By Semi-Retired Pastor Jeremy Stopford

By Semi-Retired Pastor Jeremy Stopford

having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” [1:3-14).

Greetings from sunny central New York. Today I took a picture of daffodils trying to peek up through the soil! Of course, what made the picture most unusual is that surrounding the daffodils is about 3 inches of…SNOW. I wonder if they are confused.

But the Apostle Paul was not confused when he wrote the book of Ephesians. This book reminds us of what God has done to bring us to where we are today. AND it is a great assurance that the church is still His work today.

One of my favorite books is “The Prince and the Pauper”. You remember the story – the Prince discovers a young lad who is his identical twin, and they decide to exchange places. The Pauper enjoys the pleasures of being a Prince. And the Prince suffers the hardships of being a Pauper. And in the end, they need each other for the nation to survive. Wonderful story!

What would you say if I were to tell you that such an exchange has already been made for you and me?

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Ephesians 1:3-14 is a very descriptive narrative which outlines that exchange for us.

Before we begin, there are 4 observations:

#1: The works described are “in the past”

#2: The works described are benefits of our being “in Christ”, an expression found 10 times in this book!

#3: The works described are done “according to His good pleasure (vs. 5,9)

#4: IT IS POSSIBLE, though, that while we should be living as princes for Christ, we have chosen to be paupers, ignorant of all that He has for us.

First note that THE FATHER SIGNS (vs. 3-6). The Father’s work is like a lawyer who does legal duty for you, and his signature makes the transaction good. Did you note the location of the Father’s signature? Vs. 3 says “in the heavenlies”! Some Christians are “so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.” I encourage you to re-read Col. 3:1-3. We have heavenly treasure available to us NOW!

I like the Father’s view of time. What is YOUR view? How often do you look at your watch – or, it’s 2022, at your phone – to check what time it is? Since I gave up using a watch, I rarely am conscious of what time it is. Really! What about our Father? His view of time is…NOW (v. 3)…BEFORE (eternity past) (v, 4)…IN THE ETERNITY FUTURE (v. 10). While we are creatures of time, we must be creatures of eternity. God is – and so is all mankind.

Here is a quick approach to a tough subject. The believer “in Him”, that is, in Christ, is labelled by God as “chosen in Him” (v. 4) and “predestinated” (v. 5). The word “chosen” here means “to pick out for Himself as His own”. The word “predestinated” means “before; to mark off by boundaries.” In practice, it means…one’s destiny is determined beforehand. Whoa! That’s one tough subject. It should cause us to worship. It should cause us to trust God to be God!

Allow me to list a number of verses without giving any explanation:

Gen. 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”

John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Hebrews 4:3: “For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’”[quoting Ps. 95:11]although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

Rev. 13:8: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him [the Beast – Satan’s earthly representative in the Great Tribulation period] whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

The point is that the Father specializes in eternity and in eternal matters. But let us not lose heart. 2 Peter 3:9 is still in The Book:

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

God has a right to be God! The Father has a right to see things through the eyes of eternity! Yet He is loving enough that He encourages us to see things through the eyes of today: people need the Lord!

Did you notice in v. 3 that the Father adopted us as His children? Years ago, we adopted our daughter. When the judge signed the adoption paperwork, a TON of things happened in an instant! Tonya was given our last name! She now lived in our home – in HER OWN room! She had access to my riches, my inheritance, my love. In an instant she had all the benefits of being a Stopford! Wow! Just like that!

So what’s the point? Simple, yet wonderful! At the point, the very moment, the very split second, that we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we became heirs of the Father! (Check out Romans 8:15-17!). We were instantly “in the Beloved”, the source of our salvation.

As the Father is the One Who signs the paperwork (as it were), the Son is the One Who delivers! Check out verses 7-12. Simply put, Paul lists 3 amazing terms of deliverance:

#1. Redemption (v. 7): “to be pulled out of the slave marketplace” and given a new ownership. For the human, our “slave marketplace” was the marketplace of sin (see 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Do you enjoy the privilege of sonship?

#2. Forgiveness (v. 7): “dismissed; released; forgotten”. Have you read Ps. 103:11-14 lately?

“For as the heavens are high above the earth,
 so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west,
 so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children,
 so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame;
 He remembers that we are dust.”

Just as east and west never meet, so the Father’s forgiveness is limitless! Wow!

#3. Inheritance (v. 11): My inheritance which my Dad gave me at his death in 1995 may be almost gone, but my Heavenly Father’s inheritance lasts forever! And yet we need to have an honest awareness of our inheritance, as found in Romans 8:17:

“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

The Father signs the paperwork. The Son delivers. And the Holy Spirit? He SEALS THE DEAL! Check out verses 13-14.

The “seal” of the Holy Spirit shows

#1: A finished transaction – a genuine work by the Spirit which is completed now and will be full enjoyed in the future.

#2: Ownership – we BELONG to Christ!

#3: Security – He is our “earnest” – the down payment of a future completed possession!

So as we wrap this up, let’s review! The Father has loved us with an everlasting love! He has signed the paperwork preparing for the provisions of our salvation. The Son delivers – He gave Himself at Calvary for our sins! And the Holy Spirit? He “seals the deal”, guaranteeing that what has been prepared will be completed!

So today ask yourself an HUGE question?

Are you living as a PAUPER who doesn’t know his true identity?

OR are you living as a PRINCE of the King of kings?