- Open bibles or apps to Eph 1:3-14
- What was the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection?
- They validated his claims to deity
- They served notice to every Christian that we too will rise from the dead in a new body of glory
- But there was more going on, there was a working out of God’s comprehensive plan of salvation for us, a salvation that transfigures every part of the human condition, that leaves nothing undone for you and m
- Today we want to reverently explore Eph 1:3-10 by looking at three aspects of our salvation: three things Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection that result in our salvation.
Text: Eph 1:3-14
Blessed is 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 before Him in love. 5 He predestined us for adoption as his sons to himself through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his good pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has highly favored us in the Beloved.
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 He made 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 everything in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In Him we have been chosen by God as His own inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose 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 o truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you we sealed with the promised Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory!
- What was it that Jesus accomplished for us through his life, death and resurrection?
- Three things are clear in these verses: Through the person and work of Christ, God paid our legal debts, he transformed our nature, and he united us to himself. Let’s unpack these a little bit.
He paid our legal debts
- As people who come from the evangelical wing of the church, this is the aspect of salvation that we are most familiar with. So we won’t spend a lot of time on this.
- Our sins against God and one another incurred a legal debt, which Jesus came to fix. He lived a perfectly obedient life to the Father and he died on the cross as our substitute. His moral perfection was given to us; our sins we placed on him and judged. As Paul explained it in 2 Cor 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to become sin for us so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.”
- You see this legal transaction language in our passage through use of two phrases in 7:
- We have redemption through his blood – bought back from slave market; also delivered from a dire situation (like Israel in Egypt)
- The forgiveness of sins – verb aphesis, “to loose someone” from what binds them. Forgiveness a legal concept. It entails a cancellation of debt. In Col 2:14, Paul writes that God has “forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
- The result, according to our text, is found in: v.4 – that we should be holy and blameless – these are ritual terms meaning that we were qualified, ritually cleansed, to share sacred space with God; to be with God in the same space.
- Everything has been done. That’s why, as Jesus hung on the cross, He shouted tetelestai, It is finished!
- Having our debts wiped clean, record expunged, certificate of debt cancelled: this is all wonderful. And if that’s all God did, it would be enough to praise him for eternity. But it’s not all he did. It’s not even the best part of what he did. There is something far, far deeper.
He transformed our nature
- He didn’t just fix our legal problem. He fixed us. If all he did were to do is cancel our debt, what would he have? A bunch of forgiven sinners living with him forever in the life to come. Ex: like if you went to the most notorious prison and took all the prisoners on death row, issued a blanket pardon for them, then invited them to live in your home with your wife and kids. Does that sound like a recipe for eternal happiness to you? No! Why? Because they are still criminals in their hearts (assuming they haven’t had their hearts changed by the Holy Spirit), even though their records are cleared!
- Living with forgiven criminals was not God’s plan. His plan is to live forever with a large family of sons and daughters who bear his own image, because they have been given the divine DNA.
- Paul makes this point most clearly in Rom 8:29, where he writes: “Those people whom God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
- God’s goal is that you and I look like Jesus, and his first step was to put his sperm in us (that’s the language Ap. John uses in 1 Jn 3:9); Paul prefers the language of “Spirit”. We see that in v. 14: “you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”. That’s the beginning of our transformation process.
- It is also suggested in our text in v.5: He predestined us for adoption as sons (and daughters). In context, means more than just going though a legal process of being added to God’s family. In Roman adoption proceedings, a wealthy merchant, unable to have children of his own, could adopt a slave.(typically a son, patriarchal society): his former identity is erased, any crimes forgiven, a new name given, the family name, a new status conferred with rights to the inheritance. It was as if the old slave died and is now reborn as the son of this wealthy merchant.
- Paul borrows this imagery to describe what happens with a person who places his or her trust in Jesus Christ. But he and the other NT authors take the analogy one step further. Imagine if that wealthy merchant, as part of the adoption proceedings, had the technology to extract part of his own DNA, then transfer it to his adopted son, so that immediately the son begins to act think, feel, talk and act like the father, and over time, continues to grow more and more like his adopted father as his genome is transformed.
- The verb adopt in Greek is hiothesia means “son making”. It suggests that God changed our fundamental nature so that we could become like him and thus bear the family likeness.
The Son of God became a son of Adam,
So the sons of Adam might become sons of God.
What Jesus is by nature
He has made us by grace
- In Chapt 2:6 we “were by nature children of wrath”; v.2: “sons of disobedience”. In other words, we are all born into this world with a fundamental problem at the core of our being: our nature is misshapen.
- So this text is saying that God’s desire and plan from the beginning of creation was to change your very nature; to transform you from someone who is by nature a sinner into someone who is by nature a holy one.
- So, we are now: 2:15 – kainon anthropon, ‘new man’; 2 Cor 5:17: kainon ktisis, ‘new creation’
- When he saved you, he transplanted his divine DNA into your genome so that you are now fundamentally, foundationally, genetically a different species of being. Before you were sinful human being with a nature distorted by… so that your ability to image God was severely limited.
- But now the very sperm of God has been transplanted into you so you are a different order of being. Still a human being, but with the Spirit of God living in you; now a human being restored to your pristine state.
- And by the way, God’s transforming work isn’t limited to us. Did you notice v.10? His eternal plan is “to bring everything in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” Transform the entirety of the cosmos into a new heaven and new earth.”
- The third thing God did as part of our salvation…
He united us to Himself (Personal aspect)
- He loves us and wants us to be with him in face-to-face companionship forever. We’ll talk about this idea of being face to face with God next week. Beautiful theme runs throughout the bible. For our purposes here…
- Look at the rich, warm personal language used vv.3-8:
- Blessed us – 3
- Chose us – v. 4: verb eklegomai, personal interest in the one chosen
- Before him – v.4: in the presence of him, face-to-face with him
- In love – v.4; 2:4-“But because of His great love…”
- according to his good pleasure – v.5: something he delighted in doing
- Ch 2.7: in the coming ages
- Most Christians suffer from what Dane Ortland calls a “debilitating cloud of ambiguity” when it comes to what God thinks of us. Friends, this passage makes clear there is no ambiguity in God’s mind. He loves you, he chose you, he wants to bless you, he wants to live with your forever. When we internalize that fact, is allows us to rest in the confidence that we are God’s favored ones.
- Story by Brennan Manning about a priest visiting his Uncle Seamus: “Me abba is very fond of me” (Abba’s child p64)
Here’s the take away, friends
- God has saved you fully, completely. He’s not changed out your body yet, because he can’t do that without killing you. He has left nothing undone. Nothing!
- He has expunged your legal record of debt, he has annulled its provisions and nailed the accusing document to the cross, so that right now you are legally blameless before the court of heaven.
- He has transformed your deepest self and is in the process of transforming the rest of you, will change your physical body. But you are right now you are a new creature in Christ.
- And he has changed your relationship to him, making you his beloved child, bringing you into the closest possible face-to-face love relationship with him.
- Furthermore, he did all of these things “before the foundation of the world”: before time began or anything was in existence. So, his salvation of you wasn’t an afterthought, nor is it subject to historical contingencies. It was his plan and pleasure before the beginning of time.
- That is your salvation, guys. That is what God accomplished on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Glory be to God, in the name of the F, the S and the HS.