Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ephesians 1:11, 12: Heirs for His Glory

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purposes who works all things after the counsel of His will to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory."

Here Paul is near the end of the blessings God the Father has bestowed on those "chosen in Christ". The concept of an inheritance was well-known in Paul's day, and its spiritual connotations were fundamental to the Jewish concept of their divine right as the people of God. They felt entitled to all that their Heavenly Father possessed, and considered this a privilege reserved for them alone. But here Paul insists that the inheritance belongs rightly to all who are "in Him." This is ground breaking news! And the rest of the Epistle will rest on this foundation, that the gracious, benevolent redemptive activity of God has not been restricted to those who are in Israel, but has from the beginning of time been focused on those who are "in Christ." 

But Paul has more to say that is even more shocking. Read the verses above again and see if you can catch the sting Paul puts in. Did you notice that the inheritance is not something we are waiting for, but something Paul says we have already "obtained"? Yet, in vs. 14 he will tell us that the Spirit is a "downpayment" on that inheritance. 

For Paul, the inheritance of those in Christ is tied to our being "sons of Abraham" (see: Galatians 3:27-29). Yet, Paul nowhere suggests that the inheritance is something that is fulfilled in this world. It is not the land, it is not the law. The inheritance here spoken of by Paul is so much greater than those Old Testaments preview and is, in fact, a fulfillment of them. The inheritance is the "already and not yet" union with Christ that has begun through the Spirit and will culminate in the last days when we will be fully redeemed, and living in the new heavens and earth in full fellowship with our God, quite above even the possibility of sin. The New Earth is the land we have been promised, and the very presence of Christ is the law that will eternally rejoice our hearts. 

Paul can say that we have obtained this inheritance since we already have union with Christ, with the Spirit being the downpayment. But the fulness of our inherited, blessed, fully-restored relationship with God in Christ awaits His return and the glorious culmination of His Kingdom work on earth. 

How can Paul be so sure that we will, in fact, obtain the fulness of this wonderful promised inheritance? Simply because God has so predestined it to be. What God determines cannot fail to come about. He is both the source and the goal of history, and His providence so superintends all things that the end is sure.  And lest we begin to think that His actions are conditioned on our wills, Paul reminds us that God works all things "after the counsel of His own will." God is His only counselor. He is not dependent nor in need of any advice outside of His own. In fact, if God could be even slightly moved or influenced from outside of Himself He would cease to be sovereign and unchangeable, thus ceasing to be God. 

Paul ends this amazing section with a reminder that all of God's works are purposed to declare and display His glory. Here Paul insists that the goal of His work among the Jews - the "first to hope in Christ (Messiah)" - was that His glory would be praised. But the Jews turned it around, and used the gifts of God (the Law, the prophets, the sacrificial system, etc) as reasons for arrogance and a national sense of entitlement. But God always had a remnant that was faithful, and these now turn out to be those among Israel who were "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." 

Today, if you are "in Christ" by faith you are an heir of the eternal salvation promised first in Genesis, and worked out through Israel's Messiah -- Jesus Christ. All of the blessings Paul has listed are yours, and not one of them is deserved, merited, or earned. Yet, the gracious attitude of God has extended them all to you, without cost, simply to make His glory known to you, and through you to the world.  May His work in your heart not be in vain today. Go show the world how wonderful your Lord is, by doing His will in your world, from the heart and with fulness of joy.

Hope this helps,



At 8:46 AM , Blogger Abby said...

Thanks, Daddy. :-)

At 8:20 AM , Blogger DeedieLynn said...

"The New Earth is the land we have been promised, and the very presence of Christ is the law that will eternally rejoice our hearts. "
I really like that, David!
Thanks for these meditations.


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