Receive the Promise
Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV
From the Jar
In the first chapter of Ephesians the Apostle Paul deals primarily with the doctrines of Christianity. Doctrines are core beliefs like who is God, who is Jesus, what is salvation, and what is grace, etc. Doctrines are resources we have available as people of God. Understanding who God and Jesus are and how they relate to each other and to us provides a basic background for us. All of the topics the Apostle Paul dealt with in Ephesians help us gain a better understand of our framework as children of God.
In Ephesians 1:11-12 we learn, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
Basically, we are given a plan that has a purpose as God wills and it’s always been through Christ. Even before Jesus came to earth He was part of God’s master plan.
One thing we have to remember when we read what Paul wrote in the 1st Century is God’s master plan for the character of the early church as a whole as well as the specific character of the church in each city.
For example, new churches that were made up of Jewish believers who were now Christians (also called the people of the way) had previously worshiped in Jewish Synagogues. Ephesus was located in modern day Turkey and there was a strong Jewish community there at the time of Paul.
One of the issues Paul often dealt with was getting the Jews to accept Gentiles as equals. Because Paul was trained as a highly educated Hebrew Pharisee, he was the perfect person to facilitate a union of the two divergent groups.
Knowing what Paul was dealing with helps us to understand why he laid out a doctrinal framework in Ephesus. Both Jews and Gentiles needed to understand the basic core beliefs.
In verses 11 and 12 of Chapter 1 Paul begins by telling both sets of believers (Jews and Gentiles) that they have both inherited salvation, according to God’s specific and perfect plan. This was the second time in Chapter 1 that Paul mentioned God’s predestined plan (see verse 4). He was clearly telling his readers it was no accident that God called this specific group of people to be part of this congregation.
They were chosen.
This was their hour.
Ephesus was an epicenter. It was like a modern day metropolitan area. Because of that I get the feeling that Paul knew all eyes were on them. How they interacted with each other (Jews and Gentiles) would serve as an example for other churches in other towns.
Paul’s next phrase in verse 12, “so that we who were the first to Hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory” seemed to have a prophetic tone attached to it.
Paul was telling the members of the church in Ephesus, you guys are leaders. Others are watching you to see how you handle the transition of this new body of believers.
Paul knew people were watching to see if Jews and Gentiles really can form one body in Christ.
Paul knew this was real.
He knew if the church in Ephesus could really BE one body in Christ other churches would follow suite.
He knew if they succeeded at being ONE BODY, it would be for God’s glory.
He knew other churches in and outside the region would hear about what happened next in Ephesus.
He somehow KNEW they heard, they received and believed.
In Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul wrote to the members of the church in Ephesus, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The believers in Ephesus heard truth and they believed. God had sealed each of them with the promise of the Spirit of the living God.
We are reminded that on the road to Damascus Paul met the Spirit of God that changed his life forever. Paul received a guarantee of inheritance from the Spirit.
Paul knew he had acquired “possession” of spending eternity with God.
Paul could not stop praising God for giving him the opportunity to receive the glory of God.
He reminded the believers in Ephesus and in all of the churches of the promise of God. We all possess the same promise. Jews and Gentiles alike have been given the keys to the kingdom through Jesus. The details seem to be complex but the answer is not difficult.
In order to receive what God has for us we need to open our hands to let God be GOD.
Many centuries later we know the church survived and thrived. We know God called us to love all people ‘no matter what’. Skin color doesn’t matter. Our background doesn’t matter. Our economic status doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we are called to love one another…no matter what.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Open your hands
Ask God to give you love for others no matter what. Let God work out the details.
In God, Deborah