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Entries in Ephesians (3)


Exalted Christology

I've been reading from Peter O'Brien's commentary on Ephesians as I prepare to teach on Sunday. I'll be looking at Ephesians 2:1-10.

In v.6, Paul tells his readers that they have been raised with Christ and seated in the heavenly places with him. Earlier in 1:19-22, Paul described the power of God as being evident in his raising Christ and seating him in the heavenly places. What God has done for Christ, he has done for believers.

Being in "heavenly places" is more than a reference to a future with the Lord. We are seated with Christ right now. The immeasurable power of God which raised Christ is active in our lives right now. O'Brien elaborates on this:

According to 1:19-22 Paul praises God's incomparably great power by which he raised and exalted Christ to a position 'far above' every level of the powers. Now this exalted Christology is applied directly to the readers of the letter. Because they  have been identified with Christ in his resurrection and exaltation, they, too have a position of superiority and authority over the evil powers. They no longer live under the authority and coercion of the 'ruler of the kingdom of the air' (2:2). The implications are clear: since they have been transferred from the old dominion to the new reign of Christ, they do not have to succumb to the evil one's designs. The power of God which raised Jesus from the dead is now available to them as they live in the world.

This is good news for us. We do not have to be dragged down by sin. We do not have to be victims of the sin in the world. We do not have to be tarnished by the brush of ungodliness. It's a choice to forsake those things that are evil, even the smallest thing. It may mean making hard choices, but we are not powerless to do this. We were powerless to bring ourselves back to life from spiritual death, but now that we are in Christ, we can rest in his power.


Where I speak French

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

That is one of my favourite sayings. The first time I heard it, I was seventeen, and had just come through a rather confusing religious experience where I had been immersed in Mormonism, only to reject it at the last minute. Within six weeks of that, my family picked up and moved from Calgary to Ontario. I was in our hotel room one morning, packing up, preparing to get on a plane, and feeling really miserable. Of all the places we had lived, Calgary was one where I thought to myself, "I could live here for good." My brother, seeing my sorrow, said that phrase to me and explained what it meant: the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

I've seen the truth of that over and over again.

My son was contemplating the fact that in five years, things have changed quite a bit. As he sits poised to graduate from college this year, thoughts like that are not surprising. Things have changed for me in five years, too. I had a child at home five years ago. The focus of my life was determined a great deal by that reality. I was still kind of hovering around the "parent of teens" place, and my thoughts were shaped by that. There were issues with my other two children that occasionally caused me to look back with a bit of regret, issues that today, I'm at peace with because I've come to see that parents can't (and shouldn't want to) control their children. They stand before God on their own. That's the way it works. I love my children so much, and am so proud of them, and not only when they're doing exacatly what I want. But the reality is that they're big kids now.

Though things have changed, what's really important has not changed. I was reminded of that as I studied Ephesians 1:1-14. In those introductory verses, Paul talks about the spiritual blessings (v.3) that were his, that are ours, in Christ. The phrase "in Christ," or "in him" appears 11 times in that first section. All of these blessings come to those in Christ.

And what are those blessings?

  • we're chosen (v.4)
  • we're predestined for adoption (v.5)
  • we have redemption (v.7)
  • we hav forgiveness of sins (v.7)
  • we have obtained an inheritance (v.11)
  • we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (v.13)

 All of these things are for one purpose: to the praise of His glory. These blessings were in the past (v.4), are active in the present (v.7), and are part of our future (v.10). God has it all in hand. For every change that is coming along, God will remain the same. He is unchanging, so his purposes do not change. His purposes for us, to be united in Him, have not changed.

For every change in our lives, God remains the same. We need to see that reality so that when the next change comes along, we hold on to what will not change. When I was a younger mother, I was more interested in understanding what being a "young Christian mother" was than I was in understanding who my God was, and consequently, I think I was far more ignorant than I believed by the time I was thirty. I've seen more growth in my understanding in the last ten years than I have in the twenty previous years of my Christian life. I think it's because, slowly, I'm seeing that everything else is just detail, and what is the most pressing thing is understanding who God is, what he's done for me and how I'm to live in light of that in every circumstance.

Yes, things have changed, and in five more years, they will have changed more. But He will have remained the same, and the blessings he give us will be the same, too.



Drawing Near - January 13

In Christ we have.. the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [God's] grace, which He lavished upon us" (Eph. 1:7-8).

In Christ we have infinite forgiveness for every sin - past, present, and future.

On Israel's Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the high priest selected two goats.  One was sacrificed, the other set free.  Before releasing the second goat, the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the people on it by laying his hands on its head.  This "scapegoat" was then taken a great distance from camp and released - never to return again (Lev. 16:7-10).

The Greek word translated "forgiveness" in Ephesians 1:7 means "to send away."  It speaks of canceling a debt or granting a pardon.  Like the scapegoat, Christ carried away our sins n the cross. 

In Christ, God canceled your debt and pardoned your transgressions, and He did so "according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished upon [you]" (v.8).  That means you have infinite forgiveness, because God's grace is infinite.  You cannot sin beyond God's grace, beause where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Rom 5:20).

God delights in lavishing His grace upon you.  Such grace is overflowing and cannot be contained.  You are forgiven for every sin - past, present, and future.  You will never be condemned by God or separated from Him (Rom 8:1-2, 31-39).  Even when you fail, God doesn't hold your sins against you.  Christ bore them all so that you might know the joy and peace that freedom from sin and guilt bring.

Let the reality of God's grace fill your heart with joy and assurance.  Let the responsibility of glorifying Him fill you with awe and reverence.  Let this day be a sacrifice of praise and service to Him.