvation are experienced “in Christ”. Three of the greatest spiritual blessings the saints receive are redemption, forgiveness, and wisdom.. The first is redemption. Saints are delivered from eternal hell and damnation through the blood Christ shed on Calvary. They must repent of their sins and believe in Him. Rom 10:9 Secondly, as a result of the deliverance from bondage or imprisonment through Christ, the saint(s) is forgiven by the riches of God’s grace of their sins. In other words, because of the blood Christ shed on Calvary, God promises to forgive the saints of their sins. The third spiritual blessing received through Christ is the wisdom and understanding He has granted the saints in overflowing abundance. He allows them to discern matters with keen insight to make right decisions in His name and to know the will of God for His church.

‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:’ Eph 1:9 This is the major theme of the Epistle. It concerns the truth concerning Christ and the church. God had told the Jews they were His chosen people many times. There was an unknown doctrine or fact which He had concealed until the Savior came in the flesh. God also meant to call Gentiles to salvation. Saints did not know this mystery until God revealed it. The point is that God has entrusted the message of His plan for the redemption of all humankind with the church. This revelation was according to His purpose and good will.

‘That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:’ Eph 1:10 Part of the secrecy of the plan of salvation remains hidden. The dispensation is the administration to come about in the fullness of times. God’s will is progressive and unfolds daily. He made it known the mysterious secret is in Christ and will come to pass when the “times” arrive. What are the “times”? It is defined as the moment when God will bring an end to this present world. When will this be? No one knows the day or the hour. ‘Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ Matt 24:42, 44 In that final day, all things will come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, whether in heaven or on earth.

‘In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.’ Eph 1:11-12 Paul speaks to their benefits when he writes of their fortune of having been adopted. The Christian saints have obtained an inheritance. This was determined and foreordained by God beforehand. It was after the counsel of His own will. He did not request permission or advice or counsel of some other will. It is said by some that the “we” of these verses represent the Jews who were the first to hear the message and accepted Christ as the Messiah. Paul felt they were the light for the nations to experience His salvation plan. He felt their remnant should be the praise of His magnificent glory.

‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,’ Eph 1:13 In contrast with the Jews who first heard the message and believed Jesus Christ, Paul speaks of the Gentiles who trusted the Gospel of salvation after they heard the Word of truth. When they believed in Christ, they were baptized and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise just as their Jewish brethren. This was a guarantee from God that they would receive spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

‘Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.’ Eph 1:14 An “earnest” is a “first installment” or “down payment”. Paul is speaking to the role of the Holy Spirit in the church. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance until the full redemption of the church takes place. Those who belong to God will gather together in a great throng and give praise and glory to His name. Rev 7:9-17


Written by Deborah C Davis

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