by Mike Ratliff
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, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:2-4 ESV)
When we doubt or despair (or both) in the midst of fiery trials it is because we have removed our focus from God and are now consumed with a vision of our circumstances that is temporal and is then no different than that of the godless people all around us who literally have no hope. However, we must never forget that God uses these fiery trials in the lives of His people to do eternal work in their hearts. These trials may seem about to consume us, but we must never forget the promises from God to His people about these things. For instance, in Romans 8, the Apostle Paul puts things in proper perspective for true believers. Yes, we may suffer in terrible ways in the temporal, but no matter how severe these circumstances, they are not able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). God’s desire for us is that we have this biblical perspective no matter how good or bad our circumstances are. The key to resting in Christ our Lord during these fiery trials is to be assured in the sovereignty of our Merciful, Gracious, and Just God.
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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)
3ευλογητος ο θεος και πατηρ του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου ο ευλογησας ημας εν παση ευλογια πνευματικη εν τοις επουρανιοις εν χριστω 4καθως εξελεξατο ημας εν αυτω προ καταβολης κοσμου ειναι ημας αγιους και αμωμους κατενωπιον αυτου εν αγαπη 5προορισας ημας εις υιοθεσιαν δια ιησου χριστου εις αυτον κατα την ευδοκιαν του θεληματος αυτου 6εις επαινον δοξης της χαριτος αυτου ης εχαριτωσεν ημας εν τω ηγαπημενω (Ephesians 1:3-6 WHNU)
The first word in this passage leads into worship of God, which is the supreme duty of all of God’s creatures. This Greek word, ευλογητος, is derived from the same word as eulogy, which means to praise or commend. When we praise our God we should focus on His attributes and His mighty works. What does the Apostle Paul focus on here? He begins his praise by stating that God, “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” This is referring to God’s providential grace. He has given His children total blessing already (Romans 8:28; Colossians 2:10; James 1:17; 2 Peter 1:3). These spiritual blessings refer to the very work of God, who is the divine and spiritual source of all blessings. What does it mean that these are “in the heavenly places?” This is referring to the source from which all blessing from God come, which is Heaven where God is. Notice also that these blessings Paul is referring to are for those in Christ. This means that God’s superabundant blessings belong only to believers, His children by faith in Christ.
In vv3-6 w have the work of the Father in the salvation of all believers, which is election. He chose (εξελεξατο) all believers before the foundation of the world… The doctrine of election is emphasized throughout sacred Scripture (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 45:4; John 6:44; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29;9:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3,4: 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10). The verb εξελεξατο is in aorist tense and middle voice, which means that this action is non-continuous by the subject as acting upon himself or concerning himself. In other words, before the foundation of the world (that would mean before He created it) God choose or selected His people for Himself, giving favor to those chosen within a relationship that would be established between them and Him. The usage of this verb in this form involves preference and choice among many. We see in the verses following that God had a very specific purpose in this election of His children. It is that they should be holy and blameless before him. Unrighteous people are declare righteous, and unworthy sinners are declared worthy of salvation. Why? It is because they are chosen “in Christ.” This is referring to Christ’s imputed righteousness to all who believe. What was His motive? It was in (εν) love (αγαπη) that God predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. What does this mean? God miraculously gives His own nature to those whom Has elected after they have believed and trusted in Christ. This transformation conforms them unto the image of Jesus Christ. This means that these blessings are not just eternal life and eternal riches, but the very nature of the Son (John 15:15; Romans 8:15). In v6 we see that the ultimate purpose of election to salvation is the glory of God (Ephesians 1:12,14; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12). The last part of v6 refers to God’s divine grace, without which no one is saved. It is through this grace that penal substitution took place on the Cross. Through our Lord’s substitutionary death came the paradigm in which God imputes our Lord’s righteousness to all who believe and are then accepted in Him. These are the beloved of God.
In vv7-12 we have the work of the Son in the salvation of all believers, which is redemption.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:7-12 ESV)
7εν ω εχομεν την απολυτρωσιν δια του αιματος αυτου την αφεσιν των παραπτωματων κατα το πλουτος της χαριτος αυτου 8ης επερισσευσεν εις ημας εν παση σοφια και φρονησει 9γνωρισας ημιν το μυστηριον του θεληματος αυτου κατα την ευδοκιαν αυτου ην προεθετο εν αυτω 10εις οικονομιαν του πληρωματος των καιρων ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι τα παντα εν τω χριστω τα επι τοις ουρανοις και τα επι της γης 11εν αυτω (1-11) εν ω και εκληρωθημεν προορισθεντες κατα προθεσιν του τα παντα ενεργουντος κατα την βουλην του θεληματος αυτου 12εις το ειναι ημας εις επαινον δοξης αυτου τους προηλπικοτας εν τω χριστω (Ephesians 1:7-12 WHNU)
The word used in v7 that is translated as “redemption” is απολυτρωσιν. This word refers to paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage. What was that απολυτρωσιν? It was our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. In this He paid that price for every elect person enslaved by sin. He bought them out of the slave market of iniquity. In other words, the price of our redemption was His death. This is why Christians have no business playing around with the things of the flesh, the very things for which our Lord went to the Cross to pay their price of redemption. Think about it my brethren. In Christ we have been lavished with superabundant grace, fully undeserved. It is through Christ that we have obtained our inheritance, which was predestined according to the purpose of God.
In vv13,14 we have the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of all believers, which is their protection.
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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)
13εν ω και υμεις ακουσαντες τον λογον της αληθειας το ευαγγελιον της σωτηριας υμων εν ω και πιστευσαντες εσφραγισθητε τω πνευματι της επαγγελιας τω αγιω 14ο εστιν αρραβων της κληρονομιας ημων εις απολυτρωσιν της περιποιησεως εις επαινον της δοξης αυτου (Ephesians 1:13-14 WHNU)
In this passage we see that all in Christ have been sealed (εσφραγισθητε) with the promised Holy Spirit. This Greek word refers to sealing something with a seal such as signet ring. This is the protection seal from our enemy. It marks God’s people as His and Satan has lost all claim to them. The Holy Spirit is also the guarantee of our inheritance that we hold until we acquire possession of it, all for the glory of God.
In Christ each believer is blessed(v3), chosen (v4), predestined (v5), adopted (v5), accepted (v6), redeemed (v7), forgiven (v7), enlightened (vv8-9), given an inheritance (v11), sealed (v13), and assured (v14). God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have done all it takes to save those God has chosen before the foundation of the world. These wonderful promises do not eliminate the need for God to take His children through fiery trials as needed in order to mature them unto the image of Christ. They are still sealed and assured no matter how severe the trial. This is all for God’s glory my brethren and all truly in Christ are both recipients of these blessings and are in Him eternally.
Soli Deo Gloria!