Ephesians 1:11-14 – The believers’ inheritance

Paul concludes his lengthy spiritual blessing by writing about the believers’ inheritance from God. Both to the Jewish believers first, and then to the Gentile believers.

v.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.” Paul when writing “we are united with Christ” is specifically referring to the Jewish believers (himself included). Paul writes that God chose the Jewish believers in advance or predestined beforehand to receive “an inheritance from God” before he included the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). The Jews were were given God’s inheritance as God’s chosen people (Deut 4:20) or they were claimed by God as his portion.“He makes everything work out according to his plan” is talking about everything is under God’s sovereign control. Because God controls everything, he will carry out his plan “according to his plan” or “in conformity with the purpose of his will” NIV and bring it to completion in his timing. God’s design was that the chosen people or the children of Israel or the Jews would bring salvation to the rest of the world but he had chosen the Jews as his personal possession or his portion first (Deut 32:9). Paul uses “we” to refer to the Jewish believers but later on this this passage he uses “you” to refer to the Gentile believers.

v.12,“God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.” Now it is clear when Paul uses “we” he is specifically speaking of the Jewish believers. Salvation was first brought to the Jews, they “were the first to trust in Christ.” This means that the Jews were the first to believe in Christ because the gospel was preached first to them and that the gospel message would then be offered to the Gentiles through the Jews which brought unity in Christ to all believers, resulting in bringing “praise and glory to God.” God’s ultimate plan for all of his creation was to glorify himself.

v.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, who he promised long ago.” Now Paul writes specifically to the Gentile believers using “you.” The Gentiles “also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves” which simply was speaking of “the Gospel of your salvation” NIV. The Gospel conveys the “truth”, which is able to save the believer. But while “hear[ing] the truth” brings knowledge, it does not bring salvation. These people also “believed in Christ.” When they believed, “he [Christ] identified you as his own” showing that they were included “in Christ.” How did he do this? He “stamped [them] with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]” AMP. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a once-for-all act at conversion, that gives believers continued assurance that they are saved—believers.

v.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.” Paul is using a term “guarantee” for the Holy Spirit that was used in ancient time to describe an engagement ring. It is like a promise to your fiancée that you are planning to marry them. In the same way God’s deposit of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives is like an engagement ring that shows that we belong to Christ until we go to be with him forever in heaven. Our “guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people” is that God, unlike most people, never breaks his promises. If you have trusted Christ, you are his forever! “He did this so we would praise and glorify him” is a phrase Paul has used in the past (1:6, 1:12). Paul is saying the reason for this guarantee is so that God will be praise and glorified.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God has given all believers (Jews and Gentile believers) an inheritance, that is being saved from our sins if we believe in Christ and his sacrifice. And the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we will receive this inheritance. And all of this was to bring praise and glory to God.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  So thankful that God chose to give me an inheritance and that the Holy Spirit guarantees it. I have assurance of my salvation and I want to give all honour and praise to God for it!

June 3, 2020 at 7:19 PM Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:9-10 – God’s secret plan

Paul continues his lengthy spiritual blessing by writing about God’s secret plan…

v.9,“God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.” Paul now starts to write about God’s secret plan and how God is now decided to reveal it to us. “God has now revealed to us” or “made known” NIV which means something that was formerly hidden but is now made known. The idea behind God’s secret plan was it was not revealed to us yet because God chose not to reveal it. “Us” is believers, all believers. The reason Paul says it is now revealed to us is because up to this point “his mysterious will regarding Christ” was just that, a mystery. Paul is writing about the plan of salvation for all mankind and up to this point the whole plan has been a mystery. This mystery is God’s plan or God’s will. God has chosen to finally reveal his secret plan to the world which was only possible because of Christ. In the NIV it uses the phrase “according to his good pleasure,” it pleased God to make known to all believers the mystery of his will.

v.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.” This verse is a continuation of v.9, Paul starts to reveal “the plan” or in the MSG “long-range plan” referring to God’s plan finally to be revealed. “At the right time” is talking about God’s timing. Sometime in the future that God only knows. “He will bring everything together” or “put into effect” NIV is talking about administration. This is referring to management of a household or in this case God’s management of his secret plan. Christ will put everything into effect according to God’s timing. “Under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” is a time in the future only God knows (a universal reconciliation) where all creation will be brought back to its rightful owner and creator, under the authority of Christ. Sin holds people in bondage and caused all creation to fall from the perfect state in which God created it. One day in the future God will fix everything. When that day arrives everything in heaven and on the earth will be brought back under one head which is Christ. Examples in Scripture are: Rev 7:11 (angels), Phil 2:10-11 (every person – in heaven and on the earth – even under the earth) and Rom 8:20-21 (creation). 

Doctrine of universalism: in the verses above it doesn’t mean God will eventually save everyone. In the end, every knee WILL bow, but for some, it will be too late. Because they have refused to believe (Jew or Gentiles) they will face the consequences of their unbelief (Matt 25:31-46).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God has chosen to complete his secret plan through Christ, in his timing (only when he knows). Where all creation, both in heaven and on earth, will be returned to where it belongs, under the authority of Christ. Nothing happens on chance, God has a plan for everything, even me. So I can trust him to guide me as I live my life for him.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Because of God’s plan I know that someday this terrible world we live in will be redeemed. Eventually every knee will bow and every person will realize that Jesus is Lord. But they will not all be saved from the consequences  of their unbelief, so I need to get the word out. I need to be a missionary for God wherever I live. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20.

June 2, 2020 at 12:09 PM Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:7-8 – Grace, redemption & forgiveness

Paul continues his lengthy spiritual blessing by writing about God’s grace, redemption and forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice.

v.7,“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” “He is” referring back to verses 3-6 speaking of God. Through God’s riches we receive both his “kindness and grace.” NLT uses the word “kindness” to highlight the kind of grace that was given by God.The “grace” that is mentioned is God doing for us that which we couldn’t do for ourselves and don’t deserve. Another way of putting it is unmerited favour—favour we don’t deserve. Paul uses the word “riches” to show how valuable the kindness and grace are. In the NIV the word “redemption” is used, here in NLT “purchased our freedom” is used. They both are speaking of Christ setting sinners free from slavery of sin. Redeem is the word in the Old Testament (OT) that is referred to when a person is being freed from slavery or prison (Lev 25:47-54). To redeem this person involved paying a price called a ransom which meant buying the person’s freedom. Jesus paid the sinners full ransom. That ransom was done “with the blood of [God’s] Son” which is Jesus Christ. So in Jesus we have redemption or freedom. Jesus became human so that he could free us from slavery to sin. And because of Jesus’ blood sacrifice, Jesus “paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin” AMP. “Sins” refers to sinful acts (daily sins) or transgressions. God’s forgiveness means that he no longer ever remembers believers’ past sins.

Why did Jesus have to shed his blood in order for my sins to be forgiven? In Heb 9:22 God made it clear that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” In the OT forgiveness of sin was granted on the basis of the shedding of an animals’ blood (Lev 17:11). In order for sinful people to be spared, an innocent life (animal) had to be sacrificed in their place. The OT believers symbolically transferred their sins to an animal, which then was sacrificed. The animal died in their place (or made atonement for the sinner) to pay for their sins and to allow them to continue to live in God’s favour. God graciously forgave them because of this sacrifice. But it wasn’t until Jesus came to the earth and died for the sins of the world that real cleansing from sin happened. And these animal sacrifices were stopped because Jesus was the final and ultimate sacrifice, the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). Unlike the animal sacrifices, Jesus’s sacrifice paid the penalty of the sins of the world once and for all. And all who believe in Christ receive redemption and forgiveness.

v.8,“He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” This verse is a continuation of v.7, with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice “He has showered his kindness on us.” The NIV says he “lavished on us” meaning there was no holding back (given in abundance) his kindness (or grace). Rom 5:20 emphasizes this well “people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” Sin was no match for grace, even as we sin more and more God’s grace abounds even more! Along with God’s grace, believers are given two more gifts “wisdom” and “understanding.” “Wisdom” is the ability to see life from God’s perspective (the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Prov 9:10). “Understanding” is translated “practical insight” AMP. Referring to the ability to discern the right action to take in any given situation. To understand God’s will, people need both wisdom and understanding directly from God. So along with God’s grace we as believers are also given wisdom to see life from God’s perspective and practical insight to discern the right decision to make as they come along.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Because of God’s grace my sins have been forgiven and I have been redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice. Along with God’s grace I am also given two very important gifts of discernment: wisdom and practical insight.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  God’s grace is a theme in Ephesians. I need to remember because of God’s grace I am forgiven and redeemed. Also I am given wisdom and understand along with God’s grace. No matter what circumstance comes my way (good or bad) I need to see them from God’s perspective and choose to follow God’s lead in making a wise decision in that circumstance.

June 1, 2020 at 1:15 PM Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:3-6 – Election, adoption & God’s grace

From v.3 to v.14 Paul begins a lengthy passage that praises God for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. This section forms a spiritual blessing or in the Greek referred to as a doxology and in the Hebrew berakah. In it Paul summarizes the Trinity’s plan for the church.

v.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.” Paul starts this spiritual blessing by giving God (the Father) “all praise” which means “to speak well of.” God alone is worthy of our praise and worship. Paul specifically mentions the God is the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” so that we remember the unity between God and Jesus. Now Paul gives the reason why God is worthy to receive all of our praise, because he has “blessed us.” God has blessed us by allowing us to receive the benefit of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf and his resurrection. “Every spiritual blessing” refers to every benefit of knowing God and everything we need to grow spiritually. We don’t have to ask for these blessings, we receive them at conversion, we just need to accept them and apply them to our lives. These blessings are given because “we are untied with Christ.” Because of ourrelationship with Christ we can enjoy them for eternity. “In the heavenly realms” refers to the spiritual world where there is a conflict between good and evil where that battle has already been won by Christ’s death and resurrection. This means that our spiritual blessings come from heaven, where Christ now lives. Paul was making a point that these blessing are spiritual, not material (eternal, not temporal).

v.4,“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Verse 4 is a continuation of v.3. Paul says that we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing because God “chose us in Christ.” God gives us spiritual blessings because of the saving work of the Trinity (God chose us, Christ died for us and the Holy Spirit sealed us). 

The doctrine of election: God chose believers before the creation of the world for a specific purpose or destiny. We are saved only because of God’s grace and mercy, not because of our own merit. God doesn’t save us because we deserve it but because he graciously and freely gives salvation. Paul gives specific components of election: it’s “in Christ” (because of his sacrifice on our behalf). It is “before he made the world” (God’s plan was in place from the beginning (it was not an afterthought) to give eternal salvation to those who would believe on his Son because he knew sin would occur and their was a penalty that needed to be paid, and he knew in his Son it would be paid). It is done for a specific purpose, for us “to be holy and without fault [blameless] in his eyes” (believers are not just chosen to be saved but also to live changed lives during their remaining time on the earth. “Holy” means to be set apart for God, to be used by God for a new life. This new life is to be lived “without fault” or blameless, without defect like the animal sacrifices to God in the OT. It is only because of Christ’s holy and faultless sacrifice on the cross that we are made holy and faultless in God’s eyes—as believers we know when we stand before God on judgment day, we will be accepted because of Christ’s sacrifice). Final component is election is an act of God’s “love”. The emphasis on adoption in v.5 shows that the purpose of election is relational. God for no reason than that he is a loving God, chose to adopt people into his own family “through Jesus Christ.”

Individual vs Group election: Usually people think of election as an individual benefit. But Biblical text emphasis election as a corporate term, NOT individual. Ephesians 1 focuses on those who are “in Christ.” People (sinners) only become elect in the elect one (Christ). Israel was chosen to bring the blessings of God to the world, now Christ has taken on that task. Election takes place in Christ (1:4) and through him (1:5). Sinners are NOT elected and then put in Christ, No, they are in Christ and therefore elect.

Why would God choose some and not others? A better question is, why would God choose anyone at all? He elected believers before the creation of the world—before we had done anything to demonstrate our own worthiness or lack thereof—God shows that his decision has nothing to do with our righteousness, and everything to do with his grace and compassion.

v.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.” God chose believers in advance of the creation of the world to adopt us as his own children, into his own family. AMP says “he predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to himself as [his own] children…” God in his infinite love “predestined” which means to “mark us out beforehand” to be adopted into his family. God did this, we didn’t have anything to do with it. The believers’ adoption is only possible because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. The end of v.5 is very important. “This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” or “in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will” AMP. “Pleasure” can be translated “purpose” and “will” can be translated “God’s heart’s desire.” So election, predestination and adoption are all part of God’s purpose and God’s heart’s desire for all believers and it is a magnificent expression of God’s character as a loving, saving God.

An Illustration of our adoption: our relationship with God is like one  of a judge with a lawbreaker. First he “throws the book at him”, then he comes down off the bench and pays the penalty for the guilty lawbreaker. But he does much more than that, he then takes the offender into his home and adopts him / her into his family. The lawbreaker has all the rights and privileges of the judges’ own children. This is exactly what God did for us. We are guilty before God because of our sin, he charges us and convicts us. Then because of Christ’s sacrifice we are “pardoned” and declared not guilty and set free. But God doesn’t just set us free he takes us into his family and we become one of his children. We are adopted into his family for eternity! Amazing Love!

v.6,“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” As the elect our purpose is to “praise God.” Why? For his “glorious grace.” Grace is the unmerited favour he shows his chosen ones and it is glorious because without it we would have no hope and our lives would be only the time we spend here on the earth—no eternity with him. Instead because of this glorious grace we have a purpose for living and the hope eternal life with him. AMP says “he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].” I like this translation because the grace is “freely” given to us as a free gift, not something we had to earn or deserved. Also God’s grace was given a name: “the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].” When Jesus came to the earth and died for our sins God graciously accepted us even though we didn’t deserve it, we now belong to his Son. By being in his Son we are being conformed to his image. So God accepts believers because of his Son.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Even before the creation of the world God chose us to be his children (the elect). Because of his grace as a believer I have been given a free gift of eternal life with God. I praise him for this glorious grace. I am now one of his sons because he chose to adopt me into his family. I have be forgiven of my sins because of his Son.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I learned that election and adoption are not bad words but something to rejoice in. God chose me, he chose to adopt me into his family but not because I am good or I deserve it but because of his grace. Each day I wake up I am going to praise God for his glorious grace. Wow, I am blessed!

May 31, 2020 at 10:00 AM Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:1-2 – Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians

I know it has been a very long time since I have posted on my blog but I am back and going to start my daily posts in a series in the book of Ephesians. I have been studying this book personally and with a group of men from my church so I thought I would share it with you. I hope you are as blessed by the study as I am.

Paul starts this letter with a special greeting as a representative of God to the believers in Ephesus.

v.1-2,“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” Paul starts his letter letting the believers in Ephesus know who he is: special greeting from Paul, I am an apostle of Christ Jesus because God chose me to be one. “Apostle.” Paul was letting the readers know he had authority to write this letter to them as a representative of God to them. “The will of God” was used so that the readers knew that Paul was an apostle because God wanted him to be. Then he told them who he was writing to: I am writing to the believers (set apart ones) living in Ephesus who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. Paul’s greeting: I want you to experience God’s grace and peace in your daily lives. Both “God our Father” and “the Lord Jesus Christ” are one and Paul wanted them to be reminded that they are coequal in providing grace and peace to the believers. “Grace” is undeserved favour from God. It is only through God’s kindness alone that anyone can become accepted to God. “Peace” refers to peace that Christ established between believers and God through his death on the cross. True peace is only available in Christ. Grace and peace were a standard greeting the Paul used in all of his letters.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Even though this is just a greeting to start Paul’s letter there is great significance as I read it. Grace and peace were a standard greeting in Paul’s letters but I feel like they are important for me to remember. Grace is only given through God’s love and kindness and peace was given because of Christ’s sacrifice. I don’t deserve either but God has given them both to me.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Thankfulness for the grace and peace God has given to me because of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice. Wow, I am blessed!

May 30, 2020 at 11:41 AM 1 comment

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 31, 2013 at 7:48 AM Leave a comment

Cardio Rehab Journal Week 21

IMG_6236It finally happened, my sixteenth week of the Cardio Rehab Program I have been diligently following.

I arrived at the hospital knowing it was possibly going to be my last week but not sure. No one called me or told me after my stress test that I was for sure graduating. So I came to the class like any other class, ready to exercise. I was on the treadmill and the manager of my program came over to chat with me like she did any other day. I finally asked her if I was going to graduate today and she said “yes!”

She went onto to tell me how well I did on my stress test the week before. I went longer than the last time I did my stress test. 2 minutes longer. I did 13 minutes. Yeah, I beat my mark! I was hoping I would but forgot to ask the nurse after my stress test.

Then she told me she had never had someone in all her years or working at the Cardio Rehab Program had someone do so well, both in my goals and my health. She called me the “Poster Boy for Cardiovascular Program!”

After the hour of exercise they had a special ceremony to tell everyone I was graduating. I was even given a diploma and I got to say a few words. Very official.

August 10, 2013 at 4:27 PM Leave a comment

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