If I had to choose a favorite book in the New Testament, it would be a tough choice between the books of Romans and Ephesians but, in the end, I think I would have to go with Ephesians. That’s because, in its six short chapters, Paul lays out for us God’s grand plan for all humanity and in case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I am all about understanding His “grand plan.” In fact, I am so eager and determined to learn as much as I can about it that I have become very much like the little kid who tags along after her father, nagging him for answers to questions that would drive most dads to distraction; questions which, in the case of my heavenly Father, would sound something like this: “Papa, Papa, why did you make the world? Papa, Papa, why did you make people? Papa, Papa, why are some people mean while others are nice? Papa, Papa, why do people have to die? and most importantly, Papa, Papa, why did Jesus have to die?” Although I am getting up in years now, I am pleased to be able to say that my faith is still that of a childlike variety, meaning that when I ask questions, I need answers that are simple, straightforward, and understandable—and that’s just what I get in the book of Ephesians.
Although it is filled with some of Paul’s best run-on and seemingly complicated sentences, when you get right down to it, Ephesians isn’t all that difficult to understand: in its first three chapters, we are told what God has done in the heavenly realms to make us His children, and then, in the last three chapters, we are told how we, as God’s children, are supposed to behave. Pretty simple and straightforward. My favorite passage is Ephesians 1:3-14 and although it’s a passage that we have looked at before, it is such an important one that I think we need to go over it again a little more thoroughly. For, if I was asking my Heavenly Papa about the who, what, where, how, when, and why of life, I have every confidence that He would direct me to this passage and say, “I’m glad you asked child, it’s all right here…”
I think that you will agree that by breaking down the passage in this way, it makes it much easier for us to pick out the main points in God’s plan for mankind; a plan which was already in place even before God spoke the first “Let there be…” of creation, and one which called for:
- Children who would ultimately be able to stand before Him holy, or morally pure, and blameless, or free from the guilt of trespasses and sins;
- Children to whom He could reveal His will and plan for the ages; and,
- Children who, because of their right standing with the Father, would be entitled to inherit all of His riches; an inheritance which would be guaranteed to them by the Holy Spirit of God himself, once they had come to faith in Christ.
Sadly, in our visits together recently, and as a result of our journeys back to the Garden of Eden, we have seen how Adam and Eve’s one decision to disobey God not only left us with a mess of loose threads to deal with, but it also resulted in the apparent negation of each of these aspects of God’s plan. As a result of this sin, and…
- In spite of being pre-designed for the glorious destiny of becoming a son of God, Man was reduced to a state of slavery to Satan and to the selfish desires of his flesh;
- Instead of being able to stand before God in a holy and blameless state, Man found that he could only stand before Him as a guilty sinner, and as someone who was condemned to death;
- Instead of being capable of understanding God’s will and plan for the ages, Man’s mind became debased while his understanding became darkened by sin; and,
- Instead of standing to inherit eternal life and the boundless riches of God, Man found that the only thing that he could expect to inherit was hell and its torment, the result of his eternal separation from God.
From all appearances, it would seem that as a result of man’s sin, God’s grand plan had been completely run aground. But wait–-things aren’t always what they appear to be! You see, there is still one aspect of God’s “grand plan” that we haven’t discussed yet, and that is the integral part that God intended for Redemption to play! Yes, redemption–it’s one of the most beautiful words in all the world, and that’s because it means:
- To buy or get back; recover—implying that something has been lost or stolen;
- To pay off, as a debt—implying that someone owes someone else something that they don’t have the resources to pay off;
- To ransom, that is, to obtain the release of a captive by paying the demanded price—implying that someone is in bondage but has no way to obtain freedom;
- To deliver from sin—implying that someone is living an impure or immoral life but has no power to stop or change;
- To fulfill a promise—implying that someone has given his word to deliver the relief that is needed;
- To make amends or atone for—implying that someone has broken laws and committed injustices for which he is unable to make restitution; and,
- To restore oneself to favor—implying that someone has lost his reputation and his relationship with someone who is important in his life.
What makes it even more beautiful is that this is exactly what Jesus did for us when He died on the Cross in our places; for, it was through His death that:
- Jesus recovered all that man had lost in the fall;
- Jesus paid off the sin debt that each of us had accumulated and couldn’t pay ourselves;
- Jesus paid the price required to ransom us from our slavery to Satan, sin, and death;
- Jesus freed us from the penalty of sin, restored our souls to their rightful positions, and gave us His Spirit to enable us to live in victory over sin;
- Jesus kept the promise God made to Eve to provide a Savior who would crush the head of the Serpent;
- Jesus’ blood made amends and atoned for all of the laws we had broken and the injustices we had done; and,
- Jesus restored us to favor with the Father.
Redemption is truly amazing, isn’t it? When you think about it, though, the most amazing part is not that a loving God would create man and then offer him so many wonderful blessings in return for obedience borne out of faith. The most amazing part of redemption is that even after man had spurned God’s generous offer of Sonship, and had turned from God to go his own way, God still made a way to take the one who had rejected Him, pay for his pardon with the blood of His only Son, then make that man His son, and give him everything that He had promised in the beginning! That is something that only the God whom I know as my heavenly Father, could and would do. And in response to that, all I can say is, “Papa, Papa, Thank You so much!
The Talley Trio reminds us of all that redemption has done for us in…”His Life for Mine”