Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians Finding Our Identity
August 3, 2014
Ephesians 1:3-10 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
The last time we were together we began looking at the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. We saw that God chose us before the foundation of the world and that He has predestined us to be adopted as sons. Because of this, God has set in motion His plan for redemption long before we could even consider the prospects of salvation. We were reminded that the Bible is in essence God’s plan of redemption that is laid out for us. In our discussion, we also looked at the balance between the sovereignty of God and man’s free will. This is not an either/or but both. God is sovereign but He created us with free will.
This morning we will continue to look at the blessings that God has given us and what He has bestowed upon us by way of redemption and forgiveness. It is noteworthy that as we look at this portion of scripture that there are a couple of notable things. First, there is a Godly design in all of this. He chose to create and form man with the ability to choose right from wrong. Just because God created man with the ability to choose right from wrong does not mean that God created sin. This is because it is beyond His ability to do so. A holy God could not and would provide the mechanism of sin. God cannot sin, not because He lacks the free will to do so, but because it would be inconsistent with His character and His Divine nature.
Then why do we sin? To understand this we must realize that a large part of sin is the rejection of all that is holy and good in God. It is the opposite of God’s intent. It is like light and darkness. The absence of light is darkness and so the absence of good is evil. God created man with free moral agency with a desire that he would choose right from wrong. God wanted a people who would freely choose Him for their own and not be forced to accept His will. That is grace and mercy. God is not a control freak because He in fact allows you to make the mistakes you make because of free will. As everything created by God, free will was pure but once man sinned free will was distorted and convoluted at best.
The second aspect of this is that in God’s ability to foreknow all things, he also knew that man would reject His plan and would fall into sin and disobedience. This concept of the foreknowledge of God is one of those Biblical principles that can blow our minds as we try to wrap our minds and intellect around the fact that God has no beginning or end. Because of this truth, God does not view time as we do. He has no watch to measure time as there is no need for a timeline. The fact is, God is in the ever-present moment of time. David understood this when he stated that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
We see this concept as well when Moses asked God about who Moses was to say was sending him to the Israelites. God’s reply was that he was to say that “I AM” has sent you. In that “I am” statement is this concept of an ever-present existence of God. Norman Geisler, Theologian and apologist, has said that since God created time, He sees all events in time equally vividly. Think about the implications of that for a moment. God who is all knowing, sees all things, and knows everything about you. He knows the beginning of your life, He knows the end of your life, and He knows everything that is in between. He knows what is best for us even though we may choose other avenues.
This brings us to a third point here. Too often we blame the wrong person for our sin and our faults. Too often, we blame God for our choices. It is true that God guides us and He speaks to our hearts about the issues of our life but in the end it is the choices we make that cause us to sin. Secondly, we can blame the devil and his demons for our faults and wrongs. A number of years ago Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine popularized the saying “The Devil Made Me Do It.” When Geraldine would do anything wrong she would blame the devil and would proclaim “The devil made me do it.” Now certainly the enemy of our souls can tempt us, distort truth, discourage, and distract us but he cannot force us to sin, that is our choice.
We are to blame for our decisions and thus we come to the second set of blessings; redemption and forgiveness. Listen again to what Paul said in this passage. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Let’s define these words.The first word here is the word “redemption.” The word redemption is one of those words that must be interpreted in light of its usage in the original Greek language. In particular, the term was used of the setting free of slaves after a payment was made. The literal meaning of the word is “to release on the payment of a ransom.” It carries a two-fold sense of “payment’ and “freedom.” Notice in this verse we see how the payment was transacted for those who follow Christ. It was transacted through the blood of Christ. By way of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross the payment for our slavery to sin was made. In so doing we were set free.
The second blessing established here is that we have forgiveness. Forgiveness is the result of redemption. It is the immediate response to accepting the payment of sin upon the cross. Forgiveness comes by way of the payment for sin being made. Forgiveness is a legal term which means one is released from a legal charge or one is released from prison. The word for sin here is the word “misstep” or “a failure to rich a goal.” It is the term “trespass.” It is the idea of crossing over a boundary established by God.
As we look at this, we must understand three aspects of forgiveness. There is a past, present, and future to forgiveness. In the past by way of the cross, we have been given forgiveness. The provision of forgiveness has already been accomplished. We are already forgiven because of what Christ has accomplished on our behalf. We do not have to debate or discuss the work of the cross. We are forgiven.
There is also a future sense to the work of forgiveness. There will be a day that all sin will be dealt with and we will no longer battle with the sin nature or sin any more. The sin nature will be forever destroyed once and for all. We will be set free eternally.
But then we reside in this world where the sin nature has not been eradicated. The flesh is real and therefore we need to understand present forgiveness. There is the initial act of forgiveness obtained through repentance upon accepting Christ. And then there is the daily act of forgiveness as we are aware of the sin or sins we may commit. This is in keeping with Christ’s model prayer where He stated that we should request that God forgive our debts as we forgive the debts of others. It is also in keeping with I John 1:9, when John by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit stated that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is critical to note how these blessings come to us. Our redemption is a legal work that is taken care of by His blood. His blood, his death has brought our redemption. On the other hand our forgiveness comes as a work of grace. This grace is the unmerited and undeserved favor of God. Notice Paul does not just say grace but we have forgiveness because of the riches of His grace. The idea here is that there is no end to his riches therefore there is no end to His grace. The visual here is that his wealth is full or filled to overflowing. What Paul is saying is that it took the wealth of God’s grace to pay for the sin of humankind. He did so gladly. He did so freely. The good thing is there is no end to the riches he has to pay the debt of sin.
One of my favorite movies is one called “the Ultimate Gift”. It is a story of a rich tycoon who died and wanted to leave his money and assets to his grandson who had been spoiled by the riches of his family. His was angry at the world and at both his dad and his grandfather. After preserving through several tests of character and endurance he met one last time with the grandfathers lawyer who announced that he just inherited the grandfathers estate worth over 2billion. The idea here is that his wealth was limitless. So it is with God, his grace is available to all without fear of running out.
If these are the blessings of God, then we must live as one that is redeemed and one that is forgiven. Life is too short to hold onto personal unconfessed sin and unresolved issues with people. To refuse to do so is to reject the work of God fulfilled on our behalf. These blessings are freely given and they are to be freely received. The purpose is to unite us as one body to accomplish the work of the kingdom. As we get deeper into Ephesians, we will find that God’s desire is for us to walk in unity. This act and lifestyle cannot be accomplished without God’s act of redemption and forgiveness.
So as we close have you accepted his payment of redemption. Do you live as one redeemed or one still under slavery? How about forgiveness? Are walking in the forgiveness given to us by Christ? Notice something here. The grace that provided forgiveness is still available for today. Every sin committed is covered but we must walk in forgiveness.
Copyright © All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom