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Divine Purpose of God for Us

Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

Dr Alex Tang

 

Summary

God, the Father chose us as His sons and daughters before the beginning of time. Jesus Christ, the Son redeemed us to be to be the church, His body. The Holy Spirit is given to us, the church so that God’s master plan will be fulfilled- all heaven and earth united under Christ.

 

1.                  Introduction.

There are a lot of similarities between the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians. Both are written by Paul, about the same time in prison in Rome and were carried by Tychicus. In fact they should be studied together. Ephesians emphasizes the Church as the body of Christ while Colossians emphasizes Christ as the Head of the body.

In the Greek, verses 3-14 comprise one sentence. It encompasses the past, present and future of God’s eternal purpose for us. John MacArthur described the book of Ephesians as Paul’s outline of God’s master plan for salvation. In v. 3-6a, we are shown the past in God’s calling of us, v. 6b-10, the present of our redemption, and v. 10-14, the future of our inheritance. In v.3-6a centers on the Father, v.6b-10 centers on the Son and v.11-14 centers on the Holy Spirit. It shows the Trinitarian aspect of Paul’s theological thinking.

2.                  Text Exposition. (Eph.1:3-14)

(a)                v.3-6a. The Past in God’s Calling to Us

(i)                  v.3. The Giving of Divine Blessing.

(ii)                v.4-6a. The Election and Predestination.

(b)               v.6b-10. The Present in Our Redemption.

(i)                  v.6b-7. Our Redemption.

(ii)                v.8-10. Our Purpose

(c)                v.11-14. The Future of Our Inheritance.

(i)                  v.11. The Jewish Believers.

(ii)                v.13. The Gentile Believers.

(iii)               v.13b-14. The Holy Spirit.

(a)        v.3-6a. The Past in God’s Calling to Us.

(i)                 v.3. The Giving of Divine Blessing.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Paul presents 6 aspects of divine blessing:

(1)               The Blessed One – God.

(2)               The Blesser- God.

(3)               The Blessed Ones-Believers.

(4)               The Blessings- Everything Spiritual.

“Every spiritual blessing” (eulogia) refers to every spiritual enrichment needed for the spiritual life. Since these benefits have already been bestowed on believers, they should not ask for them but rather appropriate them by faith. Similarly Joshua was not to ask for land since God had already promised it to him (Josh. 1:3-4). But he was to enter into the enjoyment of that provision.

(5)               The Location of Blessing – the Heavenly Places.

The place of these “blessings” is in the heavenly realms, as opposed to the earthly realm of the Ephesian goddess Artemis. Thus these blessings are spiritual not material, heavenly not earthly, eternal not temporal (2 Cor. 4:18; Col. 3:1-4). Five times Paul used the phrase “in the heavenly realms”: in Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12.

(6)               The Blessing Agent – Jesus Christ.

The manner or sphere of this enrichment is in Christ.

 

(ii)               v.4-6a. The Election and Predestination.

v.4-6a.

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  6 to the praise of his glorious grace,

 

Paul presents the past part of God’s eternal purpose in our election and predestination. There are seven elements:

(1)               The Method – Election.

(2)               The Object- Elect.

(3)               The Time-Eternity Past.

(4)               The Purpose- Holiness.

(5)               The Motive-Love

(6)               The Result- Sonship.

(7)               The Goal- Glory.

(b)        v.6b-10.           The Present in Our Redemption.

(i)                 v.6b-7. Our Redemption.

which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  

Paul writes about the aspect of God’s master plan- Redemption. Redemption () denotes release or deliverance from a state of slavery (cf. Col. 1:14). The idea of release is seen in some of the other verses where this Greek word appears (Luke 21:28; Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15; 11:35). He has identified 4 elements of redemption.

(1)               The Redeemer – Jesus Christ.

(2)               The Redeemed- Believers.

(3)               The Redemption Price – Blood of Christ.

(4)               The Redemptive Results – Forgiveness.

(ii)               v.9-10. Our Purpose

8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And 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 all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

(1)         The Grace

God’s grace is given to enable believers to understand His will. God gives them wisdom (sophia), objective insight into the true nature of God’s revelation, and understanding , the subjective apprehension of it. So believers are able to grasp something of the divine purpose of the ages and to see its relevance in the present time. This is accomplished because God made known to us the mystery of His will. “Mystery” is a previously hidden truth unveiled by God’s revelation. Eph. 3:1-13.

(2)         The Timing

This mystery (unveiled truth) is God’s good pleasure  to purpose in Christ to bring all things in heaven and on earth under His headship in the consummation of time. The words to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment are literally, “unto the dispensation of the fullness of the times.”

(3)         The Purpose

The words “bring all things . . . together under one Head” translate one Greek word (which occurs elsewhere in the NT only in Rom. 13:9  9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ), to speak of summing up all the commandments under love. In the Millennium everything will be restored and brought together under Christ, the one Head

 

(c)        v.11-14. The Future of Our Inheritance.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan (prothesin) 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 of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Here Paul looks into the components of God’s future inheritance for us. There are 3 components:

(i)                 v.11,12.           The Jewish Believers.

Paul discussed the Jewish believers’ inclusion in Christ. The we in verse 11 seems to be a distinct group from the anonymous “we/us” in verses 3-10. This is supported by two facts: (1) verse 11 includes the word also and (2) verse 13 changes to “you also,” which refers to Gentile believers. Though both Jews and Gentiles participate in God’s blessings, the Jews were called first.

Jewish believers were chosen because they were predestined. But this predestination is not a matter of whim or caprice on God’s part; it is according to the plan (prothesin, “purpose”) of God, who works out everything in conformity with the purpose (“counsel or deliberation”) of His will. The combination of these words gives a forceful emphasis of God’s sovereignty for including the Jewish believers in the church, which is headed up by Christ. The purpose of God’s choice of the Jewish believers is that they might be for the praise of His glory, which parallels verse 6. The relative clause, who were the first to hope in Christ, further substantiates that verses 11-12 refer to Jewish believers as opposed to Gentile believers because the Jews did precede the Gentiles chronologically in the faith.

(ii)               v.13.    The Gentiles Believers.

And you also refers to the Gentiles in contrast with the Jews. When they heard the Word of truth which is further described as the gospel of your salvation, and believed, they were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

(iii)             v. 13b-14.        The Down Payment- The Seal of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit who seals is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. The “deposit” is more than a pledge which could be returned; it is a down payment with a guarantee of more to come (“the firstfruits of the Spirit,” Rom. 8:23). “A deposit guaranteeing” translates the Greek (used elsewhere in the NT only in 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). It guarantees believers’ “inheritance” of salvation and heaven. In essence, the “deposit” of the Holy Spirit is a little bit of heaven in believers’ lives with a guarantee of much more yet to come.

The components of the church are Jews, Gentiles and the Holy Spirit. Paul explains God’s mystery-the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church who are equal positionally- to exhort these two groups at Ephesus to live worthy of this calling through a unified love for one another as a testimony to the world.

In these powerful verses Paul drew past, present, and future together. He looked at the work of each of the Persons of the Godhead as it relates to you and me. God the Father, in eternity past, chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless. He predestined us to be adopted as sons, pouring out His grace on us in Christ. God the Son, in history past, redeemed us through His blood, bringing us forgiveness and lavishing on us gifts of wisdom and understanding. Even now we are “included in Christ,” and looking forward to the complete fulfillment of God’s plan and the glory that fulfillment holds for us. Now too we have been sealed by God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, the living guarantee of our inheritance to come.

What stunning truths! Somehow you and I, with all God’s people, have been the focus of His concern from before the Creation of the universe! Each person of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has been involved in bringing us the grace in which we now stand. In view of all this, there is no way that a Christian can see he or herself as insignificant, unimportant, or ineffectual. The focused energies of God have been spent on our redemption because in Christ we are significant to Him. We are important. And, with God’s Spirit present in us, we have the power to live “to the praise of His glory” (v. 14).

 

3.                  Lessons for us.

3.1              Who are you?

A Saint: Because of the believers’ acquisition of every spiritual blessing—including election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of His will, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and inheritance— a saint in the body of Christ, the church.

3.2              Our Identity – The Four Spiritual Truth.

 

Satan’s Lie

God’s Truth

You are a sinner because you sometimes sin.

You are a saint (one declares righteous by God) who sometimes sins.

 

You get your identity from what you have done.

You get your identity from what God has done for you.

 

You get your identity from what people say about you.

You get your identity from what God says about you.

 

Your behaviour tells you what you believe about yourself.

Your belief about yourself determines your behaviour.

 

 

4.                  Closing Remarks.

God, the Father chose us as His sons and daughters before the beginning of time. Jesus Christ, the Son redeemed us to be to be the church, His body. The Holy Spirit is given to us, the church so that God’s master plan will be fulfilled- all heaven and earth united under Christ.

Wang Mingdao, the ‘Dean of the House Churches’ in China, was an evangelist and minister in China who stood up to the state-sponsored Chinese churches. He spent twenty years in prison for his faith. After his release he was clamped an enforced silence for 35 years. Mingdao died in 1991.

He wrote:

“What is the greatest need of mankind? Is it extravagant clothes? Is it lavish food? Is it a congenial occupation? Is it adequate medical provision? Is it upright politics? Is it a comprehensive system of law? Is it a higher level of society? Is it harmony among the nations? Is it the reform of our habits? Is it the establishment of virtue? All these are the needs of mankind. But the greatest need of all is not among them.

 Mankind’s greatest need is to come to God for the forgiveness of sin in order to have eternal life. Whether people acknowledge it or not, their greatest needs is to be brought into touch with God. For God is the source of all happiness. But they have been cut off from God by sin and they themselves are unable to bridge the gap. What else can people do but endure pain and await the onset of death.”

 

                                                                                                                                          Soli Deo Gloria

                                                                       

 

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