I’ve been working lately on memorizing Ephesians chapter 1. (As an aside, may I suggest memorizing chapters of the Bible? It gives you much better understanding of what any given verse says when you memorize it in context of the larger whole. Just go verse by verse, step by step! It’s really very fabulous, and it’s not as hard and super-spiritual as it sounds.)
Ephesians 1 is incredibly rich. Not the cold, hard riches of diamonds and gold, but the warm, embracing riches of love and delight. It’s full of language like “In love, God predestined us to be adopted as his sons [children, if you will] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves” (v. 5-6).
Or take this one: “In Jesus, 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” (v. 7-8).
What rich and glorious words and truths! In love He adopted us…and this is God’s pleasure! And this is God’s will! That we should be brought into the immediate family of the Almighty and Living God through the blood of the One he loves! Oh, the riches of His grace that He has lavished upon us!
Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a hard time remembering these truths. I tend to live much more in the lie of having to earn God’s approval than in the truth that God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (v. 4). I tend to forget that I’m already deeply loved, already completed, already accepted because of Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf.
As we move on, we come to Paul’s prayer at the end of the chapter. There, we find Paul praying for the “saints in Ephesus” (that is, all the Christians in that great Roman city), 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” (v. 17)! (Always look for the clues that tell you why a Biblical author is saying something… words like because, in order that, and so that.)
So, why does Paul ask the Father to give Believers the Spirit of wisdom and revelation? So that we may serve Him better? So that we may evangelize better? So that we may build His Kingdom better? No. Paul prays for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (the Holy Spirit) for followers of Christ so that we may know Him better.
This is our calling, to know God. To be in dear, intimate, joyful relationship with God, who has adopted us as His children and lavished us with His love and grace through Jesus’ work on our behalf.
But we must go on! Paul also prays that the “eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (v. 18-19).
This hope is a word that denotes certainty in the New Testament, not wishful thinking. These riches of sharing inheritance with Christ are ours already, as we are unified with His Spirit when we accept His sacrifice on our behalf. This power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!
This is just a taste of Ephesians 1-3. Sisters and brothers in Christ (because that is what we are since we have been adopted by one Father!), may we live in this hope, in the truth of these beautiful, splendid riches of grace and inheritance and love and acceptance. We are no longer orphans, no longer condemned, no longer powerless, no longer friendless. As Ginny Owens so wonderfully phrases it:
You’re free to dance – forget about your two left feet!
You’re free to sing – even joyful noise is music to Me!
And you’re free to love – ’cause I’ve given you My love,
and it’s made you free!