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Darlene

Ephesians 1:7-12

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Lord,

 

I don't even know how to begin this morning. I do know that I pray that they are Your words and not mine.

 

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

 

My mom has always commented on the little words that speak volumes and direct our position with the Lord. The "in's" in the scriptures are little words that always catch my attention, and is a reminder that it is IN Him (not on my own), THRU Him (once again, He's the focus), BY Him/His, etc.

 

Calvin's opening comments highlight that point too. I know and comprehend the fact that sin seperates us from God because I've gotten to a point in my life, where especially when I make a conscious decision to do that which is wrong ("I know this is wrong, but I still wanna do it, I'm going to just shut You out Lord and deal with it later"), that seperation is something I can almost physically feel. Sin really IS death to me, I can sense it, I can feel it. The remorse, guilt, etc that I feel afterwards, the immense sadness in my heart over missing being in His presence, or feeling like I'm not able to, is very destressing anymore. This really surprises me because I've always been a rebellious sort (willing to pay the price for whatever dream I may have had at the time), but I guess it's evidence of the work He is doing in my life, inspite of myself.

 

I'm getting to the point in my life, where I LIKE being dependent on Him. I've convinced myself (finally) that my best intentions don't amount to anything and that's heartbreaking. Conversely, it's heartening to know that I don't hafta go it alone, that there is One who is exceedingly able to not only forgive me and heal the destruction of my past, but in Whom is all power found. I'm tired of it being about me...I find peace and a gentle joy in my heart knowing it's all about Him.

 

Anyway, I digress...Calvin states: "In whom we have redemption. The apostle is still illustrating the material cause, — the manner in which we are reconciled to God through Christ. By his death he has restored us to favor with the Father; and therefore we ought always to direct our minds to the blood of Christ, as the means by which we obtain divine grace. After mentioning that, through the blood of Christ, we obtain redemption, he immediately styles it the forgiveness of sins, — to intimate that we are redeemed, because our sins are not imputed to us. Hence it follows, that we obtain by free grace that righteousness by which we are accepted of God, and freed from the chains of the devil and of death. The close connection which is here preserved, between our redemption itself and the manner in which it is obtained, deserves our notice; for, so long as we remain exposed to the judgment of God, we are bound by miserable chains, and therefore our exemption from guilt, becomes an invaluable freedom.

 

According to the riches of his grace. He now returns to the efficient cause, — the largeness of the divine kindness, which has given Christ to us as our Redeemer. Riches, and the corresponding word overflow, in the following verse, are intended to give us large views of divine grace. The apostle feels himself unable to celebrate, in a proper manner, the goodness of God, and desires that the contemplation of it would occupy the minds of men till they are entirely lost in admiration. How desirable is it that men were deeply impressed with “the riches of that grace” which is here commended! No place would any longer be found for pretended satisfactions, or for those trifles by which the world vainly imagines that it can redeem itself; as if the blood of Christ, when unsupported by additional aid, had lost all its efficacy."

 

Wesley simply states, "By whom we - Who believe. Have - From the moment we believe. Redemption - From the guilt and power of sin. Through his blood - Through what he hath done and suffered for us. According to the riches of his grace - According to the abundant overflowings of his free mercy and favour."

 

Clarke's commentary is intriguing. He writes, "In whom we have redemption] God has glorified his grace by giving us redemption by the blood of his Son, and this redemption consists in forgiving and delivering us from our sins; so then Christ's blood was the redemption price paid down for our salvation: and this was according to the riches of his grace; as his grace is rich or abundant in benevolence, so it was manifested in beneficence to mankind, in their redemption by the sacrifice of Christ, the measure of redeeming grace being the measure of God's own eternal goodness.

 

It may not be useless to remark that, instead of thv caritov autou, his grace, the Codex Alexandrinus and the Coptic version have thv crhstothtov, his goodness."

 

I read that and think, "ok, I understand we are to bring glory to the Living God." When Clark states that God has glorified his grace by giving us redemption by the blood of His Son, I think wow...even His grace is glorified...everything about Him is glorified...every attribute, every facet of the prism that comprises the Living God has ribbons of glory woven through it.

 

As a side note, as I read verse 7 again, I am reminded of the times when I feel so incredibly sad that my ongoing sinfulness contributed to additional suffering for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that I think silly thoughts at times lol, but there really are times when I wonder if I had sinned a little less, would He have hurt a little less. It has always sadden my heart that He had to suffer so much physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to redeem our lives and to pay the price with His shed blood...the blood is the life in everything, including spiritually.

 

8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

 

I am learning to absorb the meaning of the verbs found in scriptures and their incredible relevance to fuller understanding of His Word. The words 'abounded toward' means to me, an ongoing, eternal motion foward, towards a goal.

 

Calvin writes, "In all wisdom. He now comes to the formal cause, the preaching of the gospel, by which the goodness of God overflows upon us. It is through faith that we receive Christ, by whom we come to God, and by whom we enjoy the privilege of adoption. Paul gives to the gospel the magnificent appellations of wisdom and prudence, for the purpose of leading the Ephesians to despise all contrary doctrines. The false apostles insinuated themselves, under the pretense of imparting views more elevated than the elementary instructions which Paul conveyed. And the devil, in order to undermine our faith, labors, as far as he can, to disparage the gospel. Paul, on the other hand, builds up the authority of the gospel, that believers may rest upon it with unshaken confidence. All wisdom means — full or perfect wisdom."

 

Wesley says, "In all wisdom - Manifested by God in the whole scheme of our salvation. And prudence - Which be hath wrought in us, that we may know and do all his acceptable and perfect will." I know what the word 'prudence' means, but I still had to look it up to understand better what it's meaning here. It says that prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs; skill and good judgment in the use of resources; caution or circumspection as to danger or risk. So God wrought 'prudence' in us to do His perfect and acceptable will...interesting that this asset is given to us by God.

 

Clarke further elaborates on this here, "Wherein he hath abounded] That is, in the dispensation of mercy and goodness by Christ Jesus.

 

In all wisdom and prudence] Giving us apostles the most complete instructions in heavenly things by the inspiration of his Spirit; and at the same time prudence, that we might know when and where to preach the Gospel so that it might be effectual to the salvation of those who heard it.

 

Nothing less than the Spirit of God could teach the apostles that wisdom by which they were to instruct a dark and sinful world; and nothing less than the same Spirit could inspire them with that prudence which was necessary to be exercised in every step of their life and ministry. Every wise man is not a prudent man, and every prudent man is not a wise man.

 

Wisdom and prudence may be expected in an apostle who is constantly living under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. "Wisdom," according to Sir William Temple, "is that which makes men judge what are the best ends, and what the best means to attain them; and gives a man advantage of counsel and direction."Prudence is wisdom applied to practice; or that discreet, apt suiting as well of actions as words, in their due place, time, and manner. Every minister of Christ needs these still; and if he abide not under the influence of both, not only his prayers but his ministerial labours will be all hindered."

 

I've always been aware of myself and those that 'preach the gospel' out of the flesh. There's a subtle, yet recognizable difference that I note in myself when it's 'me' vs the Holy Spirit speaking through me. That 'prudence' makes more sense to me because I understand that not only am I ineffective walking ahead of the Lord, trying to do His work, but I can also mess things up doing it that way. But when the power of His Spirit is guiding me, that boldness, those words, those actions, have a holy annointing on them and the spirit within me bears witness to them being His words/works, not mine. It's actually kind of skerry to think about being careless with these things of God. It's as if we are entrusted with Holy things and they are incredibly serious. His timing, His Spirit, His guidance is something I'm praying and striving for. As funny as it sounds, when I know I'm walking on Holy ground, I feel a healthy fear. It's crazy, but I feel safer on ground that is not denoted as being 'Holy'...I guess I don't feel the pressure of responsibility as I do with the other. But as I probe that thought and those feelings, I am once again reminded, that of course I'll screw it up lol, but that I'm to lean and adhere and depend on Him, who is able to do all things.

 

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

 

Calvin writes, "Having made known to us the mystery of his will. Some were alarmed at the novelty of his doctrine. With a view to such persons, he very properly denominates it a mystery of the divine will, and yet a mystery which God has now been pleased to reveal. As he formerly ascribed their election, so he now ascribes their calling, to the good pleasure of God. The Ephesians are thus led to consider that Christ has been made known, and the gospel preached to them, not because they deserved any such thing, but because it pleased God.

 

Which he hath purposed in himself. All is wisely and properly arranged. What can be more just than that his purposes, with which men are unacquainted, should be known to God alone, so long as he is pleased to conceal them, — or, again, that it should be in his own will and power to fix the time when they shall be communicated to men? The decree to adopt the Gentiles is declared to have been till now hidden in the mind of God, but so hidden, that God reserved it in his own power until the time of the revelation. Does any one now complain of it as a new and unprecedented occurrence, that those who were formerly “without God in the world,” (Ephesians 2:12,) should be received into the church? Will he have the hardihood to deny that the knowledge of God is greater than that of men?"

 

Wesley wrote, "Having made known to us - By his word and by his Spirit. The mystery of his will - The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, which depends on his own sovereign will alone. This was but darkly discovered under the law; is now totally hid from unbelievers; and has heights and depths which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers."

 

And Clarke further states, "Having made known unto us the mystery] That the Gentiles should ever be received into the Church of God, and have all the privileges of the Jews, without being obliged to submit to circumcision, and perform the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law was a mystery- a hidden thing which had never been published before; and now revealed only to the apostles. It was God's will that it should be so, but that will he kept hidden to the present time. A mystery signifies something hidden, but it ceases to be a mystery as soon as it is revealed. See the note on Matt. xiii. 11; and particularly that on Rom. xi. 25.

 

Good pleasure] thn eudokian? That benevolent design which he had purposed in himself, not being induced by any consideration from without."

 

I dunno what to say. I understand what is being said, but I'm just left with the feeling of 'wow'. This is such a huge and serious thing that I rarely remember in regard to not only my salvation, but my walk in the Lord.

 

10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

 

Calvin writes, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times. That no man may inquire, why one time rather than another was selected, the apostle anticipates such curiosity, by calling the appointed period the fullness of times, the fit and proper season, as he also did in a former epistle. (Galatians 4:4) Let human presumption restrain itself, and, in judging of the succession of events, let it bow to the providence of God. The same lesson is taught by the word dispensation, for by the judgment of God the lawful administration of all events is regulated.

 

That he might gather together in one. In the old translation it is rendered (instaurare) restore; to which Erasmus has added (summatim) comprehensively. I have chosen to abide closely by the meaning of the Greek word, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, because it is more agreeable to the context. The meaning appears to me to be, that out of Christ all things were disordered, and that through him they have been restored to order. And truly, out of Christ, what can we perceive in the world but mere ruins? We are alienated from God by sin, and how can we but present a broken and shattered aspect? The proper condition of creatures is to keep close to God. Such a gathering together (ἀνακεφαλαίωσις) as might bring us back to regular order, the apostle tells us, has been made in Christ. Formed into one body, we are united to God, and closely connected with each other. Without Christ, on the other hand, the whole world is a shapeless chaos and frightful confusion. We are brought into actual unity by Christ alone.

 

But why are heavenly beings included in the number? The angels were never separated from God, and cannot be said to have been scattered. Some explain it in this manner. Angels are said to be gathered together, because men have become members of the same society, are admitted equally with them to fellowship with God, and enjoy happiness in common with them by means of this blessed unity. The mode of expression is supposed to resemble one frequently used, when we speak of a whole building as repaired, many parts of which were ruinous or decayed, though some parts remained entire.

 

This is no doubt true; but what hinders us from saying that the angels also have been gathered together? Not that they were ever scattered, but their attachment to the service of God is now perfect, and their state is eternal. What comparison is there between a creature and the Creator, without the interposition of a Mediator? So far as they are creatures, had it not been for the benefit which they derived from Christ, they would have been liable to change and to sin, and consequently their happiness would not have been eternal. Who then will deny that both angels and men have been brought back to a fixed order by the grace of Christ? Men had been lost, and angels were not beyond the reach of danger. By gathering both into his own body, Christ hath united them to God the Father, and established actual harmony between heaven and earth."

 

Wow...I've never heard that concept before...that the 'angels were not beyond the reach of danger'. I kind of makes sense to me, since satan and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of Heaven when they sinned and rebelled against God. The thing that kinda blows my mind is that the work of Christ was not only done for the human race, but for the angelic realm as well.

 

Wesley says on a much smaller level something along the same lines, "That in the dispensation of the fulness of the times - In this last administration of God's fullest grace, which took place when the time appointed was fully come. He might gather together into one in Christ - Might recapitulate, re-unite, and place in order again under Christ, their common Head. All things which are in heaven, and on earth - All angels and men, whether living or dead, in the Lord."

 

I've sometimes kind of thought about "why did Christ come exactly when He did...why was that the 'appointed' time...what was so perfect about that particular time period and not before or after?" Clarke kinda touches on that in his commentary, "In the dispensation of the fullness of times] eiv oikonomian tou plhrwmatov twn kairwn. The word oikonomia, which is the same as our word economy, signifies, as Dr. Macknight has well observed, "the plan which the master of a family, or his steward, has established for the management of the family;" it signifies, also, a plan for the management of any sort of business: and here it means the dispensation of the Gospel, that plan by which God has provided salvation for a lost world; and according to which he intends to gather all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, into one Church under Jesus Christ, their head and governor. See the note on Matt. xxiv. 45, where the word and the office are particularly explained.

 

The fullness of times - By this phrase we are to understand either the Gospel dispensation, which is the consummation of all preceding dispensations, and the last that shall be afforded to man; or that advanced state of the world which God saw to be the most proper for the full manifestation of those benevolent purposes which he had formed in himself relative to the salvation of the world by Jesus Christ.

 

That he might gather together in one] anakefalaiwsasqai, from ana, again, and kefalaiow, to reduce to one sum; to add up; to bring different sums together, and fractions of sums, so as to reduce them under one denomination; to recapitulate the principal matters contained in a discourse. Here it means the gathering together both Jews and Gentiles, who have believed in Christ, into one Church and flock. See the preceding note.

 

All things-which are in heaven, and which are on earth] This clause is variously understood: some think, by things in heaven the Jewish state is meant and by things on earth the Christian. The Jews had been long considered a Divine or heavenly people; their doctrine, their government, their constitution, both civil and ecclesiastical, were all Divine or heavenly: as the powers of the heavens, Matt. xxiv. 29, Luke xxi. 26, mean the Jewish rulers in Church and state, it is very possible that the things which are in heaven mean this same state; and as the Gentiles were considered to have nothing Divine or heavenly among them, they may be here intended by the earth, out of the corruption of which they are to be gathered by the preaching of the Gospel. But there are others who imagine that the things in heaven mean the angelical hosts; and the things on earth believers of all nations, who shall all be joined together at last in one assembly to worship God throughout eternity. And some think that the things in heaven mean the saints who died before Christ's advent, and who are not to be made perfect till the resurrection, when the full power and efficacy of Christ shall be seen in raising the bodies of believers and uniting them with their holy souls, to reign in his presence for ever. And some think that, as the Hebrew phrase Årahw µym shamayim vehaarets, the heavens and the earth, signifies all creatures, the words in the text are to be understood as signifying all mankind, without discrimination of peoples, kindreds, or tongues; Jews, Greeks, or barbarians. All that are saved of all nations, (being saved in the same way, viz. by faith in Christ Jesus, without any distinction of nation or previous condition,) and all gathered into one Church or assembly.

 

I believe that the forming one Church out of both Jews and Gentiles is that to which the apostle refers. This agrees with what is said, chap. ii. 14-17."

 

11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

 

Calvin analyzes this verse as such: "Through whom also we have obtained an inheritance. Hitherto he has spoken generally of all the elect; he now begins to take notice of separate classes. When he says, WE have obtained, he speaks of himself and of the Jews, or, perhaps more correctly, of all who were the first fruits of Christianity; and afterwards he comes to the Ephesians. It tended not a little to confirm the faith of the Ephesian converts, that he associated them with himself and the other believers, who might be said to be the first-born in the church. As if he had said, “The condition of all godly persons is the same with yours; for we who were first called by God owe our acceptance to his eternal election.” Thus, he shews, that, from first to last, all have obtained salvation by free grace, because they have been freely adopted according to eternal election.

 

Who worketh all things. The circumlocution employed in describing the Supreme Being deserves attention. He speaks of Him as the sole agent, and as doing everything according to His own will, so as to leave nothing to be done by man. In no respect, therefore, are men admitted to share in this praise, as if they brought anything of their own. God looks at nothing out of himself to move him to elect them, for the counsel of his own will is the only and actual cause of their election. This may enable us to refute the error, or rather the madness, of those who, whenever they are unable to discover the reason of God’s works, exclaim loudly against his design."

 

I still wonder at this 'predestination' and the 'why me?'. Perhaps one of the reasons we don't know is that it removes any ability to feel a pride at 'being chosen'. I dunno about you, but all I can sense and feel is a humility and gratefulness and a shyness that He has called me.

 

Wesley's thoughts are similar, "Through whom we - Jews. Also have obtained an inheritance - The glorious inheritance of the heavenly Canaan, to which, when believers, we were predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will - The unalterable decree, "He that believeth shall be delivered;" which will is not an arbitrary will, but flowing from the rectitude of his nature, else, what security would there be that it would be his will to keep his word even with the elect?"

 

Finally, Clarke writes, "

In whom] Christ Jesus; also we - believing Jews have obtained an inheritance - what was promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed, viz. the adoption of sons, and the kingdom of heaven, signified by the privileges under the Mosaic dispensation, and the possession of the promised land, but all these privileges being forfeited by the rebellion and unbelief of the Jews, they are now about to be finally cut off, and the believing part to be re-elected, and put in possession of the blessings promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed, by faith; for without a re-election, they cannot get possession of these spiritual privileges.

 

Being predestinated] God having determined to bring both Jews and Gentiles to salvation, not by works, nor by any human means or schemes, but by Jesus Christ; that salvation being defined and determined before in the Divine mind, and the means by which it should be brought about all being according to his purpose, who consults not his creatures, but operates according to the counsel of his own will, that being ever wise, gracious, and good.

 

The original reference is still kept up here in the word proorisqentev, being predestinated, as in the word proorisav ver. 5. And as the apostle speaks of obtaining the inheritance, he most evidently refers to that of which the promised land was the type and pledge. And as that land was assigned to the Israelites by limit and lot, both of which were appointed by God so the salvation now sent to the Gentiles was as expressly their lot or portion, as the promised land was that of the people of Israel. All this shows that the Israelites were a typical people; their land, the manner of possessing it, their civil and religious code, &c., &c., all typical; and that in, by, and through them, God had fore-determined, fore-described, and fore-ascertained a greater and more glorious people, among whom the deepest counsels of his wisdom should be manifested, and the most powerful works of his eternal mercy, grace, holiness, goodness, and truth, be fully exhibited. Thus there was nothing fortuitous in the Christian scheme; all was the result of infinite counsel and design. See on ver. 5."

 

12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

 

Calvin says, "That we should be to the praise of his glory. Here again he mentions the final cause of salvation; for we must eventually become illustrations of the glory of God, if we are nothing but vessels of his mercy. The word glory, by way of eminence, (κατ ᾿ ἐξοχὴν) denotes, in a peculiar manner, that which shines in the goodness of God; for there is nothing that is more peculiarly his own, or in which he desires more to be glorified, than goodness."

 

awwwwwwwwwwwww...just reading that God desires His goodness to be glorified just oozes with tenderness and love to me. To know how unworthy I am, and to learn that He seeks to glorify Himself in His goodness is very moving to me.

 

Wesley writes something that makes me a little nervous. I recently heard a pastor say that if there are not times when in reading the Bible, that one does not feel nervous, then something is wrong. I guess this is a good thing then...my nervousness? lol But he writes and says, "That we - Jews. Who first believed - Before the gentiles. So did some of them in every place. Here is another branch of the true gospel predestination: he that believes is not only elected to salvation, (if he endures to the end,) but is fore-appointed of God to walk in holiness, to the praise of his glory."

 

The '(if he endures to the end,)' is what caught my attention here. Perhaps that is not a bad thing because God says to work out our salvation 'with fear and trembling'. There are several different theological philosophys about whether one can lose their salvation or not, and I try to not get caught up in figuring everything out. I run to His Word and just tell myself that all I need to concern myself with is staying close to Him, and then I can stand on His promises where He says things like, "I will never leave you or forsake you"..."Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy...". It's still all His work, and I still choose to trust Him, even with things that concern me or make me feel afraid. I certainly don't know everything, but like a dear friend shared with me not too long ago...to look for and note those 'anchor points'...those points in our lives where we know without a shadow of a doubt of a work God has done in our lives...and to hang on to those 'anchor points' when doubt or confusion try to invade. For some reason that made sense to me when she shared it, and I've found myself going back in my mind to an anchor point, to help me stand, regardless of what I may be thinking or feeling at the time, and hold onto it, till He works what's going on with me presently. It's as if He's my life preserver, carrying me from anchor point to anchor point. The anchor points sometimes feel wide apart, but those anchors are there.

 

I KNOW that it was Him and Him alone, that reached down into the depraved pit I was in and pulled me out when time had just about run out. I KNOW that while in prayer one day it was Him that laid a burden for more land on my heart...I wrestled with Him about that burden for quite a while during that particular prayer time till I remembered that He alone is God and that He is able to do all things. There are several anchor points for me, that I sometimes refer back to, with the most recent one being I KNOW that I need to start studying His Word more seriously, because the keys that I will need to make it through the dark days ahead are only found in there, so here I am.

 

Anyway, reigning in on the drift above, Clarke finally says very simply, "That we] Jews, now apostles and messengers of God, to whom the first offers of salvation were made, and who were the first that believed in Christ.

 

Should be to the praise of his glory] By being the means of preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles, and spreading the Gospel throughout the world. "

 

Lord, I dunno what else to say. I know that the rest of today will probably be like yesterday, where as the day went on, I found myself meditating on the things I read and shared, letting them sink in, trying to understand, comprehend, digest the wealth that is so rich. Grow me Lord, grow us Lord.

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