The Christian Inventory (Ephesians 1:7-12)

Ephesians 1:7-12 reveals 3 permanent possessions every Christ has in Christ. 

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, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7–12, ESV)

OUTLINE:

I. Redemption (v. 7) 

A. price of redemption: “In him we have redemption”

1. paid by the Beloved: “through his”

2. paid with blood: “blood”

B. result of redemption: “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”

II. Revelation (vv. 8-10) 

A. capacity for revelation: which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

B. content of revelation: “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

III. Inheritance (vv. 11-12) 

A. inheritance secured: “In him we have obtained an inheritance”

1. secured by God’s predestination: “having been predestined”

2. secured by God’s purpose: “according to the purpose”

3. secured by God’s providence: “of him who works all things”

4. secured by God’s plan: “according to the counsel of his will”

B. inheritance realized

1. realized hope: “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ”

2. realized glory: “might be to the praise of his glory”

Pray for your pastor when he is “bogged”

As a preacher I found this statement from James Boice interesting and familiar:

Haven’t you felt that kind of discouragement yourself when you were in the middle of a particularly demanding job? I have. I often feel it when I am in the middle of writing a sermon. In fact, I have a term for it. I say to myself that I have “bogged,” meaning that I have bogged down. It is because the process of preaching a preparing a sermon is mentally and emotionally draining, and I frequently reach a point at which I no longer want to go on. If when I am felling like that I should receive an additional threat from outside, the combination of tiredness and fear or anxiety could easily make me stop what I am doing. We can fight against one enemy on one front, but it is hard to fight against two (or more) enemies simultaneously. (Nehemiah, 55)

The only thing I would change about this statement is that instead of often I would say weekly there is a point in my sermon prep in which I feel bogged. I hesitate to say this because I hate when pastors over dramatize their work, but it is hard to describe the mental, emotional, and spiritual energy required for faithful preaching. Sermon prep is very draining. The reality is that every pastor knows exactly what Boice is talking about. Each week the preacher must expect to press through the bog to get to the pulpit.

I say this as encouragement to those of you in the bog this week. You are not the only one who is tired and frustrated. As a Tom Hanks character once said, “it’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.” Or, in a slightly more spiritual vein, the God who called you into His service will sustain you as you discharge your ministry.

I also want to exhort those who will be spiritually fed on Sunday because your pastor endured the bog. Please don’t make the bog thicker for him. Sure, you might have genuine complaints. I know for a fact that if you are reading this you have an imperfect pastor (especially if you’re from my congregation). But, more than likely, you also have a pastor who genuinely loves you even if he imperfectly demonstrates that love. Can you imagine if everyone in the church expected you to be all things to all people? Misplaced expectation can add layers and layers of mud to the bog of sermon prep. So does opposition. In fact, disunity and opposition are like pouring bags of cement into the bog. You can virtually guarantee an insufficiently prepared sermon by stirring up strife in the congregation.

So what can you do to help you pastor through the bog? Most importantly, you can pray for your pastor this week. Pray for his faithfulness, purity, courage, & illumination. When you get done with that, pray for wisdom, power, and love. At the same time, you can support him as a brother in Christ. You can do him a great service by treating him and his family (Don’t forget his family!) like friends not enemies. Don’t expect for him to possess every spiritual gift or preach like your favorite celebrity preacher. Appreciate the way God has gifted him and edify him so that he will be faithful in his preaching.

I am thankful to be the beneficiary of kind support such as this, and I can’t tell you how many times the Lord has used my congregation to pull me out of the bog.

If God is speaking to you, don’t listen…

God has spoken. God has revealed His truth in the Scripture definitively, clearly, inerrantly, infallibly, and sufficiently. There is a subtle and subversive danger in listening for another word, impression, or impulse. For one, the Bible doesn’t command us to look for more. Seriously, think about. Where in the Bible are we commanded to follow the private leading of God?  But there is an even bigger danger. You are probably listening to yourself not God. Daniel Doriani explains,

Uncontrolled meditation has few safeguards. Those who mediate hear many voices, not all of them divine. Recent readings and events weigh heavily. Worse, our hearts deceive us. Sinful desires and petty grudges contaminate our meditations. We are too blind to our ego, too ignorant of others’ needs, too prone to legalism, too dedicated to our own agendas to justify trusting our subjective impulses. The prowling mind can find evidence in almost every passage that what it wants, God ordains.

(Daniel Doriani, The Nature of Application, 28)

So how do we control our meditation and avoid this danger? By meditating on the object word of God found in the Bible. If God is speaking to you apart from the Bible then stop listening, because it is probably your own desires formulating the message. Don’t listen. In fact, stop looking private messages all together and join the Psalmist in saying, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Ps 119:7)

Kent Hughes on Holiness in the Christian Life

If your life is characterized by a pattern of conscious sin, you very likely are not a Christian. If some of your most cherished thoughts are hatreds, if you are determined not to forgive, you may not be a true believer. If you are a committed materialist who finds that your greatest joys are self-indulgence — clothing your body with lavish outfits, having all your waking thoughts devoted to house, cars, clothing, and comforts — you may not be a Christian. If you are a sensualist who is addicted to pornography, if your mind is a twenty-four-hour bordello — and you think it’s okay — you may very well not be a Christian, regardless of how many times you have “gone forward” and mouthed the evangelical shibboleths. Election ultimately results in holiness, but the process begins now. Are you concerned for holiness? Are you growing in holiness?

 

(R. Kent Hughes, Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ, Preaching the Word [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990], 25-26)

What is true holiness… or what isn’t it?

Here’s J.C. Ryles’ reminder:

True holiness, we surely ought to remember, does not consist merely of inward sensations and impressions. It is much more than tears, and sighs, and bodily excitement, and a quickened pulse, and a passionate feeling of attachment to our own favourite preachers and our own religious party, and a readiness to quarrel with everyone who does not agree with us. It is something of “the image of Christ,” which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings. (Rom. viii. 29.)

J.C. Ryle, Holiness, p. 5

The Glory of God in the Christian Life

What part does the Glory of God play in the Christian life?

  1. The Glory of God is The Divine Purpose for the Christian life. (Eph 1:6,12,14; Ez 36:22-23).
  2. The Glory of God is The Eternal Plan for the Christian life.   (Eph 3:20; Rom 1:25; Rev 5:13).
  3. The Glory of God is The Daily Priority for the Christian life (1 Cor 10:31; 1 Cor 6:19-20)

The Glory of God “is what gives meaning to our existence: God is putting His glory on display, and it is our unspeakable privilege to participate in that demonstration and to savor the joy of it without ceasing.” (John MacArthur, “The Reason for Everything”, Expositor, issue 2, p. 13)

Introducing Ephesians (Eph 1:1-2)

Ephesians is the ideal place to build upon your faith. In the book of Ephesians, we are taught the essence of the Christian faith. We see in the clearest terms what it means to be a Christian, and what it looks like to live like a Christian. We are instructed on the faith of the church, as well as the function of the church. Nowhere are these truths as concisely laid out as in the book of Ephesians. Martyn Lloyd-Jones referred to Ephesians as “The distilled essence of the Christian religion.” If Romans is Paul’s version of a systematic theology, then Ephesians is his “Basic Christianity.”

All that being said, the book of Ephesians cannot be studied without some difficulty. At times, the book can be controversial, saying things about election and submission that are hard to hear. At other points it can be confusing, testing the limits of our finite brains in understanding divine truth. And, almost all the time, it can be convicting, pushing us to grow our love for the Savior.
Some of the challenges of Ephesians can be overcome simply by making some proper introductions. Whenever I preach in a new place, I always take a minute to introduce myself and my topic. If people know who and what they are listening to, it is usually easier for them to listen. The same is true in Ephesians 1:1-2. Here Paul provides a proper introduction for this letter:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2, ESV)

In these verses Paul provides an introduction that tells us quite a bit about where we are going with this study, and he helps us see why we should listen. Specifically, Ephesians 1:1-2 provides 3 introductions that will help us better understand the rest of the letter.

 

I. The Pastor of Ephesians (v. 1a)

We find the first introduction at the beginning of verse 1 where we are introduced to
the Pastor of Ephesians:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . . (Ephesians 1:1a, ESV)

From this it is clear that Paul wrote Ephesians. To deny the Pauline authorship of this letter is to deny the inerrancy of Scripture. However, Paul is more than just the author, he is also the pastor of this letter. When Paul wrote to Ephesus he did so as their pastor. For two years he had served in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Listen to Paul’s description of that time:

”You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to
you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there. (Acts 20:18-22, ESV)

It was a dear time for Paul, and even after he left, the people remained dear to him. That’s probably why Paul sent his protege, Timothy, to pastor in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3). All this is a reminder, as you study the book of Ephesians you are studying the heartfelt words of a pastor to his people.

 

A. Authoritative Pastor

Paul’s authority as a pastor extends well beyond the city of Ephesus. Paul has the credentials to speak authoritatively to us all. He is “an apostle of Christ Jesus.” The word apostle literally means “sent one.” It is an official emissary; an authoritative representative. In this case, Christ Jesus is the One who did the sending (cf. Acts 9:1-19). As a result, his teaching, along with that of the other apostles, is the foundation of our faith (2:20). This means that as we study the book of Ephesians, the words of this pastor are authoritative in our lives. The apostolic authority of Paul demands personal accountability from you. When Paul speaks in Ephesians, God speaks.

 

B. Providential Pastor

The fact that Paul spoke with divine authority is remarkable, but it has nothing to do with how remarkable Paul was. Paul was not an apostle by his own merit or ambition. Actually, his merit and ambition took him in the opposite direction (cf. Phil 3:1-8). Paul’s appointment was the result of the gracious will of God. He was an authoritative pastor because he was a providential pastor. This should resonate with all of God’s people, since everything we have received, including blessings and salvation, is the result of God’s gracious will.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-12, ESV)

If Paul was a providential pastor, then we are providential Christians, here by the will of God. This also means that the words of Ephesians are providential words, here by the will of God. As we study this book, we must remember that these are the words God has for us. I don’t know where you are at in life now, or where you will be throughout our study, but I do know that God providentially provided the Pastor of
Ephesians to write these words for you.

 

II. The People of Ephesians (v. 1b)

In addition to introducing us to the pastor of Ephesians, we are also introduced to the
people of Ephesians:

. . . to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:1b, ESV)

There is some question about these words since certain ancient manuscripts omit the words “in Ephesus.” Some replace Ephesus with another city and others simply leave it blank. Additionally, Paul mentions very little, if anything, personal in this letter. One can’t help but wonder why, since he was writing to his beloved brothers in Ephesus. So what do we say to this? Biblical scholars have come up with a solution I think is the answer. Paul wrote Ephesians to be a circular letter that would be passed from church to church, and he gave the Ephesians the honor of being the first to receive it. This was a very strategic move on Paul’s part. Ephesus was the ideal city from which this letter could be disseminated throughout the region. It was the third largest city in the Roman empire, with over 200,000 people. Bolstering its importance, Ephesus housed the temple of Artemis (Diana), a leading god in Asia Minor. Paul intended his letter to arrive in Ephesus and spread throughout churches in the region. The real people of the book of Ephesians are the people of the church. Paul is writing to the church at large, all Christians in all ages. Notice the terms he uses to introduce the church.

 

A. People who are saints

Paul refers to the church as “saints”. The saints are the church, not a different class within the church. “Saint” is Paul’s normal way of addressing Christians (1 Cor 1:1; Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1). In fact, every time the word is used in the NT it refers to ordinary Christians. It has nothing to do with Catholic veneration or a class of “holier” Christians.
The word “saints” literally means “holy ones”. This is what God has chosen the whole church to be, not just an elite group within the church.God called the nation of Israel to be His holy people (Ex 19:6), but through their own human effort they failed. Only some Israelites were truly saved and made holy (Rom 9:6). This is not the case with the church. The difference is that now we have the call of God (1:4) and the work of Christ (5:26-27) to make us holy. The entire church is made up of saints — “holy ones”.
Our sainthood does not depend on the veneration of man, it rests in the victory of Christ. How else can we explain the fact that Paul called the Corinthians saints, twice? This doesn’t mean that as saints we will not be holy. Sainthood doesn’t depend on fruit, but it does produce fruit (5:3). Christ positionally and practically makes us His “holy ones.”

 

B. People who are believers

The next term Paul uses to introduce us to the church is “faithful.” The word used here can refer to “faithfulness” or “believing.” It is either having faith or being faithful. In this case it should be understood as having faith. Literally, Paul is talking about “believers.” He is not talking about faithfulness to God, but faith in God. This serves as a reminder that to be a part of the church you must believe. Apart from personal faith in the Gospel you cannot be saved and you are unequivocally not a part of the church. Heritage, attendance, giving, serving, or anything else, apart from faith, cannot make you a part of the church. Paul makes this explicit in chapter two:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)

Apart from faith you are not a part of the church, because the church is made up of believers.

 

C. People who are “in Christ”

Notice the final term Paul uses to introduce us to the church. He refers to the church as those who are “in Christ.” Grammatically, this term modifies both “saints” and “believers.” We are only saints because we are in Christ. We are only believers because we are in Christ. Our holiness is sufficient because in Christ we have His holiness. Our faith is all that is required, because we have His faithfulness. The church is the people who are “in Christ.”
Theologically, what we are talking about is union with Christ. This is the relationship between a believer and Christ from which every benefit of salvation is derived. This is our identification with Christ in the Divine economy. There is no doctrine more vital to our salvation, and more important to the book of Ephesians. Paul refers to it 16 times in 6 chapters. This doctrine will become clear as we progress through the book. For now, notice how it functions here. The church is those who are in Christ. These are the people of Ephesians—those for whom it was written.

 

III. The Point of Ephesians (v. 2)

We find the third introduction of this passage in verse 2. Here we see the point of
Ephesians:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2, ESV)

This verse is a general greeting for a general epistle. Paul was not writing to address a specific problem or deal with a false teaching. His subject, like his greeting, is general. Paul begins with the most basic Christian themes, grace and peace, and shows how they relate to the Christian life. As we noted above, Ephesians is the essence of basic Christianity. Paul wrote this to instruct the church on the basics of faith and practice. It contains what we are to believe and how we are to live. In fact, this is the way the book is structured. The first 3 chapters are on the faith of the church and the last 3 chapters are on the practice of the church. In this book we learn what it means to be saved into Christ’s church, and then how we are to live as Christ’s church.

Conclusion: 
Ephesians 1:1-2 provides a proper introduction to the epistle. It introduces the pastor of Ephesians, Paul. It introduces the people of Ephesians, the church. And it introduces the point of Ephesians, the basic faith and practice of the church. I trust these introductions will help you receive the truth God has for you in Ephesians. May the Lord “take His truth and plant it deep in us.”