It is through Christ Jesus and his work on the cross that God has poured out every spiritual blessing, namely, redemption, forgiveness and extravagant grace (v. 6-8). Do you see evidence in your life of an increasing love of righteousness and hatred of sin? We live, work and minister in a culture saturated with competing philosophies, religions and world views. The ‘we’ and the ‘us’ includes you. John Stott argues for this option and makes the observation that the letter to the Colossians (which is closely related to Ephesians) has a closely related verse, May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. In the midst of this uncertainty, opposition and trial, Paul wants us to feel the security that is found in Christ. Paul thus writes in his letter to the Romans, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Those out ministering on the mission field? We know our inheritance is secure because we have received the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee (literally, the down payment) of all that we will have and be in him when he returns. Paul’s first intention is that this revelation of the glory of God would result in praise. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. This witnessing of the Holy Spirit with our spirit is grounded in objective reality. Paul preaches and ministers in the city for just over two years and then leaves. Paul wants us to see the scope of God’s plan for creation that we might be led to wonder and, in our wonder, that we might respond in worship. As we see, through the Spirit’s work, the imprint of the Father on our lives, our conviction grows that we are indeed sons of God and from this overflow, we praise him for the cross, we praise him for his glory and we praise him for his glorious grace. The Apostle Paul first visited the city of Ephesus in the Autumn of AD 52 and, having briefly contended for the gospel in the Synagogue, was called away by the Holy Spirit to minister in Antioch. (Deuteronomy 14:2). Return to him in confidence that his eternal purposes (which, if you truly are a believer, includes your salvation) can never be stalled, derailed or thwarted. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Are you pursuing the things of God, spending time in prayer, studying the Scriptures and serving your brothers and sisters. Secondly, this translation is in keeping with all that is patterned in God’s relationship with his people in the Old Testament, But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. The somewhat impersonal tone of the letter has confused commentators and leads us to ask what Paul intends in writing this letter to a new church plant struggling to live out the gospel in a pagan culture. The truth is that we are too often wracked with similar insecurities. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. In the original language, the word here translated ‘inheritance’ is passive and it is difficult to determine as to who possesses the inheritance, the believer or God. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Ephesians 1:11-12). Paul writes, again in Romans Chapter 8, The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). And so, God chooses a people that we might be to ‘the praise of his glorious grace’ and God intends that this praise, and all his purposes, be focused upon and terminate in the Son of God. Consider then the context of this passage, So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. Making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. God chooses us to be his possession, his heritage, his inheritance and this God is supremely powerful and able to work ‘all things according to the counsel of his will’. If you are a believer today, you may displease God and you may make unwise and even sinful choices, the consequences of which may burden you for the rest of your life, but you cannot thwart God’s eternal purposes. By the time Paul left the city (in the Spring of AD 56) the gospel had spread with such power that Luke is able to write that. Paul wants us to see this, to feel this and to join with him in praise. Consider the following passages from Ephesians and the way in which they exhort us towards true spirituality which is holy living. Our justification is as secure as our predestination. 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. That glorious phrase, ‘In him you also’, extends all of the spiritual blessing described above and poured out in and through the cross, to all believers everywhere. Paul and his inner circle? In the original language it is implied that the Father is the one who undertakes the sealing (this fits with the flow of thought throughout the passage), the sphere in which this occurs is in the Son (the sealing is applied to those who ‘believed in him’) and the Spirit is the means or instrument of the seal. He chooses us before the foundation of the world, he plans and executes our rescue through the death and resurrection of the Son of God, he supernaturally incorporates us into Christ Jesus and he seals us with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of all that is to come. This is why Paul is so careful to explain the scope of the personal pronouns, the ‘us’ and the ‘we’. (Romans 8:28-30). God does not make mistakes and God is never thwarted. This must be so because God’s activity in creation and effecting salvation is ultimately purposed to display his glory and bring forth praise. Now, if Paul stops here, the saints in Ephesus and surely you and I have cause for concern. Ephesians 1:11-14 [11]In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12]so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. The NIV makes God the possessor and believers the possession. Now this is all true, but the question we must ask is why does Paul begin his letter to a fledgling church in this way? It is so important that we understand that true spirituality is immensely practical in its outworking. Paul unfolds God’s glorious activity in securing salvation and reveals that God was so at work even before the foundation of the world choosing (predestining) a people on whom he would bestow every spiritual blessing (v. 3-6). Some of us face opposition and hostility on a daily basis. Our glorification is as secure as our justification. We also learn from the Acts 20, that the church is on the cusp of a great spiritual onslaught in which wolves will ravage the flock from outside and within. (Romans 8:12-17). The NIV, however, translates verse 11 as follows, 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 (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)). Paul, however, continues, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. In receiving the Holy Spirit we receive a foretaste of the kingdom and the things of heaven (verse 3 states this explicitly). It is easy to believe that you are somehow on the outside looking in. It seems to me that this translation is in keeping with this. We are based in a town very similar to Ephesus. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Colossians 1:11-12) The NIV, however, translates verse 11 as follows, 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 (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)) The …