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Sunday, March 16, 2014 pm            Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS - 3
Blessings in Christ - 2
Ephesians 1:4-6

 

Tonight we continue our study of the book of Ephesians.  In our last lesson we examined Paul’s introduction to our blessings in Christ.  VS. 3 calls for us to bless God (praise Him) because He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  We noted that in the text there are at least 7 blessings.  Tonight we want to begin examining these blessings in greater detail.

 I.                    WE are chosen in Him (4)

a.        The word “chose” means to pick out or select.  To make a choice of one or more possible alternatives. (L&N 30.86)   The text is dealing with our salvation and that God has made a choice is indisputable.
BUT, the question we address deals with the nature of that choice –
1) Does it mean God arbitrarily chose specific individuals who are compelled to acceptance?  OR did He choose a way or condition that all can access?
2) Is that choice conditional or unconditional? 
True Calvinism teaches that God randomly chose and predestined who would be saved (Unconditional election). The text we are examining is used to support this view.  It specifically teaches that His choice is involuntary and man has no will in the matter.  Based upon that premise, they contend that Jesus died only for the chosen and that they would be moved by the Holy Spirit in a way they could not resist.  Jehovah’s Witnesses have a modified view of this, but offering an alternative for those not of the chosen class.
This principle of Calvinism is contrary to scripture – consider a few points of scripture:
http://padfield.com/acrobat/taylor/calvinism.pdf
 1) Man is a free moral agent – Gen. 2:16-17 – Adam and Ever were given a choice. 
 Josh. 24:15 – chose this day who you will serve.
 2) God is no respecter of persons – Acts 10:32-33 – to Cornelius, the first Gentile to be converted Peter spoke this.  1 Pet. 1:17 He judges without partiality.
 3) HE desires all men to be saved – 1 Tim. 2:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:9
 4) Scriptures teach man has a part in salvation – Eph. 2:8 “through faith”, Phil. 2:12, cf. Acts 2:38-40 – notice how Peter instructs them to take action.  Mark 16:16, etc.
 5) The great commission makes no sense if our salvation is unconditional – Mat. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, etc.
God’s choice has to do with His determining the criteria for man to be saved.  Consider a math teacher who before the school year begins “choses” who will get an A.  It is not randomly going down the row of students and picking them.  A standard is set – Average 90% or greater on all tests, do and turn in your homework, participate in class and you will get an A. 
IF it is in this manner (establishing the criteria) that God made His choice then it does NOT violate the various principles we just discussed.

b.       “In Him” – this is a qualifier that helps us understand who is chosen!
But of course that leads to the question – HOW does one find himself “in Him”?  Again we ask, is it unconditional or conditional (requiring action)? 
Romans 13:14 tells us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions for the flesh…
Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
NOW Consider Galatians 3:26-27 - “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  This verse tells us that we PUT ON CHRIST by acting – that is being baptized.  

c.        Before the foundation of the world – this was a part of God’s eternal plan that predated this universe coming into existence.   
Numerous passages appeal to this -
2 Tim. 1:9 - “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
1 Peter 1:20-21 says, ““He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Later in this epistle we will find that the church was a part of His plan (Eph. 3:10-11)
And when you study what the church you find it to be “the body of Christ” (Eph. 1:22-23).  Thus to be in the church is also to be “In Him”. 
NOTE: I am convinced that one reason the blood of Christ is acceptable to completely remove sins (even though our guilt demands punishment) is because God determined BEFORE the foundation of the world how one would be saved – and it is “in Him.”

d.       That we should be holy and without blame before Him in love – this is His goal concerning those who are “chosen in Him”–
To be holy is to be set apart – as Christians we are to be separated from the world.  Continually it is emphasized that we are to live separate live – 2 Cor. 6:17, Rom. 12:1-2,  1 Pet. 1:13-16 speaks of our being holy because HE is holy.
To be without blame is to be forgiven – sin is the stain on our spiritual life.  If we are to be able to approach God with must remove our sins.  And how is that done?  Acts 22:16 – “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Rom. 6:3-6 – in baptism the body of sin is done away with.
This is done “in love” – love is the motivating factor.  Some might ask, is it His love for us or our love for Him?  Both are certainly true
Out of love we serve Him – John 14:15 – if we love Him we will keep His commandments. 1 John 5:2-3 which says that by this we know that we love Him – if we keep His commandments.
His love for us – John 3:16
These ARE related! 1 John 4:17-19 – we love Him because He first loved us.

NOTE: One more thought about our condition as His chosen in Him.  Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” ONE Of the points Paul emphasizes in the book of Ephesians is the church in Christ.   Paul told the Corinthians that we are baptized into the body (1 Cor. 12:13).  Acts 2:47 says, “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 II.                  Having predestined us to adoption (5-6)

a.        The term predestined means “to predetermine”.   It conveys the idea of setting boundaries before the fact.  The statement in this verse is related to being chosen.  Those chosen are predestined.  The difference in the two words is that “chose” deals with WHO while being predestined deals with the RESULT.
NOTE: All the principles of Calvinism STILL apply with this point.

b.       We are predestined to adoption as sons – we become His children.
Adoption as used here is equivalent to what we think of – a child being given full family membership even though he is not born into that position. 
Again consider how one way our salvation is described is as being “born again” –
John 3:3,5;  1 Pet. 1:22
See also Galatians 3:26-7:7.  This is a text filled with descriptions of our being “sons of God” and not merely slaves.  While the text does deal with Jews and Gentiles, the point that applies to all of us is the relationship we have with Him.  AGAIN, it is dependent upon our response (not an unconditional, arbitrary choice). 
See also Romans 8:12-17 which speaks of us as being children and heirs because we are “adopted”.

c.        By Jesus Christ – again, it is associated with our coming in contact with Him.

d.       According to the good pleasure of His will – Paul finally observes that this is something God WANTS to do!  God as our Father is not a tyrant nor done reluctantly.  He is glad to do what HE has done for us.  IT is His “good pleasure.” 
1 Cor. 1:21, “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
As we continue our study of the blessings in Christ we will see this expression twice more (vs. 9, 11.
Phil. 2:13 – we work out our salvation, “for it is God who works in you  both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  See also 2 Thess. 1:11

e.       To the praise and glory of His grace – going back to vs. 3 we are reminded that we are “blessing” God - that is - praising and exalting Him.  
In vs. 6, we are given reason to praise Him – because of what He has done “in Him.”  IF your sins have been forgiven should you show tremendous gratitude?  Certainly! 
Just as a child who fully comprehends loving parents choosing to adopt him should demonstrate profound gratitude, so should we respond to His “choosing” us? 
See again Romans 8:15,
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

f.         By which He made us accepted in the Beloved – the ultimate result of the death of Jesus.  He died for our sins and God established the mode through which we come in contact with that death.  As a result we are now accepted in Him. 
Accepted means to be highly favored – when we obey the gospel we are not merely and barely tolerated, we are wholly accepted.
ONE thing I see in this is that our acceptance is NOT about us in that we deserve it, it is the GRACE of God.  It is His grace that made all things possible.  Paul will elaborate on this in chapter 2.

g.        OUR final observation is that this acceptance is in the Beloved – for the third time in these 3 verses reference has been made to Jesus.  He did His part freely and willingly.  Therefore He is described as “the Beloved”.  God is grateful that Jesus willingly died for our sins. Recall the words of God at both the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17, 17:5)  Consider also Phil. 2:5-9.

 

We have been offered adoption by our heavenly Father.  Will we accept?  AND, if we have accepted it, do we demonstrate due gratitude to Him for His blessings?  Think about it.