Aug 29 2021 Receiving God's Blessings - Ephesians 1

Lord, we do pray for Cheryl that she would continue to recover. Thank You for protecting her. Ewe, and she, are grateful for that. Help her to recover quickly. We live in a crazy world, Lord – so much danger – we pray for those getting out of Afghanistan – protect so many who are in danger. We ask that peace would reign – that the God of Peace would bring peace to that situation.

Thank You for this time of worship – time to adore You. In Your Name we pray.

Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

We are looking at spiritual blessings – two aspects – they are FROM the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives – and through Him that we experience these blessings.

These blessings are found in Christ – and because we are in Christ, we have access to every one of these spiritual blessings. When we hear that we are ‘in Christ’ – that can sound mystical – but Paul calls it a mystery – and when we think of a Biblical mystery – it has something in common with a mystery movie – but another thing that is not uncommon. If you are watching a mystery show – we don’t really watch those much – but there are a couple that we have gotten into – and there is a lot of misdirection – leading you down wrong paths – until the big reveal at the end!

And this is like that in one way – the people of that time could not have understood who the Messiah was going to be – and that mystery was revealed in Christ.

The second aspect of it is this – we think of a mystery as something that is unknowable until the end of the show.

A biblical mystery is not something we cannot know, but something we CAN know endlessly – or infinitely - Richard Rohr

We can only know it at one level – but that level will continue to grow – in new and varying ways. And what happens with this – as we understand that mystery – as our understanding of what it means to be in Christ grows and expands – to that degree we will experience the blessings that come from being in Christ – so God wants to open our minds to these blessings so that we can partake in them.

There are so many blessings mentioned – that we are not even participating in them because we don’t know that they are available to us!

Every Blessing (Tim Mackie) – in that one sentence!:

• Election/chosenness (1:4)

• Adoption as God’s children (1:5)

• Grace (1:6)

• Redemption (1:7a)

• Forgiveness of sins (1:7b)

• Knowledge of God’s secret purpose (1:9)

• Hope of a future inheritance (1:11-12)

• The presence of God’s Spirit (1:13-14)

Now what you will notice – as you read through these, these blessings are connected with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

These are packed – but they are also relationally significant – and form the foundation for our love relationship with God. And it is through these blessings that our love relationship grows.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

“The people of God are not merely loved by God or saved by God; we are brought into God. God has done something outrageous to us, bringing us into Christ so that we now have a completely new location on the cosmic map.” – Timothy Gombis

We have been brought INTO God.

Paul will explain this as he goes through the next verses – what it means to be brought into God and what it means to be brought into a new location on the cosmic map.

Ephesians 1: 4 just as He chose (first – chosen!) us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him(second – we have been made holy and blameless in Christ!)

Holiness is something we must receive, not something we achieve. This is counter intuitive. We want to achieve holiness. We can never achieve holiness from our effort. You can never become holy from your effort – and as long as we try to be holy from our effort, we will fail to receive it. God says you are holy because you are in Christ. There is nothing to achieve because Jesus has achieved it.

We need to learn to live out what has already been achieved for us in Christ. This is in the already, not yet thing – we are already holy, and yet we are not yet holy! What do we do when we do an unholy thing? We put great effort into being holy – rather than living out what we already are!

You might say it is semantics – but the reason it is NOT the same thing – two words… first understanding that we have already received God’s holiness sand then living it out – that is FAITH. Trying to become holy – that is WORKS – and we need to determine – do we live by faith or by works?!

Now, living out our holiness takes a lot of work – but as that may seem like you are slicing and dicing words – not at all – it is the New Testament! It is a mystery that we must learn to apply to our own lives.

Holy and blameless before him and then there is a period… but not in the original.

In love5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…

The argument in the scholarly world is where the IN LOVE goes. Does it go with the holy and blameless – or is it IN LOVE HE PREDESTINED US?

We won’t know for sure – but my feeling? It doesn’t matter – because of the next line.

6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

The Beloved – the Messiah Jesus – He adopted us as sons – in His love, and through the Beloved.

Adoption – a Roman Citizen – a person of high status and wealth – would adopt a slave/servant – a person of the lowest status in their world – they have been working and serving – and when that happened, it completely changed the identity of that person – from a slave to a citizen – from the lowest status to a high status. And when God adopted us, He changed our status – our location in the cosmic world, as Gombis says – because we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to light.

Last week I talked about predestination and free will – and people told me I confused it all the more.

Let me say this – before the creation of the world, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lived in a love relationship. From eternity past – God intended to bring humans into this eternal relationship – that is what He predestined or chose. God understood that that eternal plan could only ultimately happen by God becoming human in the person of the Messiah – Jesus. And being put to death on the cross, raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of the father. Now, we, have been brought into Christ – Christ has been raised – to the right hand of the father – and guess where we are? Seated on that same throne with Christ – and we have been incorporated into this relationship forever. We will judge angels! We are part of the trinitarian community – I’m not saying that we are God – but God has incorporated humans into that relationship in a special way – and I think that is what predestination is all about – that is what the gospel is.

Verse 7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

For Paul – redemption – is thinking about being redeemed from slavery in Egypt – that is their narrative – their meta-narrative – and what Paul does – He turns it into a metaphor for us – that we have been redeemed from slavery. We were enslaved to sin and the forces of evil – and we are redeemed – bought out of that slavery.

This too is an already/not yet experience of redemption.

In our Men’s Group – some were sharing how their eyes were opened.

We gained victory over some areas of sin in our lives almost instantaneously – our language just changed overnight! That is the already experience of redemption.

But all of us, still – after 20, 40, 50 years – struggle with some of the same areas we struggled with all of our lives – we have been freed from slavery to those, but we still struggle – so we have an already/not yet experience with those.

We have been redeemed from death.

I was at a memorial service for Katie Brunelle yesterday – it was an incredible time of understanding how the victory over death has been accomplished – and how Katie entered this new creation WHOLE – COMPLETE

And we have been redeemed from the powers of evil.

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience… even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ

We have been redeemed – and yet, it is an already/not yet situation. The powers of darkness – it is ‘in the air’ – it is everywhere, influencing everything – “in the air” – they are incorporating the systems of this world to turn people away from God and against one another. Is that not the reality of our world?

The powers of darkness are involved in all oppression, injustice, exploitation, ethnic and racial tension – justice – security – psychological – they are engaged in all of it – and we have been redeemed from it!

The Bible is filled with passages that condemn economic exploitation and injustice. It is the nations of the world exploiting – and Israel doing the same thing. Every economic system throughout history has had issues with economic exploitation and injustice.

Humans are involved – so you will have exploitation and injustice!

The second – the prince of the power of the air – is engaged in every economic system and he is orienting all of them toward exploitation and injustice to turn people away from God and against each other.

In Ephesus, that god was called Artemis.

In Canaan – that god was called Baal.

In our world, that god is called consumerism – materialism – and its foundation is greed.

But we have been redeemed – and we think, well, consumerism is different – it is not like we are offering sacrifices in a temple! Oh yes, we are!

They weren’t thinking that statue was the god, they thought that there was a spiritual being behind the statue – they got it better than we do! But on the wrong side of it.

How do we live in the already and not yet?

There is a difference between consumerism and consuming. There is a way of consuming that is worship of God. The problem, it is so subtle that even good Christians who are generous and practice biblical stewardship can slip into idolatry without ever knowing it. I tis in the air! We swim in it.

It is easy to say ‘this is a not yet’ of my sin – we already know that – but it is hard to see the ‘not yet’ of our idolatries.

Verse 7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

We have been forgiven. Our sins – all of them – forgiven. Our idolatries – forgiven. We are continually cleansed by the blood of Christ – past, present, future – John writes – and it is a constant cleansing.

And yet, how many of us experience guilt, shame, and regret? It is not yet fully experienced in any of us.

We need to say NO! This is who I really am – a forgiven person – NOT a person of shame or guilt. I am constantly – BUT I JUST DID IT AGAIN! But you are constantly forgiven – that is your identity! You have been adopted as a son and welcomed into an eternal love relationship with Him.

Let’s pray…

Revelation 18:3 "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."

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