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Monday Evening Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Monday, January 24, 2022
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Chosesn of God

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Blessed. This doxology is composed of three stanzas, each of which closes with a similar refrain (vss. 6, 12, 14). This word blessed is always used of God in the New Testament, and it means praised or eulogized.

Who hath blessed us. God is the great giver, and the blessings are already ours. With all spiritual blessings. With every kind of spiritual blessing.

They are spiritual in nature as opposed to temporal and material, and they are the products of the Holy Spirit.

In heavenly places. In the realm and sphere of heavenly things as contrasted with earthly things. The adjective expresses quality rather than place. This expression is found several times in this epistle and refers to that exalted sphere of activities to which the believer has been lifted in Christ.

In Christ. In vital union with Him. Note how often these words are found in this epistle. In Christ is the key to this wonderful passage. Since the saints are in Him, nothing is too good or too great for God to bestow upon them.

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

The first is what is commonly known as election. Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Notice first the positive fact of election in the words, He chose us. Then there is the positional aspect of the truth, in Him: it is in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus that all God’s purposes for His people are brought to pass. The time of God’s election is indicated by the expression, before the foundation of the world. And the purpose is that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. This purpose will not be completely realized until we are with Him in heaven (1 John 3:2), but the process should be going on continually in our lives down here.

This word (Gr eklegomai) means to pick out, to choose. This is a definite statement of God’s elective grace concerning believers in Christ. In him. In union with Christ. Apart from Christ, there would have been no election and no salvation.

God always deals with man in Christ, who is the one and only Mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5). Paul traces man’s salvation back to the plan of God’s will. Before the foundation of the world. Before the projection of the world order. God’s choice was eternal; His plan is timeless.

The fall of man was no surprise to God, and redemption was no afterthought. God provided for our salvation before one star glittered in infinite expanse. We must be careful not to draw false conclusions from this sublime truth. God is not stating a fatalistic doctrine in which He arbitrarily elects some to heaven and consigns all others to hell. There is no scriptural doctrine of election to damnation. God’s election provides for the means as well as the ends.

God’s infallible Word plainly states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). Man either receives or disbelieves God’s provisions in Christ. “So far as the human race is concerned, every man may not only accept Christ as Savior but is urged and invited to do so.

The ground of this invitation is the work of the incarnate Son … Divine foreordination and human freedom are humanly irreconcilable, but like two parallel lines that meet in infinity, they have their solution in God” (Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Handbook, pp. 672–674).

“To explain an apparent difficulty by denying one or the other of these tenets is to explain away the truth” (W. Curtis Vaughn, The Letter to the Ephesians, p. 13). That we should be holy and without blame before him in love. This is the purpose of God’s election.

The real purpose of God’s elective grace is not “pie in the sky by and by,” but has to do with a separated life here and now (cf. Rom 8:29).

Holiness is the positive side of a Christlike life (Heb 12:14), separated from all evil courses and connections.

Blamelessness in character is the negative side of the Christlike life: not sinless, but stainless, without blemish and without defect. God’s expectation is for His saints to live on a high spiritual plane.

Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

The second spiritual blessing from the treasury of God’s grace is predestination, or foreordination. Though somewhat related to election, it is not the same. Election pictures God’s choice of people to salvation. But predestination is an advance on this: it means that God determined ahead of time that all who would be saved would also be adopted into His family as sons. He could have saved us without making us His sons, but He chose to do both.

Many translations link the last two words of verse 4 with verse 5 as follows: in love having predestined us. This reminds us of the unique affection that prompted God to deal with us so graciously.

We have the fact of our glorious adoption in the phrase, having predestined us to adoption as sons. In the NT, adoption means placing a believer in the family of God as a mature, adult son with all the privileges and responsibilities of sonship (Gal. 4:4–7). The Spirit of adoption plants within the believer the instinct to address God as Father (Rom. 8:15).

Our adoption as sons is by Jesus Christ. God could never have brought us into this position of nearness and dearness to Himself as long as we were in our sins. So the Lord Jesus came to earth, and by His death, burial, and resurrection He settled the sin question to God’s satisfaction. It is the infinite value of His sacrifice on Calvary that provides a righteous basis on which God can adopt us as sons.

And it is all according to the good pleasure of His will. This is the sovereign motivation behind our predestination. It answers the question, “Why did He do it?” Simply because it was His good pleasure. He could not be satisfied until He had surrounded Himself with sons, conformed to the image of His only begotten Son, with Him and like Him forever.

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. As Paul has contemplated the grace of God first in electing us and then in predestining us to be His sons, he punctuates his meditation with this refrain that is at once an exclamation, an explanation, and an exhortation. It is an exclamation—a holy gasp at the transcendent glories of such grace. It is an explanation that the object and the result of all God’s gracious dealings with us is His own glory.

Eternal adoration is due to Him for such matchless favor. Notice the terms of His grace—He (freely) made us accepted. The recipients of His grace—us. The channel of His grace—in the Beloved. Finally, it is an exhortation. Paul is saying, “Let us praise Him for His glorious grace”.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

As we trace the sublime sweep of God’s eternal plan for His people, we come next to the fact of redemption. This describes that aspect of the work of Christ by which we are freed from the bondage and guilt of sin and introduced into a life of liberty.

The Lord Jesus is the Redeemer (In Him we have redemption). We are the redeemed. His blood is the ransom price; nothing less would do.

McDonald, Knoll, Farstad; Hinson and Knoll