Full Reading: Ephesians 1
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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
I pray you are reading Ephesians. There is power in the Word of God. It is the power to save men and the power to kill sin. There is power in God’s Word when my words are powerless. We often see people jumping from one devotional to another, claiming each better than the last, and they do it just to do it. If you are reading these without reading the full chapter, you are neglecting the most important part of this. In fact, you are wasting your time. If you read my words and neglect God’s, this is a waste of time for both of us. My reflections on God’s Word are useless without your own. Keep reading Ephesians 1. If you really need a break, read Ephesians 2.
We saw last time that on the cross Christ saves His people and they are counted holy and blameless before God. Paul will continue to add on to and expound upon these ideas. V. 4 ends by saying “in love”. This means that what follows is an expression of God’s love. We’ll see later in v. 6 why God does these things in love. In love, He predestined us. Paul, in order to be sure he was not ambiguous in v. 4, reiterates the crucial aspect of God’s choice. In v. 4 we see that God chose who would be holy and blameless, and we see in v. 5 that God has predestined or predetermined precisely who would be His.
Paul writes, “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ”. It seems with every verse, the work and the love God gets more personal and more intimate. This predestining is for a very specific purpose. God predestined His people to be His children. We see an intimate Fatherly love displayed in this predestining. God has taken people who were not his children, who did not deserve to be called His children, and He has adopted them to Himself through Christ Jesus. This is the Gospel. Again.
The apostle John would write, in the prologue to his gospel, “but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”. Let’s compare these two statements, and see what conclusion we can draw. John teaches that those who believe in Christ have the right to become children of God. Paul teaches that God predestined those who become children of God to be adopted as such. Paul teaches that God has predestined specifically the end, and John teaches us specifically the means. We then see that Paul teaches this adoption is “through Jesus Christ”. God’s predestining includes the means John would describe, and that is “through [belief in] Jesus Christ.” This all fits together as one concise argument. We, the people of God, are predestined for adoption through the Gospel. Both of these parts are predestined, and we cannot separate them.
Finally Paul gives us some insight into why God does this. There are many things which could be said. There are many ideas that would fit logically with this teaching. Paul could have said “according to the good works we have done.” Paul could have said, “according to what God foresaw in them”. He says nothing like this. Paul keeps the focus on God. This entire passage is centered on the glorious work of God in Christ for salvation. God has done these things “according to the purpose of his will“. Paul would go on to describe a bit more of this purpose, but he gets to the heart of the issue here. With all of this talk of God choosing and predestining, it is reasonable to ask why. I think many people struggle with this question, “why me?” Why would God choose me and not my brother? Why me and not my sister, or my mother, or my father, or my friend? These are difficult questions, and they are not to be taken lightly. Why do I look at members of my family and see them in unbelief? Why did God give me this grace and peace, these spiritual blessings, and this great adoption, while withholding it from others? I look at myself and know that nothing good can come from me. The only good can come through Christ in me and the power of God’s Spirit working in me.
So why me? According to the purpose of His will. This is all the apostle leaves us with. God is righteous and God is holy. God is merciful and God is just. And God chooses according to the purpose of His will. This can be difficult to accept. That is where God’s Spirit acts to strengthen us. When we find our resolve weak, the Holy Spirit strengthens us to understand the Scripture, and to grow in our acceptance of and submission to biblical teaching. As I mentioned in my last devotional, this teaching has made many men proud. But Paul gives us absolutely no reason to be proud of anything but the work of Christ.
If you struggle or have struggled in your relationship with your earthly father, or you have never had a relationship with him, I pray the Apostle blesses your soul with this teaching. God is a perfect Father and He has adopted us into His family through the Gospel of Jesus. There is an intimacy we can have with our Heavenly Father that surpasses anything we could have with our earthly fathers. But this intimacy can only come from reading His Word and talking to Him. Pray to Him. Cry out to Him. God listens to the voices of His sheep, and God is faithful to pour His grace out upon them through the ministry of His Word and His Spirit.
Keep reading Ephesians friends. It’s really all that matters here.