Dear members and friends of VP,
My study of Ephesians with the men of VP has dramatically impacted my understanding of God’s will for every Christian. A summary of the benefits received by every Christian as a result of what Jesus Christ has done for us is listed in Ephesians 1:7-14:
1. We have redemption through His blood
2. We have the forgiveness of our trespasses
3. We now have knowledge of the mystery of His will
4. We have received an inheritance
5. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.
I have reviewed the meaning of these five different benefits in Bible studies on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is interesting that most of us identify quickly with “forgiveness.” It is the first benefit we commonly promise to people when we encourage them to trust Jesus for salvation. But when I have asked attendees of studies to explain the meaning of the other four benefits, there is considerable uncertainty.
Paul uses these five benefits as the outline for what he explains in the rest of the Book of Ephesians. For Paul, each one is so important that he prays for Christians that they would not only know them, but understand them.
“I pray… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Eph. 1:17-19
He knows that “knowledge” of truth is not sufficient, in itself, to change lives. To knowledge must be supplied “wisdom” and “revelation” from God. “Wisdom” and “revelation” translate knowledge into truth that will impact “the eyes” of a person’s heart. This results in “enlightenment” of a person’s life as a result of the knowledge of what God has done. Paul prays that the knowledge we gain from the book of Ephesians will penetrate our hearts so that it will transform our lives.
Without understanding God’s will and aspirations for us we cannot grow spiritually or make our Heavenly Father proud of us. Without understanding of what He has done in us, we will not understand how He is helping us achieve what He wants us to achieve.
There is a huge significance to our lives referenced by the word “redemption.” Paul explains “redemption” in detail in Ephesians 2:1-10. It involves the purchase of every Christian from a life in which he/she was captive to a way of thinking and living that was opposed to God (verses 1-3). Without redemption, there is “no hope” and God is to be “feared.” There is no knowledge of a better way to live. “Redemption” involves three things that change everything for a Christian:
• We are made alive together with Christ (verse 5)
• We are raised up with Christ (verse 6b)
• We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (verse 6b)
These facts change our capabilities, authority, understanding and purpose. New life (made alive) is a huge contrast to the life of death described in verses 1-3. Everything that was wrong with that life is now made right. Our present resurrected life, which comes before our ultimate resurrection at the end of time, means that we are with him where He is in Spirit, with full access to His teaching and direction. We are actually empowered with the authority He possesses as He sits at the right hand of God and we are seated there with Him.
The implications of these statements being true about every Christian are huge. I would say most of us tend to doubt them as true simply because they are so “other-worldly.” They are atypical of our daily experiences. On the other hand, embracing them as true even though difficult to understand can change our vision, goals and commitments in this life. Paul himself states the implications involve living for a purpose informed by Jesus.
“we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
“Redemption” involves one of the most dramatic transformations of our life possible. We need to meditate upon the implications of redemption. What could we be doing differently in life in the light of this truth? If we are seated at the right hand of Jesus, what are the implications of our authority as Christ-followers? How does a deeper understanding of “redemption” change the way we choose to live?
Over the next few months we will look at the significance of all five benefits (redemption, forgiveness, etc.) that we receive from the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But for the next month ask Christ to reveal to you how you might make adjustments in what you believe about yourself in the light of “redemption.”