Two addresses on Ephesians 1:3-14.

1919 362 Perhaps there is hardly any portion of the word more familiar to us than what we have here, and therefore it may not be that we have what we do not know already; but I want to press upon us what the grace of God has done for us, and our consequent responsibility. We are here, not to please ourselves, but Him Who is worthy. It is the deep sense of grace that enables us to please Him. I don't say alone, for we have the Spirit of God to enable us to carry it out; so we cannot excuse ourselves, and say we cannot carry out God's purpose for us. It is He "Who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure"; so it shuts the mouth at once of all excuses.

Here we find the apostle breaking out in the blessings of ver. 3. Now I think you cannot have a wider charter than this. Is your idea of a spiritual blessing on a level with your temporal mercies? You would think it a great thing if God had said, "blessed us with" every earthly comfort! That was true of Israel. I do not make out that we are better, but I do make out that I am immensely more favoured than the people of old — so are you — not that we are better than was Israel. Has not God a right to do what He will with His own people and His own resources? What of the parable of the labourers. "Friend, I do thee no wrong!" "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" Because you hear of some others not working so long you begin to grumble! What are men's rights? Is has been said, Nothing but men's wrongs. We are here to maintain God's rights.

Our blessing is very varied: "every spiritual blessing." I am sure we none of us believe it as we should. Excuse my saying so, but do we not feel it is too vast? Yet let God be true. This is what He reveals to us — "EVERY spiritual blessing." If that lays hold of you, you will say, "Well, I am Thine for ever!" We are free, not to please ourselves, but free to serve like His slaves, His bondmen, but a bondage of freedom, of love. Do I want to do anything that is not pleasing to Him? Would you grieve your best earthly friend? How much less this Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. No, we are here to please Him. Is it too much? Can we not say that whether present or absent we are "ambitious" to be well pleasing to him? He has come out according to the wealth of His own grace. I do not say you are in the enjoyment of every blessing, but they are yours. There are the diamonds on the table, flowers, books, pictures, etc., and I say, "It is all yours." You do not take all up together; you pick them up one at a time. How much of this presentation of God's grace has your heart laid hold of? We are weak things; yes, I know it; but this is "in heavenly places" — Canaan. "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, I have given you"; but you must put you foot on it if you are to enjoy it, your must appropriate it. Caleb acted on it. I would like Hebron — a strong city.' He goes forward and takes it. He had had to go through the wilderness forty years through the fault of his brethren. We do suffer for the faults of our brethren, and are members one of another. It was no fault of Caleb — no. Well, he too must have felt the pressure of things, but he says, I am as strong this day as when I 'started.' The Lord knows how to sustain His people, and the heart that is true to Him. We have the hand of Omnipotence to fall back on. We are not able to bear the force of it, but He knows how to deal gently. He delights to bless.

You never asked Him to bless you with every spiritual blessing. Had I a will in my being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world? No, I wasn't born. But does He not see the end from the beginning? And before the worlds were founded we were chosen in the purpose of God — those in the mind of God predestinated to be companions of the Lord Jesus, redeemed by His precious blood. What difficulties presented themselves! The children of Israel were brought through the wilderness, but those who came out of Egypt perished. Have you ever found God to fail? Can't you trust Him? 'I can trust Him for my soul,' you say. Nay, trust Him for everything! Do you realize that your hands are full — that you cannot be richer than you are? He does not give everything now, for we could not stand it. In the day that is coming He will give us all things. But this is now. Would you have it apart from Christ? This is in Him (ver. 4). We must be according to God. He is holy; He is light. We must be suited to God's presence. "Before Him in" — fear? No, "in love." We can hardly say we are "blameless" or "holy" in the full sense of this verse, for this is the consummation of God's purpose; but we are "holy brethren," and we are to pursue holiness — to lay hold of it. "Everyone that hath this hope on Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure." There is the constant work of the Spirit of God in our souls, conforming us in spirit now to Him.

Ver 5. "Sonship" is a grand word. "Adoption" might give a false thought. While it is a good word in itself, we do not always take in its breadth. If we adopt a child, we may cast off that child. We may go out of the family, and lay hold of some waif, and adopt it; but it is not born into the family: there is no link of nature. But if I am born into the family I am a child, and you cannot deny the relationship. You may cut out of a will, but you cannot annul the relationship. St. John always speaks of "children." But this is "sonship." Not only am I brought into sonship, but born into the family. But sonship gives character and position. "He is my son." So we have been brought into sonship, and we are waiting for the manifestation of it. It is not now displayed; we are called to suffer and groan, waiting for that day when every blade of grass will display the glory of Him that made it. Jerusalem will be the joy of the whole earth, the holy city. It was so called at the crucifixion. But what a day when that comes, and it is the joy of all the earth! That is because of "Jehovah-shammah"; Jehovah is there. It is sad to see how the name of God is being deleted from the world. In all their thoughts He is not! Oh, the fools! Now it says, "according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved" (ver. 6). He is going to show that — not the praise of the glory of my belief, my trust, but of His grace. All "in Him," or "in whom," all Christ — the object in this chapter.

Ver. 7. It is a peculiar verse. "We have obtained an inheritance." Jacob was the lot of Jehovah's inheritance, but we are not His inheritance, — we are the sharers with Him in it. What wonderful grace! When He takes His inheritance we are with Him, His heavenly bride. Who form this bride? The Jews of old? No. We are to reign with Christ: they are to be reigned over. And we are sealed for it. It is made true and sure by the Spirit. I pass over the central truth of this chapter, redemption (ver 7). The grand thing now is to know not only that one is saved, though that is a grand thing, but the knowledge of His will — "having made known to us the mystery of His will" (ver. 9). It is not enough that He has redeemed me, but He opens His heart to me, and says, I want you to see what I purpose.' The will is opened before me — hidden as it has been from before the world's foundation. That will has to do with everything connected with my position down here. Take worship. How would He have me worship? We get it in chap. 3. and there I get the real want of my soul. Here it is the "good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself" — to do His will. Am I doing it? Is it bondage if it is the response of love? "The perfect law of liberty." He has given the Spirit, and says "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed until the day of redemption." It is a stimulus to know His eye is on us in our little corner. He looks down into your heart and mine, and says, Are you true to me? Are you seeking to walk after the purpose of that will now you know it? We are going to be manifested in the likeness of Christ: oh, don't let the world have a place in your heart — the world that crucified the Lord of Glory. We are called to wait for the Son from heaven Who delivered us from the wrath to come. R.

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Just a few thoughts in connection I would like to put before you. Grace has a wonderful place in Ephesians. It has in all the word of God, but in some places is more conspicuous than others; so here. When we think where this Epistle came from, how we see that all things serve His might! The dear apostle, taken from active service, and kept in prison two years and subsequently, at Rome — but what a loss to us if it had not been? And God over-ruled it thus for His glory! Taken aside while God made known to Him His will; and so we get the precious Epistles to the Hebrews, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians. We can take them up full of comfort and blessing.

We are told in ch. 2:5 "By grace ye are saved." It is blessed to turn to the unmerited favour of God to us, but before chap. 1:7 it might not appear as if there was any sin 'connected with us; then we get redemption. To be holy and without blame before Him in love was absolutely true of Christ as a man down here below, and we have the same nature. There is nothing said about faults or failures, but we are taken back to eternity and God's eternal plans. Then in ver. 7 we find we are sinners, and need a Saviour. Great as God's glory is as Creator, He has greater glory as Redeemer. And the great thing is not that we should be sure we are going to heaven, great as that is, but greater still is it that God has put His hand on us, poor hell-deserving sinners as we are, and picked is up to give eternal joy to the heart of His beloved Son. That is worth having existence for! "To Him be glory in the assembly throughout all ages!" You and I form part of that assembly by His grace. He is going to get glory through it throughout all ages, world without end.

We found redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ, by blood and by power. Here it is through His blood. It is true we are all bought, and we are all redeemed. The difference ought to be a big joy to us. All the world is purchased — the unconverted as well as the saved. "Denying the Lord that bought them" we read. By being purchased, we change masters; every believer is purchased, and every sinner too. In redemption I change my status. Every believer is redeemed. Our liberty is to do His will, to serve God and to serve our brethren. The riches of His grace are found in this we have redemption. Is there anything higher? Yes, chap. 2. takes us on to the future. In ver. 7 — the "exceeding riches of His grace" He will show, not for us to see, but for others to see in us. That's His purpose. Is there anything higher than that? Yes, blessed be His Name! something higher still. If it had been said, "Taken us into favour in Christ," it would be wonderful, but it is not put so, but in the beloved." There was One here of Whom the Father could say at His baptism, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"; then on the Mount of Transfiguration, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him." If God says in Him is found all His delight, we believe it, don't we? Nothing counts but Christ. That thought has been a great blessing to me. God wants to let us know what is the very glory of Christ. He has accepted us in the Beloved, in Him in Whom is all His delight. You can never reach a higher point than that.

We are not adopted "children." Children is a question of birth. A new born babe in the family of God, we see it at once in John 1:12. "As many as received him to them gave he power to become children of God." You cannot make a mistake in this. John in his Gospel and Epistles reserves the word Son for One only, and that is the One Who occupies the bosom of the Father. The only exception is in Rev. 21. "Which were born not of blood," — not natural descent, "nor of the will of the flesh" — no; of God by His own will; "nor of the will of man" — what can he do? "but of God," in the sovereignty of His love. That is how we occupy the place of children (1 Peter 1:2, 3; 1 Peter 2:2); this is eternal, and can never be set aside.

But with regard to "sonship." Angels are sons, but never children. Angels are witnesses that God can make a glorious creature and keep him from falling; and they are learning now in us God's various wisdom — not seeing it in the wonder of creation, but in you and me. But in the millennium they will learn that however blessed a creature may be, unless kept he is bound to fall. Sonship tells of privilege, of position. "Because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father." That is a privilege the saints of old could not know.

But our brother wanted to put the truth so that we live more to His glory, and I apprehend that the better knowledge we have of His love will help us and draw out our hearts to Him. We want to see it more, to rejoice in the worthiness of that blessed One. That is what we want, to rejoice more in Him. And I thought of 1 Sam. 17 — a heart acknowledging the worthiness of another. It is David — the beloved, and it often helps us to remember its sweet meaning — "the beloved one." When Jesus is called David it is as the Beloved. And we know Him who emptied Himself and became obedient unto death, wherefore God hath highly exalted Him (Phil. 2). Oh, that blessed scripture! How it tells God's estimate of the only absolutely perfect One! Every created intelligence shall bow the knee to that blessed One.

"In whom we have obtained an inheritance." What is the inheritance? Everything in heaven and earth. He is the appointed Heir of all things — the whole universe. You and I are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. It is too vast; we cannot take it in. It all belonged to Him before He became man, but He has got it now as Man that you and I may share it with Him. Oh, what do we not owe Him!

But I was thinking of that scene in the valley of Elah, and I think we would all agree that it is God bringing before us Calvary — the great victory there showed forth by what took place there. The great champion a type of Satan, and David of Christ. The challenge is given, and no one can take it up. Yet there was One, the despised One, who was not called when Samuel came to anoint him, but they could not sit down till the Beloved came. The despised, misunderstood one — and there was One more misunderstood than anyone. But David goes out with his sling and stone; and Gen. 3 tells of a Deliverer — but a suffering One. I don't want to go into all the details, but David slung the stone and it struck Goliath in the forehead and he was prostrate. What a change in the feelings of the trembling host! There was no sword in David's hand, but I read in Heb. 2 "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death." So as the power of death was the devil's own sword, so it was the giant's own sword in the hand of the Beloved that cut off the giant's head, and they were made more than conquerors; they had the spoil — the result of the victory — and David the praise! Then afterwards I see David before Saul with the head in his hand; so typically I see Christ in resurrection (Col. 2:15). Well, there was one singled out who had seen all this (1 Sam. 18:1) a heart won! There was more than one victory won that day the heart of the king's son was won — "knit with the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul." I am sure that is a voice to us, not recorded for nothing. God intends us to learn by that. Ah, we want to be better acquainted with the cross of our blessed Saviour — "Gazing with adoring eye, On Thy dying agony." We don't want to limit it to the Lord's day morning, but every day let us feed on Him, Christ our Passover.

It is not only simply stated, but there were the results of that love. Jonathan stripped himself. It is very lovely to see. It was not a perfect love — David's love was greater, but we won't speak of his failures. The Holy Spirit records these details here, and in the light of the cross we listen to the truth, "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." I appeal to each one, Is there anything we ought to keep back from Him? It is all right to sing "the dearest object of my love" etc. — but there is so much — time, talents, wealth, everything. I am His bondman now. May God give us grace to surrender all to Himself. He is worthy. Amen. J. A. T.