by Mike Ratliff
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)
As we saw in Part 1, the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians. We also saw that Ephesians 1:3-14 was one glorious sentence in Greek. This wonderful treasure house statement can be broken down into three parts. In vv3-6a we have God’s election of the Church which He did before the foundation of the world. In vv6b-11 we have Paul’s exposition on our redemption. Then the third part is in vv12-14. This part deals with the Christian’s future inheritance with emphasis on the Holy Trinity. In Part 1 we dealt with election. Now let us tackle Redemption and the Christian’s future inheritance.
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, (Ephesians 1:7-11 ESV)
When I was growing up my mother collected S&H Green Stamps. My sister and I pasted them into ‘redemption’ books for her. Then when she had enough books, we would make the trip into Oklahoma City to the S&H Redemption Center. There my mother would redeem her books for a vase or clock or blanket or wedding shower present for someone else. This concept of redemption does not do justice to the Greek word Paul used in v7 that is translated as such. This word is ἀπολύτρωσις or apolutrōsis. In this usage, ἀπολύτρωσις refers to paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage. That ransom consisted of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. This paid the price for every elect person enslaved by sin. The word picture we have here is God buying them out of the slave market of iniquity. The price was death (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 3:24, 25; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:8-10).
Through this ἀπολύτρωσις Christians have the forgiveness of [their] trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon [them], in all wisdom and insight. What does this mean? Redemption in Christ brings in the limitless grace of God (Romans 5:20) and forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:28; Acts 13:38, 39; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13; 1 John 1:9). It also brings divinely bestowed spiritual understanding (1 Corinthians 2:6,7).
In v9 we read, “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.” Through our ἀπολύτρωσις God also made known to us the ‘mystery’ of His will. The Greek word translated as ‘mystery’ is μυστήριον or mustērion. This speaks of things hidden from the majority of people, but known only by those who have hidden them and those who enter into whatever rites or initiation required to enter the inner circle. In this context, Paul is saying that through our ἀπολύτρωσις God’s will is known through the revelation of it. Previously it was hidden or known only vaguely, but now is better known because it is revealed in Christ. In this revelation of God’s will we see that this great work of God is “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 3:3-11).
In v11 we read, “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.” What is this inheritance Christians have obtained in Christ? Whatever it is, Christ is the source of it. The words ‘we have obtained an inheritance’ is one word in Greek, which is κληρόω or klēroō. This is literally a word picture of people casting lots to determine something. In v11 it means, “in whom the lot has fallen upon us also, as foreordained.” In other words, this refers to the completion of one’s election to salvation. This inheritance is spoken of here as if it has already been received (1 Corinthians 3:22,23; 2 Peter 1:3,4). Before God created the earth, He sovereignly determined that every elect sinner by trusting in Christ would be made righteous. The Greek word Paul used that is translated ‘works’ is ἐνεργέω or energeō. We get our words energy, energetic, and energize from ἐνεργέω. When God created the Universe and the Earth, He gave them sufficient energy to begin immediately to operate according to His plan. They were not simply inert and ready to function, but already functioning. He did the very same thing with His plan for the salvation of His elect. He energizes every believer with the power necessary for spiritual completion (Philippians 1:6; 2:13).
so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 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 1:12-14 ESV)
Never forget my brethren that the supreme purpose of the redemption of the elect is God’s glory. The God-revealed gospel of Jesus Christ must be heard (Romans 10:17) and believed (John 1:12) to bring salvation. This is an indictment against those of the Neo Evangelism, the Seeker-Sensitive/Church Growth movement, and the Emergent confusion who say the opposite. They attempt to make the gospel palatable to those who ‘don’t like church’ by dummying it down. To be saved a person must hear the gospel and believe. It does no good to preach the non-gospel. All that produces is religious people who are deceived into believing that their religiosity proves the veracity of their salvation.
God’s own Spirit indwells the believer. This secures and preserves his or her eternal salvation. The sealing above refers to an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document. That document was thereby officially under the authority of owner of the stamp that makes the mark on the seal. This seal signifies four truths about the guarantee of our inheritance.
- Security (Daniel 6:17; Matthew 27:62-66)
- Authenticity (1 Kings 21:6-16)
- Ownership (Jeremiah 32:10)
- Authority (Esther 8:8-12)
The Holy Spirit is given by God as His pledge of the elect’s future inheritance in glory (2 Corinthians 1:21).
My brethren, I pray you rejoiced as you read this post as well as Part 1. We should come to the throne of grace rejoicing in that we are held solidly in God’s hands and He is not going to throw away what He has redeemed by the blood of His precious and beloved Son. Rejoice in Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!