This text tonight, and all of the ones following, are weighty and I pray that we believers get much out of it to see how much Christ loves us and how much God has in store for us.
To the heathen, this is but a tiny peek into what you’re missing out on, and an open invitation for you to join us in this great mystery revealed and treasure received.
So we just went over the “what” of Christ did for us in John. Now Paul is about to explain the “what” thereof, the “why” and the “how”,
Let me get an idea of where y’all are at right now:
How many of y’all have read Ephesians and what did you get out of it then?
So, basically, this letter can be divided into 2 halves; the first being Paul explaining the mechanics of the Gospel-that is what is it and how and why do we care; the second half being Paul showing us how to live what all that has just been taught.
A couple to key things to look out for as we go through this letter:
The phrase “in him/Christ”
This is the only letter where Paul doesn’t have a rebuke for its readers (Which is interesting given Revelation 2)
The unity and edification of the Church. Particularly between Jews and Gentiles.
So let’s dive into Paul’s background a bit and then some of Fairmount’s theology and the gospel.
What do y’all know about Paul?
A former Christian-Killing Jew turned apostle of Christ by the will of decree of God. You can read more on him in Acts 7-9.
What\’s it mean to be “an apostle of Jesus Christ”?/Why does he bother mentioning it?
Early in his conversion, the church debated whether or not to let Paul enter a local church body, let alone let him service or lead. But once the other disciples/apostles saw that Paul denounced/repented of his former ways and saw the fruit of his new life in Christ and began preaching the gospel, even to the point where the Romans threw him in prison-like when he penned this letter, they became convinced. Here, Paul mentions it as a reminder to the church at Ephesus of his own credentials. Moreover, I would argue, that verse 1 and 2 are a kind of thesis that Paul is putting forth for his letter.
What’s “by the will of God” mean here?
Here, as Paul is giving his credentials, he also reminds them that he was called by God. Him-Paul-“the least of sinners” (3:8), a Christ-hating Jew was saved by God. I believe he puts this here as a reminder that God willed the worst of sinners to salvation; IE NO ONE is beyond Him. As Spurgeon, my dead mentor put it, “As long as there is breathe in the sinner’s lungs there is still hope for them.”
Do y’all ever get discouraged in outreach ever to your friends or family?
If so, I think Paul here means to encourage us to never lose heart/hope and continue in the work of evangelism/sharing and defending the faith because it\’s not by your will but God’s will. God will fill His Church undoubtedly because it was planned to be filled “before the foundation of the world”. Thus, we should not only pray for souls to be saved but for God to make us worthy of such a glorious use in His kingdom.
Who’s Paul writing to?
“the saints who are in Ephesus”
Ephesus is within Asia Minor.
What’s it mean to be a saint?
Literally, “holy ones”.
The Saints are saints by the will of God and therefore are faithful. They weren’t faithful and then made saints; sainthood comes first, that is our holiness comes first and then our faithfulness.
Given that definition of “saint”, what’s it mean to be holy?
“Holiness if first of all a positional category (IE how God views us). When God’s word regards something as holy, it means primarily that the something in question has been set apart for special use by the Lord. We’re set apart as holy in opposition to the unholy world, and then by the Spirit, we become purer and purer in practice. We become in action what we are in position- holy, set apart for God.”- (https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/gods-holy-people/)
God has declared us holy in His Son (we are “saints”) and now He is making us holy so that one day we might be without spot or wrinkle (5:25-27). Those that are called by the Spirit seek to live up to the high calling of holiness.
So all that said, what makes us holy?
Not our works. Living in a holy manner as a corporate body isn’t what makes us holy in God’s eyes, although it confirms our confession of Christ to the world. The Church is holy because it is in Christ and through faith and repentance we seek to be in practice what God says we are positionally in His Son.
Or to put it another simpler way, Christ is holy, Christ is in us, therefore, God sees His Son in us and not ourselves. Therefore, holiness is a positional category in regards to our standing with God.
Let\’s break down the mechanics of that a bit more.
Have y’all ever heard of a theological phrase “double imputation”?
Double imputation is what happens when we accept Christ for who He is as Lord over us and Savior from our sin.
Imputation is essentially a transference. It is the transfer of our sin to Christ and Christ’s righteousness/holiness to us. (As a brief aside, The virgin birth is important, in part, because original sin/the sin and guilt of our first father was passed down to us from him through our lineage; but Christ wasn’t born from the line of Adam but from God; therefore original sin “skipped” over Christ and thus His had His divine nature with Him since birth.)
This is simply the phrase we theologians (if you will) use to describe what happens when we accept Christ. And that’s where Paul is coming from here.
“Grace” what is it?
“Peace” What’s that?
Peace, rest of hostility, between us Saints and God.
Paul always says, “grace and peace” in that order in the opening of, most, of his letters. Why do y’all think that might be?
Because the unearned favor of God must be given first to a sinner in the form of the gift of salvation through Jesus before the sinner can stop his war against God in his sin and have peace/rest with Him.
This is ultimately the banner under which the Church is knitted together, the grace and peace of God the Father through Jesus. Thus, in just the first 2 verses, I think Paul gives us his thesis for the whole book where he’ll talk about the will of God, the unity of the Church, and our relationship with Christ.
What do y’all see here/what do y’all get out of that?
What’s worth noting in this passage is that Paul includes no punctuation in the original writing but merely explodes in worship and awe of God and all He’s done for us. All punctuation was later added to aid in the study of this portion.
Moreover, Paul sets forth the plan of salvation in terms of the past, election 1:3-6, the present, redemption, 1:6-11, and the future, inheritance 1:7-12, 13-16. As well as the triune nature of our salvation, The Father adopts us 1:3-6, the Son Redeems us 1:7-12, the Holy Spirit seals us 1:13-14.
Why does Paul “bless” God here?
Because God blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.
What’s it mean to “bless” God?
To speak well or to praise Him.
“blessed” God looking to us and speaking goodness into and then of us.
How do we get these “spiritual blessings”?
We have them “in Christ” so we get them in relation, or in union, to Christ. We already have these blessings by our relationship with Christ.
Now, what are these “spiritual blessings”
“every spiritual blessing” IE all Spiritual blessing that God has to give is now your’s. In His grace, God has already given believers total blessing. “Spiritual” does not refer to immaterial blessings as opposed to material ones, but rather to the work of God, who is the divine and spiritual source of all blessings.
“in the heavenly places” literally, “in the heavenlies” Referring to God’s total domain from which all His blessings come.
“In Christ” God’s over-abundant blessings belong only to believers who are His children, by faith in Christ, so that what He has is their’s- including His righteousness, resources, privilege, position, and power.
Do y’all often feel this truth? Do y’all feel this overabundance of blessing from God?
I don’t, not often anyhow.
Why do y’all think we don’t often feel this?
Probably because of our self-reliance.
In our fight against our sin, it\’s not our strength we rely on; its God’s. And we have access to all of it by all of grace. The same Christ that saved/redeemed you is the same that will sanctify you; you relied on Him for your salvation now you must increase this reliance on Him for delivery of the besieging sins in our lives. Experience this reality to know this reality/truth.
What\’s it mean when Paul says, “before the foundation of the world”?
Before before. Before the world was created we, Saints, were chosen by God out of love to be with Him as holy and blameless.
Why do y’all think Paul mentions this?
To emphasize God’s grace in salvation. Grace unmerited favor. He planned to grace us with grace before. He writes this to show us how gracious God is toward us.
(God gives us every spiritual blessing to us in Christ. Even tho we don’t deserve them; this is part of what “before the foundation of the world” means. You don’t have these blessings because you’re so special but because of Christ and your union with Him. You possess every blessing that Christ has all this planned before the creation of the universe.)
Now, given this, what’s it means when Paul says, “in Christ”?
For our purposes, we have our blessings in Christ because of what He did for us, 1:4
“holy and blameless” Holy the positive and blameless negative IE, “My people are chosen so that they will have 0 defects someday/one day and full of love/beauty; the positive and the negative.”
“holy” set apart. The angels cry Holy x3 in Revelation. Therefore God is holy and we’re called to share in that same preciousness/set aside-ness of God. We are to be a set-aside/removed from sin as He is.
What’s it mean when Paul says, “before Him”?
He is our father and He wants to be near us. As Paul is about to get more into with the end of 1:4/start of 1:5.
In the original, Paul has no grammar through 1:14. So here, is why this verse break is so odd to us. The KJV says, “be holy and blameless before him in love.” but most of the bible now says, “be holy and blameless before him.” and then put love and predestination together.
But are theologically and biblical sound.
Love, in its perfection, is holy and blameless. So “in love could go to 1:4 perfectly. Or out of His abundant love, He predestined us. Both are true either way it works.
So, given this, why are you saved? Why are you a Christian?
According to this verse, because of God’s love in your life, you are saved. He saved you out of His love for you. (not your’s for Him).
“he predestined us for adoption…” this helps us to get to the point/meaning/intention of what being “chosen” (1:4)
We were chosen for adoption.
Now we’re going to talk about this “predestination” doctrine and then this “adoption” doctrine.
What\’s the word “predestined” mean?
According to Fairmount theology, predestination is conditional. Which states that election is conditional on the one who wills to have faith in God for salvation. Although God knows from the beginning of the world who will go where the choice is still with the individual. IE God looked down the corridor of time and saw that you in your own will would come to Him for salvation and He then chose to elect you for salvation based on your actions.
Bottom line: Salvation is available to all by God’s grace and God wants to bring you to Himself to love and enjoy Him forever.
(So, Election just says, “you’re mine, I chose you for my own” and predestination just says, “you’re destiny is this: sonship.”
Thus, the destiny of those whom God freely chooses/elects is adoption/sonship. For more on adoption go to Romans 8:14-17.)
So how are we adopted?
We are adopted through the atonement (1 Peter 3:18) and faith (John 1:11-13).
So what’s that mean to be adopted? To be a child of God?
Again Paul emphasizes God’s grace is not only saving us from our sin and damnation but also making us His own possession and making us apart of His family.
This adoption is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David when God says, “I will be his father and he shall be my some…” (2 Samuel 7:14)
There are 2 aspects to this adoption: 1) God as Father 2) We, His children
Spurgeon preaches on these verses and asks what it means when God says, “I will be his father”
Love of the highest order, eternal, irreversible.
Provision for every present and future want IE cleansing, clothing, healing, food, drink, presence.
Protection: From our numerous enemies. This God’s children always need because they always are children.
Instruction: We are all by nature ignorant (Ch 3) Our Father will teach us by His Spirit.
Correction: Sin needs to be whipped out of us. God’s people shall have it according to His wisdom.
An Inheritance is provided.
And on the “he shall be my son” Spurgeon continues:
“There are certain tempers which are necessary make of Sonship:
Love. Absolutely necessary. All other marks vain.
Obedience. A holy life cannon be dispensed with. God will make His children obey Him.
Trust. Faith in His promises of protection.
Teachableness. Sitting at His feet to learn of Him.
Submission to His correction. Children have this.
Preparation for glory, the business of our lives.
So what’s the point of all that Paul put forth here?
The praise of His glorious grace. All that God does is our praising of His glory and that glory reaches its’ apex in grace. His grace causes in us His praise for Him. All His grace comes to an apex in His grace toward unworthy, rebellious, hateful sinners. No one is worthy of this but He did it anyway; that’s what makes it praiseworthy.
What makes His grace glorious?
The fact that we had nothing to do with it. And that grace redeemed us and turned us into children of God.
What makes it praise-worthy? Why do we sing to God?
Because God saved us when He didn’t have to. He is our Father, kind and long-suffering to us. Our praise is a “thank you” to Him.
“to the praise of his glorious grace” God delights to draw His elect to Himself to magnify His glory and His grace.
“the purpose of his will” rather than just ‘his will’. Piper thinks that this phrase that Paul wrote inclines the freedom God has in doing His will. Or perhaps the pleasure He has in doing it/carrying it out. God runs the world the way He wants to run the world, and this is good news because He is good. Predestination means that you will spend eternity praising the beauty/glory of His grace in your life. And praise is the happy overflow of thanksgiving and adoration.)
(what is the end goal of predestination? God did it this way so that we might live for the praise of the glory of His grace. All that God does is our praising of His glory and that glory reaches its apex in grace.
All His grace comes to an apex in His grace toward sinners.
Election is all our grace; no one deserves election, therefore, electing grace is praiseworthy.
God didn’t foresee our lives and on the basis of our lives/merit chose us. He chose us not on anything we did.
Eph 4:29 God in His sovereignty is/can be grieved if you do what is contrary to His will/command. So is God just and is man responsible?
He can be grieved. Therefore we have moral agency.
Election/PreD do not turn us into puppets; our moral agency has significance.
Our disobedience is by our nature AND nevertheless deserve God’s just wrath. That\’s the paradox we live with. Enjoy the madness because it is truth. God is absolutely sovereign. and you are still completely responsible/accountable. Get your convictions from the bible, not your assumptions.
“but God can’t be totally sovereign and hold me totally responsible” where did you get that from the bible? that\’s not in the bible at all. God is just in giving wrath because we are by nature rebellious against Him. All this is in Chapter 1.)
all of 1:3-14 in the original greek is one sentence; Paul writes and explodes with worship of this great redemption.
Now, I need to ask a question of y’all that will determine the rest of the study of Ephesians: was the cross plan B of God?
(It was clearly Plan A. But be gracious to them regardless.)
(All that preD stuff doesn’t happen without Jesus\’ blood/death. Given that our predestination happened before foundation we, therefore, say that Jesus\’ death was pre-planned as well. As well as everything leading up to the death of Jesus including the fall.
Including the killing of Jesus which means killers were pre-planned also. God wasn’t shocked in the day of Gen 3.
“to the riches of His grace” His love is costly but it comes from grace, therefore, all of this is of and from grace for God’s eternal praise. We have all this grace in Him and we are therefore never poor in Christ.)
How do we have redemption through His blood?
His blood paid for our sin against God.
It’s interesting the order that Paul writes all this, read it in reverse:
You don’t know the riches of His grace without the forgiveness of trespasses/sins and you don’t have the forgiveness without the blood and you don’t have the blood without Christ and you don’t have Christ without God’s love.
I say all this to emphasize God’s love in His forgiveness toward us. The price of our salvation was death. The cost of our salvation is honoring and cherishing that death.
Who’s wisdom and insight do y’all think Paul talks about here?
God’s. He writes of how God in wisdom poured out in abundance His grace.
Why does Paul describe God’s will as a “mystery”?
Not so much that we don’t know it; but more so something was was unknown, mysterious, that has been made known.
“set forth in Christ”. Tell me, why would God set up the redemptive plan in such a way as He did?
In short, His glory.
Does having Christ die for His enemies seem like a very wise and insightful plan?
Because it was the only way for salvation. Often you’ll hear the atheist say “what kind of God would send His Son to die for sinners”? the answer is, according to Paul here, a wise and loving and insightful God.
The gospel is the supreme expression of the grace of God and the grace of God is the supreme expression of the glory of God.
Let me ask this question of y’all, who are you?
Christ is in you Christian and you in Him. This is your chief identity. You were made on purpose with a purpose by GOD. You were made for and by the glory of God. That’s why you exist; no other answer justifies existence let alone the pain thereof.
What do y’all think this means?
God has a plan and executes, and is executing, the plan to unite all things back to Him. IE to bring all that is in total submission to Himself and His will.
All of “all things” are mine because of my heir-ness with Christ; therefore I can live a simple godly life without the stuff.
Let’s stay in this verse a minute or two where I gotta pick you brains for a bit.
In yalls opinion what are some of the main problems facing the church today?
What is the goal/mission of your life? IE where do you want to be in 20 years?
Do you want to have a lot of stuff? A lot of money? Why?
In the 20th century, off the heels of a lot of revivals, there was an attempt to reconcile the “Christian culture” with the reality that a lot of the fruits of those revivals didn’t seem to last for too long. The idea of a “carnal/fleshy Christian” came about. That is, “Christians” that claimed to be saved but there was little marked change in their lives. I mention this because while it is not a doctrine that widely held in speech it is still predominant in practice. IE, “cultural Christians” are still running amok in society and church at large. I fear today’s Christians are far too influenced by the world in many different ways. One, of many, of them being that we have no desire to change those around us and wish to remain “safe” from the culture at large. We wish to have Christ in one hand and the world in the other. Here, Paul speaks about our inheritance.
What do y’all think that “inheritance” is?
God Himself and His rich provisions for us in this life that we might endure. God desires you feel/know your security in Him. Our security in God for our salvation and sanctification.
Beloved, do you feel this, do you know this truth in your heart? That no matter what sin may besiege you, what trail may test you, what hardship you might endure you are safe in God’s sovereign hand.
This is but a tiny taste of the sweetness of the doctrine of predestination-that is our security in God and God alone.
I mention this and the “carnal Christian” doctrine with the intent of showing the contrast between what we think is security and what Paul teaches us is true security. Our lives are not to be secure in our big house, our family or friends, our popularity, our entertainment or riches, health or looks but in and from God.
With all that said, how do we rest secure in God for our salvation?
None of this relies on us but God and His predetermined plan for us. This plan was determined before before. It will by His power come about. And He invites all of us to be apart of that plan to praise Him forever. Only the fool rejects such a part to play in this loving plan of glory and praise to and from God.
I say that last part as an open and standing invitation to Alaina and Ed. Make no mistake we all love having y’all with us here, no doubt and we hope you continue to come. But we all desire to have y’all join us spiritually in this study as well. Here, I only echo what Paul, and John for that matter, invite you into that is the eternal glorious riches, these spiritual blessings, of Jesus Christ. Come as you, and indeed taste and see that the Lord is good; to know these glorious riches in knowing Christ.
For the past several weeks now y’all have heard much about Christ from the scriptures. Now, answer me this question: do you wish to personally know the Christ in any way? Yes or No?
If yes, then after the study we’ll talk more about what it means and what the cost of personally knowing Christ is and then we’ll go from there and get you baptized asap.
If no, then we’ll counties to love you and pray all the more for you that the eyes of your heart be enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power. As stated before, it\’s open and standing; acceptable at any time, but don’t think you can delay long; for no one is promised tomorrow.
(All of “all things” are mine because of my heir-ness with Christ; therefore I can live a simple godly life without stuff.
\”God Threatens Our Security in Everything but God
But it would be a terrible misunderstanding if we thought that these Scriptures were written to threaten our security in God. Exactly the opposite is the case. They are written to threaten our security in everything but God. If you find your security in health, the Bible is a threat to you. If you find your security in your family or job or money or education, the Bible is a threat to you. And in threatening all these utterly inadequate foundations of security, the Bible drives us relentlessly and lovingly back to the one and only eternal and unshakable foundation for security—God. All the threats and warnings of the Bible declare with one voice: sin is an effort to feel secure in anything other than God.)
Therefore, when God demands on the one hand, \”Turn from sinning or you will die,\” and on the other hand, \”Feel eternally secure in my love and you will live,\” he is not demanding two different things. Sin is what you do when you replace security in God with other things. So when God threatens our feelings of security in the world, it\’s because he wants us to feel secure in his love and power. The threats and promises of Scripture have one message: seek your security in God alone.” (https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/sealed-by-the-spirit-to-the-day-of-redemption).
1:12 Who are these ones “first to hope in Christ”? The Jews.
What is hope and what\’s it mean to hope in Christ?
Hope is faith, trust in God, in the future tense. Thus, I think to hope in Christ is to say that we have faith that in the future Christ will indeed “unite all things in Him” or maybe a future hope for salvation/place in Heaven through Christ.
God works in your doubts. He works via sealing you with His Holy Spirit.
You will not wake up tomorrow and be a believer because of you but because God sealed you.
And that Holy Spirit is purposed to glorify Jesus and tomorrow morning you will wake up and Jesus will be strong enough to hold you. You’re not leaving; because you’re His.
So God does everything/all things to the praise of His glory. Is that a problem for you?
What Does “Sealed\” Mean?
Sealed, like a king or lord would seal a letter of orders being sent to his troops. The seal was a sign that only the king had access to and therefore, whenever the orders arrived the troop knew who it was from, security, it authority/power, and its legitimacy.
In a likewise manner God shows us to whom we belong, our authority, and our legitimacy by having His own Spirit indwell the believer and secures their eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit is given by God as His pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory. It is a message of safety and security in God\’s love and power. God sends the Holy Spirit as a preserving seal to lock in our faith, as an authenticating seal to validate our sonship, and as a protecting seal to keep out destructive forces. The point is that God wants us to feel secure and safe in his love and power
(There are two great words here that aim to help us feel secure in God\’s love and power: the word \”sealed,\” and the word \”guarantee.\” Let\’s see if we can unseal this word \”sealed\” and look inside. What does it mean that believers have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (v. 13)? The word is used at least three different ways in the New Testament.
In Matthew 27:66, the tomb of Jesus was secured by sealing it and putting guards around it. In Revelation 20:3 God throws Satan into a pit and seals it over so he can\’t escape. So one meaning is locking something up, closing it in.
Another is found in Romans 4:11 where Abraham\’s circumcision is called the sign and seal of the righteousness he had by faith. And in 1 Corinthians 9:2 Paul says that his converts are the seal of his apostleship. So the second meaning of sealing is giving a sign of authenticity.
A third meaning is found in Revelation 7:3 where the seal of God is put on the forehead of God\’s servants to protect them from the wrath coming upon the world.
So what did Paul mean in Ephesians 1:13 when he said that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit? No matter which of these meanings you use the basic truth is the same.
If the Spirit seals shut, the point must be that he seals in faith and seals out unbelief and apostasy.
If the Spirit seals us as a sign of authenticity, then he is that sign and it is the Spirit\’s work in our life which is God\’s trademark. Our eternal sonship is real and authentic if we have the Spirit. He is the sign of divine reality in our lives.
Or if the Spirit marks us with God’s seal, he protects us from evil forces which won\’t dare to enter a person bearing the mark of God\’s own possession.
However, you come at this message contained in this word)
Therefore God’s message to us in this is: So then, what is God saying to us when he gives us his Holy Spirit and calls him a guarantee or a down-payment? He is saying, \”My great desire for those who believe in me is that you feel secure in my love. I have chosen you before the foundation of the world. I have predestined you to be my children forever. I have redeemed you by the blood of my Son. And I have put my Spirit in you as a seal and a guarantee. Therefore, you will receive the inheritance and praise the glory of my grace forever and ever. And I tell you this here in Ephesians chapter 1 because I want you to feel secure in my love and my power. I don\’t promise you an easy life. In fact, through many tribulations, you must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22). I don’t promise always to speak in soft tones of approval, but to warn you in love whenever you begin to seek security in anything but me.” God’s desire for us is stronger than our’s for Him even on our best days. Therefore, He will not lose any of us.