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“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
in Christ Jesus… (vs. 1)…In the heavenly realms… in Christ (vs. 3)… in him (vs.4)... in accordance with his pleasure and will (vs. 5)… in the One he loves (vs. 6)… In him… in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (vs. 7)
We are only seven verses into the text, and Paul has located us on The Great Treasure Map of God, where riches abound and where we are invited to search and find and explore our identity from now until eternity. Each of these ‘in’ locations are sweet and personal. God is calling us Beloved.
The gift of redemption is very near and dear to the vocabulary of Paul; he uses it seven times out of the ten it is found in the New Testament. It hearkens back to the divine act of deliverance the people of Israel experienced when they were freed from the bonds of captivity and slavery to Egypt.
We are free. The wages of sin no longer hold us captive. We are now slaves to righteousness. Our whole identities have been remade and renewed through God’s own lifeblood.
This gift which none of us deserves is described here as beyond the wealth of anyone’s comprehension, and lavished upon us to the point of overflow—we cannot contain it, it spills out and over us—to move beyond us and into this broken world, with two words which capture different nuances of one idea: ‘wisdom and understanding.’ The first speaks to general wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The second suggests that the outward overflow moves us to apply that same wisdom in practical application
Who we are, where we are located with regard to our New Creation identity, is freely-given and abundantly resourced, and it comes without any works, any human effort, mystical technique, or religious perfection.
We are Beloved.
“In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons 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.”
“In love…” How wonderful! This love is not just an emotional response, but it is also responsive action. God responds to His own desire by willing and bestowing the title of adoptive family member upon us; something He chose to do and feel, as verse 4 says, before the realm of Creation even existed. God has been carrying us in his heart and mind since eternity. That, is love!
No wonder Paul sings the praises of God in response to this great and all-encompassing love! God responded in love to imagine us. God responded in love to create us. God responded in love to redeem us… all of which was before we came into existence. Love’s responsive action of provisional grace—freely given—means that the offer stands for all of Creation to respond back to God’s invitation of adoption.
God is Love. God is in love. God loves us with the same ferocious love through which the Trinity loves and communes together. Think back on verse 1:3.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Today, I was reminded about the power of egocentricity. Someone stopped into my office to discuss prayer, and why we should even bother to do it. They spoke specifically about baby Rowen, who died last week after open heart surgery and prolonged recovery efforts. This person pointed out that people all over the globe were asking God to give this child healing, but God just did whatever He wanted anyway, ignoring the pleas of the saints.
Our conversation which followed was about what prayer really is, and how there are more aspects to it than treating God like a vending machine. Egocentricity turns the God of the Universe into the god of my universe.
We are reminded in Ephesians 1:4 that we serve a bigger God than we can imagine… One who has something in mind for us to be and to become through His work and through His determination of value. God has chosen qualities and characteristics for us to live within (I was almost tempted to say, ‘live up to’, but that would open the door for works-based salvation).
Whether this passage is concerned with predestination or not is moot. God is in control, and we need to remember that. I think that when we focus upon predestination, we walk ever-more-closely to the line of Egocentricity.
“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.”
We were reminded yesterday that grace and peace are not known through experiencing them. We experience them when we experience the Trinity in our lives.
Paul now tells us that we are blessed in the heavenly realms. Is this when we commune with God? I notice that he is not saying anything about being blessed in an earthly sense… What are these blessings? Whatever they are, we are told that we have ALL of them; God is not holding back.
I wonder what, at times, causes us to hold back on communing with God, from experiencing grace and peace, from diving into the spiritual blessing and out of focussing on the earthly ones?
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Grace & Peace are two simple little words that we often move past quickly, thinking we ‘know’ what they mean. I remembered, today, that these are ‘experiential’ words… they can only be ‘known’ when experienced, and they can only be experienced when they come through us experiencing the Trinity.