Ephesians 1:1-10; Know Who You Are In Christ: Blessed by God (9-6-15)

 

Comic strip: The Wizard of Id features a short King.

He is obsessed with his shortness.

Many of the gags revolve around his efforts to prove that he is a worthy monarch even though he is shorter than ever body else in his kingdom.

One comic strip had the King falling asleep.

He dreamed that he was in a land of tiny people—all smaller than the king.

These tiny people won his heart by calling him “stretch.”

This was the first time in his life that he was bigger than anyone else.

We laugh at the King’s struggles…

Maybe we laugh because we can relate to him.

We also feel that our worth is based on external features:

Size, wealth, ability, intelligence, influence, popularity, etc.

We all know in our minds that our height has nothing to do with our worth.

But often, we cannot quite grasp that our worth is not measured by how we compare to other people.

When we compare ourselves with others, we may conclude:

We are too:  small, poor, dumb, clutsy, alone…

Instead, we feel inferior, put down, like a nobody, like a too-short king!

KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST

I believe that the key to the Christian Life is to know who you are in Christ.

This term is not an accident: “In Christ” is Paul’s technical term for salvation, his description of following Jesus, his word for discipleship.

The term is used 7 times in this passage alone: 30 times in Ephesians.

“IN CHRIST” = surrounded by the holiness/righteousness of Jesus.

Jesus Christ covers us with his love/mercy and gives us a right relationship with our Creator God—restores us as true children in the image of God.

This is Paul’s message to the Church of Ephesus—reason for this letter.

He defines who we are in Christ: Ones who have been blessed by God!

In verse 3, he uses the word “bless” three times.

“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.”

The following verses expand on the meaning of God’s BLESSINGS.

BLESSINGS FROM THE PAST

Verse 4 reads:

“JUST AS HE (GOD) CHOSE US IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD TO BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS BEFORE HIM IN LOVE. HE DESTINED US FOR ADOPTION AS HIS CHILDREN THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.”

Notice the phrase—“before the foundation of the world.”

God chose you before you were even created—before you were born.

God chose you to be HIS CHILD—to have a close, intimate relationship.

God chose you before you had a chance to choose him.

God chose you to be holy and blameless—to fulfill the image of God.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE: Blessed by God—

          Chosen, loved, adopted child of God.

BLESSINGS IN THE PRESENT

Paul writes in verses 7-8:

IN CHRIST WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR TRESPASSES, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE THAT HE LAVISHED ON US. WITH ALL WISDOM AND INSIGHT HE HAS MADE KNOWN TO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL…”

Notice that these present blessings were not given with a tight fist—

          God lavished his grace upon us;

          God freely gave his love to us.

GOD GIVES US REDEMPTION

Redemption= he bought us from slavery.

Jesus paid the price through his death to give us freedom from evil/sin.

We can live in this present blessing: IN CHRIST WE ARE FREE!

Free: no longer slaves to the power of sin.

Free: no longer bound to our nasty habits.

Free: no longer weak before annoying temptations.

Free: no longer vulnerable to our evil desires.

Free: no longer bound by our guilty past.

God blesses us with REDEMPTION in the present day experience.

GOD GIVES US FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness= to be washed and made clean.

Jesus gives us a clean slate—our sins our wiped clean.

New beginnings can happen.

Second chances are possible.

GOD GIVES US WISDOM AND INSIGHT

WISDOM AND INSIGHT= God given tools to solve every problem/issue.

Wisdom allows us to see the heart of all things.

Spiritual insight allows us to have a divine perception of reality.

Spiritual wisdom and insight = we can produce right actions.

God gives us these PRESENT BLESSINGS to help us live faithful lives.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST: BLESSED BY GOD IN THE PRESENT—living in the present reality of redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and insight.

BLESSINGS IN THE FUTURE

“HE HAS MADE KNOWN TO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL, ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE THAT HE SET FORTH

IN CHRIST, AS A PLAN FOR THE FULLNESS OF TIME, TO GATHER ALL THINGS UP IN HIM, THINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.”

God gives us a future centered on God’s purposes and divine plan.

Christ’s purposes are being carried out until they have been fulfilled.

The purpose is this: UNITE ALL THINGS UNDER JESUS’ RULE.

God is working out this future blessing: unify the church.

God is working this into the community of the faithful:

          End of war, end of strife, end of gossip, end of hate, end of division,

          End of separation, end of fragmentation, end of racism.

God is working this into the community of the faithful:

          Presence of divine peace, reality of love and nurture, beauty of unity,

          Real community where everyone is valued for the unique worth,

          Brotherly love, reconciliation, heavenly unity, harmony.

God will bring the answers to our prayers:

 “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST: BLESSED BY GOD/FUTURE—living as a member of the fulfillment of God’s plan- a new heaven and earth.

KEY TO CHRISTIAN LIVING; KNOW WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST!

Paul was aware that we are citizens of 2 worlds/ 2 realties.

1.     LIFE IN EPHESUS

We all live in the natural world/ the real world/ the physical world.

He knew that the Ephesians had to deal with the day to day experiences of Ephesus.

They had to eat, work, sleep, struggle with neighbors, fight with evil.

He knew that the natural world destroys self-esteem, puts people down, criticizes others, is cynical, enslaves people to misery.

The natural world denies the blessings of God—past, present, future.

Life in Ephesus is similar to life in modern day America.

They also had to deal with the realities of the daily headlines: senseless murders, violence, demonstrations against cops, demonstrations against the PC crowd, partisan fighting, racist rhetoric, racist attitudes, and racist hearts.

2.     LIFE IN CHRIST

Paul wants us to know that there is another reality.

Life in Christ= a heavenly existence available to all who follow Jesus.

Paul encouraged all Christians to enjoy these spiritual blessings.

He knew that Life in Christ builds us up, strengthens us, liberates us from the ravages of the natural/cynical world.

Life in Christ is the only solution to racism!

Christ transforms our hearts—changes us from the inside.

Christ gives us love for our neighbor—if you love people from different races, then racism melts away.

I believe this is the ONLY solution that will end racism.

No law, no pc police, no activist court, no demonstration, no civil disobedience, no book, movie or editorial will ever end racism.

Only the power of Jesus Christ will impact this change—only as we endeavor to be in Christ; will our hearts change and we will learn to truly love one another!

We need to KNOW WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!

WE HAVE RECEIVED PAST BLESSINGS:

          We were chosen, loved, adopted by God.

WE ARE RECEIVING PRESENT BLESSINGS:

          We are living in redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, insight.

WE WILL RECEIVE FUTURE BLESSING: Kingdom of God.