Ephesians 1:1-14 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Hsinchu.

In this introductory passage of Ephesians, Paul uses a number of related words in describing the course of God’s unfolding His salvation plan, from the creation of the world to the future.  In verse 4, it says that He “chose” us before the beginning of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.  Eons before I came to exist, God somehow foresaw me coming.  But how am I to be “holy and blameless” in His sight when I am a sinful person?  Paul next writes in v. 5 that we will be “predestined” to become the adopted children of God trough Jesus Christ.  Our sins will be forgiven, and thus reaching holiness and blamelessness in God’s sight, from redemption through Jesus’ blood. And this too is “in accordance with” (v. 7) God’s overall salvation plan.  Thus the mystery of God’s salvation plan is “purposed in Christ,” or that Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection are the centerpiece of God’s salvation plan; the linchpin that makes all things possible.  And finally, the time will come into the future when the fulfillment of God’s entire salvation plan will be made real, when God will bring all things in Heaven and on earth under His sovereign domain.

In other words, God’s salvation plan for mankind is the plan that He is currently unfolding in my life.  This is a plan that began to unfold in the beginning of time, all the way back in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve sinned, when God said that the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent’s head.  This salvation plan reached its climax at the death and resurrection of Jesus, and it will ultimately complete on the day of Christ’s return when God will re-establish His reign or earth and finally reverse the fallen state of man.  And as I find myself caught up in the middle of God’s unfolding salvation plan, it gives me encouragement as I think about my life and the sins that are still in me and that I am still struggling.  Sometimes it gets tiring and discouraging as I think about the fact eleven years after I became a Christian that same pride, self-centeredness, image-consciousness and other sins are still a part of me.  But this passage reminds me that just as God is in control of the grand salvation plan for the entire humanity, He is similarly in control of the still unfolding salvation in my life.  Though I still struggle with sin and those lingering aspects of my old nature, the day will come when the good work that was begun in my life will be brought to completion in Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) and I will be “made perfect in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28).  God is in control of my life, and I can cast my eyes upon Him and trust in Him to continue to lead me.  Instead of focusing on my sins and thinking, “How come I am slow to change?” I can focus on God and trust that he will continue to mold me and sanctify me until the day when I will be “holy and blameless” in His sight.

This passage also gives me encouragement as I think about the work of the Great Commission that our church is engaged in this world.  Sometimes the world seems to be ever darkening, as secularism, moral desensitization and idolatry seem to be growing more rampant not only in the lives of the people here in Taiwan, but also in the States.  Increasingly Hollywood pumps out worse and worse garbage that young people consume without discretion.  Relational brokenness, divorces, cohabitation without bothering to get married become more and more commonplace.  Truth claims become more and more unpopular while relativism twists the definition of tolerance into the new standard of the day.  And as I try to reach out to students in the midst of all these, sometimes I don’t feel so encouraged as the work is replete with frequent rejections and people losing spiritual interest.  But against all these the Word of God reminds me that God is in control.  His salvation plan for mankind in this broken world has been going according to plan and will be fully fulfilled on that day when every brokenness will be made whole and the New Jerusalem will be established.  So knowing that God’s victory over sin in this world is certain and predetermined, I can have confidence in the work that I am doing.  I can be passionate and zealous in continuing to serve God and reaching out to the people.  Our church can continue to plant more churches and enter into more spiritual harvest fields, because in the end we know that God will be victorious and not sin.

Submitted by Andy Tung, Gracepoint Hsinchu

What is the significance of Apostle Paul using words like “chose,” “predestined,” “in accordance,” “purposed in Christ,” “to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment,” in describing the entire plan of salvation?
The significance of Paul using these words in describing the entire plan of salvation is that he makes it clear that salvation is initiated by God, it is within God’s plan, and it is God that pushed salvation along. Attached with each of these words is God’s own involvement. In v. 4, “he chose us.” In v. 5, “he predestined us” then “in accordance with his pleasure and will.” From v. 7, Paul says, “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” In vv. 9-10 it says “he purposed in Christ” and then continues to insinuate that God is the one that “put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment.” From these words we see that God is the one that is moving along his plan, he is the one that is heavily involved. And we have a picture of how God is involved from the beginning (choosing and predestining us) to the very end (when the times will have reached their fulfillment). This breaks down any notion that God is aloof and uninterested in man.
As I have been out here serving at our church in Taiwan, I have been trying to change from my American understanding of the world to understanding the Chinese culture. One of the brothers here told me that there is this famous writer from Taiwan that went to Europe to live for a few years and after he returned to Taiwan, he wrote about one of the fundamental differences between Taiwanese culture and western culture.
He said that in the west, people seem to be preoccupied with being saved from their lives. What he meant by this is that people seem to constantly be unsatisfied with life; and the way they deal with that is to find answers for their lives, to look into religion, or find some way to be saved out of their misery. From the Asian mindset, he said that people also see that the world and life is not perfect, however, for the Taiwanese, they simply try to make the most of their lives. Instead of wanting to be saved, they simply try to see the beauty in life, almost like looking at the positive sides of life instead of focusing on the pain, hardship and misery. While I don’t know how the author of this book interpreted his findings, I think perhaps one reason the Asian mindset is to simply make the most of life is because they don’t think that God cares or is involved in their lives. While many people in Taiwan are spiritual and believe in the spiritual realm, very few really think God cares about them. They see God as being aloof, and the way to get his attention according to religions such as Buddhism is to do some incredible acts of sacrifice, to give to the temples, to burn paper money or any set of requires from the temple. Instead of viewing God or the gods as caring about man, they see him as uninvolved. Therefore, it makes sense that they don’t have hope of being saved from their lives. Instead, they simply try to make the most of their situation. The amazing thing from Ephesians 1 is that Paul reminds me that I have a message that is entirely different.

(God’s hand is on the right, reaching out towards man)

The God of the bible is a God that is heavily involved with his people. He is a God that we can trust, that we can place our hope in, and a God that we can go to with our sins and receive forgiveness.  Ultimately this is the message that God has entrusted to me and our church to share as we are out here in Taiwan. And it is a message that can transform this country and give hope to the students we are trying to reach out to here.
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2 Responses to “Ephesians 1:1-14 Devotion Sharing”

  1. Cece says:

    Ken & Andy – Thanks so much for your DT sharing. I was personally blessed while reading these, and greatly encouraged. Truly, our God is Sovereign, in control, and greater than our sins, and so we need not give up, but trudge on in our individual battles against our own sinfulness. Praise goes to Him that He has chosen us, predestined us, and continues on in His greater plan to bring us to become His “holy and blameless” people, despite who we really are.

  2. Cece says:

    Gary & Andy – Thanks so much for your DT sharing. I was personally blessed while reading these, and greatly encouraged. Truly, our God is Sovereign, in control, and greater than our sins, and so we need not give up, but trudge on in our individual battles against our own sinfulness. Praise goes to Him that He has chosen us, predestined us, and continues on in His greater plan to bring us to become His “holy and blameless” people, despite who we really are.

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