Good morning, welcome to Monday. It’s the start of a new week and the start of a new book in the bible. If you were listening last week you will have heard James, bringing to an end our time in Acts. This week I will be starting us off in the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians is a short book, a summary book. Material that Paul covers elsewhere in his letters is brought together and summarized in just 6 short chapters. If you have bought a new computer, phone or TV in the last few years you will know that as well as the full instruction booklet you will also get a quick start guide. The guide gets us started, it helps us to navigate the new phone, but if we want a fuller explanation of how it works and all of its features, we can delve deeper in the instruction booklet. Much of what is covered in Ephesians you can find fuller explanations in Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament.
Today’s reading is Ephesians 1:1-10 and in this section Paul sets out his stall. He’s laying the foundation… This is what God has done for us…
We have been chosen, we have been adopted into God’s family, we have been redeemed, we are forgiven … Why? To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth with Jesus as our King.
We could probably spend the next few months’ podcasts mining out just this passage for all the riches that it contains. But before we focus in on one verse just know this: you are chosen by God, forgiven and adopted into his family and through this process he is going to make us better human beings who live in harmony with each other and with God.
Let’s focus in on V7:
In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
Have you ever driven to a petrol station, pulled in, filled the car up with fuel and then gone into the shop to pay, realising at the last minute that you have forgotten your wallet? I have… on a number of occasions. On each occasion I have ended up leaving something valuable of mine in the possession of the person at the till until I can return with some cash or my bank card. I have left my phone. I have left my wife. I have left the car when I have been close enough to walk home and grab my wallet.
As a result of my foolishness something important had been held captive until such time that I was able to redeem it, make the trade, and pay the money to have it released.
It is the same with us, but rather than our possessions being held to ransom, it is our very lives… And rather than us having the means to redeem ourselves we are in need of someone to come and pay the price… to set us free.
As a result of humanity’s foolishness, our rejection of God, the enemy of God has a claim on our lives, all of our lives. We have become slaves to ourselves and the systems and structures of the world; it’s what we surrendered in the Garden of Eden when Eve ate from the forbidden tree. It’s what we surrender when we go it alone, follow our own path, and live without God. Rather than finding freedom we get caught, ensnared.
We left the safety and security of God’s family, his presence, power and protection and we became ensnared in our quest for love, independence and self protection. We have been captured by our own misplaced desires and self-centred attitudes. We are held captive by our own brokenness, the brokenness of others and the systems and structures that have sprung up as a result.
But the message of this first part of Ephesians, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that we are redeemed! Redemption is ours through the blood of Jesus. Our sin has been forgiven our previous rejection of God, blotted out.
Rather than us paying off what we owe to redeem our phone or our cars, Jesus has paid for our very lives, in his blood. Our outstanding debt, everything that we owe, the entire slate has been wiped clean. We have been redeemed from darkness, Satan no longer has a claim on us. Jesus has bought us at a price, rescued us out of the arms of darkness, he has won our freedom and adopted us into his family.
Now our freedom is the freedom of the family of God. Our freedom is that of the sheep that boasts that the Lord is MY shepherd… psalm 23. Our freedom is in the surrendering of our will, our wants and desires to him, the one who loves us, who loves us completely.
Here at STC we are learning how to live the better life… we are apprentices of Jesus, learning from him how to live this life of freedom, this is the redeemed life, this is the debt free, forgiven life, a life of peace with God and peace amongst ourselves. A life of harmony, living in sync with God and at peace with each other.
As we start the week together. I would encourage you to answer one question: will we let him teach us? He’s won us our freedom… We will let him teach us how to live the better life? The bible is full of wisdom, it is full of Jesus’ teaching. Paul and others write illuminating Jesus’ words, unpacking further the better life… we just have to be willing.
Father, thank you that you sent your son Jesus to redeem us, that our debt has been paid and we have been set free to live the better life. Teach us, train us, show us how to live the better life and teach and train others to do the same. In Jesus name… amen.
BIBLE READING: Ephesians 1:1-10
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.