SERMON: Blessed in the Son | Ephesians 1:7–10
Blessed in the Son | Ephesians 1:7–10
Ephesians: Building the Church | Shaun Marksbury | Grace Bible Church
Sunday Morning Service | July 14, 2019
Allow me to provide a contrast for today’s text. We tend to ignore just how sinful the sin is in our hearts. We explain it away. We justify it. But we fail to see just how sinful it is.
We tell ourselves that we would fare well on judgment day. Perhaps you’ve never killed or committed adultery, just to name a couple of the commandments. However, whatever the case, we bury the truth, covering our unjust anger and lust so it won’t see the light of day. We allow these to remain as idols in our hearts, deceiving ourselves into thinking that they pose no danger to us. We worship what we want, and then we further deceive ourselves into thinking that we give God all the glory in our lives.
Sometimes, we try to appease God. However, sin separates us from God, and no amount of self-sacrifice, self-atonement, or self-flagellation will change this fact. Indeed: Even our righteous works are like filthy rags. We cannot earn our way into God’s good graces; He rejects self-made religion.
Yet, this passage is about gospel, good news that we can only understand in light of the bad news. Our text continues the long, Greek sentence running from vv. 3–14. Look again to v. 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.” Last time, we see that the God we’ve offended offers undeserved blessing to sinners, something we need to hear again and again.
The question is how God blesses us, and we clearly see that the His blessings come “in Christ” or, here in v. 7, “in Him.” Today, we’re going to see just what those blessings are in Christ. We’ll see that Christ is our Redemption (vv. 7–8a), our revelation (vv. 8b–9), and our resolution (v. 10).
II. Christ is Our Redemption (vv. 7–8a)
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.
This verse starts with a vital word related to salvation — redemption — one to learn if you don’t know it already. To redeem means to buy something back or to pay a required ransom. The idea of redemption is a constant throughout the world, seen most acutely in the concept of slavery.
You might wonder if it’s offensive to think of sin in terms of slavery. That’s precisely what the self-righteous Pharisees thought when Jesus made that comparison in John 8:31. He said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” However, they stumbled at this word, asking when they were in bondage (v. 33). Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (vv. 34–36).
The Son promises here to set those enslaved free. He went to the slave market, saw all of us chained to our sins with no hope of escape. There, He took pity upon our poor estate.
He then redeemed the slave, not with money, but with something far more precious and imperishable (cf. 1 Pt 1:4). Scripture defines Christ’s blood as the payment for our sins and trespasses (Col 1:20; 1 Tm 2:6; see also Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45). It does so not because Christ’s blood has mystical factors, whether in its DNA or hemoglobin, but because it results from the sacrificial death of Christ. The Law states that “it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Lv 17:11). Moreover, Hebrews 9:22 says that “all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Thus, God’s Word reveals that the blood of Christ purchases sinners, which is why verse 14 says we are now “God’s own possession.”
Spiritually speaking, what does that mean? What does it mean that we’ve been redeemed? First, it means that our sins are forgiven. We read here that it is “the forgiveness of trespasses.” Hebrews 9:15 describes it as “the redemption of the transgressions.”
Second, it means that we no longer must walk in sin. Dear Christian, never allow your flesh to deceive you into thinking that you must sin. As Paul says in Romans 6:12–13, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The good news is that we’re free from the bondage of sin and that we can walk in the freedom Christ has granted us.
Third, it means that we have assurance of a future redemption. While this verse says that the believer has been redeemed at the time of Christ’s death (past tense), in 4:30, Paul also says that there is a coming day of redemption. If Christ shed His blood for “the forgiveness of our trespasses,” then His redemption did more than just making us savable; His redemption secures us for a future day. We can walk in confidence that this redemption is coming as we battle sin and the world today. As we read elsewhere, we “groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rm 8:23).
Before moving on, it’s important to note some words we skipped over. The first words of the verse are “in Him.” The next word is the pronoun “we,” and we need to know to whom these truths apply. None of the grace of this verse applies if you are outside of Jesus Christ. Those who don’t believe are outside of this atoning work. As Jesus said in John 10:15, “I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Only after you repent, turning from sin toward Christ in faith, can you, too, claim the promise of the “grace which He lavished on us” (v. 8). We are all undeserving, but He grants us redemption “according to the riches of His grace” (v. 7). That’s why we call it grace, and He holds nothing back in our redemption — it’s monetary value (if it is proper to speak of it in such terms) is equivalent to the entire treasury of heaven!
Those whom God chooses to save are those upon whom God pours His grace. The Father forgave our false steps and put new clothes on our backs, rings on our fingers, and prepares a feast for us. We, through prodigal living, may have spit on His offers of grace; we now experience more grace than we ever imagined.
How do you or any of us know this? Let’s consider the next point:
III. Christ is Our Revelation (vv. 8b–9)
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
One of the indispensable graces of God is divine revelation. Because we are sinners, He could justly shut up heaven and ignore our knocking. Indeed, we would never call out to Him without His grace, contenting ourselves to craft a god and a set of commandments in our image while congratulating ourselves on our self-righteousness. Nonetheless, God revealed His will to us.
We see that revealed His will “in all wisdom and insight,” an extension of the grace He lavished upon us. Wisdom is the capacity to know God’s truth, its nature. Insight is in understanding God’s ways so as to apply them (cf. v. 9). Such wisdom and insight can only come from God (cf. 1 Cor 2:6, 7, 12, 16), and His revealed will comes “in all wisdom and insight;” He holds nothing back in what He grants to believers. So, when we consider this with the blessing of redemption, we see that He has granted us the capacity to know Him and His ways. After all, such a description is ultimately christological, for in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).
Such a grace of revelation and the capacity to understand it is necessary for us. He’s lavished His grace upon us by making “known to us the mystery of His will.” Again, we would create our own understandings otherwise, our own gospels. We need to shun these in favor of God’s truth. Calvin notes,
Paul gives to the gospel the magnificent appellations of wisdom and prudence, for the purpose of leading the Ephesians to despise all contrary doctrines. The false apostles insinuated themselves, under the pretence of imparting views more elevated than the elementary instructions which Paul conveyed. And the devil, in order to undermine our faith, labours, as far as he can, to disparage the gospel. Paul, on the other hand, builds up the authority of the gospel, that believers may rest upon it with unshaken confidence.
What a wonderful truth it is that “He made known to us the mystery of His will!” A mystery is not a fictionalized story (as we may think of it) but a truth that requires divine revelation; this truth revealed here is the gospel. There is so much about the nature of the gospel we’re blessed to know today that the saints of the OT dreamed of seeing. The world has now seen the final revelation of God: Jesus Christ and the gospel message He sent through His disciples. Though the Old Testament saints knew to some degree that the Messiah would atone for their sins (Is 53), much of the gospel remained a mystery before that.
For instance, part of the great mystery of the gospel is God’s gracious inclusion of the Gentiles. Next week, in vv. 11–14, we’ll study the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the church in greater detail, and we’ll reexamine it when we get to both chapters two and three. For now, it’s certainly a mystery from eternity past just how it was God’s will to adopt as sons both from among the Jews (who eventually rejected the Messiah) and from among the Gentiles (who were also sinners and strangers to the promise). That you, today, could be brought into this gospel is a mystery.
Moreover, the false mystery religions of the first century touted secret knowledge that only the initiated could gain, but the true God has revealed His will to save to all of us. To read this another way, we no longer have a mystery concerning the will of God. So many of us treat the will of God as a mystery still yet to be decoded, but we read here that God has made His will plain. Later, Paul will say, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (5:17). His will is revealed in the cross and in His Word. Nowhere are we commanded to search out if God has a hidden, personalized will or purpose for each one of us to discover. Instead, His purposes are fulfilled in Christ.
Again, this is shear blessing. We read that this revelation occurs “according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” God has chosen to grace us with this wonderful truth; therefore, we can know that it is true.
Now, consider this again with the first point. His Word reveals that we have redemption in Christ, so we can know it to be true. Scripture also reveals that a coming redemption is still on the horizon, meaning that we don’t have to wonder about the future. On that note, we come to our final point:
IV. Christ is Our Resolution (v. 10)
with a view to an administration suitable 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.
This verse reflects an eschatological or end-times reality that comes in Christ. Starting at the beginning of the verse to better understand this, let’s consider another way of translating these words from the King James Version. There, we read that there is coming a “dispensation of the fulness of times” (v. 10). What does that mean?
The word translated here “administration” or “dispensation” literally means “house rule.” It connotes a stewardship or economy. Based on this word and his previous teaching on election, I don’t think it unfair to describe Paul as a Calvinist Dispensationalist! In fact, he uses the word again in a similar way in 3:9, where he says God has given him grace “to bring to light what is the administration (or “dispensation”) of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.”
How should we understand biblical dispensations? That’s a large question that we can’t answer with detail today. Even so, we could understand them simply as this: God has every bit of human history planned. For instance, the expression “fullness of times” also refers to Christ’s birth (Gal 4:4), though it obviously looks well beyond that here. Of course, He never changes, nor does His plan of salvation, always saving people through Jesus Christ, whether they lived in the Old or New Testament eras. Even so, He progressively unveiled His plan of salvation, allowing people in each era of human history to encounter a different stage in salvation.
As this continues the thought of redemption in Christ, we can consider His blessing in this way. In Adam, the original order or kingdom on earth was lost. In Christ, the Second Adam, that kingdom was won once again. The “dispensation of the fullness of times” begins then when human history again sees that kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, when God gathers believers together in His millennial kingdom (Rv 20:1–6). That is the beginning of the great unification, concluding with the creation of a new heaven and earth (Rv 21:1ff), gathered under Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Phil. 2:10, 11).
History is being redeemed in Christ. As one commentary puts it, “Both Ephesians and the companion Letter to the Colossians presuppose that the unity and harmony of the cosmos have suffered a considerable dislocation, even a rupture, requiring reconciliation or restoration to harmony.” So, we read that there is coming a “summing up of all things in Christ” begins with the millennial kingdom but completes with the eternal state. Everything will be gathered and united in Christ, both that which is in the heavens and on earth. We look forward to this, even praying for it in the “Lord’s Prayer.”
This is part of the mystery of God’s will that He has now made known.
As we noted earlier, if Christ secured our redemption on the cross, then we can know that it points to a coming resolution. We can know this because God’s unchangeable Word reveals it. The Living Word accomplished it, leaving us to simply trust in it.
 John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 203.