I have been meaning to do a Bible study through the Ephesians specifically with my father-in-law who lives a few states away through a series of letters. Lately I have been blessed listening to the commentary on them by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and by reading his book “Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity In Christ.”
In his study, Driscoll describes how the church in Ephesus was a city of trade. The church their dealt with many attacks from pagans who worshiped in a nearby temple built to the pagan god Artemis. The churches missions into this city caused riots because the message of free grace was a large threat to the businesses of pagans who made money through their religion. Ephesus struggled with identity crisis and this is why the apostle, Paul, describes so richly by the Holy Spirit the identity of those “in Christ.” He includes later in the epistle the chapter of the armor of God and the battles of spiritual warfare.
I love this book of the Bible myself, and am looking forward to a more personal study. I wrote my first letter/commentary on it but did not intend on submitting it onto my blog, but wrote it primarily for my family. However, I was recently asked to write some articles on “identity and assurance.” I thought over and decided it wise to submit my full study on here. I have only one chapter into it so far but will post more another time. I am really into this and still growing as I read through. This is my commentary on the first chapter of which I centered around the blessing of God in Christ.
As I write I am assuming that the current two people who I am writing to are my father-in-law and my wife. Though I am considering sending this off to other people such as our other parents, grandparents, and whomever else it may benefit to read these.
My hope is to bless you with my own study of the Ephesians letters written by the Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul, who wrote to the church in Ephesus so many great things about our identity IN CHRIST.
The first chapter begins with, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, IN CHRIST, with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
From this we see that our primary blessing in this life is Christ. Every point in both the Old and New Testament point directly to and are fulfilled by Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the hope of Glory. He is the Image of the Invisible God. He is the Great I AM. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Great High Priest He is the prophesied One who was, and is the come. He is the Alpha and the Omega, first and last. He is the only Begotten Son of the One True God. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Messiah. He is God’s Word made flesh. He is the salvation of the Saints and the friend of sinners. He is the Lamb of God in whom all of the wrath of God was poured out upon sin in whom death was killed. He is the One and only sacrifice for sins and the hope of glory and eternal life!
The Lord Jesus is quote a blessing to us. When we were lost in our sins, He was given to us as a gift. He is the Lamb who was slain for the sake of sinful man who had first rejected Him. This is the meaning of a treasure that is far greater than in worth than any other treasure in the universe! There is no other treasure, person, possession, pleasure, or destiny that can measure in comparison with the treasure that is being prepared for us IN CHRIST.
Predestination is a blessing because it shows us the picture of our adoption through Christ back unto God. (v4-10). It says that “before the foundations of the world, He predestined us according to the purpose of His will as adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to be blameless and holy in His sight.”
He has blessed us with Christ, IN CHRIST. We are now able communicate with and experience a blood flowing, air breathing, life growing, and active relationship with God, our Creator. This is the greatest news in all of the universe!
He has blessed us with all of the riches of His grace. We now have all that Christ possesses, IN CHRIST. Before I married Averie we were two separate people with two separate lives, two separate possessions, in two separate locations. But when we got married we became one. Now my life is hers, my body is hers, my possessions are hers, and everything I have is hers. Our bank account title reads “Joel Frezza & Averie Frezza” because we are now both the holders of it. Whenever my money deposits into the account that money is automatically hers and whenever her money deposits into the account, her money automatically belongs to me. This is the relationship that depicts our oneness and blessing, IN CHRIST.
In the same way our identity is IN CHRIST. As it says in Galatians 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself up for me.”
This is where we discover our true identity. It is that we are brothers with Christ before our Father and all of the treasures of Christ are ours found IN HIM.
“In Him, you also, when you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” (v13-14)
One of the other gifts of predestination is that we have the gift of being unblinded. We have the gift of “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know the hope to which He has called us to.” (v18) “…the immeasurable greatness of His power…” (v19) “…according to the working of His great might…”(v19) “…That He worked, IN CHRIST, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places…” (v20). “…for above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the one to come…” (v21).
These are some of the richest words in the New Testament describing God’s grace and blessing that we have stored up, IN CHRIST. I have been learning who I truly am. That my identity is not in what I do, but that what I do is in my identity. Yet I am allowed two identities, one in myself (the flesh) and one IN CHRIST (the Spirit).
And this is also why radical abandonment, giving up everything that I own and that I am for the glory of God the Father IN CHRIST, by the Holy Spirit who resurrected Him from the grave is worth more than anything in the world! I have found a treasure that never dies and that lasts forever! When you had a child, even adopted one, you chose that child first. You chose that you would love and raise that child. The child did not choose you first, you chose him. In the same way Christ says, “…You did not choose me, but I chose and appointed you…” (John 15:16).
We are adopted as sons so that our hearts may freely cry out “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
This is not a mere picture of religion, standard, law, perfection, or even purity, but the immeasurable picture of a beautiful and fulfilled pursued and predestined relationship between Father and child! This is the meaning of predestination and adoption.
And the part that is hardest to grasp is the “…according to the purpose of His will…”
We would all like to foretell the future and spy in the plans and schemes of God. And though Satan would like to tell us that it is possible, Revelation 5 says that it is not. “… no one in heaven or on the earth was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep because no one heaven or on earth was worth to open the scroll or to look into it…” But we have assurance that Christ is! “…I saw a Lamb looking as though it had been slain and He was worth to open the scroll and to look into it…” This scroll contains God’s plan, scheme, and purpose of the universe! We have not yet received of the reasons and answers for issues in life, but we do know that we have received Christ and that He is all of those things.
We do know that from both the Old and New Testaments that God’s common plan through all of the covenants and beyond have always been to reconcile lost mankind, to Himself.
So I say that we will do best not to question or curse Him on the way He works things out, but to instead trust Him that His plan is for the best purpose of His glory and the reconciliation of man unto Himself. We know that His plan is good and that we should be honored to be adopted! This shows us that He is worthy of all of our and our families praise, honor, glory, dominion, power, forever!
Because the Gospel is not about us. It is for us, but it is ultimately and always about Him!
IN CHRIST and through our obedience to HIM through Christ and our reflection of Him IN CHRIST, we are found blameless and holy!
This is the greatest blessing that we could ever receive We should pursue this treasure with everything that we are! This is what is means to be a Christian, this is what it means to follow Jesus, and this is what it means to be IN CHRIST.
I encourage you all to keep pressing in and to not give up in the race! Not even in your darkest, most discouraging, and rejected times in life! This is what it means to “endure,” to “never give up,” and to have “decided to follow Him and not turn back!”