A People Called: The Story of Church from Ephesians (week 2)

Pastoral Reflections

God’s Actions (I)

This past Sunday we began our series on the Book of Ephesians. Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving (1:3-14) sets the stage for what he will seek to guide us into understanding through this letter. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, literally. One in which Paul recounts God’s story; His actions from the very beginning – brought about through Christ at each step. God links those actions to us intentionally. Paul uses 7 verbs in the first 10 verses to capture these actions.

Notice that each action is executed in (or accomplished through) Christ, and the recipient is us, His people (the church). Each action layers on the preceding ones.

Paul begins with, “Blessed be God; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He, then, proceeds to tell us the actions of God which make Him worthy of our thanksgiving. What are these verbs and what do they tell us about God’s actions for the good of His people through Christ?

He has blessed us… with every spiritual blessing… in Christ. Everything God did from the very beginning was for our good. Our blessing. He has blessed us is the action phrase that you could use to summarize all that God has assembled for our benefit. But Paul gets specific.

He chose us… in [Christ] before the creation. We are not happenstance. I think there would have been relief in knowing that God is choosing us today. But choosing us from the very beginning? What we have from that is awe and wonder – naturally. It strips us of anything that makes us feel entitled.

Having (pre)destined us… in love for divine adoption through Christ. This is the action that gives direction to our ‘chosenness’. He chose us to be His holy, set apart, people. How can that be? You may want to pause for a minute to ponder what it means to be divinely adopted. Divine adoption! Through Christ’s work. But then, how can you explain that? In His love. He loved us as a Father long before our baby voices cried on our way out of the womb and into the hands of our earthly parents.

He bestowed on us… His grace in the One He loved (i.e., Christ). Okay, I need to try linking the last two here! The Father always loved the Son in eternity. In grace, He made us partakers of His love through the One whom He loved in eternity, namely, Christ. In other words, He bestowed the grace in His Son whom He loved, upon us… having loved us. Another good word for ‘bestowed’ could be ‘conferred’.

We have 3 more action words to get through. All God’s actions. All executed in (or through) Christ. None earned by us. All in spite of us. That word, grace, takes on a renewed ring in my ears and heart.

Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219