Ephesians 1:5 - 10
In the last session we noted the spiritual blessings that Paul describes through the first Chapter of Ephesians. We looked at, and considered the first of these blessings, that of Election. As we read in Eph 1:4 “He chose us (elected us) in him before creation”. We should remember to note that this is written in past tense.
The next spiritual blessings that Paul refers to, and which we will be looking at in this session, are adoption, redemption, forgiveness and revelation.
Adoption is the present blessing of election. God chose us (past tense - before creation) to be adopted (current tense - in / during creation). Because we were elected, we can now enjoy the spiritual blessings of what that means as adopted men and women of Christ. There are four aspects that we need to consider with regards to our adoption.
1) The Elimination of Boasting : We did not choose to be elected, we did not put together and present an argument to God stating why we should be adopted. He chose us, before creation, to be holy and blameless in his sight. Critics of election would say that it is arrogant for anyone to say that they were chosen by God when others were not. But election does not imply that at all. Election, and therefore adoption, is by God’s will alone, we did not chose to be elected, so we cannot boast, we were chosen before we were born!
2) Assurance of Salvation : God chose us, and then called us into adoption. When he called us, we became his children, and he our heavenly Father. We are adopted into him for all eternity. Consider the alternative, we are saved one minute but potentially condemned again the next?! Satan would be rubbing his hands together with glee if adoption were only temporary. When we are adopted, God becomes our heavenly father for eternity, and thus assures us of salvation.
3) Election Leads to Holiness : A person may say, “If I am elected, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do, therefore I’ll go and enjoy myself and do whatever I like!!” Those that would say this have either not been elected or are elected but not yet called. When you are called by God and adopted into Christ, you become aware of your sin, you become aware of God’s will in your life and you want to follow. As we follow, we learn more and follow Christ’s teachings more. As we learn more, it effects how we behave, we strive to be more Christ like, we become more holy.
Promotion of Evangelism : Some think that election takes away the need for evangelism. If someone is elected by God there is nothing that we can say or do that will make a difference. That is not the way it works. Yes, God elects, but that election does not negate the need for a means, or an action, through which God calls the elect to faith. One of those 1) means is by the proclamation of the gospel to non-believers by those who believe, or who are already adopted. This is never clearer than in Mark 16:15-16. When Jesus says, all we can do is proclaim, we do not know who God’s elect are and when they will be called. The only way we can find them is to proclaim the word boldly, and have full confidence, never in our own ability, but knowing that all whom God has elected in Christ before the creation of the world will surely come to Jesus.
Some argue that as the word “trinity” is not in The Bible, we should not see God as 3 persons in 1. However, the doctrine of the Trinity is clear, and is very prominent here in Ephesians 1.
As mentioned in the last session, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence that has been “versed” into its current biblical form. The first chapter is an out pouring of great truths as Paul praises God for our salvation. As we look at the whole passage we see that verses 3-6 are predominately focusing on God the Father, 7-10 the work of the Son and 11-14 the work of the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s principle work is redemption. All three persons of the Trinity are involved but Christ is at the centre. The work of the Father was primarily in planning our salvation (election / pre-destination). The Holy Spirit’s work is the applying of the salvation to individuals (adoption) and the work of Jesus was to achieve salvation for the adopted by His redemptive death on the cross.
God elected, before creation, those He would adopt into a relationship with Him (vs 4-5). In this relationship (sonship) we are able to enjoy its rich privileges but yet also must accept the demanding responsibilities. If we look at privilege first, it is only those that have been adopted into God’s family that can say verses 7 and 8. Because we have been adopted, we now enjoy access to The Father and should be confident before Him due to the knowledge that we have been redeemed and therefore forgiven. Redemption means “deliverance by payment of a price”. Here it is tied with forgiveness. The deliverance in question is the rescue from the just judgment our sins deserve, and the price paid was the spilling of Christ’s blood when he died for our sins on the cross.
Consider for a moment, the people you know that are not Christians (not adopted), standing before God without the confidence of redemption and forgiveness that Christ provided on the cross, it’s a terrible thought and one that should spur us into an evangelistic frenzy!
So adoption, redemption and forgiveness all go together and are privileges that “we have” (vs 7) and enjoy now. It allows a child / father relationship with God and comes from the grace that “he lavished on us” vs 8.
However, we should also be clear on our terminology. Whilst redemption and forgiveness are linked, forgiveness of sins is something different to redemption. Redemption, through the spilling of Christ’s blood, is being freed from sin’s power, forgiveness means having God wipe our slate free from sin.
Sonship though, also implies responsibilities. Like any good parent, our heavenly Father does not spoil his children. Hebrews 12:10 says “he disciplines us for our own good, that we may share his holiness” So Paul’s two statements are parallel, that God predestined us to be his children (vs 5) and that he chose us to be holy (vs 4). As Paul goes onto write later in Ephesians 5:1 “Follow Gods example”. It is inconceivable that we should enjoy a relationship with God as his children without accepting the obligation to imitate our Father and cultivate the family likeness.
Adoption as God’s sons and daughters therefore comes with an immense gain and a a necessary loss. We gain access to Him through what was achieved by Christ at Calvary on the cross, redemption and forgiveness. But, we lose our blemishes, starting at once by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, until we are made perfect in Heaven! The words that bring the privilege and responsibility of our adoption is the expression “before Him” (vs4) meaning to be in his sight or in his presence. To live our life in the conscious presence of our Father is both and immeasurable privilege, and a constant challenge to please him.
Revelation is the “Wisdom and understanding” (vs8) that all things will be unified at the end under Christ. As we look at Eph 1:3-10 as a whole, there is no time or place in creation that will not fall into unity under Christ. From before creation (vs 4) to end of time and everything in heaven and on earth (vs10). Read Philippians 2:10-11. Paul knows that Jesus will return, and under his name every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. At that time there will be unity in all things under Christ. The disharmony of this fallen creation will not go on forever, the same God who has predestined us into salvation in Jesus, also predestined all things to be brought together in submission of Him.
1: Before you came to faith, what was your opinion of Christians and Christianity? The greater the honesty the better the conversation!
2 : What was it that called you to Jesus?
3 : How do you think non-christians perceive you now as a Christian? Does it matter?
4 : Think of, and give examples (if you are comfortable to) of things about you that have been changed by the Holy Spirit? From when you became a Christian, or maybe in the last 5 years? 1 year? This week? How should we respond to these changes? Should we give thanks to the Lord for these changes? Do we?
5 : Discuss evangelism, do we take personal active roles in proclaiming the gospel? What holds you back (if anything)? What can you do as a home group to support and encourage each other with evangelism?
6 : How can we be sure that, when we are talking about Christ to others, we do not come across as arrogant or boastful.
7 : What emotions do you have when considering that you were chosen by God before creation?
8 : Consider the Trinity, how would you explain to someone that you believe in a God that is three separate people in one? As a group, perhaps try to write it down as a single sentence? Can this be done?
9 : We try to follow Jesus as our example, are there areas of his ministry that are easier to follow than others? And some that are difficult for us too?
10 : As Christians, we know that Christ will come again, and we can be confident in that as it has been revealed to us by God. We know that Christ will come to judge the living and the dead. What emotions does that statement stir up? Joy? Fear? In-patience? Regret?