Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
In the June VOICE article I articulated the importance of the Book of Ephesians to our Christian understanding. The Apostle Paul, after almost 30 years of ministry, had time while under house arrest in Rome, to write a condensed expression of the Christian faith as he had taught it to both Jews and Gentiles for two decades. For Paul, the Book of Ephesians reflects an integration of Old Testament revelation from God and the teachings of Jesus about God’s plan of salvation. He had depth of understanding refined during three years of ministry in Ephesus and defending his convictions before Christian leadership in Jerusalem. Ephesians summarizes his complete understanding of the Gospel of “Grace.”
According to Paul, The Plan of Salvation was the “Brain Child” of God, the Father. He was the “Architect” committed to blessing us beyond what we could imagine in this world (Eph. 1:3). He had aspirations to enable us to be like Him before He laid the foundations of the earth (Eph. 1:4). He predetermined a plan to adopt us as his own children so that we would forever be members of His family (Eph. 6).
So, Paul’s assessment is that God, the Father, had us in mind before creation. As a “Master Architect” He created a “blueprint” designed to bless us and establish us in relationship with Him.
Paul’s words are an amazing representation of the heart of God, the Father, toward us. That He blesses us and embraces as children with aspirations for us into the future makes Him deeply personal with sincere fatherly commitment to us. That His love is eternal and guarantees our blessed life forever is eternally the foundation for comfort. Wrapping our brains around this kind of relationship with a God we cannot see face to face is one of our great challenges in life. Embracing the truth that we belong to Him, can know Him this intimately and can actually make Him proud is the foundation of a life with real hope and purpose. I believe that Eph. 1:3-6 is more than words. It is “truth” we need to know and, more importantly, embrace.
If God, the Father, is the “Architect” of our lives, then God, the Son, is the “Builder.” Jesus enters the world in order to do the work required to accomplish what God engineered before creation. The Apostle Paul summarizes the work of Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1:7-14. IN HIM WE HAVE 1) redemption through His blood (verse 7), 2) the forgiveness of our trespasses (verse 7), 3) knowledge of the mystery of His will (verse 8-10), 4), an inheritance (verse 11), and 5) sealing with the Holy Spirit. (verse 13).
As stated in last month’s VOICE article, “Redemption” includes “forgiveness” but it is much more than that. It is our liberation from the ways of this world in order to live a Christ-like life as persons who have conquered the power of sin and death. Leon Morris writes that
“Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ. In the New Testament, …redemption … refers both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.”
Paul describes the significance of redemption in Ephesians 2:1-10. God “made us alive together with Christ… raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 2:6-7). We are now liberated from a worldly life in order to live a resurrected life that is other-worldly. We are already at the right hand of Jesus. Paul is communicating that the redeemed life has already begun. As unrealistic as this may seem to us because of our awareness of human nature, it is more likely achieved when we embrace what Paul says as “truth.”
Thus, we are fully equipped to accomplish God’s will for us if we have clarity about God’s will. This clarity is provided by Jesus Christ as the third accomplishment on behalf of God the Father. Paul states,
“In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph. 1:8-10)
This is a confusing for many Christians and needs to be carefully examined. The July VOICE article will focus on its meaning. But it is important to connect the dots in this passage which began at verse 3. Why do we need to know the mystery of God’s will? Because we are at the right hand of Jesus with authority and power to help accomplish what God envisions. We have become co-laborers with Jesus and we are transformed in order to contribute to His work in building something new.
Paul sees that we, as children of God, now understand things that people of faith did not understand before Jesus entered history and taught us the will of God. I believe that Eph. 2:11-22 is a detailed description of the mystery of God’s will. See if you can define what Paul is referencing by “mystery” in your own analysis of Eph. 2:11-22.
Our salvation is a much bigger deal than simply being forgiven for the things we do wrong. We can pray that God forgives us for not doing the things he designed us to do. We are His children and He has aspirations for us. Let’s dig into the Book of Ephesians and learn more about God’s will for us. Please do me the favor of letting me know if a Bible study like this is helpful in your life. I always appreciate feedback.
To God be the Glory,