Ephesians – 2
Looking at the opening verses of Ephesians (Chapter 1 verses 1-14)
The first thing to reaffirm is that Ephesians is a letter that encourages and equips through its teaching, arguably more than many of the other epistles, especially when we recognise its only has 6 chapters.
Paul is encouraging a young church in a busy Roman city, with all the pressures and challenges this brings.
The first thing we need to take hold of is the fact Paul refers to this young church as “holy people”. Not, almost holy, becoming holy, or having a good try at being holy. Rather they are called holy in the here and now, in the mess of life and the challenges of life in a Roman cosmopolitan city. Paul refers to them as a holy people because of what Jesus has achieved on the cross, ALL of their sin has been dealt with once and for all. The work of the cross is perfect and without lack, and we are covered by this same perfect work when we accept the gift of grace in the name of Jesus.
You are holy because Jesus made you holy, not as a result of your efforts, as good or bad as they maybe! Holiness is a gift… it’s the result of accepting Jesus as our saviour and king. The relationship we then have with God through Jesus, made powerful and real by the Holy Spirit, is the foundation of transformation. We become more our true selves as we walk with Jesus and surrender to the love and power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness is a gift, and the love that gave it to us changes us from the inside out.
As we read on in the chapter to verses 3-12, we read that we were chosen before the creation of the world. Amazing! Each human being was chosen to be the recipient of grace before God created anything. The God of creation was not caught out by our rejection of Him and the mess that has followed, he knew the pain that was coming and also had the rescue plan in place before the first stable atom that formed the universe emerged.
He was coming to make a way in person, and that way was open to all. God meant for you to be alive and made a way for you to know him, you’ve been in his heart for a very long time. But, as in any relationship, both parties need to choose each other for the relationship to work. God chose you, but do you choose Him? Our freedom is never compromised, as God wants nothing less than a real relationship of love and friendship, you don’t get that without freedom and risk, and making a real choice.
Finally, this first section of chapter 1 tells us of a “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”, and this is of course the Holy Spirit. The Greek in this verse also speaks of being marked and makes a reference to the idea of being engaged to be married, as well as the legal idea of signing and making a down payment on a significant purchase.
Both these images of what the Holy Spirit signifies share of God’s commitment to us, that we are His possession, we are in His family, and we have access to the rights of being in His family, we have access to our inheritance. In other words, we have the power and presence of God within us to help us, transform us, heal us and impact the world with the reality of Heaven! This is a big deal and an encouragement to us to allow heaven to invade earth through us.
We have the identity and authority of adopted sons and daughters of God!