Bought and Paid For (Ephesians 1:7-14)

As Christians, we belong to God. The moment we trusted in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation, we were forever redeemed, or bought back from sin and death, by His blood. Because of His amazing love and grace, the Father chose to forgive all of our sins by accepting the one time sacrifice of His only Son in our stead (vv. 7-8). This glorious truth of Jesus taking our place to buy our souls back from hell was foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament, but now it has been fulfilled and revealed to us in the New Testament (vv. 9-12). All the angels in heaven rejoice with us over our redemption and join with us in giving all of the glory to God through Jesus Christ. In His great wisdom, God has guaranteed us a home with Him in heaven in forever. The down payment for that home is the Holy Spirit, who came to live in us the instant we first believed in Jesus (vv. 13-14). The Spirit will never leave us. His presence and work in our lives is the “seal” or sign of God’s certain promise that we now belong to Him forever. When God looks at us, when He looks at you, He sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus and the mark of His Holy Spirit and says, “Bought and paid for – mine for all eternity!” Do you struggle to accept that all this could be true? Read about these promises below and believe what God says!

The Text (Ephesians 1:7-14)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you ever struggle to believe that God has forgiven you of all your sins through Christ? Take your doubts to God in prayer and memorize verses like Ephesians 1:7 and Romans 8:1 (“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”) to quote whenever fear assaults you. God gave us such Bible verses because He knew that when our sin-weakened hearts tried to condemn us, we would need the power of His Word to give us certain hope and confidence in our salvation.
  2. What evidences of the Holy Spirit’s work have you seen in your life since you accepted Christ?
  3. How can knowing that God’s Spirit will never leave you help you in your daily walk with the Lord?

Notes

• The “mystery of His will” that Paul discusses in verse 9 is probably talking about the spiritual blessings described in the rest of this passage. We don’t totally understand everything about God’s final plan of redemption for Christians and the world through Christ. However, enough of the gospel has been revealed for us to be saved and then understand the meaning of that salvation for our own relationship with God and our destiny in His kingdom.

• The “we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ” in verse 12 is most likely a reference to Paul, the apostles, and other disciples in the first group of people to become Christians. This group was mostly made up of converted Jews. The “and you also were included” group in verse 13 would then be a reference to those who came to faith in Christ later, many of whom would have been Gentiles. But we should not make too much of this difference. The promise of a certain inheritance in heaven is true for both of these groups, just as both groups received the Holy Spirit as the sign of their salvation. And for all Christians since then (including us!), these promises remain true.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Blessed Beyond Belief (Ephesians 1:1-6)

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 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 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.” Check out all the things that are true of those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation:

  • 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.
  • God 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, NIV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

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 think and feel 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 completely loved and accepted by God no matter what, how do you think that knowledge might change your everyday life?

Notes

  • 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 creation of the world” (verse 4) and our spiritual adoption as God’s sons and daughters being “predestined” based on God’s wisdom and kindness (“His pleasure and 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.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel