Purpose of this study:
1. To discover the greatness of being in Christ;
2. To know the richness of His blessings;
3. To know and understand our purpose in Christ;
4. To better understand our calling.
The book of Ephesians was written by Paul the apostle while he was imprisoned in Rome. Ephesians is known as one of the “prison epistles”, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
The city of Ephesus was the seat of “Diana” worship (Acts 19 note verse 28). A goddess worshipped by a superstitious people and profited on by business men and silversmiths. The preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ caused a great loss of income for these men and their businesses when some of the worshippers of Diana, turned from idolatry to the true God (Acts 19:23-41). These men would have done almost anything to take away Paul’s and other Christian’s right or freedom to speak.
This church is the same church that would receive a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ a few years later. It can be read in the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter two, beginning with verse one.
At the time of Paul’s writing, approximately 55 A.D., the church of Ephesus is strong in faith and longing to grow in the Spirit of Christ. In this letter Paul teaches them two main truths: 1) Who they are [their position] in Christ (chapters 1-3); and 2) How they are to live [their practice] (chapters 4-6).
Knowing who we are in Jesus is still important for Christians. By knowing our position in Him we are strengthened in faith, and greatly encouraged to live for Him.
If we are to be the Christians God calls us to be we must be discovering the greatness and riches of being in Christ, our calling, the richness of His blessings, and the purpose of our calling.
The term “In Christ” or its equivalent is mentioned at least 34 times in the bood of Ephesians. Fifteen of those being in the first chapter alone. So we learn already that it is important for us to recognize, to know who we are in Jesus Christ.
CALLED OUT AND FAITHFUL (vv. 1-2). “Set apart”, “called out” and faithful. Consecrated unto the Lord is the meaning of the word “Saint”. The Christian has been called out of sin, set apart for the glory of God to be different from the world philosophies, and doctrines.
The Christian understands the problem of sin, and the human heart, as best as can be understood, and that is by the understanding which God gives by His Spirit, His word, and the life of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:10-11 spells it out for us; “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…” We are called out of sin, unto faith in Jesus Christ; to live in the Spirit of Christ for the glory of the Father.
The “faithful” are the one’s who dedicated to the work and will of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We glorify Him with a life given to living holy, separated, lives of witness. The words we speak, our work ethic, our family lives, our church service and our worship of God alone is a witness that other’s will see or won’t see. Unwavering faith in God, and His Word, and holy desire for His will to be done is shown in faithfulness. Faithful in belief. Faithful in and to His Word.
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (KJV)
THE RICHES OF HIS BLESSING (v. 3; 2:6). These blessings are not in the material things of this world, although we are told that all things are under His feet. The blessings of Christ are spiritual, however, they are not limited. “Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV). I don’t know if we were meant to understand this whole all thing, but it sounds so full, awesome, and glorious. Do we put enough emphasis on the spiritual things of Christ? It doesn’t seem so in my life; and I really doubt it is in most Christian’s lives.
These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places; that is the place where Jesus is. The blessings that Christian’s have in Christ Jesus cannot be attained through science, technology, knowledge, sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, rituals, liturgy, rites, religion, flagellation, wealth, or fame. These blessings are all part of the grace given us who are in Christ Jesus through faith in Him by His death on the cross; His carrying our sins away; and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead. These are blessings of His grace.
In these spiritual blessings there is cleansing from sin, condemnation and guilt. There is the personal relationship with holy God reserved only for those who have no sin debt. We also have the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ and the Father; and in complete fellowship with Him.
OUR ELECTION AND OUR LIFESTYLE (v. 4). If a king were to choose you as their son or daughter would you not find it a great privilege, and honor? If the king were known as a wealthy, and good, and honorable man I think most of us would be honored by the prospect. This is not likely to happen, of course, so don’t set your sites too high for this; except when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the King of kings. He will rule with honor, power, and goodness; and He is wealthy. He has chosen us in Himself. We are getting into a topic of great controversy, and that is dealing with “Election” and “Predestination”. There are some “scholars” and preachers/teachers who try to avoid these doctrines. They are, however, in the Word of God, and need to be dealt with. I am not sure that I can aid in this or not, but since they are here, I will say this. When it comes to “Election” we have the clear teaching from the Word that those who are in Christ have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. It is great to know that God chose me, and that He knew me long before I was ever conceived in the womb of my mother. That is so of all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Dealing with this “Election” of God let us look further into Scripture – “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Exodus 33:19 (KJV). As our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Judge… He has every right to choose whomever He will, to call to Himself. Someone may ask, “Doesn’t mankind have a ‘freewill’?” To that I would readily agree. The very fact that God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden near the “Tree of Life” tells me that God gave them a choice, thus free will to choose to obey or disobey. They chose the latter of the two, and sin, death, and misery came into the world.
So how do the teachings of Election, the Sovereignty of God, and man’s free will operate? I don’t know that I have the answer to that, but these things I do know and believe; and that is that God says that He knew me before the foundation of the world and He chose me; He has enriched me with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and that according to His will, the free will of men, and His Sovereignty somehow work together to fulfill His will and glory.
The greatness of this “Election” is that God chose me before I ever did anything good or bad. His choosing me was not based on any merit of my own, but solely on the grace of God alone. Since He chose me before doing anything good or bad, that only means that there is nothing I could do to be plucked from my Father’s hands:
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (KJV)
This does not give license to sin. This does give us freedom from sin to live for Jesus Christ. Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ we were bound by sin. In Christ we are free to live for Him, and Him alone. This election is a calling to holiness (2:10; John 15:16).
OUR PLACEMENT IN THE HEAVENLIES (v. 5). By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross we are born into relationship with the Father (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23). By that blood we are legally sons/children, however, there is something else that happens to those who come to faith in Jesus Christ. We are placed into the position with Christ as legal heirs of all that is His. That is the “Adoption”.
That is the predetermined plan of God. That is the “predestinated” will of God. In John 1:12 we are told this – “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them tht believe on His name.” Some new translations place children where the KJV uses sons, and that seems to me to be a tragedy, for we miss the greater meaning. With Christ as our Lord and Savior we are given the same rights as the Elder Son, who is Jesus. In the Old Testament economy the elder son received a majority of the father’s estate, and was given the responsibility of caring for the parents when they became unable to care for themselves.
Now consider this; since we are born into the family shouldn’t we just receive a minority of the inheritance? Jesus has paid the price of our sin, making it possible for us to be in God’s family in the first place; He is the One who deserves it all. By grace He places us with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him.
There is an example of this given in the Law of Moses concerning inheritance, and the daughters of a man who had no sons, and would be left out of the inheritance except for the grace given. Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-7) had five daughters, and he would be left out of inheriting any of the promised land, leaving nothing for any sons who might come along later. Thus, in a since, they are placed in the position of an elder son, inheriting the land that would have been their father’s.
There is such a wealth at the hands and feet of every believer in Jesus Christ. It is a wealth that is not of this world, however it is accessible in this world; and through it and by it we can live in victory. The enemy has been defeated. Let us rejoice.
We are “Predestinated” to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and that is to live in glory.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 (KJV)
We have yet to “tap into” the wonderful resources that are ours in Christ Jesus. If we were the people of God in Christ that He has called us to be, walking in the Spirit, walking in the power of His word, there is no attack of the enemy which could stop us, and no human force could stand in our way; and He would be seen and glorified in many hearts and lives. What God calls “Complete” is complete.
-Tim A. Blankenship