“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4 – ESV).
My nephew Lucas and his wife Jamie are missionaries to Siberia. Yes . . . that Siberia! So on those days when I am tempted to gripe about the New Jersey winter I am reminded that an average winter day here is a warm spring day Sibera! Then again, I have another nephew Stephen and his wife Beka who are missionaries to an unreached people group on a remote island off the coast of Madagascar…. Can’t go there!
Lucas and Jamie’s son Samuel started first grade this year in a Russian school. This was total immersion for Samuel as English is not spoken in the school. When they registered him one of the teachers noticed his name on the list, as Orner is clearly not a common Russian name, and went out of her way to get him in her class. Lucas and Jamie later found out that she is a Believer who had assumed that because Samuel was American, his parents were also Believers. As a result Samuel is thriving. As I watched the video update I was struck by the genuine joy that radiated from Jamie as she told the story. Out of all the students this teacher chose Samuel. It was incredible answer to prayer!
Her words and enthusiasm give me glimpse into how the apostle Paul might have felt as he wrote Ephesians 1:3-14. Take a moment and read those words which are one long sentence in Greek.
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory" (ESV).
Notice the passion and energy. In many ways it reminds me of young child that is so excited about something they run all their words together. Commentator William Hendriksen compares these verses to a “snowball tumbling down a hill, picking up volume as it descends”. Or as John Stott wrote, “The whole paragraph is a paean of praise, a doxology, or indeed a ‘eulogy’” Paul’s enthusiasm is a result of understanding that God has blessed His people beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. Our whole being wants to praise Him!
As Paul moves down through these verses he gushes a plethora of spiritual blessings that God has poured out on his people in Christ. Over the coming weeks we will take a closer look at these. Today I want to you to notice that God chose His children in Christ in eternity past. Now I know that the words “chose,” “predestined,” and “election” are fighting words for many and boastful words for others. Nevertheless, I encourage you push all that aside and focus on what Paul is saying. This is REALLY good news because those whom God choses, He blesses! Throughout Scripture we see clearly that God chose Abraham, Moses, David and countless others. In fact the Israelites were God’s chosen people.
Peter includes all believers in this group when he writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). That is good news . . . very good news!
The whole concept of election is tough and scholars have debated if for years. William Hendriksen correctly notes that “Our response should be adoration, not explanation”. With that in mind, if you take an honest look at who you really are, not what you present to others, you will be forced to admit that if you had been in Adam’s place in the garden you would have done the same thing. Whether we like it or not Adam was a representative for all humanity. When Adam sinned every person on the earth sinned “in him” and have been contaminated by that sin. Yet, Adam’s sin is not the end of the story, as “from the foundations of world” God had a far better plan where Christ would come and do what Adam could not do living a perfect righteous life on behalf of His children.[i] Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father in thought, word and deed – He was blameless! So while we were “in Adam” we “were dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph. 2:1), alienated from God and condemned. However “in Christ” we are declared holy and blameless because of what he did for us. That is great news!
Words cannot express the impact these truths have on my heart. There is not a day of my life that I don’t fight against God – All I do is struggle against Him! And I am one of His children! If it weren’t for God loving me before eternity past, I would be dead in my sin. I am keenly aware that even if I could have, I would not have chosen Him. When I make that sober analysis of myself, I am simply astounded He loves me, and am grateful because He will never ever let me go! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”!
The words of Robert Robinson well know hymn “Come, Thou Fount” ring so true. From the 4th stanza of his hymn read these words:
O to grace how great a debter
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heat to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feet it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Because we have been chose by God, we are secure in His love. Aren't these words simply amazing?
"35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39 - ESV).
I don't about you, but this makes want to go tell people about Jesus!!