Topics: Women, Women in Ministry
True Spiritual Encouragement: Ephesians 1:4-14
By Jenny Manley
In writing to the Ephesian church to provide them spiritual encouragement, Paul begins with a powerful punch—laying out the blessings that belong to followers of Christ. Even though Ephesus was a bustling and important city (it even boasted the Temple of Artemis, later named one of the seven wonders of the world), Paul exhorts believers to see God alone as superior to all other authorities, and to find our identity in this God alone. Paul encourages us to see our spiritual blessings in three different ways:
- In him we are adopted (Eph 1:5). The holy triune God chose his children even before he created the world. He did not wait to see if we would be good enough; rather, he chose us, brought us into his family, and gave us the means by which to call him Father—even though we had no right or claim to this love. The image of being adopted by God should lead us to approach our Father boldly. When we understand that he looks on us in love, we have every reason to ask big things of our Father. We have every reason to find rest in his love. We should feel safe taking risks for his glory. We should see our primary identity as a chosen daughter of the eternal King.
- In him we are redeemed (Eph 1:7). The blood of Christ Jesus was shed to forgive our sins. The definition of redeemed is to “clear by payment.” When Christ died on the cross for our sins, he cleared the debt that we owed. Paul explains in Romans that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). As Jesus died, he provided the payment for the sins of those who follow after him. He cleared the death sentence all sinners are under by the shedding of his blood. This is the best news ever uttered. We should be joyfully telling others about our redemption, and we should do so without fear. We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and should desire others to be as well.
- In Him we have a great inheritance (Eph 1:11). A glorious inheritance awaits those who are in Christ. Every believer will know one day what it is to live in pure and unhindered fellowship with the Lord God. These words surely encouraged the Christians in Ephesus and should greatly encourage us today as well. The Lord promises as a down payment on that inheritance the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with us until we arrive at our heavenly and eternal home. This fact should lead us to persevere through trials. We can fight difficult situations with an eternal perspective in mind, knowing that our trials make us fit for the heaven that awaits us, and we have the Holy Spirit to lead us until we make it there.
The believers in Ephesus lived in an important city that offered all the promises of the world. Paul’s exhorting the Christians to remember their identity in Christ and hold fast to the spiritual blessings due them are timely words to Christians in all times and places. Do you see yourself as adopted? Redeemed? And awaiting an eternal and great inheritance? I assure you, if you are in Christ, these promises are true for you.
Jenny recently moved to the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is the pastor of a new church plant. They have 3 lively children – ages 7, 4, and 2. In what seems like a previous life, Jenny was a Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate. Now she is busy learning how to homeschool and how to raise children in a new culture.