Ephesians 1:1-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 10, 2000


We’re going to begin a grand experiment with our Sunday morning and Sunday evening studies.  We’re going to try and follow the example of Pastor Chuck in doing a survey on Sunday nights of a couple of chapters, while taking a section out of those chapters on Sunday morning and going a little more in depth.

The focus of the first fourteen verses is all about being “in Christ”.  You’ll find that my outline for today comes from the “in Him” phrases.

:1  to the faithful in Christ Jesus

Lesson #1

In Christ

These are the things that make up what being a “Christian” is all about.
There are lots of ideas about what it means to be a “Christian”, and not all of them are correct.  As we’re going to see, being a “Christian” is all about being “in Christ”.

One common idea is that being a Christian means being someone who “goes to church”.

Some of you have probably heard some of the lines like, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger”.  Or Greg Laurie’s new version, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to Krispy Kreme makes you a policeman”.

Being “in church” doesn’t make you a Christian.  Being “in Christ” does.
It’s important that we get connected to the right things.

If a tire on your car is beginning to look a little low on pressure, you might want to stop by the gas station to fill it up a little.  But what’s going to happen if you get the water hose and try to fill your tire?  You’re at the right place, the gas station.  You’ve got a hose.  Hey, what’s the problem?

As a Christian, we want to make sure that we’re connected to Jesus.

Some people want to get connected to a group, like a denomination.  But sooner or later the group is going to let you down. Some people find themselves getting connected to certain people in the church.  It may be the pastor or some other person who has helped you.  But be careful, because human people will let you down.   We need to be connected to Jesus.  He’ll never let you down.

:3  who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Lesson #2


Note:  He doesn’t say we’ll be blessed with all “material” blessings.  He only promises “spiritual” blessings.  But don’t worry, it’s the “spiritual” blessings that you really need.
When we are in Christ, we receive all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.

Moms, do your kids ever leave things in their pockets when you wash their clothes?  What happens to those things?  They get washed too.  That’s because these things are “in the pockets”.

When we are “in Christ”, we receive everything that happens to Jesus.

What are “spiritual blessings in heavenly places”?

Hold on, because the rest of the study is a look at some of these “spiritual blessings”.

:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world …

God’s choice has a purpose, that we should be holy and without blame.  We become holy and blameless because of the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood (more about that in verse 7).

Lesson #3


We have been chosen.
I used to struggle a lot with this idea that God has chosen us since before the world was created.
I struggled because I often thought of how unfair it was that others weren’t chosen.
I’d think back to my elementary school days and think of what it was like to not be chosen by some team captain because I wasn’t good enough for them.
And I’d think about how unfair it was that the guy I knew who would lead his team to victory hadn’t chosen me, that I’d be on the losing side.
But the problem with those ideas is that the “game” hasn’t started.  Even though God knows who He has chosen, we don’t.  And we won’t until the game begins.  And the game begins when Jesus comes back.
Instead of focusing on those who might not be chosen, I need to think about the fact that I HAVE been chosen.  I need to think about the fact that even though I don’t deserve to be chosen, I’ve been chosen.
How do I know if I’ve been chosen?
Because I’ve chosen to follow Jesus.  I know it sounds all crazy, but the only way I can know if I’ve been chosen is to choose to follow Jesus.  If you choose, you’ve been chosen.  If you don’t choose … well you’re either chosen and are still dragging your heels, or you’re not chosen.  I frankly don’t think there are going to be people who hoped to be chosen and weren’t.  If you want to be chosen, then choose Jesus.
It’s a difficult topic, but I believe that from our limited, human perspective, we need to focus on the fact that we need to choose Jesus.  But when we get to heaven, we’ll see that we were in fact chosen all along.

Charles Spurgeon used to describe how a person entering heaven would look up and see some words inscribed on the front of the gate.  It would say, “Come, whosoever will”.  And as a person would walk in through the gate of heaven, they could look back over their shoulder and see the other side of the gate, where the sign said, “Chosen before the foundation of the earth”.  The idea is that from this side of heaven, we have a responsibility to choose to follow Jesus.  But when we get to heaven, we’ll find out that we had been chosen all along.

:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Look at the words associated with “predestinated” – “in love”, “good pleasure of His will”, “praise of His glory” – we shouldn’t be afraid of “predestination”.

:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace,

God’s choosing of us will forever be seen as something that will bring glory on God for His grace towards us.

:6  wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

made us acceptedcharitoo – to make graceful; charming, lovely, agreeable; to peruse with grace, compass with favour; to honour with blessings

(Eph 1:6 NLT)  So we praise God for the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son.

(Eph 1:6 NASB)  to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

You could translate it,  “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He has graced us with in the Beloved”.

I like the King James here, because it is God’s “grace” that makes us acceptable to God.

Lesson #4


When you are “in Jesus”, you are in a place to have received God’s grace, God’s acceptance.
Do you know what it’s like to be “accepted”?  Maybe a better question to start with is, “Do you know what it’s like to be rejected?”
As we grow up from childhood, we get little tastes of how important it is to be “accepted”.  There are certain kids at school that everyone seems to like, and we want to be liked by them as well.  We like to have the important people at school notice us and like us.  Often it’s just getting some person, any person to notice you .
I remember how we used to tease and make fun of certain people in grade school.  There were a couple of kids who were just a little different.  Oh how we were cruel.
In “The Whisper Test,” Mary Ann Bird writes: I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.
When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.
There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored—Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy—a sparkling lady.
Annually we had a hearing test. ... Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back—things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”
God says to every person deformed by sin, “I wish you were my son” or “I wish you were my daughter.”

When we are “in Christ”, God gives us His grace, He makes us acceptable.

:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

redemptionapolutrosis – a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.

Our own sins held us hostage, tying us up and getting ready to send us to hell.  Yet Jesus came and paid the ransom demand, by dying in our place on a cross.

forgivenessaphesis – release from bondage or imprisonment; forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty

Lesson #5


When we are “in Christ”, we have forgiveness because we have been purchased by the blood of Christ.
The blood Jesus shed while on the cross paid the debt we could not pay.
We receive the great joy of forgiveness when we get to the place where we are willing to admit that we’ve sinned.  This is called “confession”.
(Psa 32:1-5 KJV)  A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. {3} When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. {4} For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. {5} I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

David knew what it was like to be miserable by trying to hide his sin.

(Psa 32:3 NLT)  When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long.

When David had committed adultery with his friend’s wife, Bathsheba (2Sam. 11-12), she ended up getting pregnant.  David kept trying to hide his sin to the point where he killed his friend and married the woman to keep people from finding out.  But finally he came to the point when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan where he admitted that he was guilty.  And he received the blessing of God’s forgiveness.

Note:  Our forgiveness isn’t even dependent upon our staying “good”, because it is dependant on God’s grace, on God giving us what we don’t deserve.  Our forgiveness is according to the “riches” of God’s grace, not the “stinginess” of God’s grace.

:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Be careful about the attraction of the word “mystery”.  Be careful about people who are wanting to look for “new truths”.

Joseph Smith preyed off of people’s attraction to new, mysterious things.

(Whisper “Jesus” to a couple of people and ask them to whisper it to two more)

(Eph 3:2-6 NIV)  Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, {3} that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. {4} In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, {5} which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. {6} This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Lesson #6

Knowing the secret

The secret is Jesus.  Jesus is the mystery
The “mystery” is that Jesus would save not only Jews, but Gentiles also.  We’ll see that tonight when we get into chapter 3 (Eph. 3:3-6).
We all have a hunger for something “new” and mysterious. Don’t go looking for any other “secrets”.  It’s only Jesus.

:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ

dispensationoikonomia – the management of a household or of household affairs; specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other’s property; the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship; administration, dispensation

gather together in oneanakephalaiomai – to sum up (again), to repeat summarily, to condense into a summary

(Eph 1:10 NLT)  And this is his plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ--everything in heaven and on earth.

This is partly talking about both Jew and Gentile being under Jesus’ authority (as the “mystery” in verse 9), but now it goes beyond that, even heavenly things will all be under Jesus’ authority.

Lesson #7

Being on the winning team

One day, everything will be under Jesus’ authority.  He’ll be the only one in control.  There will be no adversary.
I think it would be a good thing to make sure you end up on the side of the guy who wins, don’t you?

:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance

Lesson #8

An inheritance

An inheritance is what you receive from some wealthy relative.  We have a pretty special inheritance:
(1 Pet 1:4 KJV)  …an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
I think we’ll peek at part of the inheritance tonight (Eph. 1:18).

:13-14  in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed  … the earnest of our inheritance

earnest – down payment.  The Holy Spirit is God’s “down payment” in our lives for heaven.  He’s just a taste of what’s up ahead.

Lesson #9

The Holy Spirit

He seals us, putting His mark on us that we belong to Him.
He puts His down payment inside us, giving us a taste of heaven.

:13 In whom ye also trusted

Lesson #10

Trusting is the way

By now you may have been wondering, “How do I get to be “in Christ”?
It’s through faith.  It’s through trusting.
Jesus calls out to you and invites you to trust Him.
(John 7:37-38 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Jesus didn’t say that if you were thirsty you needed to go get a bucket of water, then come to Him and drink.  Just come to Jesus.  You don’t need to clean up your life first, you need Jesus to clean up your life.  Jesus offers you new life, and all you need to do is trust Him.