God is dependent upon no one, and controlled by no one. He is self-existent and self-sustaining. He needs no one. His sovereignty (absolute power and authority) is forever married to His divine decrees issued forth from eternity. God has an eternal plan. The masterpiece of that plan is His redemption of sinners. The Apostle Peter wrote about this glorious gospel, and said the wonder of it all is something the angels long to understand (1 Peter 1:12).
The redemption of sinners baffles the angels. They long to understand how a God of righteousness and holiness could also be a God of grace—how He could save sinners who are worthy of damnation. That should baffle us all. Therefore, God alone should receive all the glory for saving us from the just penalty of our sins and the dominion of Satan. So glorious is the salvation provided to us that all three persons of the Trinity were involved in providing it, and are still involved in applying and securing it.
Ephesians 1:3-14 is the longest, single sentence in the Greek New Testament. In this sentence, the apostle presents the salvation of sinners as the unified work of all three members of the Trinity, and is to the praise of God’s glory. Therefore, as a believer in Christ, you are called to continually…
Give glory to God the Father for initiating your adoption (1:3-6).
God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. We bless God because He has first blessed us. He has given us spiritual blessings. The meaning of this is very important. It does not mean spiritual in contrast to material or physical, but refers to blessings which flow from the Holy Spirit. These are spiritual blessings because they originate in the Holy Spirit of God, and are found only in Christ.
Verse four says, He chose us. The word chosen means, “to pick out, choose, or to select.” It is in the middle voice of the Greek language, which means God has done this for Himself. Paul is saying that God has chosen us for Himself and we are the beneficiaries of that choice. What did God choose us for? Adoption (see v. 5). He chose to adopt us into His family through Christ. When did God choose believers in Christ? “Before the foundation of the world” (see also 2 Thess 2:13).
Election is a mystery that cannot be fully reconciled in our finite minds. Like children, let us accept the fact that there are some teachings in Scripture that we cannot reconcile. Instead, we must say, “God is God, and I will let Him be God.” Spurgeon illustrated it this way,
Have you ever noticed that some people who are ill and are ordered to take pills are foolish enough to chew them? That is a very nauseous thing to do, though I have done it myself. The right way to take medicine of such a kind is to swallow it at once. In the same way there are some things in the Word of God, which are undoubtedly true, which must be swallowed at once by an effort of faith, and must not be chewed by perpetual questioning.
The proper response to this sovereign work of God is not to demand an explanation, but to erupt in adoration. Election is designed to drive us to our knees to worship God for His amazing grace. To choose any rebel out of the world to adopt as a son or daughter is amazing in itself, much more that he would choose me, or you! Give glory to the Father for initiating your adoption.
Give glory to God the Son for purchasing your redemption (1:7-12).
Redemption is the freedom from slavery by the payment of a ransom; it is the purchase of liberation which results in new ownership. Redemption includes three basic concepts:
- We are redeemed from something—the life of sin.
By nature, we were born sinners, and quickly became sinners by choice. Until we are born again from above by the Holy Spirit, we live in perpetual slavery to sin. But when we are born again that changes. We change from being slaves to sin to being sons of God and slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:17-18).
- We are redeemed by someone, for a price—the blood of Christ.
Just as there was a price tag on a human slave, there was a price tag on us. The price tag that had to be paid for sinners was the blood of an acceptable sacrifice (1 Pet 1:18-19). The payment that God’s justice and righteousness required of our sin was the blood of Christ. The term “the blood of Christ” entails all that Christ suffered on our behalf. His life was the ransom price that God required (Mark 10:45).
- We are redeemed to something—the state of freedom. We are then called to release this state of freedom to the Lord who bought us.
When a slave was redeemed by the new owner, he was then removed from the slave market and taken to his or her new home. When we are born again, we are taken out of slavery and brought home to God (Rom. 6:22). Give glory to the Son for purchasing your redemption.
Give glory to God the Spirit for sealing your inheritance (1:13-14).
The application of God’s plan to redeem sinners requires the work of the Holy Spirit. When is a believer sealed by the Spirit? At the moment of conversion. Verse 13 makes it clear that when a person hears the gospel, and believes in Christ, the Spirit seals him forever. What happens when we are sealed by the Spirit?
- We are forever united with Christ.
We are sealed in Christ. Kings and rulers used a seal to close up official decrees. A lump of hot wax was pressed onto the document and while still warm, impressed with the king’s signet ring. A seal signified three realities: Security, ownership, and authenticity. The seal of the Spirit renders the believer’s salvation certain.
- We receive a pledge of our inheritance.
He is “the Holy Spirit of promise.” He is called holy because that is His nature and that is the goal to which He is conforming us. And He is the Spirit of promise because His coming was the fulfillment of a promise made by Jesus (John 16:7). The Spirit is a “pledge;” i.e., a down payment, which is a deposit which is in itself a guarantee that the full amount will be paid (Rom. 8:23).
God is to receive all the glory for our redemption because
- The Father initiated our adoption.
- The Son purchased our redemption.
- The Spirit sealed our inheritance.
This is the work of God—a work of grace—for which we can take no credit.
[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]