Each week this year, I am challenging myself to memorize a verse (or verses) of Scripture. This week’s verses are Ephesians 1:7-9…
It isn’t clear from the English translation, but, in the the Greek text, Ephesians 1:3-14 is made up of one very long run-on sentence. Paul started this sentence in v.3 with the phrase: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Then he proceeds to tell us what God has done. He does not stop to take a breath, but continues on until the end of v.14. He cannot stop talking about God. He speaks of all three members of the Godhead. The Father who planned our salvation from eternity past; the Son who accomplished our salvation on the cross; and the Spirit who signed, sealed and delivered us in our new relationship.
We are also described in this passage. We are pictured as the recipients of all God has done.
WE HAVE BEEN REDEEMED.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood…” (v.7).
There are 3 different Greek words which have been translated for the idea of “redemption” in the New Testament:
1) agorazo: “To purchase.” When we think of making a purchase, we think of buying groceries or a car or a house or some other inanimate object. We don’t talk about purchasing people – that went out with slavery over a hundred years ago. But slavery was commonplace in Paul’s day. And you would commonly go into the marketplace – the Agora – to purchase a slave.
2) exagorazo: “To purchase out.” This is the same word with a prefix placed in front of it meaning “out.” The picture is that you go into the slave market and you purchase a slave and then you bring him OUT of the market.
3) lutroo or apolutrosis: “To release or set free.” This is the word used here. It takes the picture one step further as you bring the slave out of the slave market and then set him free.
This is what Christ has done for us. He came into this world of sin. And He paid the ultimate price for us – His own blood shed on our behalf.
Why is it, “through His BLOOD?” Why not merely, “through His death”? Blood was necessary to fulfill the type of the Old Testament sacrifice.
Remember the story of the Passover… The people of God were enslaved in Egypt. They were in a bitter bondage; unable to free themselves. To bring about their freedom, God sent 10 terrible plagues against the nation of Egypt. The 10th plague was the worst of all; it was a pronouncement of death. All of the firstborn were to die. Animal and man. Slave and free. Egyptian and Israelite. All were under the sentence of death. There was only one way of escape. It was through the BLOOD of an innocent lamb. A lamb for each household was to be slain and its blood smeared upon the door posts and the lintels of each home.
“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am the Lord. And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike down the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:12,13).
Christ has become our Passover lamb. Because of the redemption we have in Him, God’s judgment has PASSED OVER us. And as a result, we have been FORGIVEN.
WE HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…” (v.7a).
The fact we have been forgiven of our trespasses presupposes that there are trespasses of which we are guilty. The fact of our forgiveness presupposes our guilt. That is the bad news. The bad news is we are guilty. And we don’t just deserve a parking ticket. The proper and just wages of our sin is DEATH – eternal separation from God.
The bad news is really bad. But the corresponding good news is really God. It is that Christ took our blame and our guilt and our sin upon Himself. He was the perfect and holy sacrifice for sin. Forgiveness did not come cheap. It never does. Forgiveness always costs somebody something. When someone slaps your face and you forgive, that forgiveness costs you a slap in the face. Our forgiveness cost God the life of His Son. The payment was made at the cross. And because of the cross, we can be assured of total forgiveness.
There is a practical application here. It is that you are to forgive in the measure to which you have been forgiven. To what measure have you been forgiven? Totally!!! And it is to that measure that you are to forgive others.
Remember the words of the Lord’s prayer? “Forgive us our debts AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.” This is the only part of the prayer on which Jesus comments. He goes on to say: “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14,15).
Here is the principle. Forgiven people forgive. Guilty people try to make other people feel guilty, too. Is there someone for whom you are carrying a grudge? It is to your own hurt. Baggage like that will separate you from appreciating the forgiveness of God. Forgive. And then you will be able to enjoy the forgiveness with which you have been forgiven.
You say, “But, you don’t know how badly I have been hurt. I just can’t let go.” The answer is to look at the cross. See the One who hangs there, nails piercing his mutilated flesh. See the spittle dripping from His beaten face. The bloody visage that barely looks human. The agonized labor to draw in each new drought of air. And hear His weary voice: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And realize that He was praying, not only for the Romans soldiers who drove the nails, not only for the Jewish leaders to plotted to put Him there, but for you…. and me.
WE HAVE BEEN GIFTED WITH THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us.” (v.7,8a).
God could have saved us OUT of the riches of His grace, but… He didn’t. He did something better. Our salvation was “ACCORDING TO the riches of His grace.”
ILL: In the 1930’s, millionaire John D. Rockefeller used to dress up in a suit and a top hat and have his picture taken giving some poor boy a dime. A dime was a lot of money in those days. It would be the equivalent of $10 today. But even so, the most that could be said of Rockefeller is that he was giving OUT of the abundance of his riches. However, if he had gone to one of those boys and had purchased for him a mansion in the country and given him a chauffeur-driven limousine, then it could be said that he was giving ACCORDING TO his riches.
That is the way God has saved us; not merely out of His riches, but according to His riches. How rich is God? How much grace does He possess? An inexhaustible supply. All of God’s attributes are of infinite measure. So that if He has graced us according to the riches of His grace, then He has graced us very richly indeed.
ILL: Dr. Stanley Livingston had a medical condition in which he was required to drink goat’s milk. He was visited one day by a tribal king and he noticed that the king was eyeing his goat. Livingston felt led of the Lord to give the goat as a gift to the king and, in return, the king presented him with the staff that he was carrying. Later that day, Livingston confided in a friend, “I don’t know what I was thinking. How could I have been so foolish as to give my goat away. I don’t know what I shall do with this stick.” His friend replied, “You don’t understand. That isn’t a stick. It is a scepter. You don’t just own one goat. Now you own all the goats in the tribe.” The Lord has given us an inheritance. It is a scepter. And we have been walking around thinking that it is just a stick.
WE HAVE BEEN SHOWN THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL.
“…In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him” (v.8b,9).
God has a plan for the universe. History is moving toward a goal. We do not have to guess at either the plan or the goal. It has been made known to us. V.9 says “He made known to us the mystery of His will.”
That wasn’t always the case. Throughout the Old Testament era, God spoke to the fathers through the prophets, but He did not tell them all that would come to pass. They were missing a key element of the puzzle. But that has changed for us. The key element has been revealed. It is JESUS.
In the Older Testament, they knew that there was a promise of a perfect seed who would come and destroy the works of Satan. They knew of a great prophet that would come. They knew of their need for a lasting sacrifice. They knew of God’s covenant promises. And they knew of God’s kingdom. But they did not know exactly how it would all work itself out in the plan of God. We do. The answer to the mystery is Jesus. He is the perfect seed of the woman. His death overthrew the devil and his angels. Through His blood we have entered into a greater and more perfect covenant. He is the Prophet, Priest and King. And we have entered into His kingdom through faith.
We have the whole story. We have the beginning of the story in the Old Testament. We have the middle of the story in the coming of Christ and in His death and His burial and His resurrection. And we even had the end of the story, for we have His promise that one day He shall return.
Now THOSE are some great verses to memorize!