Salvation Accomplished; Praise God for Redemption! (Ephesians 1:7–10)

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Doug Van Meter - 11 October 2015

Salvation Accomplished; Praise God for Redemption (Ephesians 1:7–10)

Ephesians Exposition

When we speak of “salvation,” we are speaking of an inexhaustible subject. Even its individual facets are inexhaustible, including the matter of salvation being accomplished. But we will probe as deeply as we can in this study as we focus on two particular doctrinal aspects of this accomplishment: deliverance and discernment. If the concept of “redemption” will prove to be more than a mere religious word, if it will be more than mere Christianese, then we need to understand something of its immensity. Just what did Jesus Christ accomplish in space-time history for those whom God chose before the creation of the world? That is this subject of this study.

From Series: "Ephesians Exposition"

This series comprises the sermons preached at BBC during an exposition of the book of Ephesians.

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I remember an old commercial for the American Express credit card in which the narrator, after boasting its benefits, intoned, “Membership has its privileges.” Truly, this could be said for those whom God chose to save; those whom He chose before the foundation of the world to be members of the church of the living God. The church, God’s community of faith, is a unique organism. It is a graced institution to which it is an indescribable privilege to belong. Paul was so thrilled by these membership privileges that he burst forth with this opening kaleidoscope of praise, one long sentence running from v. 3 through v. 14.

In our initial study, we saw that this great salvation was appointed, planned and purposed by God before He ever laid the foundation of the world. God chose to save sinners before they ever did anything bad—or, for that matter, anything good. By God’s free, gracious and sovereign appointment, He purposed to save a particular people and to form them into a new community of faith. But planning and purposing is one thing; accomplishing is another. Thanks be to God that He has done both! What God the Father planned, the Son fulfilled. The appointed salvation became the accomplished salvation. This is Paul’s next point of praise, as recorded in vv. 7–10.

Biblical Theology

What God planned before space-time history (redemption) had, of course, to take place in space-time history. This is, in fact, the plot line of the Bible.

To properly understand the Bible, you need to read it as a story of redemption appointed, redemption accomplished and redemption applied. And it is all centred in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The flow of this redemptive plot line is what we call biblical theology. God progressively revealed His plan of redemption, and the Bible tells this story. And very significantly, if you want to answer the question, “Why am I here?” then you need to grasp the main themes of biblical theology. Interestingly, as these opening verses inform us, the reason for space-time history is found in what happened long before there was ever space-time history. In other words, if you will rightly understand the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” you need to know that something was planned long before you were even here!

But note the emphasis: biblical theology. That is, the reason that we are here ultimately not about us. It is about God. We are here for Him. And this is the glory of the gospel. It is the gospel of God. And all three members of the Godhead are involved.

What the Father planned, the Son accomplished, and the Holy Spirit applies. In other words, the Bible is about who God is and what He has done, and only once this is properly appreciated are we in the position to be able find the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” And how you answer that has everything to do with whether or not you enter into the heartfelt doxology written here by Paul in these opening verses. This kaleidoscope of praise to God is the endpoint of biblical theology: so great salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So Great Salvation

When we speak of salvation, we are, of course, speaking of a subject that is inexhaustible. Even its individual facets are inexhaustible, including this matter of our salvation being accomplished. But we will probe as deeply as we can in this study as we focus on two particular doctrinal aspects of this accomplishment: deliverance and discernment.

If the concept of redemption will prove to be more than a mere religious word, if it will be more than mere Christianese, then we need to understand something of its immensity. In other words, just what did Jesus Christ accomplish in space-time history for those whom God chose before the creation of the world? If you will properly answer the question, “Why am I here?” then you will need to experience this redemption.

Deliverance

Paul begins this section: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us” (vv. 7–8).

The word translated “redemption” is found ten times in the New Testament, and in almost every place it is translated this way. One exception (depending on your translation) is in Hebrews 11:35 where it is translated “deliverance.”

Fundamentally, the word means “to buy back.” It pictures a slave market where a slave (whether chattel or military) was purchased and granted freedom. This is clearly the New Testament meaning of the term.

Before there was a world, God knew that man, whom He would create, would sell his soul to sin and Satan. And so, before God created the world, and man in it, He chose to deliver sinners from this slavery. According to His glorious grace, God the Father made that choice (v. 4); and according to His glorious grace, God the Son paid the price to secure that choice. This is Paul’s point.

At this point, we need to ask, what does redemption involve? We can say that it involves three things: ruin, ransom and release.

Redemption and Ruin

Redemption implies a problem. And the problem, as just observed, is man’s ruinous choices arising from his ruined heart. When sin entered the world, mankind entered a self-imposed slavery from which he needs to be rescued.

It is in vogue today to speak of “brokenness.” This can be very helpful, as long as three things are kept in mind.

First, we are broken both by hereditary (Romans 5:12; see 3:23a) and by choice. Yes, most of our brokenness is self-inflicted. Though certainly others, through no fault of our own, may hurt and break and mar us, yet so much of our ruin is due to our sinful choices and resulting conduct.

Second, we must be persuaded that what is broken can be repaired, that it can be restored; we must be persuaded, by God’s Word, that it can be redeemed.

Zacharias did not initially believe that such redemption was necessary, and because of this he lost his voice of praise—until, by faith, he believed in what God could and would do, and so his mouth was opened again (see Luke 1:11–25, 57–79).

Third, we must be persuaded that the gospel is God’s means to fix a broken world, and His community of faith is Exhibit A.

Yes, we have done a pretty fair job of producing ruin in this world, as well as to our own lives. But the gospel is God’s mean to rectify such ruin; it is God’s means to redeem the ruin.

Jesus came to rescue us from our ruin. This is an essential concept of biblical redemption. And once we assume responsibility and culpability and accountability for our ruin, we are well positioned to experience “redemption through His blood.” The cross of Jesus is the cure for the ruinous curse of sin.

Redemption and Ransom

Matthew 20:28 is a classic verse with reference to how redemption is secured. Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” This statement reveals that a ransom had to be paid for sinners to be released from the slavery of sin and self and Satan.

The phrase “to give His life a ransom” is what “through His blood” in Ephesians 1:7 means. Jesus paid the price of our freedom from slavery with His blood. The cross was the means for our deliverance. As the great old hymn, “At Calvary,” states, “Mercy there was great, and grace was free; pardon there was multiplied to me; there my burdened soul found liberty: at Calvary.”

The Jews have always understood the terminology of “blood” as a reference to a violent (in the sense of sacrificial) death. It refers to life yielded in death for another. The forfeiture of life through the shedding of blood is the issue. Paul is telling us that Jesus ransomed chosen sinners by the sacrificial offering of His life on the cross. By doing so, the chosen were redeemed, are being redeemed and will be redeemed (v. 14).

This is an amazing price, and it demands our life, our all. As Salmond comments, “That our redemption cost so great a price, the blood of Christ, is the supreme evidence of the riches of the Divine grace. And the measure of what God does for us is nothing less than the limitless wealth of His loving favour.”1

But an important question is, to whom was the price paid?

The answer is not difficult to find. Leviticus 17:11 lays down the principle that God Himself has prescribed the price as blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

Clearly, the price is both prescribed and then paid to God. Perhaps we have an indication of this when we hear Jesus crying out, “Into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). Or perhaps more graphically we see this when, in the garden, He cried out, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

One of the wonderful applications that flows from this truth is that the price was set by God, it will not be changed by God, and it was once for all paid to God. “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, His child forever I am.”

Redemption and Release

Having praised God for redemption, Paul now intensifies the blessing of such redemption when he notes that redemption involves “the forgiveness of sins” (v. 7).

The word, “forgiveness carries the idea of “freedom” because, strictly speaking, it means “the loosing of a person from that which binds.”2 It involves the idea of letting go or releasing. It is sometimes translated by the word “remission (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22; etc.). When you “remit” someone or something, you clearly let it go. Specifically, you let go any and all penalties for the trespass. A debt is cancelled. All of this highlights, in a wonderful way, what occurs through the redemption we have in Christ Jesus. We are once and for all granted liberty from the penalty of our sins “through His blood.” Do you know anything of this deliverance? Do you know—truly—that your sins have been taken away, along with your guilt and the condemnation that otherwise was your due? You can and you should.

This is the message of the gospel, and I would suggest that it remains the most important message for our world, in our world. And thank God that it literally comes from out of this world (v. 4).

The Reality of Redemption

When Jesus offered His life in a blood-shedding death, did He do so to provide a potential salvation or an actual salvation? This is an important question, and it directly relates to the doctrine of election as revealed in v. 4.

In other words, did Jesus accomplish what He came to accomplish (Matthew 20:28), or did He merely provide the possibility of accomplishment? The Bible teaches the former.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He accomplished once for all the redemption required for all whom God the Father had chosen to save. Jesus came into the world to redeem a particular people, whom the Father chose long before there ever was a world. And this is important.

When we proclaim the gospel, we are not merely proclaiming what could be good news but what is objectively good news. It is good news.

The gospel is the good news of what God has done for believing sinners in Christ Jesus. If the work and the subsequent results are still in question, then the good news is only potential good news. But having read the facts of the Bible, we do not need to hesitate to proclaim that this work of redemption has indeed been accomplished. Those whom God chose to redeem, before the foundation of the world, were, on a historic day—in space and time history—actually redeemed. And, literally, there was no question about it.

I was redeemed nearly two thousand years ago. Though it took a long time for me to realise this, there did come a day when, according to God’s grace, I heard for the first time this good news. Though I had heard it time and again prior to this, on 11 February 1980, for the first time, I heard the good news loud and clear: I am redeemed!

We might note several practical implications here for evangelism.

This matters, and it matters a whole lot. When we proclaim the good news of the gospel, we are heralding that God has redeemed a people. And as we do so, as we will learn in a future study, the Holy Spirit identifies those who are redeemed by giving them a new heart to believe this good news. The good news, in other words, rests on Jesus’ last words before committing His spirit to the Father: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Indeed!

What I am saying is that Jesus Christ successfully redeemed the Father’s chosen people, and this should encourage us in our evangelism and in our missions endeavours.

When we grasp the biblical revelation that God has not only appointed a people to be saved but that, in Christ, their salvation was accomplished, then we are actualised to go and tell them. As we saw recently, though we do not know who these appointed and redeemed people are, nevertheless there are some things that we do know.

We know that God knows!

We know that God has chosen to save people from every peoples (Revelation 7:9–10).

We know that this redemption will be applied (Ephesians 1:11–14).

We know that God has appointed a means to this application: proclamation.

So, just do it! One man I heard once compared evangelism to screwing lightbulbs into an electrical circuit board. We screw the globes in and see if they light up.

Let me summarise by the encouraging truth that the community of faith is a part of something certain and sure. Committing our lives to redemptive living, including redemptive telling, is both the right and the rewarding way to live.

Without aiming at guilting anyone, let me simply ask, when was the last time that you proclaimed this good news to others? As the psalmist wrote, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Psalm 107:2).

The Richness of Redemption

Paul tells us that this redemption is credited to the grace of God; it is “according to the riches of His grace.” God’s gracious redemption is lavish. “There is not only enough but much more.”3

It is interesting how Paul words this. He does not say that this happens “from the riches of His grace” but “according to the riches of His grace.” Let me illustrate.

If Bill Gates gave $100 to someone in need it would be a kind and gracious act. But it would be a gift from his riches. If, however, He gave $1 billion to someone in need, it would be a gift according to his riches. Do you see the difference? In both cases the gift would be undeserved and therefore an act of grace. Yet, in the latter case, the grace would be lavish. It would be over the top. It would be costly to Bill Gates. It would be so immensely above anything anyone could ask or think. So it is with God’s gracious redemption—infinitely so. It was according to the riches of the infinite worth and wealth of the glory of God’s Son that God has redeemed His people.

What an amazing realisation that God so lavishly spent on our redemption. To give His Son was to give “according to the riches of His grace.” The enormity of this gift should brighten our horizon regardless of whatever dark clouds seem to envelope us. And surely such lavish love should move us to bless the Lord and to live for Him. I wonder if Charles Wesley had this passage in mind when he wrote,

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night:
Then shone your glorious gospel ray;
I woke! the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off; my heart was new,
I rose, went forth and followed You!
Amazing love! How can it be
That you, my God, should die for me?

This brings us to the final “R” that is related to redemption.

Redemption and Relationship

To be freed from slavery is, of course, a wondrous thing. But if one is merely set free to an isolated roaming existence, what good is the freedom? This was the case with many African-American slaves after their emancipation following the American Civil War. They were freed, but in some case they ended up in worse conditions because they had nowhere to go and no one to help them to adjust to their freedoms. But thank God that those whine He freed He cares for. So it is with those redeemed in Christ.

Jesus paid the price for our freedom, and the result was that we now have the greatest of Masters.

Again, it is important that we not become deaf to the praise that crescendos in this passage. This matter of redemption was not merely theory to Paul but was rather a passionate reality to Him. He gloried in the gracious privilege of having Jesus as His Master and God as His Father. And so should we.

Redemptive love results in redemptive living. Paul will flesh this out later in the epistle, but we need to pause here to reflect on this truth. What are some indicators of redemptive living?

Those who live redemptively forgive and seek forgiveness. We call this reconciliation.

Those who live redemptively actively seek to mend those who are broken. We call this restoration.

Those who live redemptively put on the new man. We call this reformation.

Those who live redemptively proclaim the gospel. We call this evangelism.

So, have you been delivered? Are you living like it? Are blessing God for it?

Discernment

This deliverance was granted

in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

(Ephesians 1:8–10)

After highlighting our redemption, God’s gracious deliverance from spiritual and moral slavery, Paul praises God for His abundant grace in granting “wisdom and prudence.” In other words, “God’s grace not only brings redemption and forgiveness but every kind of wisdom and insight as well.”4

“Wisdom” refers to the ability to see things as they really are, while “prudence” speaks to the practical application of such insight. Proverbs makes this distinction when it couples wisdom with “knowledge.” This much is clear. Paul is saying that, when it comes to our redemption, God has abundantly shed grace on those whom He has chosen “in all wisdom and prudence.”

But this raises the question as to the subject of these blessed characteristics. Is Paul saying that God manifested wisdom and prudence in His provision of redemption? Or is he saying that, in richly redeeming us, God also provided us with this wisdom and prudence? Though a case could be made for the former (and no doubt the gospel reveals God’s glorious wisdom—see 1 Corinthians 1–2), nevertheless the overall context, as most commentators agree, argues for the latter.

Rational Sanctified Sense

Paul is saying that the riches of God’s grace to us is such that, not only has He saved us, but He has also given us the proper sense by which to live. He has both delivered us and given us discernment to make the most out of the life that we have been freed to live.

As Paul will show in chapter 2, before we were saved we were dead in our sins. We were spiritually dead and often morally decadent. But further, we were also intellectually blind. We were spiritually senseless. Though we had minds and used our minds, we failed to see things as they really are. We lacked biblical wisdom and prudence.

But having been redeemed, we are the recipients of the “riches of His grace.” And one of the jewels from God’s gracious treasure trove is the ability to perceive what God is doing in history. “Those whom he has reconciled to himself as children he also enlightens with the understanding of his purpose.”5 This is Paul’s point.

Revelation

Verse 9 speaks of God “having made known to us the mystery of His will.”

Paul uses the word “mystery several times in Ephesians (3:3, 5, 16; 6:19, 21). In each case it refers not to some kind of “secret knowledge” (something intriguing, uncertain, unexplainable, etc.), but to an “open” secret.6 A “mystery,” as we find the concept in Scripture, is truth that could never be known by mere human reasoning. Rather, it refers to that which was once hidden but now made known by God. As Bryan Chapell puts it, “In the New Testament a mystery is not so much characterized by complexity or intrigue, as by timing. A mystery is a truth once hidden that is now revealed.”7

A helpful example is that of the shepherds who, while watching their flocks by night, were startled by the message of the angel of the Lord. They responded, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15).

Though no one else in the vicinity knew about the birth and Messianic identity of baby Jesus, by divine revelation these shepherds—by the free and sovereign and gracious revelation of God—were given the knowledge of it. Quite truly, they were made wise to salvation and so they prudently and insightfully went to worship Him. The revelation of God cleared up any mystery and they now had wisdom and perception, which they did not have before (v. 20). This is precisely Paul’s point.

Those whom God has appointed to salvation are the beneficiaries of Christ’s accomplished redemption. And they know this by divine revelation. By the Holy Spirit taking the Word of God and revealing the gospel to them, they are now enlightened with the ability to spiritually discern truth (1 Corinthians 2:14–16). This understanding of what was otherwise a mystery enables us to see things as they really are. We see our ruin and yet we see our Redeemer. And this profoundly affects how we live. As Simon Austen so helpfully comments, “We do not naturally think that wisdom and understanding relate to redemption and forgiveness, but without a right understanding of the cross we cannot have wisdom and understanding to live as God’s people.”8 Thank God that by His grace, we have such understanding.

So, what does this understanding look like? How does such understanding help us to live redemptively? The rest of the text informs us.

Reunification

All this happened “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” This is not (in my view) a statement as to why God chose to give His community of faith this wisdom and perception. That is, this is not a repetition of God’s gracious motivation for salvation. Rather Paul is saying that God has graciously given wisdom and prudence to those whom He saves so that we will see the big picture of history; history which is Christ-centred. This is clearly the point of v. 10.

Those who have been redeemed are graciously privileged to understand that we live in “the fullness of times” in which God both is gathering and will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”

In other words, those God redeems are graced with spiritual insight to understand something of God’s otherwise mysterious ways in this world. The Christian is given a grasp of God’s redemptive history and this in turn empowers him to live a life of praise to God who gives us peace that His plan is on track. As Stott notes, “history is neither meaningless nor purposeless. It is moving towards a glorious goal.”9 In other words, those whom God has redeemed in Christ are exceptionally blessed so as to be able to make sense of biblical theology.

Dispensation Without the “ism”

The word “dispensation simply means “house manager.” We derive our word “economics from it, which is a wonderful reminder that the world’s best economists are probably homemakers!

The word carries the idea of administrating or managing toward a desired end. The word “stewardship” is a helpful synonym (Colossians 1:25; 1 Corinthians 9:27). Though Paul will later speak of himself having a “dispensation” for which he was privileged to be responsible, here the term clearly refers to God’s stewardship. Whether the reference is to God the Son or God the Father cannot easily be determined. Regardless, the point is that God is working out His redemptive plan; God has been and continues to administer His far-reaching redemptive plan. He always has been but those whom Christ redeems are now “in on the secret.” And this otherwise hidden mystery all comes to a glorious Head in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

We might paraphrase this way: “Throughout history God has been orchestrating all of history towards this period of time in which we live. This is the ‘fullness of times’ (Galatians 4:4). According to the good pleasure which God purposed in Himself He has been bringing all of history to a climax in Christ. And there is coming a day in which all things in heaven and on earth will quite literally come to a ‘Head’ in Christ (4:16). And those whom God chose unto redemption are privileged to know this and they are empowered to live in the light of this. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Making Sense of the Senseless

As we look around at this world, we see brokenness. As my wife and I recently discussed, the problems are so immense that it can be overwhelming. And this, of course, can lead to paralysis of effort. We might be tempted to see the challenges of making a difference as trying to empty the ocean with a thimble. But enter the gospel. And so enter hope. And praise as well, for as Stott comments, “if we shared the apostle’s perspective, we would also share his praise.”10

Because of God’s saving grace, the Christian, and particularly the Christian as connected to the community of faith, is enabled to see things as they really are. We are given insight into the future.

This point should not be missed: The passage begins with God’s purposed will in the past and has now moved into God’s purposed, predestined and perfected (consummated) will in the future. And it is all centred in Christ. As Salmond notes, “The point of union in this gathering together of all things is the Christ of God. In Him they are to be unified.”11

Though it is true that, at the end of the day, our efforts may seem miniscule, since we are in Christ we have the assurance that what we do really does matter. For Jesus Christ is working the Father’s plan and one day it will all come together; it will come to a glorious Head. One day, everything that is broken and divided will be reunited in Christ. Chapell observes, “Our destiny is integral to all that will come to pass, and we are to live in accord with that purpose now. What this means is that it is now our mission to live out the purpose of God, seeking to unite all things and to submit all to the lordship of Christ.”12

Man’s attempts will fail. But God’s will not.

Franklin D. Roosevelt dreamed of peace between nations and so revived the League of Nations dream as the United Nations. But in his attempts he was politically forced to ignore the plight of the oppressed in Africa and much of Asia. Man-centred attempts at peace are bound to fail.

But one day there will quite literally be a united nations to such an extent that they will be united even to the heavens (see 2 Corinthians 5:17–21).

Universalism?

Some interpret these words in a universalistic sense. That is, some teach that, one day, everyone who has ever lived—including those who reject Christ—will be united to Christ. But that is to ignore so many other Scriptures, including the numerous ones where Jesus taught the reality of an eternal hell where those outside of Christ will suffer the wrath of God for eternity. But closer to home, the opening words of this epistle give the lie to such universalism for Paul is very clear that those who are included in this comic unification are those whom God chose before the foundation of the world, those identified as “saints.”

In my humanness, I wish that universalism was true. But I cannot linger on that and I dare not entertain such a doctrine for the simple and profound reason that God, according to the good pleasure of His will”, has purposed otherwise. And who am I to question Him (Romans 9:19–21)?

No, this passage does not teach universalism. The context, along with other Scriptures, enables us to conclude that all that Christ redeems will be reunited. One day all will be set right. And that is a big deal. As Austen points out, “The Gospel brings the future into the present”13 (see 2 Corinthians 5:17–21).

Observations and Applications

The practical effects of this redemptive wisdom and insight are many. Let me mention several.

First, it helps us to view life redemptively. That may sound like circular reasoning but that is fine. The point to be heard is that, when we grasp that God has been committed to the redemption of the universe even since before there was a universe, we can be certain that redemption is very much His agenda. And it should be ours as well.

We should be meaningfully involved in ministering to rescue those enslaved by sin. There indeed are social implications of the gospel. I recently read a book called From Playground to Prostitute, which details the story of a young woman sold into a life of prostitution. The book details here dark journey in a moving way before it shows how the gospel brought light to her. She experienced, and consequently expressed, forgiveness, and today reaches out to others caught up in sex trafficking to show them the hope of the gospel.

Are we ministering to those in need in order to bring them to submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ?

Second, it gives us hope in an otherwise very hopeless world. The recently-released South African crime statistics were deeply saddening. South Africans were shocked at the rise in violent crime over the last year. The police seem powerless to stop it. Corruption appears to be endemic: in the business world, the government and the church. The bleak picture painted by environmentalists regarding the dangers of climate change are depressing. Is there hope? Scripture assures us that there is in the gospel, but we need redemptive wisdom and insight to see this.

Third, it provides us with stamina when our circumstances shout at us to quit. As Hughes notes concerning the “wisdom and prudence” bequeathed to believers, “those so equipped can discern the spirit of the times and stand tall and confident.” Your situation is redeemable. Your aspirations of sanctification are achievable.

Fourth, it gives us hope for individuals whom we otherwise may write off as beyond redemption. No one is beyond the power of the gospel to save.

Fifth, it gives us an eternal perspective. How do you handle seeing the immense, if not opulent, wealth of others? Are you tempted to envy and bitterness? How do you handle the flagrant injustices of our world: abortion, criminals uncaught and unpunished, oppression in workplace? How do you handle seeing the health and wholeness of body of others when your body is so broken? How do you handle what seems to be your insignificant contributions to the growth of the kingdom compared to those who are more gifted, more graced? Redemptive wisdom and insight allows us to see beyond this world to the eternal consequences of the next. A proper grasp of God’s gracious gift of wisdom and insight empowers us to persevere, and to do so with joy. This, of course, is only true when the Lord Jesus Christ is our focus. And that is precisely Paul’s point. Jesus Christ is writ large in this passage. So look at Him; look to Him and know that, by God’s grace, one day all who have been redeemed will look like Him. There will be no more sin, no more stain, no more shame. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Realising that one day He will wrap up human history into a glorious eternity motivates us to live for Him now.

One day there will be universal equality, the equality of everyone loving the Lord God with full heart, soul, mind and strength. And when this happens—and it will!—we will also forever love one another as we love ourselves. What a day, what an eternal day, that will be!

Show 13 footnotes

  1. S. D. F. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians: The Expositor’s Greek Testament, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 3:256.
  2. Francis Foulkes, Ephesians: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 58.
  3. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians, 3:256.
  4. A. Skevington Wood, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 11:25.
  5. Foulkes, Ephesians, 59.
  6. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians, 3:258.
  7. Bryan Chapell, Ephesians: Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2009), 37.
  8. Simon Austen, Teaching Ephesians: From Text to Message (Ross-shire: Christian Focus 2012), 48.
  9. John R. W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians: The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), 41.
  10. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, 45.
  11. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians, 3:261.
  12. Chapell, Ephesians, 41.
  13. Austen, Teaching Ephesians, 41.