Like their parents and grandparents, students often wrestle with the big questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose for my life? Is there any hope for me in the future? Is there hope for me after I die? If you have ever found yourself wondering about these important topics, then the book of Ephesians is for you! Paul wrote this letter to Christians of his time and all time to help us find our meaning and purpose both now and forever. God does not want us to wander through life, being “tossed to and fro” by false beliefs and lies of the world and the devil (Ephesians 4:14). No, God’s will for Christians is that we know who and whose we are through our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we really understand and find rest in our identity in Christ, we are freed to joyfully grow into the mature body of believers that God wants us to become. It is our great prayer for you that through our study of Ephesians this semester, you will truly “know what is the hope of His calling…the riches of the glory of His inheritance…and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-20). If you are willing to read these devotions and this precious book of the Bible with an open heart, God can do an amazing work in your life!
We begin our Ephesians series by looking at all of the blessings that belong to those who are “in Christ.” If you have truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are what the Bible calls us “in Christ.” Being “in Christ” means that you have been blessed beyond what you can ever imagine. You have been chosen to be made “holy and without blame” in the sight of your Creator. Through your faith in Jesus Christ, you have been adopted as a son or daughter of your Father in heaven. He has set His love on you forever, not because you were good, but because He is good and kind and gracious. No matter what you were like before trusting Christ for salvation, no matter how much you have messed up and sinned since then, you remain totally forgiven and accepted by your Father because of your spiritual union with His perfect Son Jesus Christ. As we will see in the next post, your connection with Christ is forged by God’s own Holy Spirit, so it can never be broken. Like your parents and teachers, you may struggle at times to believe that all of these things can be true about you. In fact, we should seem crazy in thinking that people as sinful and selfish as us could always stay loved and forgiven and accepted by God. But His Word tells us these things are true! Read it yourself below and believe what God says about you!
The Text (Ephesians 1:1-6)
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Questions to Think About
1. Before becoming a Christian, did you ever struggle with who you are and why you exist? Have you ever wrestled with finding your purpose in life since becoming a Christian?
2. Try this as you read through Ephesians. Every time you see the word “you” or “us,” insert your name instead. How does it make you feel and think when you realize that these promises are not just true for other Christians, but for you, too?
3. If you could wake up every day reminding yourself that you are totally loved and accepted by God no matter what, how do you think that knowledge might change your everyday life?
• Some early Greek copies of this Bible book do not contain the words “in Ephesus” that are found in verse 1. For this and other reasons, many scholars think that this letter was meant to be sent around to many Christian churches and not just the one in ancient Ephesus of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Whenever we read a New Testament epistle (letter), we should remember that it was written to a specific church audience for specific reasons, but also that the letter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach all Christians since then.
• We cannot avoid the doctrine of election that is taught in verses 3-6. Both new and mature Christians often wrestle with concepts like God choosing Christians for salvation “before the foundation of the world” (verse 4) and our spiritual adoption as God’s sons and daughters being “predestined” based on God’s wisdom and kindness (“good pleasure of His will” – verse 5) rather than our own faith or goodness. Our best advice on this would be to study the Scriptures yourself and let God’s Word rather than man’s philosophies shape your understanding of this important doctrine. Notice, however, why Paul is teaching election in this passage. He wants his Christian readers to have confidence in who they are as God’s loved and accepted children. If our being loved and accepted were based on our own efforts, than we could fear losing that love and acceptance whenever we sin and doubt God. But if our being loved and accepted is based on what God has done for us through Christ simply because of His love, mercy, and grace, than it can never be lost even on our worst days. Election is always taught in Scripture to give Christians confidence and assurance of our own salvation and unchanging standing with our Father, not to cause us to question and argue with God about how He treats others.