Accepted in the Beloved

by Mike Ratliff 

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6 ESV)

Our salvation, our redemption, is God’s handiwork end to end. In all my many years as a believer, I have run across multitudes of professing Christians in spiritual bondage because they have a “distrust” of God that they absolutely refuse to admit is there, but prove it by walking in unbelief. This “walking in unbelief consists of believing their salvation is entirely up to them and their performance in walking in repentance to remain in God’s good graces. It is as if they have the offer of salvation, which they have accepted, but they are in deadly fear that the offer will be revoked if they sin or or not work hard enough. This is a form of unbelief because God’s Word does not teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite. I wonder if those in this bondage have every considered the fact that since none of us could do one thing to save ourselves, therefore, the teaching we will be held eternally accountable to a standard of perfection that is impossible for us to be conformed to in this life is a heresy.

3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians. It is written in Koine Greek. In this language it is acceptable to have very long sentences that are not acceptable in English. In Ephesians 1, vv3-14 is one sentence. It is an exultation by the Apostle to the praise of God’s glory. He begins with the word ‘Blessed.’ This is the Greek word εὐλογητός or eulogētos. This word is dervived from εὐλογέω or eulogeō, which means ‘to speak well of’ or ‘to eulogize.’ εὐλογητός, therefore, could be best translated as ‘one to be well spoke of, worthy of praise.’ Paul is saying that God is deserving of great praise to His glory. Paul makes sure that we understand that it is God the Father who is the center of this praise. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and has εὐλογέω (blessed) us in Christ with every spiritual blessing… Hold that thought about that word ‘in’ for now. We have another word derived from εὐλογέω, which is  εὐλογία or eulogia. In this context, Paul is telling Christians that they are ‘blessed’ by the good word and actions of God. Where were we ‘blessed?’ It is ‘in the heavenly places.‘ This refers to the realm of God’s complete, heavenly domain. It is from here that all His ‘blessings’ come. Now, let us go back to that word ‘in’ which referred to our being εὐλογέω ‘in’ Christ. These ‘blessings’ with which God has ‘blessed’ us are superabundant. They belong only to believers who are His children by faith in Christ. This means that what Christ has is theirs. This includes His righteousness, His resources, His privilege, His position, and His power (Romans 8:16,17).

That was v3. Did you praise God for His εὐλογία of you? How can those of us who are saved by Grace through faith alone not glorify God when we read a passage like this? Now, let us look at v4, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” The Greek word translated here as “chose” is ἐκλέγομαι or eklegomai. The grammar structure of this statement indicates that God not only chose by Himself but for Himself to the praise of His own glory (vv 6, 12, 14). Who is the ‘us’ in v3? This is referring to all the elect. What standard did God use in this selection? According to Ephesians 2:1-3 (below), it could not have been by any merit on the elect’s part. No, it was according to His own will apart from any attribute or merit that any of the elect possessed.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

Back to Ephesians 1:4, notice that we have another ‘in him’ here. God the Father chose His elect in Christ before the foundation of the world. Again, this was according to God’s sovereign will and, therefore, apart from any influence from any of the elect’s actions or beliefs. This election was not just the making of a list. No, it was that each chosen child of God should be holy and blameless before Him. How is this possible and God remain just? No human is either holy or blameless. The key is that believers, God’s elect, are chosen ‘in Him’ so that we can stand ‘before Him.’  The next part of this passage reads, “. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” The Greek word translated here as ‘predestined’ is προορίζω or proorizō. It simply means to determine or decree beforehand. This was God’s electing grace in action and done in ‘love,’ which is the Greek word ἀγάπη or agapē. This is benevolent love. It is a love that seeks what is best for the one loved regardless of what the one loved desires. Therefore, God ordained the elect as He exercised ἀγάπη towards them and it was the divine motive for their election. Notice that salvation consists of God adopting His elect into the divine family and it is ‘through Jesus Christ.’ Through this adoption, God gives His own nature to those who have believed and trusted in Christ. This makes them His children in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. They actually receive His divine nature (John 15:15; Romans 8:15).

Now, let us tackle v6, which states, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Do you remember those words above which were translated as ‘Blessed, “blessed,” and “blessing?” The word translated here as ‘blessed’ and “accepted into” in the KJV is not from the same word family as εὐλογέω. No, this is completely different word. It is χαριτόω or charitoō. It is derived from the Greek word χάρις or charis, which is translated into English as ‘grace’ or ‘favor.’ However, χαριτόω literally means ‘to grace’, ‘to make gracious’, or ‘to make lovely.’ This speaks of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness through His substitutionary death. Jesus Christ, the Beloved provides this imputed righteousness. Because believers are accepted in Him, then they, like Him, are beloved of God. It is Christ’s righteousness that is the basis of our justification before Him.

All in Christ are the elect and God will save all the elect who have not yet believed. What we should be concentrating on here are the wonderful truths that God deliberately put into action all that it would take to redeem a people for Himself out of this rebellion, this lost and dying world in which we now live. He loves His children, He chose us. We did not choose Him. He did all that was necessary to draw us to Himself.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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