Ephesians 1:7-8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 4, 2005


Sit – Walk – Stand.  This is one of the suggested outlines for the book of Ephesians.  First Paul talks about how we are “seated” in the heavenlies with Christ, about how we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing with Jesus.  And it’s after getting us immersed in what Jesus has done for us that he moves on to how we are to walk as Christians.  And finally he will talk about how we are to stand against the devil.  But first comes the part of learning to sit, to learn what we have in Christ.

It’s like building a model, perhaps like building something for your kids out of Legos.  For most of us, if we were told to build a model of a Star Wars spaceship out of Legos it would sure be helpful to have a picture of one first.

As Christians, it’s good to have a model before us, someone that can show us how we’re supposed to do this thing, living like a Christian.

Jesus has not only blessed us spiritual in every way imaginable, but He has also given us a pattern, an example to follow.

We pick it up in the middle of what some call the longest sentence in the Bible …

:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

In Him – we talked about this last week

Last week I used the analogy of winning a Wal-Mart shopping spree.  It’s of no use to me unless I go “into” the store.  Once I’m “in” the store, I have access to all the things lining the shelves.

redemptionapolutrosis – a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance

In Paul’s day, there were 60 million slaves being bought and sold like pieces of furniture.

There are three different Greek words that tell the story of what “redemption” is all about.

agoradzo means to buy a slave in the market (agora).  If you were a land owner going to the slave market to buy more help, even if only for temporary work, this is what you’d do.
exagoradzo means to buy a slave out of the market.  When you go to purchase a slave, it’s for the rest of their life.  They will never again be sent back to the slave market to be bought and sold again.
lutroo means to liberate by paying the price of the ransom.  The idea here is to go to a slave market, purchase a slave, but only for the reason of setting them free.
Today in the Sudan, there is still a slave trade going on.  The Muslim people will raid the Christian villages, take the children, and sell them as slaves.  There are Christian organizations that go into the Sudan solely for the purpose of buying these slaves and setting them free.

Who were we held hostage by? 

Don’t think that God paid the ransom request to Satan.  I don’t think God negotiates with terrorists.
We were held hostage by sin.
(John 8:34 NKJV)  Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
There was a price involved in our freedom from slavery:
(Rom 6:23 NKJV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You no longer have to obey that old master.  You’ve been redeemed.
(1 Cor 6:20 NKJV)  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

through His blood – this is the ransom that was paid for us

forgivenessaphesis – release from bondage or imprisonment; of “letting go” of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed). One commentator (Trench) says it’s the picture of the releasing of a prisoner or letting go of a debt.

When we forgive someone of their sins, we “let it go”.  We no longer hold that grudge against them.  We let go of the memory of that sin.


Rich Grace

What is “grace”?
The root idea of grace is that of a gift.  It is an undeserved gift.
When we are talking about “the grace of God”, we are talking about the things that God does for us, lovingly, givingly, things I don’t deserve.
How rich is His grace?  How much grace does God have to give?
(2 Cor 8:9 NKJV)  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

His grace is equivalent to the riches of heaven that He gave up for us.

(Rom 8:32 NKJV)  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

God’s grace seems unlimited.

according to the riches of His grace – the standard by which we have this redemption and His forgiveness is the “riches of His grace”
Our forgiveness comes measured out by the riches of God’s grace.  Because God’s grace is boundless and infinite, so is God’s forgiveness.
From time to time I will hear someone say things like, “I could never be forgiven…  I’ve done the most horrible thing…  I’ve done this too many times to be forgiven …”

The problem with that thinking is that it’s based on a cheap grace.

You could never create a bill for your sin that God can’t pay.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying that we should all go out and sin as much as we can because God has the best credit card in the world for sin.

But if you think you’ve sinned more than God can forgive, you are wrong.

Why is this so important?
1. It’s important for us – we can be forgiven.

(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2. It’s important in our relationship with others.  Remember that as we learn to “sit in the heavenlies” and receive all the blessings that God has for us, that it will equip us to walk like a Christian and follow Jesus.

(Eph 4:32 NKJV)  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

How can I learn to relate to others the way Jesus wants me to – to learn to forgive other people, if I haven’t tasted His forgiveness and the incredible depths of it?

The words used in Eph. 4:32 for “forgive” are actually the words “grace” – we need to “grace one another as Christ graced us”.

(Eph 4:29 NKJV)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

How can our words impart “grace” to those we speak to if we don’t know grace ourselves?

How can I bake a chocolate cake for you if I’ve never tasted chocolate cake, I don’t have a recipe for chocolate cake, and I have no chocolate?

:8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

made to aboundperisseuo – something that’s overflowing – more than enough.

God has made His grace to abound toward us.  Paul uses the word in:

(Rom 5:20 NKJV)  …But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

You may think that you can’t get by without a cup of grace because that’s as much as you can hold, just a cup.  But God sees your little cup and begins to pour out His grace.  And the little cup is filled to the brim, but God keeps pouring.  And the grace begins to drip over the edge of the cup, and God keeps pouring.  And the grace begins to spill all over the table, and God continues to keep pouring.  More and more and more and more grace.  More than you need.  More than you could ever imagine.

wisdom and prudence – the two Greek words here have very similar meanings.  They both speak of practical knowledge, knowing the right thing to do and then doing it.

This is how God allows His grace to touch our lives, with wisdom and prudence.


Wise Grace

I may get to thinking that if God loves me so much and has so much of this grace stuff to give me, that my life should be rolling in fun times and big bucks.  I might get to thinking that my life will soon have no problems at all.
Yet I find that this is not the way my life goes.
Sometimes life is filled with difficulty and uncertainty.
I want God to take away my difficulty and uncertainty with this magical grace thing.
Paul had a problem in his life, and he asked God to take the problem away.
(2 Cor 12:7-10 NKJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. {8} Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. {9} And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. {10} Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul found that he’d rather have this thing called “grace” in his life than have the problem go away.  He found that the problems in his life actually made this grace thing seem more wonderful – he was sustained by grace.  He found that the weaker he was, the stronger Jesus was inside of him – and that’s better than anything.

God doesn’t just want to make me happy, He’s out to make me mature.
(Rom 5:1-5 NKJV)  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, {2} through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. {3} And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; {4} and perseverance, character; and character, hope. {5} Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Tough times improve our ability to be patient, persevere, and keep going.  An athlete doesn’t build up his endurance by sitting on the sofa, but by getting up, working out, and practicing his game.

Continue perseverance in life’s problems builds a depth of character.  You’re not a shallow person, but one who has learned to endure.

True godly character produces hope because you learn through persevering through the difficult times that God is going to come through.  You’ve seen Him do it over and over again through the years. You learn that you can actually trust that God will deliver you.

And hope isn’t something that leads to disappointment because as you learn to truly hope in the Lord, you will find God’s love being poured out on your life through the Holy Spirit.

If I read this correctly, maturity in the Lord is marked by a person with hope and the love of the Spirit of God because that’s the end of the process.  Often we focus on how trials produce endurance, but forget to look past the endurance to take a hold of hope.

Here’s an excerpt from “Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham” (Myra, Shelley, Zondervan, pg. 100):

In the same way, Billy Graham has been an “apostle of love,” even when his natural feelings may have tempted him to give in to anger or despair.  Colleagues who have traveled with him when he lay slumped with exhaustion and discouragement have been amazed at the way he could come alive with full vigor to meet the challenge of a press event or a meeting with dignitaries or connecting with his staff.  People see Billy – even when he may be weary and discouraged – that warm, gracious, and upbeat spirits their own hearts.

This is not to say it’s all “grit your teeth” and override your emotions the fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy, and peace, but the Bible also describes the Spirit as the Ruach, the Hebrew term for the unpredictable wild wind.  The Spirit brings ecstasy and exuberance at times but ultimately works through the will.  Billy Graham continually concentrated his will into the service of the gospel.

Staff member Rick Marshall recalls the spring of 191 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Billy had been visiting with dignitaries, and Marshall came to escort him to preach.  He found him completely exhausted.

“Dr. Graham, it is time to take the stage,” Marshall said.  “ can’t do it.  I’m so tired.”  Marshall looked for a smile, thinking he was kidding.  He wasn’t – he was physically spent.  The young associate sat down beside him and they prayed together.  Marshall, who as crusade director was in charge of the meetings, felt desperate.  This mission is finished before it begins, he thought.

Somehow, Billy got to his feet and slowly made his way to the stage.  Yet when he took the pulpit, Marshall recalls, “I could not believe the strength of the man’s voice and the ability God gave him that evening.”

Much of that amazing resiliency is due to his choice of scripts and his determination to lead with optimism and hope.

God wants to make His grace “abound” to us, but the way it is often delivered is a process involving wisdom.  And that means that sometimes I am going to go through difficult times to learn patience, to learn character, and to learn to hope.
I wonder if this applies to the grace that we show to others?
Is there a place for wisdom in what we give to others?

I’m not talking about being stingy in loving others.

But sometimes giving a person what they are whining for is not the answer.