by Mike Ratliff
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints and believers in Christ Jesus who are in Ephesus. 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
Is the Gospel something that the Christian “is” or “becomes?” The Emergent Christians are fond of quoting St. Francis of Assisi, “preach the gospel always, use words if necessary.” There are two problems with this quote. First, he never said that and second, the gospel is a message that is to be proclaimed. The word “gospel” comes from the Greek εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), “gospel, good news.” It is a message that redemption is available to those who are in bondage. The Emergents’ call “to be the Gospel” is utter nonsense because what they have done is taken the Biblical definition of the Gospel and redefined into something else that we often call on this blog, the “social gospel,” which is “another gospel,” and does not save.
In our post God’s Purpose for the Church Part 1 we looked at our “Predestination in Christ” from Ephesians 1:3-6. In this post we will look at the Church’s “Redemption in Christ” from Ephesians 1:6-10.
6 to the praise of the glory of his grace by which he favored us in the Beloved 7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses according to the wealth of his grace, 8 which he lavished on us in all wisdom and understanding 9 having made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in him 10 for a stewardship of belonging to the fullness of the times to sum up all things in Christ, things in in the heavens and things on the earth. In him (Ephesians 1:6-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
As we saw in God’s Purpose for the Church Part 1, the ultimate purpose of election to salvation is the glory of God. In v6 Paul makes sure we understand that our redemption came because God favored us by his grace in the Beloved. This grace is undeserved love and favor. Never forget that. We can never forget that my brethren. This bestowing of grace upon the elect, who are all undeserving sinners, makes it possible for them to be accepted by God through the substitutionary death and imputed righteousness provided by Jesus Christ (‘the Beloved”). What is so hard for us to accept at times is that because we have been accepted in Christ, then like him, we are also beloved of God.
What do we learn from vv7-8? In whom do we have redemption? Jesus Christ alone is the source of our redemption. What is this redemption? This term in the Greek relates to paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage. Our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross paid that price for every elect person enslaved by sin, buying them out of the slave market of sin. What was the price of redemption? It was death (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 3:24, 25; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18;, 19; Revelation 5:8-10). Notice also that there is no lacking or poverty of God’s grace. It is 100% sufficient to redeem all of the elect entirely with no added “works” necessary for the elect to do in order to become “redeemable.” This redemption also brings divinely bestowed spiritual understanding (1 Corinthians 2:6, 7, 12, 16).
In vv9-10 we see that this present age is not going to last forever, but “in the fullness of the times” all things will be brought together under Christ’s stewardship or administration, that is, all things are to be summed up in him. That includes all things in the heavens and things on the earth. The book of Revelation gives us an account of much of that. In God’s timing, when all things are made new, all will be totally unified under Christ (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28; Philippians 2:10, 11).
The last two words of v10 obviously should have been the first two words of v11, so we will start there in our next post.
As I worked on these verses I became very frustrated with some believers I know of who are very confused about the Christian’s sanctification. Some go so far away from what they call legalism that they become antinomians. From this have come false teachings like, “let go and let God.” On the other extreme are those who decry antinomianism to the extreme and end up neglecting grace placing people under the bondage of the law, which is legalism. This is trying to be sanctified by human effort alone. Neither system works.
I rejoiced when I discovered John Owen’s masterpiece from the 17th Century, The Mortification of Sin. It is a practical book, but is based upon the believer learning to walk in repentance and putting their sin to death so that it will not be in the process of killing him or her. While Owen can be quite heavy or dense reading, I highly recommend a slow, deliberate study of that small book, which is actually a collection of sermons by Dr. Owen.
Soli Deo Gloria!