Paul. The Paul. The apostle Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament. He was the greatest missionary the world has ever known. He was sent out by God himself to found and establish a great portion of the early church. This is who he was – by God’s grace alone. God’s will is what made Paul who he was. Before God’s grace entered Paul’s life, who he was was ugly. He was Saul – the self-righteous religious superior who hated and murdered true Christians. God’s will made a hopeless man into a hope-filled man.
Paul wrote Ephesians. This – a letter to Christ’s church in the city of Ephesus.
Ephesus was a great city of importance politically, educationally, and culturally. Idolatry was rampant. Christians in Ephesus struggled under false teaching and ungodly interpretations of the gospel. Paul’s purpose in writing to them was to offer grace and peace through reinforcing sound doctrine and offering the confidence found in spiritual, not physical, blessings in Christ. In Ephesians, Paul focuses on sharing the mystery of the church.
While many a teacher may give in to the crowd-pleasing temptation to begin by asking and expecting God to bless us, Paul begins his teaching by blessing God. He follows up by telling his readers why we should do so.
So why? Because he has blessed us. One who knows that he has already been blessed by God has only gratitude to speak of. Those who continuously ask for more often are those who take for granted the greatest blessings.
And what are the greatest blessings? How has he blessed us? Spiritually. While we are constantly tempted to trust in physical and material blessings, Paul emphasizes that the greatest blessings we possess as believers are spiritual. Therefore, when our physical, emotional, and material circumstances are the very worst, we must recall God’s goodness by remembering the spiritual blessings we have been so generously given. Paul identifies them here as: election, love, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, a guaranteed inheritance, and the seal of the Holy Spirit.
Paul gives thanks and prays for his fellow believers. He asks that wisdom and hope might be added to their faith. He reminds them that Christ was resurrected and that the same power which resurrected Christ from the dead is what is working in them. He reminds them that Christ is seated at the right hand of God with all rule, all authority, all power, all dominion, and all glory.
Therefore, I can trust him. You can trust him. Paul reminded them so that you and I would remind each other of who we are, what we’ve been given, and, most importantly, who God is. Some days are harder than others. No matter what we face in this wilderness we call earth, the Lord is in control of it all. The Lord who chose us; who loves us; who adopted us; who redeemed us; who forgave us; who sealed us; who waits in heaven to give us the inheritance he alone purchased for us – eternal life. Let us cease from fear and be thankful. The best is yet to come.