“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17)
I’ve been involved in a small Bible study group for almost three years. A good friend of mine is also in this group. Watching the transformation that has taken place over the years has been incredible. As he’s come into a deeper understanding of Jesus, I’ve seen him overcome the religious ideas he grew up with. God has given him a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and he’s entered into a deep and intimate knowledge of God that has transformed him.
It’s been beautiful to watch, but more impressively, it is something that can be replicated!
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayer” (Ephesians 1:15-16)
It is not unusual for the Apostle Paul to open each of his letter with a prayer for the people he’s writing to. However, Ephesians is unique because he stops twice to pray (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21). Both prayers are similar in that he is praying that they (and by extension us) will grasp the fullness of the mystery he’s writing about in this letter. The mystery is about Christ and the Church.
Paul opens by giving thanks for them because he’s heard about their faith in Christ Jesus and of their love for the saints of God, but also because of what he shared in the previous verses: “…and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Last summer, we tried canning for the first time. We had an abundant tomato harvest so naturally we wanted to preserve as much as we could. The process was simple enough—sterilizing the jars, blanching the tomatoes, and boiling the jars to remove air and seal them. Now we have a shelf full of canned tomatoes that will last a very long time.
Something similar happens when we receive the gospel message. We are marked, sealed, and preserved by God. He puts both His mark of ownership on us and “seals” us through the promised Holy Spirit to preserve us for the day of redemption.
“Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12 NASB)
When God created the world, man was the crowning jewel in all creation (Gen. 1:26-27). He made male and female in His image to reflect and display His glory. Mankind’s fall merely put this plan on hold it did not thwart it.
When Jesus came to redeem through His death and resurrection all that was stolen in the garden, He gave birth to the Church (Col. 2:18). The Church is the crowning jewel in redemption. In Ephesians 1 alone, Paul reminds us that the inevitable result of all of God’s actions is that He will be praised and glorified (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The Church brings glory to God, and this was part of His master plan. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11).
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10)
What if our redemption was meant only for this world? Don’t we live this way? Don’t we have a narrow view of what was accomplished on the cross? I know I do. I get so wrapped up in day-to-day living that I lose track of the bigger picture.
In the previous verses, we are told that we have been redeemed and forgiven in accordance with God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). Then Paul mentions that this has been lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding (Eph. 1:8). I truly believe he says this so we will understand the next statement, “…and he made known to us the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9a).
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
I drove the same car for over 12 years. Not only was it a great car, but it was paid off, so I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of not having a car payment for many, many years. In fact, near the end of the car’s life, I had to bum rides for almost two weeks before deciding the car was beyond repair and needed to be replaced. I had enjoyed owning it free and clear!
Owning the title to the car meant that the debt was satisfied. This has legal ramifications, meaning that no other entity had a claim on this property. While this example in no way compares to what Christ did for us, the same principle can be applied relating to our redemption in Christ. It was done legally, fully, and completely in every way imaginable. “The entire universe is governed by law. Redemption from beginning to end is based upon a system of divine jurisprudence. It has a legal foundation” Paul E. Billheimer.