It is our Father’s good pleasure to bless us “with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” adopting us as his children by Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-5). This blessing is seen in the unconditional love of God. This love is very special and precious, a love expressed by God toward us and by us toward God; a love which ought to be expressed in the love which husband and wife ought to have toward one another, parents and child toward each another, and friends toward one another. It is a love which is not determined by the circumstance but by the will of the person expressing the love. This love is unconditional.
This love is illustrated by Paul’s admonition to the church: “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Eph. 5:2). The third Person in the Godhead also expresses this love toward us: “And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad (poured out) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Love toward us is a Triune Love.
Paul is a chosen apostle of Jesus Christ, not by his desire, but “by the will of God” (Eph. 1:1). He writes to the saints, the chosen of God in Christ, who “are at Ephesus.” He also refers to them as “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” To be faithful is to be trustworthy, “worthy to be believed.” A believer must be trusted in their faith and actions in Christ, not hypocrites, showing an outward display of righteousness, while harboring an evil disposition. It is to the faithful, those who love God as he loved them, that this benediction is designated: “Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2).
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and draws us to the redeeming work of the Triune God with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The word ‘Blessed’ comes from the Greek word ‘Eulogia’ meaning to speak well of, commends, one “worthy to be praised.” Only God is inherently worthy to be praised. However, God, in his majestic love and grace, commends us with every commendable blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! In the heavens, between the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the presence of his holy angels, God commends us, he blesses us, makes us worthy of heavenly praise. How does he accomplish this?
Our Father has so loved us that “He chose us in CHRIST …that we should be holy and without blame before CHRIST in love.” Not only that, our heavenly Father has so loved us that he has “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself.” God so loved us that he chose us to be his very own children, “according to the good pleasure of His will!” This is like climbing a hill. There are so many wonders on the way that you just can’t believe that there is more, and that the more is greater than the first. Paul declares that all of the love that has been shed abroad upon the saints of every age is “To the praise of the glory of (the Father’s) grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in (His Beloved Son).”
The word ‘chosen’ in the Greek means to “choose out of.” There is another word here which expresses the work of God before the foundation of the world –it is the word, ‘predestination,’ which means to determine or decree before hand. In this decree, God the Father has revealed the end for which he has chosen us. This is not hard to understand. God has chosen us before the world began “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love,” and, that he has predestined us “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself.”
This is a picture of the Cross and Resurrection, of redemption and reconciliation. For in the one case God has chosen us to be saved –to be holy and without blame because Christ has taken upon himself our sin and guilt that we may stand in the Father’s presence as holy and blameless. In the latter case we have not been left to roam this earth without a purpose, the Father has determined by his will and purpose that we have a unique place in his household –we are to belong to him as children to a Father –adopted –loved by him through Christ and so cared by him now and forever more.
Discussion: How is the love of God the Father revealed to us?
The Father, having adopted us as his children, chooses us before the foundation of the world to be without blame in his presence. Our hearts are now turned toward Christ, for he is the means by which we are brought into the Father’s presence. To be without blame, to be called children of God, something had to be done about our sin and transgression against God. Justice must be satisfied. Therefore, the Father, who so loved us, sent his only begotten Son. This is his Beloved! In Christ “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” We are redeemed, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. We were disobedient to God’s law and, therefore, anchored to the consequences. Justice had to be satisfied. God’s law declared us to be sinners. God’s justice said that all have sinned and come short of his glory, his majestic moral perfection. The wage of sin is death, eternal separation from God, whereby the sinner would know the wrath of God. However, in Christ, we are redeemed, purchased with the blood of Christ. He paid the penalty for our guilt, and paid the price for us. “According to the riches of his grace.”
Paul writes, “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of the Father who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Our response to this love of the Father and of the Son is this: “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory.” We first trusted on that day when the Holy Spirit opened the hearts of our understanding and we believed Christ to be our Savior, when the Spirit opened up our souls with new birth and the Son of God entered in to reveal the love of the Father toward us.
In summary, the Son loves us, he is the means by which we have received forgiveness of sin – the shedding of His own precious blood; he is the one through whom the abundant riches of the Father’s grace were given to us; he is the one through whom all things have gathered together –by the Father’s wisdom and prudence; he is the Messiah through whom all was carried out to the good pleasure of the Father’s will.
Discussion: How is the love of God the Son revealed to us?
The love of the Spirit confirms in us the truth that we have been redeemed by the love of the Father and the Son. It is the Holy Spirit who testifies within us that we belong to the Father through Christ as his very own children, whereby we are able to cry out, “Abba, Father!” In Christ we have trusted after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. We have heard the truth of the Father and the Son through his Holy Word by the working of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. Having believed, we were sealed for all time with the Holy Spirit of promise. The Father and the Son promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, so that he may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him nor know him. But you know him, for he dwells with you and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Godhead, loves us. He is the One who opens our hearts that we may believe, and believing we may have life in the object of our faith, Jesus the Christ. He is the One who applies the will and the work of the Father and the Son. Paul writes, “In (Christ Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in (Christ Jesus) also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (the Holy Spirit) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
We were “Sealed” by the Holy Spirit who is our “guarantee or earnest.” He seals us with a stamp, which says that we now belong to God. What the Holy Spirit has covenanted will take place. This covenant is in agreement with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit guarantees our salvation. To assure us of our hope of everlasting life, the Holy Spirit is sent to us as a guarantee. The evidence of our adoption is in the presence of the Holy Spirit. “For all the promises of God in (Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God, who has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit”(2 Corinthians 1:20-22).
Discussion: How is love of the Holy Spirit revealed to us?
Paul repeats the theme, “to the praise of His glory;” referring to the Father in verse six, to the Son in verse twelve (that we ourselves should be a praise to his glory), and to the Holy Spirit in verse fourteen. We so make this unmerited love of the Triune God known before the world in word and deed. “We may likewise observe, that there is not a more effectual method of shutting the mouths of wicked men, than by showing that our views tend to illustrate, and theirs to obscure, the glory of God” (Calvin).
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