Ephesians 1: 3-7
This, beloved, is for our enjoyment. Paul was a man who had been in paradise, “a man in Christ”; he said: “I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago”, 2 Cor 12: 2. He had been up as far as the third heaven and into paradise. How blessed that is! He is imprisoned at the moment, but his heart is full. He is enjoying the greatness of the inheritance, speaking of the Father, what God had done Himself - for Himself.- and we, beloved, are the objects of divine activities. Do we fully realise or appreciate the greatness of it, what God has done for the satisfaction of His own heart? And we are the objects of that. So Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies”, not a blessing missing, not a blessing lacking. It is ours. We have the Spirit, of course - later on in the chapter there is “the earnest of our inheritance” (v 14) - to help us to enjoy it. But you think of the immensity of the elevation that belongs to Christianity. It is possible, but Paul, I suppose, may be the only one who has ever been up as far as the third heaven and into paradise. The third heaven has been linked in the type to the holiest of all, the ark in its place, the cherubim covering it, the Father’s love in all its fulness expressed in Christ in glory where He is, and we, beloved, are the persons who have been taken into favour in that Person and in that realm. How great that is! How immense it is!
It goes on to say, “according as he has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation”. Think of that, beloved! You, personally, and I, personally, were chosen by God before the world’s foundation. Do you really believe that? Whether you do or not, that is the truth, “that we should be holy and blameless before him in love”. How great that is! What liberty that affords! This is sonship in its greatness, “holy and blameless”. We have often noted that “holy” is completely according to God in His nature; and “blameless” is like Him and all His doings; and that is what we are going to be. At the present time in His ways and in His workings He is bringing this about, but nevertheless it is true of us, and this is what has happened here, “having marked us out beforehand for adoption” - that is sonship - “through Jesus Christ to himself’. Think of God deliberating in counsel in eternity past as to what He was going to do, and who He was going to choose. We are part of the holy myriads, beloved, who will fill His house, each one known personally and individually by the Father, and there will never be any diminution in it. The favour will remain eternally. It does not wane; it is not up and down; it remains constant. We may go up and down in our souls, and so forth, and we may think our God is not exactly pleased about this, not too happy about me, that I am out of favour. You are never out of favour, never! Get that into our souls, beloved! It is unchangeable.
“According to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace”: how wonderful that is! “The good pleasure of his will”: He delights to do it. He has no reserves about it; He is wholly and absolutely committed to it. Think of “the good pleasure of his will”, and we are to be “to the praise of the glory of his grace”. Think of Luke 15, think of the best robe, the sandals and the ring, the fatted calf, the greatness of what reconciliation is as having been effected. And that is you as an individual, and that is me as an individual. Think of the greatness of what this is for God! Reconciliation is for the heart of God. That has been wrought out by Christ. In chapter 2 he goes on to show how it has been worked out, how peace has been made, how both Jew and Gentile had been removed, and the man who brought in this distance is gone; he is left in the grave of Christ. God has seen to it all, beloved. We need to rejoice. I know myself how it does not strike me as it ought to; it does not make me pour out like this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. That is Paul’s heart, Paul’s affections.
“According to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of offences”. Think of what the favour of God is, beloved! You are in the favour of God. Do you realise that? He has “taken us-into favour”. Think of where-He-took you-from-into favour and you can-see, and you can measure in some sense, “the riches of his grace”. He took Paul out of Judaism; and He took me out of somewhere else; and He took you out of somewhere else; and over all He has taken us out of the world. Think of the glory of divine working, the Spirit effecting new birth in our soul. We did not know that: that is divine sovereignty, the Father drawing us to Christ, we conscious and knowing how guilty sinners we were, come to Christ for forgiveness, and we are forgiven. We are under the shelter of His blood. Consciences are made clear, and we are so pleased and delighted that we are saved. Then He begins working in His ways, and the truth of the gospel is worked out in it. All that relates to the ways of God, and what He has in mind is to make us consciously enjoy the blessedness of this wonderful line of divine thought in purpose and counsel that He has had in mind before the world was.
Well, may our hearts rise to its greatness, beloved! Maybe somebody will be able to get up to the third heaven, into paradise, but we need to see the greatness of what is available to us and not limit ourselves or limit our outlook or God’s outlook, but be concerned that we grow increasingly into the wealth of it so that, consequently, beloved, there will be much more substance in us all, much more conscious blessedness of our links with the Father and with the Son and with the Spirit. May we be helped in this and enjoy it more for His Name’s sake!
13th November 2012