Ephesians 1:3-14 (Link)
This passage, quite interestingly enough, is one sentence (in Greek). With that in mind, this passage can not be neatly broken up and understood in its various verses as we have traditionally done so. While there is worth in the things that are mentioned, it carries more depth within the greater whole. (Also, the writer has an intended message to convey in his writing.)
Without an extensive knowledge of Greek, let me attempt to simply the passage:
God has blessed us to be the children of God, making us holy and blameless through our salvation and forgiveness by grace, elected before all time and marked by the Holy Spirit acting as a deposit until all are redeemed for the glory of God.
This blessing He brought about to reveal a mystery, by His wisdom and understanding, through and fulfilled in Jesus Christ who deserves all praise and glory to whom all things are under his headship, in accordance with His pleasure and good will.
That is a heck of a lot of detail to put into one sentence. Yet, I would urge you to read it as my paraphrase can only do so much. There are two key ideas which I want to focus on:
- Election and Will
- Glory and Authority
Election and Will
This is often a large area of debate about predestination but I want to try and avoid that (for now) and focus on what this means for us. The obvious question is: If God has chosen those who will believe in Him, what is the point of me trying to live life differently?
Paul addresses this and responds in saying that, according to the will of God, as the children of God we are given salvation and forgiven by God’s grace. That we would live a life that is holy and blameless for His glory. The point being that those who call themselves Christians, the children of God, reflect this through their actions, ultimately resulting in God being glorified.
What about evangelism? If God has chosen people to be His children, why is there a need to evangelise? Let me try and illustrate this:
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there is a scene where Harry is with his godfather, by a lake, being attacked by the Dementors. In this scene Harry sees a figure, who he believed to be his dead father, in the distance which casts a spell driving away the Dementors. That figure is Harry himself. Later travelling back in time, Harry ends up on the opposite side of the lake where he expects to see his father show up and drive away the Dementors, except he doesn’t show. Harry realised that he was the one who would drive away the Dementors, using a extremely powerful spell, which he later comments that he could only perform the spell because he knew that he could (because he saw himself doing it already).
In the same way, sure, God has chosen who will be His children and believe in Him. Yet, in order for people to become His children someone has to tell them. We can’t stand around wondering why our friends aren’t becoming Christians expecting an angel to appear and cause our friends to gasp in wonder. We need to realise that we are the ones who will, through God’s will and election, bring people into His family. Furthermore, we can expect that people will come into His family, because we know He has chosen them. (Boy, this is a hard one to get the head around…)
Glory and Authority
It’s not about us! It was never, primarily, about us. I’ve heard it said, in relation to this passage, that God wants to bless us and it’s all about us…well, no, no it’s not. Yes, God does want to bless us but if you carefully read what Paul is writing, he isn’t talking about us at all. There is one key aspect that keeps coming out in this passage: it is all for the glory of God.
In blessing us and making us His children, God glorifies Himself. Salvation, forgiveness, redemption are all given so that He would be glorified through our righteous living. This mystery Paul talks about is that all things would be under the authority and headship of Jesus Christ, so that He might be glorified.
What does that mean for us? Know your place. It goes for me too. Life isn’t about us. It’s not about ‘me, me, me!’ It’s about ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!’ Trust me, it is one of the most freeing realisations you can come to…it’s not about me! Repeat after me, it’s not about me. Just try it, I dare you.