Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a rich source of spiritual food which must be digested carefully and slowly. The thought that first attracted our attention today was that God “chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (1:4). When Adam and Eve sinned and were put out of the Garden God had already planned for a seed (descendant) of the woman to “bruise the head” (Genesis 3:15) of the descendants of the serpent – an allegorical way of saying God had plotted a way to counteract ongoing human sinfulness.
This happened, writes Paul, “through Jesus Christ (the ultimate special descendant of Eve), according to the purpose of his (God’s) will, to the praise of his glorious grace … through his (Christ’s) blood … in him we have redemption … the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us …” (verses 5-8). “Grace” is very special to Paul; it was an wondrous act of grace to blot out all Paul’s deeds in killing Stephen and persecuting countless believers. Grace is often defined as ‘unmerited forgiveness’.
In the next chapter Paul says God has made believers “alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace …” (verses 5-7).
This picture needs digesting thoughtfully to see it correctly. Remember how Jesus described Capernaum as being “exalted to heaven” (Matthew 11:23) because of the abundance of the miracles they witnessed (but did not appreciate). Believers need to have hearts that are lifted up in appreciation! In contrast, Paul deplores “the spirit that is now at work among the sons of disobedience” (verse 2). This is a ‘spirit’, an attitude of mind, that now dominates today’s world!
We do our best to turn away from this mindset but know we cannot be perfect by our own will. But in Christ we have access to “his glorious grace” and to “the immeasurable riches” of that grace. Although these riches are far beyond what we deserve; they are a wonderful reassurance and strength for those struggling against sin as they follow the Lord Jesus. The world suffers from extreme spiritual poverty, but those who establish a genuine spiritual relationship with God and His Son have “immeasurable riches”.