Saturday, February 13, 2010

Believer's #Wealth In #Christ> #Ephesians 1

Theme: Christ's body, the church.

1. Its wealth (1 - 3)
    A. Election (1:1-4)
    B. Predestination (1:5-6)
    C. Redemption (1:7-10)
    D. Inheritance (1:8-12)
    E. Sealing (1:13-14)
    F. Power (1:15-23)
 
God the Father is "blessed". This is a compound word coming from two roots, "well", and "spoken". It means we should "speak well" of God the Father, because He has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (3).

In John 14:20 and 17:21-23, Christ predicted believers would be placed in Him, and He in them. Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 2 - 3 say God the Spirit baptizes, unites, or places believers into Christ, making them one with each other and God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches this "position" includes the benefit of having Christ's righteousness imputed to our account, and our sin to Christ's account. Since all believers are "in Christ", they are already "saints" [consecrated to God, separated from sin] in their spiritual standing before God (1). Ephesians one lists several other blessings of the believer's position "in Christ".

Election (1:1-4):

The doctrine of election is offensive to many people. This may be because the unsaved nature is at enmity with God (Romans 7:23; 8:5-8), does not want to acknowledge God is sovereign (cf. Daniel 4; *4:25), and because a sovereign God eliminates man's ability to secure his own salvation, or boast of his merit (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 9:16-24; Ephesians 2:8-10). Even so, election was among the first doctrines Christ taught those the Father drew to Him (John 6).

God "chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world" (4; NAS). This means God sovereignly selected whom He wanted to save apart from any merit in the one elected. There are at least several reasons God must be the one who chooses believers to salvation: 1) Because He is sovereign (John 1:13; Romans 9; Ephesians 1:11,22).

If God had to elect people, He would cease to be sovereign, and would be under the authority of men. 2) Because this is the only way to glorify His grace (Romans 11:5-6; Ephesians 2:1-10). If man were able to choose God, he could boast, and God would not get all the glory for saving him. 

To prevent man from glorying before God, salvation must be entirely the act of God, including the decision of whether or not to impart saving faith (John 1:13; Romans 9:16ff). 3) Because man is spiritually dead, and therefore unable to respond to God, unless God makes him alive (Romans 3:9-18; Ephesians 2:1-7; cf. John 6:44, 65, 70; 11:43-44). 
 
As a man cannot give birth to himself (John 1:13; 3), and cannot bring himself to life from the dead (John 11), so he cannot, in his spiritually dead condition, even so much as choose to trust Christ (John 1:13; Romans 9:16; Eph. 2:1-10). 4) Because man, in his unregenerate state, is unwilling to trust God (Romans 3;9-18; 8:5-8).

Even if unsaved men were able to make a decision for, or trust Christ, they would never do it, but would oppose it with all their might. 5) Because only a sovereign God can insure man's ultimate salvation (Romans 8:28-39). If God did not work "all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11), He could not insure the fulfillment of His plan for believer's eternal salvation.

Romans 9:16-24 anticipates man will object to the fact that he can only be saved if God chooses Him, and that he will be lost forever if God does not. The only answer it gives is that God is sovereign, can do whatever He wants with His creation, and that man does not have the right to question His creator. Because man is a sinner, God is not obligated to save anyone, but would be perfectly just in sending everyone to an eternal hell (Romans 1-3; 2 Thess. 1:8-9). It is only because He is merciful that He saves anyone at all (Romans 9; Ephesians 2:4). The great benefit of election to a believer, however, is that it insures Him of God's unconditional love, and his ultimate salvation (Romans 8:28-39).

Predestination (1:5-6):

This means God pre-determined, planned, or marked out the boundaries of our destiny, beforehand. The goal of God's pre-determined plan for those He decided to save in eternity past, is that they be become "holy and blameless before Him" (4), adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ (5), "accepted in the beloved" [Christ] (6) and that they thus glorify His grace (unmerited favor). God's predestination of believers insures them of their ultimate salvation (cf. Romans 8:28-39), and God of eternal glory (Eph. 1:12; 2:7; 3:21).

Redemption (1:7-10):

Christ's bloody death frees the believer from the penalty of sin (Galatians 3:13; cf. 2 Thess. 1:8-9), power of sin in his daily life (Romans 6 - 8:17), and ultimately from the presence of sin in glory (Romans 8:18-39). This redemption is of such universal power and scope, that it brings all things material and spiritual under the authority and headship of Christ, something which will be fully demonstrated in His millennial and eternal kingdom on earth (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Ephesians 1:10, 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:20; cf. Revelation 20 - 22). This does not mean all men will be saved, for Revelation speaks of multitudes being cast into the lake of fire. Rather it means believers are free from sin, and that all things are summed up under the authority of one head--Christ.

Inheritance (1:8-12):

The believer's inheritance in Christ includes freedom from the presence of our corrupt sin nature, sorrow, sickness, and suffering (Romans 7:24; 8:18-25; Revelation 21-22), the hope of a new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-57), eternal glory (Romans 8:18, 28-30; 1 Peter 1:7, 8; 5:1, 4, 10; Revelation 21-22), and an eternal dwelling in Christ's presence in New Jerusalem (John 14; Revelation 21-22), etc. Also, believers will become the inheritance, or heritage of God, since His purpose in providing all these benefits to us is ultimately "to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:11-12).

Sealing (1:13-14):

Since God's purpose in providing these benefits to believers is to secure for Himself a trophy for the eternal display of His grace, He seals them in Christ with the Holy Spirit (13). The Spirit indwells believers the moment they hear and rely upon the gospel, serving as a down payment to insure the completion of their salvation (14; cf. Romans 8:23-39), and that God receive eternal glory. 
 
Power (1:15-23):

Paul prayed God would give the church enlightenment, so they might know "what is the hope of His [God's] calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints [above], and [now] the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (18-19). God's ability to deliver us from the penalty, power, and presence of sin, and to bestow the riches of His inheritance, was demonstrated when He raised Christ from the dead (cf. Romans 1:4), seated  Him at His right hand, and placed all things in subjection under His [Christ's] feet. Creation of the material universe is described as the work of God's fingers (Psalm 8:3), but saving man from sin
required His "right arm" (Isaiah 52:10; Psalm 98:1).

Since the believer, by the Spirit, has been so united to Christ as to have "died with Him to sin", and to have been "raised with Him to newness of Life" (Romans 6), the power of Christ's resurrection not only frees him from the penalty of sin, but is also available to give him victory over the power of sin in his daily life, and ultimately to deliver him from the very presence of his sin nature (Romans 6 - 8). God's power (manifested in the resurrection of Christ) brings all things material and spiritual under the authority and headship of Christ. This headship will be demonstrated over the whole universe in His millennial and eternal kingdom (Rev 20-21), but is now shown through His body, the church.

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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