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Sep 22 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 21, 2014 – Ephesians 1:7-10

Two More Spiritual Blessings

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:7-10

Intro: Ephesians is an unusual letter

As a rule, Paul wrote to churches to address specific problems or concerns
– however, Paul’s primary purpose in Ephesians seems to be to enlighten his readers
• they’ve become Christians, but what does that mean? how does it happen?
• what has transpired between them and God?
– all of this makes Ephesians an excellent document for tracing Paul’s outline of Christian spirituality

What do I mean by “Christian spirituality”?
– God’s intent is that we not only believe in him, but experience him
• it is vital that his activity in our lives is made real to us
◦ that we awaken to his presence more frequently and in more places

Paul began a list of several spiritual blessings
– it so happens that the two we will go over today are extremely critical
• there is no Christian spirituality apart these key blessings
• the core concepts represented here are redemption and revelation
– in the last two weeks, I feel like I’ve been slapped in face with the importance of these
• I suppose I’m tempted to take them for granted
• however, they must be taken seriously!

What was Jesus’ primary mission?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
(Mk. 10:45)

“Ransom” is the Greek root of the word for redemption in Ephesians 1:7
– in the Greek world a payment could be made to release slaves, prisoners of war, and criminals (in some cases)
• payment was made to secure someone’s freedom
– in the Hebrew Scriptures redeem (redemption, redeemer) had several meanings
• we’ll look at two:

  1.  to cover: think of an insurance policy — the question we ask is, “What does this cover?”
    – there is a cost to repair, restore, or replace something that is greater than I can afford
    • the payment that is made by my insurance company covers the cost
    • in this case the debt is not cancelled, but rather it is paid in full 
  2. to recover: a “kinsman redeemer” was appointed by a family
    – the redeemer was recognized as having the legal right to act on behalf of the family
    • if he had the means, he could redeem:
    ◦ a person–i.e., a relative sold into slavery over a debt owed
    ◦ a property–a family inheritance, sold or seized for the same reason above
    ◦ or the family’s honor–by avenging the blood of a murdered member

In what sense does Jesus cover us?
– by securing the “forgiveness of our trespasses”
• we’ll see in Ep. 2:1 that we were dead in our trespasses and sins
◦ remember that sin means “to miss the mark” — it is a deviation from God’s design for our lives
◦ “trespasses” – think of “No Trespassing” signs — it is taking a wrong path
– sin cannot be ignored – it eventually produces alienation from God and finally death
• it is not merely breaking a rule or the same as being a criminal 
• it is the attempt to break free from God by choosing our own way over his way
◦ choosing to cheat, injure, or malign someone over choosing to love

William McNamara reminds us that “St. Paul said that the law made sin worse” and “shut us up inside our own sinfulness.” (Ro. 7:9-14; Gal. 3:19-22) Further down he adds, “We must face the formidable abyss between ourselves and the Wholly Other. We must allow the radical rupture in our relationship with God to be healed.”

• guilt is not a positive moral, mental, or spiritual energy
◦ it is destructive
◦ it’s a barrier that will always make us hold back, keep our distance, live in self-contemnation
• it must be resolved and removed — a payment must be made that “covers” us and pays our debt in full
◦ Jesus did this “through His blood” – he gave his life to purchase our redemption
– do you see why we must experience redemption? Why it cannot merely be a doctrine we believe?
• whenever we’re troubled by guilt we can return to our redemption as a living, active and ongoing reality
◦ we can pause, breathe, notice how God’s Spirit touches our spirit, and surrender to his claim on us
◦ (we’re his, because he bought us)
• how effective is our “coverage” in Jesus?
◦ it is supplied by “the riches” of God’s grace, requires no “deductible,” but is “lavished on us”

John Calvin, “Riches, and the corresponding word overflow, in the following verse, are intended to give us large views of divine grace. The apostle feels himself unable to celebrate, in a proper manner, the goodness of God, and desires that the contemplation of it would occupy the minds of men till they are entirely lost in admiration.” (emphasis added) — I would say that he intends not only that we would be “entirely lost in admiration,” but also that our contemplation brings us to a point where we are entirely lost in the experience of it.

In what sense are we recovered? (reclaimed)
– we are freed from addictions and worldly attachments — no one and nothing else owns us
-we are restored to God and to our true selves
• is there anything God does not want to redeem?
◦ any person? situation? corner of world? in you or me? any brokenness, mood disorder, disability, or dysfunction”

Paul will point out that our redemption is still on the horizon (v. 14)
– although we experience the benefits of it now, our full redemption comes at the end of the ages
• at that time, it will include the redemption of our physical bodies (Ro. 8:23)

Christian Spirituality begins with Redemption

It’s what makes it possible to go forward with God
– the unredeemed person gets stuck (Ro. 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 2:14 & 3:1-3)
– redemption is our initiation into Jesus – and it must be real for us
• God has provided everything necessary
• Jesus plays the key role – not you, not I; so we can’t screw it up by missing an important piece
◦ redemption prepares us for this new life with God
◦ by it we are emptied and refilled and through it we die and rise again in Jesus
– while sitting prayerfully in God’s presence, simply say, “I surrender to the work You are doing in me”
• as you do this, believe it and mean it

Vv. 9-10, How did Paul know about redemption and the other spiritual blessings?

There are several sources for contemporary Christian spirituality
– one is the ancient monastic tradition
• what they learned about prayer and how to make themselves more sensitive to God’s presence
• this is very important and an important part of our heritage
– but there are also problems with the monastic tradition
• it was greatly influenced by the culture and time in which it emerged
◦ it sometimes went too far in its beliefs and practice
◦ later on, monastic attempts to create models or produce methods for spiritual development were flawed

Programs set out by certain Christian mystics were not consistent with the conditions in which God manifested and communicated himself to people in scripture. Think of Moses, Gideon, Samson’s parents, and even prophets like Jeremiah and Jonah. Their encounters with God seldom had anything to do with their will, purification, personal preparation, maturity, or holiness and everything to do with God’s will and grace.

– some of the monastic philosophy and practice is unbiblical
• at issue here is pursuing mysticism at the cost of our intellectual integrity
• this is one instance in which Simone Weil provides a commendable example
◦ explaining why she never joined the Catholic Church, Weil said she felt she had been born inside the Christian community
◦ that the essence of Christianity had always formed her “conception of life” therefore,

“to add dogma to this conception of life, without being forced to do so by indisputable evidence, would have seemed to me like a lack of honesty. . . . I have an extremely severe standard for intellectual honesty, so severe that I never met anyone who did not seem to fall short of it in more than one respect; and I am always afraid of failing in it myself.”

• spirituality is too important to hang on conjecture

God has “made known to us the mystery of his will”
– “mystery” in the New Testament refers to information that was kept secret, hidden
• truth about God and his working in human history that cannot be “discovered” by any natural process
◦ this word, mystery, will continue to pop up in Ephesians
• there will always be some things locked in mystery
◦ even when revealed, there are spiritual depths beyond our comprehension
◦ for example, Paul prays that his readers will come to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge 3:19

It is right to bring our rational mind to scripture
– this forms the foundation of our fain and understanding of God
• it provides the wisdom and insight that guides us; it is a tether and at same time a living connection with God
• true, the Bible can be dry, silent, even boring if we read it without the Spirit breathing life into it
◦ and into us
– we might think of the Bible as a candle and the Spirit as the flame
• combined, they illuminate and enlighten

It’s clear, that at certain points God gives understanding that transcends our rational minds
– but we can never dispense with our intellects or rational facilities
• in fact, we can place our intellect in the service of our spirit
• a scripture-filled mind provides protection, correction and connection–i.e., the devotion and involvement of whole person
– God doesn’t use subjective experience to enlighten us to all truth
• it is important to have answers to question that can be answered
• and those we cannot answer, it is important to learn to be at peace with mystery
◦ we can’t intellectualize everything
◦ and those of us who have the habit of doing so must learn to control it

What has been revealed or made known is God’s purpose as it moves the giant wheels of history
– eventually everything will be “summed up” in Christ – the “total” column in the bottom line of the ledger
• “all things” includes everything in the heavens and everything on earth
• there is more overlap between these realms (or dimensions) than we realize
– this big picture shapes perspective of our lives for our own moment in time

Conc: We are blessed!

To be inducted into life with God through a redemption that sets our transformation in motion
– and to have our minds, hearts, and souls anchored in God through scripture

We are going to sink deeper into this spiritual experience as time goes on, because the truth is
No one loves you more than God
No one is for you as much as God
And no one finds more joy in you than God

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