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012008Every Spiritual Blessing 1.1-3

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Every Spiritual Blessing e Ephesians 1:1-3

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. 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. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.                    Ephesians 1:1-14

Introduction – Verses 3-14 are considered by most Greek scholars to be one sentence.  Biblical translators add punctuation so that it makes more sense to us as we read but the Greek construction is such that this passage is treated as one thought.  There are actually eight such sentences in this letter.  Paul gives a brief introduction in vss. 1-2 and then goes right into this 200 plus word sentence which is nothing less than an outpouring of praise.

I.      Don’t ignore the introduction – At our Wednesday night Bible study we talked about the importance of introductions.  We identified 11 or 12 different things in the first two verses that are important to our understanding of this letter.  We are not going to go over all of them this morning but there are a few that will serve as a starting point for us.

a.    Writer

i.       Paul immediately identifies himself as the author of this letter. Remember that this would have had significance to the Christians at Ephesus because Paul is the one who planted the church.  His letter would have been received with enthusiasm.

ii.     He also identifies himself as an apostle.  This is an important designation since apostleship carries with it the authority to give instruction to the church. 

1.    Also important are the…

b.    Recipients

i.       Knowing who the first readers of the letter were help us understand the culture of the day and perhaps the reason for the letter. 

ii.     This letter is written to the Christians in Ephesus as indicated by Paul’s reference to them as saints.  This means that this letter is also written to we who are believers today. 

iii.    I talked last week about idol worship being the norm for unbelievers in this region.

1.    Paul also uses a somewhat standard greeting in his letters.

c.    Greeting

i.       Most of his greetings are relatively short but always reflect an important part of his theology.

ii.     Paul almost always recognizes two members of the Godhead in his introductions, God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  This tells us that Paul has a high view of God and believes Him to be the only one qualified to set the standard for our lives.

Now let’s look at vs. 3 together.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”

II.     Paul ascribes praise to God - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is how he sets the tone for this first section of his letter. 

a.    The word ‘blessed’ comes from the Greek word ελογητός which is also where we get our word ‘eulogy’ which means to bless praise.  This adjective means “inherently worthy to be praised”. This form of the word is used only eight time in the New Testament and always of God o

i.       Blessed - ελογητός [eulogetos /yoo·log·ay·tos/] Eight occurrences in the New Testament always referring to God. (Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3)

1.    Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

2.    1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”                

3.    When you see this word ‘blessed’ ascribed to God you should understand that the writer understands that God is inherently worthy to be praised.

4.    Paul understands that there is no one else worthy of such praise and so he begins his letter with the strength of this lofty praise.

Paul ascribes praise to God and…

b.    We are to be like minded - We should realize that Paul is even teaching us through this introductory sentence.

i.       It is his desire that we respond by magnifying and glorifying God, who is worthy of our adoration.

ii.     Says John Calvin, “The lofty terms in which Paul extols the grace of God toward the Ephesians, are intended to rouse their hearts to gratitude, to se them all on flame, to fill them even to overflowing with this disposition.”

As I mentioned a few minutes ago this is just the introductory verse to an entire paragraph of praise.  Now let’s look at some of the things that Paul sets forth as praiseworthy.  In doing so we will see why he says that…

III.   We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing

Paul actually gives four distinct reasons for his praise of God.  I will identify those this morning and then we will dig into them one by one in subsequent weeks.  Today I want you to pay close attention to what Paul I praising God for.  The first one is…

a.    Praise for Election and Adoption, 1:4-6

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.                          Ephesians 1:4-6

i.       He chose us

1.    Remembering that Paul is speaking to believers here, I want you to consider what he is saying here.  Paul says God chose you before the foundation of the world.  Paul himself is praising God for this.  Notice that he says “He chose us” before the foundation of the world.  What a glorious thought, that God had us in mind before time began. But don’t get too puffed up about it because we learn elsewhere in scripture that we definitely don’t deserve it!  That should not dampen our praise to God however.

2.    It is certain that he chose us but Paul also tells us that we have been chosen for a particular reason.  The reason is “that would be holy and blameless before Him.”   If you continue to read in vs. 5 find that God has another reason for choosing us.

ii.     He adopted us

1.    What this tells us is that in God’s choosing us he had in mind a personal, loving relationship with us. 

2.    What this means is that God wanted to have a relationship with you.  I believe this is good reason to bring praise to God just as Paul is doing here. 

The second point of praise Paul brings is…

b.    Praise for Redemption and the Forgiveness of Sins, 1:7-8

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us in all wisdom and insight.                          Ephesians 1:7-8

i.       He redeemed us – why is this worthy of praise?  Simply put, we would be doomed without his intervention.  Paul says that we have redemption “in Him”.  There is no one else in whom forgiveness of sins leading to eternal life can be found.  Redemption is found in Christ alone.

1.     it is difficult to explain the joy we have in our hearts once we have received that forgiveness.  People who haven’t received God’s gift can’t understand it because it is one of those things that is spiritually discerned.  But we come together at least once a week to join our hearts together in praise and worship and thanksgiving because we can barely believe that God would forgive such a one as I.  We who believe understand the joy that comes with salvation and for that our God is worthy to be praised, Amen?     But he didn’t stop there…

ii.     He lavished on us - Paul also tells us here that God left nothing out.  He lavished on us the riches of His grace.  In this life we understand his grace dimly but we will spend eternity learning the riches of His grace.  This verse also tells us that God did not lavish this on us unadvisedly.  He did so in all wisdom and insight which goes along with vs. 11 where Paul says that God does all things “after the counsel of His will.”

c.    Praise for God’s Plan to Sum Up All Things in Christ, 1:9-10

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.                                                                          Ephesians 1:9-10

God not only adopted us and redeemed us but also intended for us to know and understand his saving purposes.  We find here that…

i.       His mystery revealed – he didn’t keep it to himself as he certainly could have.  In fact this verse tells us that it was his kind intention that should know. You know, we often think of God as a kind and loving God.  But have you ever thought about the fact that it was only because of his kind intentions that we know anything about it at all?  Paul is praising God that he has included us in his plans.

ii.     Christ is the main point – not only is the mystery of salvation revealed here but also that all things will be completed in Christ; Paul says in the heavens and in the earth signifying everything.  We learned as we studied the book of Hebrews that it was all about Christ.  So it is in God’s eternal plan.  He is at this very moment in the process of summing up all things in Christ and in the fullness of time everyone will see that Christ truly is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Paul finishes this wonderful passage of praise by praising God for the assurance of the believer’s heritage.

d.    Praise for the Assurance of the Believers’ Heritage, 1:11-14

 

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.             Ephesians 1:11-14

 

i.       We have an inheritance – Because of our adoption we have become heirs of hope.  Once again Paul makes it clear that this cannot happen apart from Christ.  He says In Him we have obtained an inheritance.  And this not only to give us hope but also to praise of His glory.

ii.     We are sealed in Him – not only does Christ provide the inheritance but also provides the assurance that we will realize our heritage.  He gives us the Holy Spirit as a pledge so that we know our redemption is sure, for our hope and for the praise of His glory.

No wonder Paul is praising God!  Everything that Paul talks about comes from God; our adoption, our redemption, our forgiveness, and our assurance.

 

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