This passage in Ephesians is one I have read before, but I gained so much insight into it on Sunday, and it connected with other things God has been teaching me (see this post on God's purpose, this post on faith, and this post on God's promises that I've written in the last week).
This is the first part of the Ephesians passage:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us..." (Ephesians 1:3-8)There is SO much in this passage!
1) God "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." EVERY spiritual blessing! God's grace is abundant.
2) Nothing that God does happens except in and through Christ. God has blessed us in Christ. He has chosen us in Christ. He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with "his glorious grace" in "the Beloved," Jesus. In Jesus we have redemption. God set forth his purpose in Christ (that's in verse 9, not quoted above). In Christ "we have obtained an inheritance," that is, eternal life.
3) We did not choose God. He chose us! How can a child choose to be born? God chose us before the foundation of the world. That's thousands of years before we were born--or even thought of by our parents! God knew us from that time on, and he chose us to be his.
4) Faith is pure gift. We didn't ask for it. God chose us to know him--we didn't ask to know him. He chose us to be redeemed and forgiven. It's all by "the riches of his grace," not by our own doing, or by anything we deserve.
5) The reason we are God's children is to serve him. He chose us "according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace." God has done millions of amazing things. He deserves for his glory and grace to be praised! That's what our lives are all about.
6) Our relationship with God is not up to us. We can stop worrying about our relationship with God, Pastor Groth said, because it doesn't depend on us. God has what it takes to keep us believing in him. He has us in his hands now, and he's not going to let us go. Also, we should stop trying to take credit for anything in our spiritual lives. If it wasn't for God, we wouldn't be able to do anything that pleases him. As it is, all we can do is thank him for the faith he has placed in our hearts, and thank him for helping us live a life that pleases him.
The rest of the passage from Sunday includes so many more wonderful things. It also includes tricky things like predestination, which I'm not going to try to explain today because I know not all of my readers share my Missouri Synod Lutheran theology (and that's absolutely fine!!). Also, once I actually complete my theology and English degrees, I'll be much better equipped to write about such things. :) For now, just read the Scripture passage yourself!
I do hope you take this from what I have been learning: God blesses us lavishly. He does everything through his Son Jesus Christ. God chose us, we did not choose him, and he did it before the creation of the world. Our faith is not dependent upon us. God has called us as his children to serve, praise and glorify him. And finally, we don't need to worry about our faith: it's in God's hands.
Linking up today:
New Life Steward; The Fontenot Four; Raising Homemakers; A Wise Woman Builds Her Home; Deep Roots at Home; Women Living Well; Live Called