Over the last few weeks I have been doing my morning devotions from the Book of Ephesians. I have really enjoyed looking back into one of my favourite books of the Bible. I have been working my way through the major headings. The first heading is “Spiritual Blessings in Christ” and as you can see I have picked out three of the blessings we have in Christ – Chosen, Redeemed and Sealed by God.
Introduction to Ephesians (GNB)
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is concerned first of all with “God’s plan . . . to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head” (1:10). It is also an appeal to God’s people to live out the meaning of this great plan for the unity of the whole human race through oneness with Jesus Christ.
In the first part of Ephesians the writer develops the theme of unity by speaking of the way in which God the Father has chosen his people, how they are forgiven and set free from their sins through Jesus Christ the Son, and how God’s great promise is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. In the second part he appeals to the readers to live in such a way that their oneness in Christ may become real in their life together.
Several figures of speech are used to show the oneness of God’s people in union with Christ: the church is like a body, with Christ as the head; or like a building, with Christ as the cornerstone; or like a wife, with Christ as the husband. This letter rises to greater heights of expression as the writer is moved by the thought of God’s grace in Christ. Everything is seen in the light of Christ’s love, sacrifice, forgiveness, grace, and purity.
Bible Reading – Ephesians 1:3-14
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Today I have three main points and a smaller one I want to share from this passage.
Point 1 – God has chosen us and adopted us
A great truth of the Bible is that we who are in Christ or Christians are chosen.
Verse 4 of the text says, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
In this simple verse there are four great truths.
- Before the world was made we were on God’s mind
- God loves us
- We are chosen
- God sees us as faultless in His eyes.
Paul tells us that God “chose” us to emphasize the truth that salvation depends totally on God. We are not saved by our own good works or because we deserve it, but because God is gracious and loving and chose to freely give us salvation. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the price for our sin and our faith and our faith and trust in who He is and what He has done, we are saved. And the good news is that because we are saved and in Christ, we are faultless in His eyes.
Verse 5 of today’s text tells us that, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”
Again, verse five has a number of great truths.
- God decided in advance
- We are adopted into His eternal family
- It was His idea to save us
- Our salvation gave Him pleasure
God has adopted us into His eternal family. He decided in advance to do this. We are now His children. John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”
So, we are chosen, saved and adopted by God.
Point 2 – We are redeemed by God
Verse 7 tells us, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.”
Redemption is an important word in the Christian faith. Redemption is about the buying back or release of an object or person. In the Bible redemption refers to God’s ransoming of believers through the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross and to all the benefits that this brings. So, Jesus paid the price on the cross to redeem us back to God.
Why did we need to be redeemed? We needed to be redeemed because we could not save ourselves. When we talk about salvation we see that in our natural state without Christ we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that this sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
Some people and some religions think they can redeem themselves by good works. They think if their good deeds out way their bad deeds, then God will accept them. The Bible tells us that salvation is not by good works, so no-one can boast. It is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This is where Christ comes in with His work on the cross. In Christ we have been freed. Through His death on the cross as a payment for our sin the price has been paid.
Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 tells us that, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time”.
Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many. It is by Christ’s shed blood that our sins are forgiven. We celebrate this each week in communion. His death opened the way to God. He is the one mediator between God and mankind. Our redemption is 100% totally and completely paid for by the death of Christ.
Point 3 – We are sealed by the Holy Spirit
Verses 13 and 14 of today’s text tells us. “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.”
Again, in these two verses there are more amazing truths.
- The good news of Christ saves us
- God identified us as His own by giving us the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we received an inheritance and we are His own people.
Ephesians 4:30b says, “Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 also says, “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything He has promised us.”
Romans 8:23 says, “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.
The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as a deposit, a guarantee, down payment of what we will receive.
The Greek word used for sealed is sphragizō. This means to stamp (like with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation. In the ancient world seals were very important. If a letter was stamped with the King’s seal, or Caesars seal, it carried the full weight of the King. It has power. Much like a letter written on the letterhead of the Queen or the Prime Minister carries weight today.
The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee, His stamp, His seal, that we belong to Him and He will do what He has promised to do in our lives. As believers we can look forward to the great day when are freed from our bodies and we will live forever with Him without pain, suffering or sin.
Because the Holy Spirit is our seal we can know we are saved. We can know we belong to God. We can know without doubt God will do all He promised.
Point 4 – Our salvation is all about God
Just before I finish and summarise my message today I want to share some points that really jumped out at me as I read this passage. These are straight from my morning devotions.
V4 – He chose us before the foundation of the world
V5 – He predestined us to be adopted
V7 – In Him we have redemption
V7 – In Him we have forgiveness of sins
V9 – And He made know salvation to us
V11 – In Him we were chosen and predestined
V13 – In Him we are sealed by the Holy Spirit
Our salvation really is about God and His desire to save us, forgive us and adopt us into His eternal family. We truly are chosen, redeemed and sealed.
So today we looked at Ephesians chapter 1. It is a great passage that assures us of a number of things. The three that we looked at today are…
- God chose us and adopted us
- We are redeemed by God
- We are sealed by the Holy Spirit
- Our salvation is all about God
- Ephesians 1:3 - 14