Monday, January 08, 2007

Ephesians 1:1-14

Today’s passage opens Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, in the Roman province of Asia (now Turkey). Some early manuscripts of the letter do not include the designation “in Ephesus.” Perhaps Paul intended it as a general missive to circulate among several churches, including Ephesus. At any rate, Paul wrote this letter to deepen and strengthen the faith of followers of Jesus.

In reading this, we may catch on the language of predestination, with numerous questions arising. Over nearly two thousand years, much reason and passion have been spent on the issue. We cannot engage it here with due care. Yet we can see grand emphases in the passage which put the matter in context and give us much to ponder and take to heart.

The priority of God in creation and salvation. God as God creates and saves us. We as creatures can do neither. Creation and salvation are gifts from God – incomparably good gifts! They alone bring true life and good life. All we need do is receive them gratefully and lovingly to enjoy and inhabit them.

The cosmic significance of Jesus. In creation and salvation, God works through Jesus on behalf of the entire universe. Everything exists from God in Jesus. In Jesus everything returns to God. God works to bring together, not just some things in heaven and earth, but all things, including you and me, under the rule of Jesus, who is truly good.

The richness of what God gives us in Jesus. In creating and saving, God pours his glory and beauty into our world and our lives. We lack good things not because of the poverty of creation and salvation, but because of our poverty. In Jesus God seeks to lavish upon us all true and good things to his glory and our well-being.

The steadfast love of God for us in Jesus. God creates and saves us in love. Far more than any parent for a child, God loves us purely, comprehensively, and consistently, for our good. Though we spurned him, God loves us through sin and death to new life in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Truly, God is love.

The meaning of predestination? Genuinely challenging. The priority of God in creation and salvation; the cosmic significance of Jesus; the richness of what God gives us in Jesus; and the steadfast love of God for us in Jesus? More than ample reasons for joining Paul in giving all praise to God and Jesus for splendor abounding!

Gregory Strong

No comments: