Ephesians 1:1-12 (NIV)
Dictionary.com describes a desert as: “a region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all, and which few forms of life can exist because of lack of waste, and often called a wasteland or barren wilderness.”
When you pass through a dry and barren desert and your first thought is that it is useless and uninhabitable.
But the reason the desert does not flourish with beautiful flowers and sweet delicious fruits and vegetables is because it is missing one necessary ingredient.
Make it possible for the desert to get water and it can produce most anything.
The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that a life without God is like the desert. It is full of vanity, meaningless, and just chasing the wind, but when a sinner comes into contact with “The Fountain of Living Water” his life takes on purpose and meaning – a spiritual reformation takes place.
In our text we note that Paul is speaking to a particular group of people – the saints that are in Ephesus and are faithful “in Christ.”
2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior their whole outlook on life changes.
We read in 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
We used to seek things of this world, but now, as Paul says in Col. 3:1-2, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Jesus talks with Nicodemus in John 3:3, 7, and told him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” and in verse 7, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ We now are a new creation “in Christ.”
Paul tells in Eph. 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
The in verses Ephesians 2:3-5, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by g with Christ race you have been saved.”
We were dead in our sins, but God, in His mercy, made us alive in Christ. We have been born again! We were once dead in sin, but now “in Christ” we have been made alive. We have been “born again!”
When a person is “in Christ” he has access to “The Fountain of Living Water”
* In Christ, God can take a barren life and make it blossom and be fruitful.
* In Christ, God can turn our mourning into gladness and our night into day.
* In Christ the Believer has:
I. ACCESS TO EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING. 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.”
An interesting point of note is that in the Greek verses 3-14 is one sentence, but most English translators break it up into individual sentences to make for a more easier reading.
Whether this is right or not is left up to the individual reader, but one thing we would all agree on is that it is some of the most beautiful and powerful reading in all of Holy Scripture.
Bible Scholar John R. W. Stott describes it as, “”A gateway, a golden chain, a kaleidoscope, a snowball, a racehorse, an operatic overture and the flight of an eagle: all these metaphors in their different ways describe the impression of color, movement and grandeur which the sentence makes on the reader’s mind.”
Paul begins this letter with praise to God, and this is good, for if we ever discover who God is we cannot hold back our praise for Him.
Paul expresses his praise for God because he understands that God has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
1. He has given us “every spiritual blessing”
Phillips Translation reads that God has given us “every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven!”
In other words, nothing has been withheld from us.
Paul is not saying that God blesses only in the spiritual realm, for the Bible is very clear that He blesses us in the material realm also.
In Phil. 4:19, we read, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Read Matt. 6:25-34)
2. The problem is how to channel these spiritual blessings benefits and abilities into our lives.
There is only one way and that is “in Christ.”
3. The blessings are limited to those who are in Christ, but to those in Christ there is no limit.
Remember what the Bible says in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
4. Every blessing that God bestows upon us He does it through Jesus Christ. He never does anything apart from Christ.
So, when a person rejects Christ – he also rejects spiritual blessings.
II. IS SPECIAL TO GOD. 4
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love,”
We all have experienced that outside of family and friends, we are merely a number – but that is not the case with God!
1. Let me emphasize that all who are “in Christ” we are important to God.
God has chosen those “in Christ” before “the foundation of the world.”
Without getting involved with all the ramifications of Predestination and Election I want you to notice that all that are “in Christ” are something special to God.
God chose you before He created the world. (See verse 4). The New Living Translation (NLT) reads:
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
Doesn’t that tell you that you are something special to God?
Through this verse we discover that the most important thing on God’s agenda was not making the world, but insuring that you and I get our lives in harmony with Him.
Can you imagine God thinking, “After I get Chuck Blair’s life set straight, then I will create the world.
If you are “in Christ” never lose sight that you are a priority to God – even the world is secondary.
III. ADOPTED AS CHILDREN OF GOD. 5
“he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
“predestined” or predestination is one of those words that have been argued among believers since the beginning of the Church.
Books have been written on this subject and it won’t be settled in the hearts of man until we get to heaven. Does mankind have a choice in their salvation or not? Why would a loving God choose some and not others.
But let me briefly point out my view and maybe give you something to give thought..
1. First, nowhere in Scripture can you find that anyone is predestined to hell.
2. God makes salvation available for everyone, but we have to choose to accept it or not.
3. The Bible says in Romans 3:11: “There is no one… who seeks God.”
4. Jesus Himself, declared in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
5. Quoting James Boice, and this is also my viewpoint: “First he made our salvation possible by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sin. Then he made us capable of responding to him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth and glory of the gospel.” (Boice Expositional Commentary on Ephesians.)
The Bible speaks of being “born again” and it also speaks of “Adoption.” What is the difference?
1. “Born again” speaks of our being born into the family of God – it speaks of our salvation.
2. “Adoption” speaks of having the privilege of an adult.
“Adoption is the act of God by which He gives His “born ones” an adult standing in the family.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary (NT)
Under the Jewish, law a child born be into a family is in line to inherit his father’s fortune, but he must wait until he reaches adulthood to enjoy it.
But a child adopted into the family makes him eligible to enjoy God’s blessings now immediately.
Not only are we “born” into God’s family, we also have been “adopted” into His family, therefore we do not have to wait until we are old Christians before we can His blessings.
IV. IS ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. 6
“to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
“In Christ” makes us “accepted in the Beloved.”
Kenneth Wuest (Greek Scholar) says, “God the Father freely bestowed on us the grace which saved us, and did so in the sphere of the Lord Jesus, His Person and His work on the Cross.”
We, as sinners, could never clean ourselves up enough to be acceptable to a Holy God, but by His loving
grace He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to make us acceptable.
V. IS REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. 7
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace,”
What a wonderful verse this is! When my life or your life comes into contact with God through the Lord Jesus Christ all the mistakes of our lives are erased – they are removed through His grace – they are done with – over with – they are washed in His blood.
It is the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses the sinner and makes him acceptable before God.
VI. A MYSTERY HAS BEEN REVEALED. 8-9
“that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,”
The word “mystery” in the NT does not mean something weird or eerie, but something that was once hidden and now has been revealed to God’s people.
God has revealed to those “in Christ” something that the even OT saints never knew.
“he made known to us(those ‘in Christ’) the mystery of His will.”
1. God has given to us through Christ the ability to understand what he is doing.
2. In Christ the mystery of life is explained and apart from Christ it cannot be explained.
3. But God has seen fit to lift the veil from the mystery of life for those “in Christ.”
You see, only those “in Christ” can look at life from a heavenly view and that makes a lot of difference in this world.
Ron Dunn gives this illustration: “When viewing an embroidery from one side all you see is a tangled up mass of confusion – but when viewing it from the other side you see a beautiful design.”
To those “in Christ” God has given us the ability to view life from heaven’s view.
There we can see that God is taking our tangled up lives and making a beautiful design – a life with purpose and a life with meaning.
So, when life seems to be a tangled up and confused mess, just remember you are viewing it from the wrong side.
VII. THERE IS A SPECIAL DAY IN STORE. 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.”
On day God is going to gather up all those “in Christ” unto Himself.
Sin has torn everything apart, but one day God is going to put it all back together again.
Ron Dunn, once more, says that “gather together” is a military term meaning to gather the fragments of troops after a battle.”
1. Ever since Satan invaded the Garden and brought sin into the world Believers, down through the ages, have been engaged in a bloody battle with Satan and sin and a lot of troops have been scattered.
2. Well, one day God is going to gather all His scattered troops – all that have been lost to the grave, the seas, etc. and then everything is going to be made right.
3. We all run across some tangled threads in our life that we cannot explain or understand, but because God has given us a glimpse of the other side we can know that everything is going to be alright.
VIII. HAS OBTAINED AN INHERITANCE. 11-12
“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.”
This is a most marvelous statement and I must confess that I cannot understand the full significance of it.
1. We were sinners and by God’s grace He saved us and made us children of God and He gives us an inheritance.
We didn’t earn it – we do not deserve it – and yet, God in His great love gives it to us.
2. In Rom. 8:17, the Bible says that we are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
Again, I do not understand all this entails – I just believe the Bible, and it tells me that whatever is Jesus’ is going to be mine, also.
3. Here is another amazing truth! We are not only inheritors of God, but we (the church) are God’s inheritance. (see v. 18)
IX. THE BELIEVER IS SECURE. 13-14
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.
Talk about security! We are not only sealed by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is our seal.
Warren Wiersby says, “The Holy Spirit is God’s first installment to guarantee to His children that He will finish His work and eventually bring them to glory”
The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal – he is the earnest, the down-payment, the pledge of our inheritance in Christ.
For a Believer to lose his salvation this seal would have to be broken, and all the powers of hell, of this world, and Satan himself cannot do that.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!!!