The Epistle To The Ephesians
Spiritual Blessings And Divine Purpose — Chapter I
Chosen in Christ. The spiritual blessings we have been alluding to were the subject of divine counsel before the world was made; therefore Christians belong to Eternity. Manifestly, then, they are to be a people according to the desire of God; they are to be “holy and without blame before Him in love;” a people who are like Him who chose them; of whom it has been well said: “He is holy in character, unblamable in all His ways, love is His nature.”
Sonship. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children (unto sonship) by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” The elect have been marked out by the Father in order to furnish Him with satisfaction. They are said to have been brought into such a relationship “to Himself.” This excess of language is intended to emphasize His fatherly desires “according to the good pleasure of His will.” It gave Him pleasure to do so, therfore He effected it.
The Glory of His Grace. His action in securing sons was manifestly “to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” This glory is really the outshining of His disposition in grace that was inherent in His nature, and which, therefore, had a place in His counsels before sin found entrance into this world. As we learn this we are attracted to its source and have our hearts filled with praise. No wonder! His grace is so great that He “hath made us accepted in the Beloved;” He has taken us into such favour that His affections for the Son rest upon us.
The Riches of His Grace. As we have been seeing, the Fall of man did not take God by surprise nor find Him without adequate resource to deal with mankind in the predicament into which he had fallen. There was varied quality in His grace, that could be adapted to any condition resulting from sin. Therefore God drew upon His resource, His “riches.” His resource was Christ. We may say then that as grace was inherent in the nature of God, the necessity for its expression further revealed that redemption was inherent in that grace. As the subjects of it we can say that we have been redeemed in order that we may be an everlasting possession through the blood of Him in whom we have been taken into favour, all unfitness having been removed.
The Mystery Of God’s Will
“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He had purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will; that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (1:9-14).
The Administration of All Things. As those informed that He who chose us for His pleasure had a purpose in His mind, He now assumes that we will be interested to know what that purpose is. This is now disclosed. It is a purpose to celebrate the fame, to manifest the glory, of the One who affected the divine will, laying the foundation upon which all will be built. We are told that the administration of the fulness of times is committed to Him; that under Him God will gather together or unite all things, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth. Beings “under the earth,” in the infernal regions, have no place in this, even though they will be compelled to bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11). But in the day we are contemplating, it will be seen that God had a purpose, the fulfilment of which would manifest Christ as the supreme Ruler of a universe of blessing, a vast universe of things in Heaven and earth. This will be the result in government toward which the ways of God have been tending.
This is not the eternal state. But when every detail of beneficent rule has been carried out by Christ, He, the Son (the Man of Psalm 8), will turn the kingdom over to the Father (who had put all things under Him) in order that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:25-28). The mediatorial kingdom is thus absorbed in the supremacy which belongs to God, in which the eternal Father, the eternal Son, and the eternal Spirit function for Eternity.
Jewish Believers. Returning, however, to the mediatorial kingdom in Heaven and upon earth, we observe that it is the divine will that the inheritance which the Son inherits will be shared by those who are His. He is the One “in whom” they will obtain it. It is not that He gives it away, but will share it with them as coheirs. Those coming into this inheritance, described as “We… who first trusted in Christ,” are those Israelites who trusted in Him prior to the Gentiles. It is believed however that the Spirit further emphasizes this priority as indicating the faith that believed in Christ without waiting for His manifestation as King (when Thomas-like Israel will believe). A rendering of the text, which is almost an exposition, is: “We… who have pre-trusted in the Christ.” The Apostle Paul seems to speak of himself in this way “as one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8), an “abortive,” one prematurely born. These, then, marked out as associates with the Son of God in government, will celebrate His glory during that great and very able assertion of the divine rights in government.
Gentile Believers. The Apostle now changes his terms from “we” to ye, saying: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed (having believed) ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” In this way God put upon the Gentiles the mark of distinction which He had put upon converted Jews. It was by explaining to his fellow-Jews that God had given the Spirit to the Gentiles in Caesarea, that the Apostle Peter convinced them he did right in associating and eating with them, saying: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17).
The Earnest Of Our Inheritance. Regarding this, language is used that includes Jews and Gentiles. The expression “the earnest of our inheritance” is employed as including both. Regarding believers as such, the Apostle says the Holy Spirit “is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased, possession, unto the praise of His glory.” In this way it is shown that the Holy Spirit who, as a seal distinguishes the people of God from those who are not, is also an earnest who furnishes a foretaste as a pledge in part and beforehand of what is to follow, even of what we shall enter upon at “the redemption of the purchased possession” when it is taken over publicly before every eye. The foretaste referred to may be learned in the following words: “Eye hath not seen neither ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9-10). We know that the “eye” is capable of viewing beautiful sights, the “ear” of hearing lovely sounds, and the “heart” of entertaining great conceptions. With the “eye” the present writer saw trees well over three hundred feet high with trunks over twenty-eight feet in diameter. In the home of a friend, when a record was put in a Victrola, his “ear” listened to the rich tones of the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. The conception in the “heart” of James Watt as he watched steam lifting the lid of his mother’s kettle, gave the impression that led to the building of the locomotive. Wonderful things find entrance into the human heart. But “the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, can only be revealed by the Spirit. He is the earnest. This has been well illustrated in the experience of the children of Israel, who had so often spoken skeptically of the promised land. It was really they who had suggested the idea of sending spies to search out the inheritance and to make a report of their findings (Deut. 1:22). Although Moses was “pleased” to accomodate them in the matter, and God graciously authorized it, such was not the original intention.
In result, upon their return to the camp, the spies brought pomegranates, figs, and “one cluster of grapes, which they bore between two on a staff” (Num. 13). These fruits were an “earnest” brought from the Land of Promise, a land flowing with milk and honey. If any enquired as to the inheritance they were traveling to, here was the answer in tangible form, here was the earnest.