For those of you joining me on this adventure in pondering Scripture – glad to have you aboard. I’ve already been energized by you as you have let me know about your desire to participate. Let’s get started.
Memory Verse for the week: Ephesians 1:3 “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.”
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. 7 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, 9 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.
This is one of the richest passages in Scripture and a great place to start our pondering. It would be very easy for us to spend more than one week on this great passage.
As I pondered this passage here are a few of the things that went through my mind…
v.3 – Paul often seems unable to contain a sense of gratefulness to God and frequently gushes forth verses like this: “Praise be to God…” Question for me: Am I similarly overwhelmed by what God has done for me such that praise is regularly heard coming from my lips? The next few verses outline some of the things that he has done for me:
lavished grace on me
made His will known to me
marked me with His Spirit
Quite a list to praise God for. I note that none of these things have anything to do with “stuff” – material things. They are spiritual blessings – not material blessings.
As I read the passage I note two reasons why God has chosen me: 1) to be holy and blameless in His sight… v.4 and 2) that I might be for the praise of His glory…v.11.
Q: Am I seeking to live a holy and blameless life? What are my unholy sinkholes?
Q: Specifically, what can I point to in my life and say “I know that this brings praise to God?”
This phrase “to the praise of His glory” is used 3x in these verses (6, 12, 14). Me thinks therefore that it might really be important to God that I live “to the praise of His glory.” How am I intentionally doing so?
Paul uses the word “predestined” twice in this passage (5, 11). Predestination is a biblical doctrine but a lot of people get hung up on the word. Here are a few thoughts about what it means as far as we are concerned:
IF you have put your faith in Christ and believed the gospel, if you know that He is your Savior and that His blood covers your sins, and if your life daily reflects the fact that you are one of His “holy ones”, then you are predestined. You do not have to get hung up on whether you are one of the few that He has “elected” for His kingdom.
Understanding predestination is like looking at something from 2 completely different angles. From God’s perspective we have been chosen before the beginning of time. From our perspective we made a choice by our own free will to repent and be saved. Predestination and free will are working together not against each other. The Bible affirms both.
Predestination should be a comforting doctrine for the believer not a confusing doctrine. God is in control. Even when it looks like everything is spinning wildly out of control we can be assured that our God is in control and that He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (v.11)
For Paul, the future is a powerful motivation for the present. Twice in this passage he talks about the future. V10 – “when the times will have reached their fulfillment,” and v14 – “…our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” I’m not sure that we think about Heaven enough and what it is going to be like and how we are going to react when we find ourselves in God’s presence. Perhaps if we did we would live differently.
(Post your comments by clicking on the bubble at the top right. Don’t worry if they overlap with mine. I suspect that often God will be teaching us similar things. I would suggest that you write out your comments BEFORE you read mine and then post them as they are after reading mine. That way mine won’t influence what you write. We are all learning together as we go along.)
Next passage to ponder: Matthew 5:1-12
Next memory verse: Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”