Ephesians 1:3-14 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And h8made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.
If you are a Christian you have been blessed by God. Let me see your hands if you know you are blessed this morning. Listen to verse 3 again from the King James Version: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
From this verse I understand that God is blessed, and I am blessed. However, God is blessed in a different way than I am. There are actually two different Greek words used to describe God being blessed and you and me being blessed. When we read that God is blessed, blessed be God, it means that He is worthy of all praise and glory because He is blessed. No one blesses God. No one adds anything to Him. He simply is the Blessed One, the Favored One, the Honored One. No one helped Him get that way; He simply is, Blessed.
Because God is the Blessed One, He has the ability to bless you and me. Tell your neighbor, “God is the Blesser, and you are the blesse.” In the Bible when you find someone being described as “blessed” it is because they have received something. Something has been added to them. It isn’t because they simply are worthy of honor, praise, or glory. It is because they have been the recipient of Divine grace, Divine help, a Divine gift. Like the Virgin Mary who was chosen to be the earthly mother of Jesus. Luke 1:42 describes her as being blessed. So, God is blessed just because He is God, and we receive a blessing from God by being in a relationship with Him because He has the authority and ability to bless us out of His blessedness because He is the Source of all blessing. Isn’t it a blessing just to learn all of that this morning?
Now, the blessings that Paul is going to describe to us are spiritual blessings, but please know that anything that is for your good or benefit that you possess that doesn’t violate God’s desires for your life is also a blessing from God. Your car, your home, your family, your health, whatever you claim to enjoy right now didn’t come your way because you are cute or smart or hard working. It came because God saw fit to bless you to have it. James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from God.” You can’t name anything that doesn’t come from God. The very breath you just took was a gift from Him.
However, Paul isn’t talking about the physical blessings of life here in Ephesians 1, but he is listing the blessings that come in a through a relationship with God. See, we can’t get so focused on the things that we can see in this material world here and now that we forget that there is an entire spiritual world that is also very much real.
Paul also doesn’t say you have to wait to be blessed or that you have to do something in order to be blessed. He says that if you are in Christ, you are blessed. In fact, you are so blessed that everything you need to survive, everything you need to thrive, everything you need to be spiritually alive is yours in Christ so give your neighbor a “high five.” You possess a warehouse of blessings that will never need to be replenished and will never need a shipment of anything to be delivered. It is already yours. That’s pretty special, don’t you think? You must be pretty special for God to be so generous with you.
Every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus is already yours. All the peace you need, all the hope you need, all of the wisdom you need, all of the grace to make it through life’s challenges, all of the courage you need, all of the joy you need, all of the satisfaction you need—everything you need, you already have. All of it is found in a relationship with Jesus, and He dispenses what you need when you need it and when you are ready to receive it.
These blessings are accessed “in Christ Jesus.” That’s pretty important. If you are living for yourself, if you are going your own way, if you are counting on your own ability or work ethic or ingenuity, instead of looking to Christ to fuel your life and shape your dreams, you won’t have access to this warehouse of blessings like you do when you are walking in step with Jesus, the Blesser, the dispenser of the blessings of God. These are supernatural blessings. They aren’t coincidences. They aren’t good luck happenings. They are blessings in the heavenly realms which means they are supernatural, direct from the hand of God.
Not only are you blessed, but verse four says If you are a Christian you have been chosen by God.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Doesn’t it feel awesome to be picked, to be chosen, to know that God wanted you in his family? How many of you remember the awkward days in gym class when the teacher would pick two captains and would then tell those two people to pick their teams. I’m sure as you look at me that it is hard for you to believe that I was often chosen last. I know, you look at me and you think, “She has got to be a dodge ball phenom.” Like, I’m built for it, but not so much. It doesn’t feel good to feel unwanted or leftover or last. But it’s not that way with God. He has chosen you to be on His team!
But get this: He hasn’t just chosen you to be on His team, to serve Him, but He has chosen you to be a son or a daughter of His. That is what verse five says: In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Do you see the word “adopted” here? If you are a Christian you have been adopted by God!
This is a whole other level of value and worth that God places on you. This is a game changer. He isn’t just our coach in this game of life, but He is our Heavenly Father who will protect us and provide for us not only in this life, but in eternity in Heaven. By intention, with perfect love, He has made us His own.
He is a perfect Heavenly Father, a perfect parent. He has every resource we need, and He sees the future perfectly. He knows how to parent us to get us to our destination. He knows how to teach us as individuals in ways that will help us to grow in every way that matters. He knows what is best for us, and He knows how to get our attention. He is compassionate and patient with us. He allows for do-overs. He has all power and authority so He can take charge in any situation. His love is unconditional. God won’t give up on His children. Isn’t that good news?
Do you know what family status gives us? It gives us an inheritance, and we have inherited a lot. Everything Jesus had available to Him as He walked this earth is ours to receive. We have received every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, so basically, If you are a Christian you are spiritually wealthy! Like, not just a little wealthy, not just enough to get by, but you are rolling in the spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. Whether you are brand-new in Jesus or have walked with Him for years, each of you can claim your spiritual inheritance in Christ Jesus right now. You don’t have to wait until you get to Heaven to enjoy your inheritance. You can access these “riches in Christ Jesus” as the Bible calls them, today.
Verse 4 says that God has chosen us to be holy and blameless in His sight. This truth tells me that If you are a Christian you have been made righteous. Oh, this is exciting stuff. II Corinthians 5:21 declares, “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The blame that should be mine, the penalty that should be mine because of my bad choices, because of my sinful propensities, because of the evil that is part of my sinful nature, it was all transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His perfect sacrifice was deemed acceptable to our Holy God, and when I began a relationship with Jesus, His righteousness, His holiness, His blamelessness, His perfection was transferred to me. My filthy robes were exchanged for His royal, stain-free, sin-free robes and when God looks at me, His child, He sees me as holy and blameless. I don’t have to live in fear because of what God thinks of me because what He thinks is “There is my holy and blameless and perfect daughter whom I love with an everlasting love. She looks awesome in her robe of righteousness.”
This whole adoption piece is just mind blowing when it comes to understanding who we are in Christ. It reminds me of the true story of a family who adopted a young girl who had previously been adopted by another family. The first family probably had the best of intentions when they adopted the little girl, but they never fully integrated her or accepted her as a full member of their family.
As a matter of fact, when they would vacation at Disney World, they would take their biological children with them, but they would leave their adopted daughter with a family friend. In the little girl’s mind, she believed she had done something wrong that precluded her from being with the family, from going on the trip, from enjoying the Disney vacation. After a couple of rough years with the little girl, the family dissolved the adoption, and the second family adopted the eight-year-old girl.
By the time of her second adoption she had seen lots of pictures of Disney World. She had heard about all of the rides and the characters and the parades from the siblings in her previous family, but when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside.
When her second family learned about these happenings, they made plans to take her to Disney World. You would think that would be exciting for the little girl. You would think she would have been over the moon, deliriously happy to anticipate all of the fun she would have. Instead of skipping through the coming weeks with glee, she became a nightmare to live with. Anticipating this trip turned the girl into someone they had never seen. She stole food when a simple request would have gained her a snack. She lied time after time when it would have absolutely just been easier to tell the truth. She was terribly mean to her older sister and would whisper insults that were targeted with hurt and hate behind them. As the trip grew closer, the girl’s behavior was worse. It was so difficult to understand what was going on with her.
A couple of days before the trip, the little 8-year-old said to her dad, “I know what you’re going to do.” She said, “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?” All of the sudden, her downward spiral started to make some sense. He began to understand what was in this little 8 year old’s mind. She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom. She had tried and failed that test so many times before, so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.
Her dad took a deep, prayerful breath and asked the little girl, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?” She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed. “Are you part of this family?” The little girl nodded again. “Then you’re going with us. Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong,” her dad said, “But you’re part of our family, and we’re not leaving you behind.”
You would think those words of reassurance would have helped the girl realign her thinking and her behavior. They didn’t. She spiraled out of control at every hotel and rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista. Still, the family headed to Disney World on the promised day, and it was a typical Disney day. Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.
In the hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged. She was exhausted, thoughtful, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded. When bedtime rolled around, and her dad went to tuck her in he asked, “So how was your first day at Disney World?” She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn. After a few minutes, she opened her eyes ever so slightly, and she said, “Daddy, I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good. It’s because I’m yours.”
(Source: PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace, By Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones)
It wasn’t because I was good. It’s because I’m yours.
This is the message of the outrageous love and grace of God. It comes to us not because of our goodness, because even our goodness wouldn’t be enough to impress or merit the favor of a perfect and holy God. We get to have these blessings in Christ not because we have earned or deserved them, but because we are part of the family. This is the kind of family you and I are blessed to belong to. Regardless of what we have done to try to be unlovable, regardless of what a pain in the neck we have been, if we are in Christ, we are in the family, and we are included and loved with an unconditional love. Do you see how blessed you are? Do you see how awesome it is to be chosen by God and to be adopted to be His child?
I’ll share one more thought for today and we will continue this series from Ephesians next week, but let me unpack a concept I have already mentioned just a bit more. Verse 7 tells me that because of God’s efforts, If you are a Christian you have been redeemed and are forgiven.
The word for “redeemed” in verse 7 means to go to a market place and buy a slave and then to set that slave free. To redeem someone for the purpose of setting them free. That is the nature of this kind of redemption. We are born as slaves to sin, and we are bound to a task master, to Satan and we would be bound to him for eternity in the place the Bible calls Hell, but when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are redeemed by His sacrifice, redeemed by His blood. You and I use coins, paper money, credit cards and e-commerce transactions to make a purchase, but Jesus bought us with His own blood.
1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us, 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ…”
Wow. God created us in His image, but sin caused a separation between us and God. Sin took us as captive slaves, but God, the One who made us, bought us back. There is the story of a father and son who worked for months to build a toy sailboat. Every night when he came home from work, the man and his boy would disappear into the garage for hours. When the boat was finished they stood back to admire the results. The wooden hull was painted bright red and it was trimmed with gleaming white sails. When it was finished the boy went to a nearby river for the boat’s trial run.
The father had tied a string to its stern to keep it from sailing too far. The boat performed beautifully, but the string broke and the sailboat drifted out of sight. Attempts to find it were fruitless. A few weeks later, as the boy was walking home from school he passed a store and was amazed to see HIS sailboat in the window. He ran inside to claim the boat, telling the owner it was his, that he had made it, and he explained how it had gotten lost. The store owner told the little boy, “You may have it back for $50.00.”
The little boy was stunned at how much it would cost to buy his boat back, but since it was so precious to him, he quickly set about earning the money to buy it back. He would do whatever it took, whatever chore, for however long in order to get the money necessary to redeem, to buy back his boat. Sometime later, once all of the money was acquired, the little boy made his way back to the store and handed the owner the $50.00 in exchange for his sailboat. It was the happiest day of his life. As he left the store he held the boat up to the sunlight. Its colors gleamed as though newly painted. “I made you, but I lost you,” said the boy. “Now I’ve bought you back. You are twice mine!” That is redemption my friends. In Christ, our Creator God, our Heavenly Father God, has redeemed us to make us twice His.
In Christ we are redeemed and forgiven. It’s right there in verse 7. This forgiveness thing is so important. Not only does it enable us to be in God’s presence without any condemnation or shame, (Romans 8:1) but it gives us the ability to have a fresh start, a new beginning. Haven’t we all needed that? Forgiveness cuts us loose from the weight of our sin so that we can walk with confidence into our future. How many of us today would say we hope our future is built on every decision we have made to this point or on every deed we have ever done? Right? God knows that we have gotten it wrong and that we will get it wrong at times. That is why forgiveness is so incredible. Forgiveness is a miracle God offers in the wake of every mistake. And even your sin, when placed at the cross and repented of, becomes a teaching tool, a stepping stone, a trophy of God’s grace to create something new, something lasting, something full of faith, something that points other people to the God of fresh starts.
And when God forgives us, He doesn’t hold it over our heads. He doesn’t count it against us. He doesn’t use it as leverage to get us to do things for Him. He doesn’t expect us to “pay Him back.” Forgiveness doesn’t put us into God’s debt somehow. He doesn’t say, “Hey, remember the time you totally blew it and I forgave you and gave you an opportunity to start again?” No, forgiveness doesn’t put us in debt to God; instead it puts us right in the middle of His perfect love.
No, God is generous with new beginnings and loves to help us up when we fall. We just have to confess our sins, expressing a desire to live differently and cooperate with the Holy Spirit about a new approach to avoid the same pitfalls. And if we do fall into the same trap, our amazing Heavenly Father will be there to rescue us still.
Because of Him, I am blessed. Because of Him, I am chosen. Because of Him, I am adopted. Because of Him, I am spiritually wealthy, and I have an amazing inheritance. Because of Him, I have been made righteous. Because of Him, I am redeemed and forgiven.