Elon, North Carolina
We have been studying one of the most important books Paul ever wrote. Each book has a different theme. The theme of Philippians is JOY. The word “joy” or “rejoice” is used fifteen times in the book. Galatians is the book of liberty. The theme of Galatians is FREEDOM in Christ. The theme of Ephesians is our RICHES in Christ.
There is a big focus in our day about getting rich. People try to give you all kinds of ways to get rich. There are a lot of get rich quick schemes. We see the same thing in some churches. There are some spiritual get rich quick schemes among some Christians.
Everyone wants to be rich. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is the richest man in the world today, according to Forbes magazine. He is richer than Bill Gates. Bezos has a net worth of $160 billion.
Ephesians is about wealth but not the kind of wealth that many think of. It is dealing with SPIRITUAL WEALTH. Some have called this the true prosperity gospel. The gospel has made us all rich but not rich like the prosperity preachers teach.
What do we learn in the Book of Ephesians? We learn that Christians are rich. We are richer than Jeff Bezos, way richer. We have unimaginable wealth. Ephesians describes out spiritual bank account.
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 (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
Ephesians 1:3 is the KEY VERSE in the chapter. The KEY WORD in this verse is blessing. Three times in one verse do we see the word “blessed” or ‘blessing”. This verse says “blessing, blessing, blessing.”
What does it really mean to be blessed? Most people think of blessing as wealth. We think of financial prosperity (new house or a new car). The Bible does say that God gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17 KJV) but these blessings are spiritual. He has blessed us in Christ with every SPIRITUAL BLESSING in heavenly places.
What Paul says here goes against the grain of some churches. Paul does NOT say that God has blessed us with every material blessing. It does NOT say that he has blessed us with every financial blessing. Most of the Christians that Paul wrote to in the early church were not rich. They were poor. It says that He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, not on earth, but IN HEAVENLY PLACES.
God has not blessed us with A FEW spiritual blessings. He has not blessed us with MANY spiritual blessings. He has not blessed us with MOST spiritual blessings. Paul says that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing. Every single one.
At some point you will be asked if you have received the Second Blessing. If you are a believer, you have already received EVERY spiritual blessing, not just the Second Blessing. You have received the third, the fourth and the fifth.
We have received every spiritual blessing. You may not feel blessed. You may have all kinds of problems in your life right now. Regardless of how you feel, regardless of your financial situation, regardless of your health or medical situation, you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. This is one of the most life-changing truths in Scripture.
The poorest Christian on earth is blessed with every blessing in the heavenlies. They are rich. They may not be rich on earth or by worldly standards, but God says that they are rich. Our senses may tell us that we are poor. Our bank account may say the same thing, but God’s Word says that we have unimaginable wealth but the only way to get these blessings is to be in Christ. That is the KEY PHRASE in the chapter.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 1:1)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
Even as he chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)
To the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us IN THE BELOVED (Ephesians 1:6)
IN HIM we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7)
Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth IN CHRIST (Ephesians 1:9)
As a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things IN HIM (Ephesians 1:10)
IN HIM we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11)
IN HIM you also…. were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
To receive any of these blessings, you MUST be in Christ. It is the only way to get them. You cannot get these blessings in Buddha or in Muhammad. Without Christ, you cannot access any of these blessings or receive them.
Every Christian has two addresses. Paul wrote to believers in this church and they are said to be “in Ephesus” but they are also said to be “in Christ”. If we are saved, we may live in Haw River or Burlington, but God sees us as “in Christ.”
The question is, Are we in Christ? Are we saved? Do we know for sure if we are saved? Is our name written in God’s book in heaven, the Lamb’s Book of Life? It will be pretty cool one day to see our name written in that book.
Paul begins this letter on a positive note. Almost all of his letters begin the same way. I do not know if you do that when you write a letter or send an email but whenever Paul wrote a letter to believers, he always seems to begin with thanksgiving. He always begins on a positive note. Notice how he began when he wrote to the Church at Philippi and Colossae.
I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:3-6 NIV).
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel. (Colossians 1:3-5 NIV)
Paul did that even when he wrote to the Church at Corinth. It was a worldly church. It had all kinds of problems. People were living in sin. Paul still wrote and began the letter with thanksgiving. Every church at some strength. For the church at Corinth, they were big on spiritual gifts. They lacked no spiritual gift.
The only church that Paul did not begin with praise was the letter he wrote to the church at Galatia. That book did not begin with praise but with rebuke, because this church was listening to false teachers and believed a false gospel. The first thing he says to them was “I cannot believe that you have left the true gospel for a false gospel.”
Paul begins the Epistle to the Ephesians with thanksgiving. He begins it with praise. Paul was in prison in Rome. He was in chains. He has lost his freedom. He writes a letter to believers that he has never met and what does he say? He does not talk about his problems. He does not whine or complain about his situation. He doesn’t say, “Woe is me.”
Instead, he praises God. He worships. This chapter is a call to worship. He says, “blessed be God who has blessed us.” That is a little strange. Paul is locked up and he is praising God about how blessed he was and how blessed his readers were. The key verse of this chapter is Ephesians 1:3.
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 (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
Paul begins with praise to God and it is all one long sentence in Greek. Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence. It is 202 words. It is four sentences in the NIV but one sentence in Greek. Someone said that Paul did not write like Hemingway who used short sentences. When Paul gets filled with the Spirit and begins to praise God, he goes on and on without taking a breath.
Paul praises God for what He did in the past. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. He praises God for what he is doing now. He saved us. He redeemed us and forgave us all of our sins. He even praises God for what he will do in the future. He praises God for what will happen one day when all things in heaven and on earth are united in Christ, when creation itself is restored.
When Paul praises God, he praises the entire Trinity. The word “trinity” is not found anywhere in the Bible but the idea of the trinity (one God in three persons) runs all through the Bible. It is found over and over again in the Book of Ephesians. We will see it about eight times in the Book.
Paul praises God for the work of the Father in salvation (Ephesians 1:3-6), the work of the Son in salvation (Ephesians 1:7-12) and the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Father CHOOSES us. The Son REDEEMS us. The Spirit SEALS us. These verses deal with the SELECTION of the Father, the SACRIFICE of the Son and the SEALING of the Spirit.
Your Identity in Christ
This chapter more than any other, gives us our identity in Christ. It will completely revolutionize the way you think about yourself. Many Americans do not know their racial identity. They do not know if they are Italian, French or German in ancestry. They do not know who they are.
Many Christians do not know their identity either. Ephesians gives us our spiritual identity. This chapter is incredible. It will completely change how you view God. It will change how you view yourself and other Christians. What does God say about believers in this chapter?
1) You are WEALTHY
Many Christians are poor, especially in other parts of the world but ALL Christians are spiritually wealthy. Every Christian has these blessings, not just some of them. Notice what the verse says. 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 (Ephesians 1:3 ESV).
The verb is in the past tense. Paul does not say that one day in the future we will receive these blessings. He does not say that we will get them when we get to heaven. We ALREADY have them in Christ right NOW. It has already happened. It has not already happened just for some Christians, the super-saints who pray every day for four hours.
It has happened for all of them. Christians are wealthy. We are royalty. We are children of the King of the Universe. We are princes and princesses. God owns everything. He made it all. We are His children.
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 (Ephesians 1:7-8 ESV). He does not just sprinkle a little on us. He lavishes us with it. He pours it on us. God is not stingy. He gives us riches now and he will give us more riches in heaven
“even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the IMMEASURABLE RICHES of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-7 ESV)
Many Christians today have no idea how wealthy they are. They have no clue. Paul prays that they learn how wealthy they are. He prays that the eyes of their hearts would be opened that they might know what is the hope that they were called and “what are the RICHES of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 ESV).
2) You are a SAINT
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1 ESV). Here is the first thing that God says about every Christian. Each one is a saint. There are Pentecostal saints and Baptist saints. There are Methodist saints and Wesleyan saints, but they are all saints if they are saved. Some of them do not act very saintly. Paul called believers at Corinth saints and they had all kinds of problems, sin problems. It is shocking, but even Christians can fall into sin.
3) You are CHOSEN
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world… He predestined us (Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV). We looked at this last week. Every Christian was written in God’s book before the world began. We saw last week that this is very different from what many Christians today believe.
Some teach that Christ is chosen, not us but this passage says that God chose us, not Christ. Some teach in this passage that we choose God, but the passage says the exact opposite. It is about God choosing us, not us choosing God. Some teach that it is all about God knowing us, but it does not say that God knew us before the foundation of the world (although that is true). It says that He chose us and He chose us for salvation. He chose us to be in Christ.
4) You are ADOPTED
In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5 ESV). The Bible also describes salvation as birth, the new birth. We are born again but here the picture is adoption. When you are adopted, you are picked out by your adoptive parents and the result is that you become a member of the family. We are sons and daughters.
What does it mean to be in the family of God? It means several things. It means that we have an intimacy with God that we never had before. He is our Father. We can cry “Abba Father.” It is an Aramaic term of intimacy (daddy). It also means that we have certain rights as children. We have inheritance rights. Ephesians 1:11 talks about our inheritance. We are in the family.
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6 NIV).
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17 ESV)
It also means that we have an instant connection with other people in the family. We have brothers and sisters. We are not an only child. It also means that we can be disciplined as children. Fathers discipline their children. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives. (Hebrews 12:6 ESV)
5) You are REDEEMED
In him we have redemption through his blood (Ephesians 1:7 ESV). The word redemption is used three times in Ephesians (1:7, 14; 4:30). What does it mean to be redeemed? It is a little strange. it describes salvation as a commercial transaction. Jesus bought us.
Redeemed implies ownership. He bought us. Paul said, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV).
We were slaves and God freed us from slavery. A price had to be paid. A payment was made and that payment involved blood. Many try to be saved another way (good works).
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (I Peter 1:18-19 ESV)
We were redeemed by the blood of Christ. That was the ransom price. It took a lot to redeem us. It was costly. It not only involved death but a violent death on the cross.
6) You are FORGIVEN
Pal says that in Christ we have “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 ESV). We are not only chosen before the foundation of the world, delivered from slavery, adopted by God and placed into His family but forgiven all of our sins.
When we became a Christian, we were forgiven all of our sins. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us ALL our sins (Colossians 2:13 NIV)
Every sin can be forgiven. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV). We are forgiven because of the blood of Christ. We do not only have redemption because of His blood, we have forgiveness because of His blood. God does not forgive sins lightly. A penalty had to be paid.
Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The night before he died, Jesus took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28 NIV). How can we be forgiven by his blood? The Bible says that he bore our sins in his body on the cross (I Peter 2:24)
7) You are WISE
Christians have wisdom. When we got saved, something happened. We received wisdom from God. Non-Christians can be highly intelligent but they do not have spiritual wisdom. We have the Holy Spirit. We have the mind of Christ.
Notice Ephesians 1:8-9. Speaking of the riches of God’s grace, Paul says, “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” (ESV).
God has a plan for the world. This chapter deals with God’s eternal plan for the world. God wants us to know what he has done, what he is doing today and what he will do in the future. When we get saved, we have an understanding we did not have before.
We understand some things. We understand the Bible. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us. We know God’s will. We know that one day everyone will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. One day, all things will be united in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). We know that now.
8) You are SEALED
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).
Notice the four steps of salvation here for this gentile church. One, they HEARD the word of the gospel. The gospel message has to be heard. There is no believing without hearing. Second, they BELIEVED the message. They may have been predestinated but they still have to believe the message. Third, they were SAVED. Four they were SEALED. We are not only saved we are secure.
This passage tells us some things about the Holy Spirit., The Holy Spirit is not only a GIFT, He is a SEAL and a GUARANTEE of our inheritance.
When are we sealed? The KJV says after we believed. In whom ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (KJV).
That is possible translation, but most Greek scholars believe the aorist participle should be translated “when you believed.” That is the way all modern translations read and that is very significant. After you believe, you do not have to wait twenty years before you get the Holy Spirit
Some teach that you can hear the gospel, believe the gospel and not have the Holy Spirit. You do not get Him until you start speaking in tongues. This verse says the minute you believe, you get the Holy Spirit. You may not feel anything right away, but he is still present. Every Christian has the Holy spirit. Paul says in Romans 8:9 that if you do not have the Holy Spirit, you do not have Christ.
When you bought something in the ancient world, a seal usually made of hot wax was placed on a piece of paper to prove that you bought it and owned it. God does not put his seal on a piece a paper. He puts it inside us. His seal is the Holy Spirit. It is a strange seal. It is an internal seal and an invisible seal. The seal lasts right up to the day of redemption. The seal is UNTIL the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
Paul says that the Holy Spirit is not only a seal but a down payment but is also a down payment or pledge. The Holy Spirit is God’s down payment of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is our earnest money. He is our deposit guarantee. Paul tells us that three times II Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14).
Paul says those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:29 ESV). When we are justified, we are guaranteed by the down payment that we will be glorified. The Holy Spirit is the proof. God takes a portion of what we will experience in heaven and gives it to us now.
Harold W. Hoerner in his massive commentary (Ephesians, 632-633) points out that εἰς could refer to purpose (for) but most likely refers to time (until) in the context. Benjamin l. Merkle, another Greek scholar, says the prepositional phrase is temporal (Ephesians: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament, 152).