You can read Part 1 of this series here.
The Blessing of Salvation in Christ
As Christians, we often experience many spiritual ups and downs in our lives. In a previous article, I discussed how I often forfeit the confidence and comfort that God has promised me in the midst of trials when I live like I’m lacking the spiritual resources I need. We looked at how Ephesians 1:3 displays an incredible truth that should dispel any notion that we’re lacking anything we need in this life:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly placesEph 1:3
This verse tells us that God has already given us every spiritual resource we need to empower us to live lives that honor him. By embracing this truth, we can live our lives in confident faith and have victory over sin, fear, and doubt.
Continuing on in Ephesians 1, Paul gives us very specific examples of the blessings that God has already bestowed upon us through Christ. Specifically, in verses 4-8, we see the incredible blessings of our salvation.
Believers Have Been Chosen By God
In verse 4, Paul starts his description of the blessings of our salvation with something that may be startling to many people:
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
Paul clearly says that God chose us. The word that Paul uses for “chose” is ekelgō and it speaks of a totally independent choice. In this context, it means that God independently and unconditionally chose us without anything or anyone influencing his decision.
When did this choice happen? Paul says it happened “before the foundation of the world.” That means God chose you before Genesis 1:1. Before he formed the universe, the earth, or any person, God already determined those whom he would save.
The doctrine of sovereign election is clearly taught throughout scripture. For example:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.Rom 8:29-30
(See also John 6:37, John 6:44, John 10:27-29, 2 Peter 1:10, Rev 13:8).
While salvation is all of God’s doing, there’s a tension that exists where people are held responsible for rejecting Christ and punished accordingly. Our human minds can’t fully resolve this tension between sovereign election and human accountability, but Scripture teaches both, so we need to embrace both truths and accept that tension.
As believers, we should rejoice in the blessing that God chose us before the foundation of the world.
Believers Have Been Clothed in Christ’s Righteousness
Paul goes on to say what the end result of God choosing us for salvation will be:
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
God chose us for a purpose: to make us holy and blameless. The Greek word for “blameless” means without blemish or spot. In what theologians call the “Great Exchange,” Jesus took the punishment for our sin on the cross and he clothes us in his righteousness. It was like our sin was transferred to his account and he was punished for every one of our transgressions. Additionally, his righteousness was credited to our account and we are rewarded for his perfect obedience.
That amazing blessing means that we can stand before God in confidence clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
Believers Have Been Adopted as God’s Children
Why did he choose us? Paul says he chose us because of God’s love and to the praise of his glory. He says:
In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
The Greek word for “love” that he uses is agapé and it refers to love that seeks to meet the needs of others. We should revel in the fact that God loves us with a perfect love that is actively working to meet our needs. In love, God saved us and adopted us into his family through Jesus, based on his will.
There are many passages that speak about God adopting us as sons, including:
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1
(See also Romans 8:16-17).
If you have placed your faith in Christ, you have the God of the universe as your Father. You are the child of the eternal creator of heaven and earth. And what is the ultimate reason God has adopted us into his family? For the praise of his glory. Seeing God’s glorious grace in salvation through the “Beloved” (Jesus) should cause us to praise him.
Believers Have Been Forgiven of Their Sin
God’s grace is so generous that Paul says that he lavishes it upon us.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
The Greek word for “redemption” used here is a legal term that speaks of being released from captivity. It carries the idea of paying a ransom to release a slave from slavery. We are all born slaves to sin (see John 8:34). Jesus paid for us with his shed blood and freed us from the slavery of sin. The cost of this ransom was his death on the cross (see Col 1:13-14). God’s grace is so abundant in our salvation that it can only be described as “riches.” He lavishes us with all of these blessings that we don’t deserve, including forgiveness in Christ, from the treasury of his magnificent grace.
The Greek word for “forgiveness” used here is a legal term that means to “send away.” It usually refers to canceling a debt or a pardon. In Christ, we can rejoice, because our sin is completely gone. Believers possess the blessing of being truly, comprehensively, and completely forgiven of every sin they have ever committed in the past or may commit in the future through the shed blood of Jesus.
Rejoice in Your Salvation
The next time you are feeling spiritually down, refocus your attention to all of the blessings that are yours in Christ. In Christ, you have been chosen by God before the beginning of time. You have been washed of all your sins and are now clothed in his righteousness. You have been adopted by God and can now call the Creator of the universe your Father. Every sin that you ever have committed in the past or may commit in the future has been fully forgiven (Col 2:13). Meditating on these truths should take our focus off of ourselves and cause our hearts to overflow with joy and praise to God for his great salvation.
(In the final article in this series, we’ll finish looking at Ephesians 1:3-14 to see specific examples that Paul shares of the many blessings we already possess in Christ.)