God, like a masterful storyteller, is now writing into reality what he plotted out before the world began. Christ, who is God the Son, is called the “author of life” (Acts 3:15 ESV) and the “author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NASB). We could say he writes the book of history and the book of salvation.
Particularly wonderful for a believer to ponder, is God’s book of salvation—his work of redemption. He planned it, enacted it, and applies it to those who believe in Christ. Ephesians chapter one gives us a wonderful insight into the work of redemption, from beginning to end.
One has to note the sweeping scope of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Chapter one gives us a view of God’s work on a cosmic scale, stretching back before the beginning of life as we know it, and stretching forward past the end of life as we know it.
Paul notes that God, in the good pleasure of his will, had a “plan” in mind to enact “in the fullness of time” (1:9-10). The end goal of this plan is to bring all things together in Christ, which includes the redemption and adoption of his chosen people though Christ’s blood (verses 5-10). All of this will result in the praise of God’s glorious grace (verses 6, 12, 14).
In Christ, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (verse 7). The word redemption means to free someone by the payment of a ransom, like the payment of Somali pirates to release an innocent kidnappee. Christ’s blood was a ransom paid, not to free innocent victims, but to release rebellious sinners from the judgment we rightly deserve.
Christ stood in our place on the cross, taking the blame and consequence for our crimes against the Holy Judge. He paid for our trespasses as a sacrificial lamb, so we could be freed from the penalty of our sin.
This redemption is an undeserved favour from God. It is not something we earned like a paycheque, but something we did not earn or even seek after, like a surprise gift. It was according to the “riches of God’s grace.”
In time, God applies the redemption accomplished by his Son, through his Spirit. The Spirit sends the good news about Christ’s redemption to us and opens our eyes to see the glory of Jesus Christ. He works in our hearts such that we receive this free gift of salvation by trusting in Christ. This is what happened to the Ephesian believers: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (verse 13).
The Spirit of God seals all believers, marking them out as belonging to God like a wax seal used to identify who a letter was sent by. His presence in us is the indelible mark that we are his children. When the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, he produces (among many other things) conviction of sin, faith in Jesus Christ, tangible holiness of life, a habit of private prayer, and a love for the Word of God.
The Spirit also acts as the “down payment” of our inheritance or “firstfruits” of the harvest of eternal life (verse 14; Romans 8:23). Christians are headed for an eternal glory of which the Spirit’s presence is just the first deposit. He is the appetizer before the heavenly banquet.
So what does this great work of redemption have to do with you?
If you have personally trusted in Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit, you ought to have great thanksgiving and hope in your heart. Friend, God loved you before all ages and adopted you as his own child through the costly sacrifice of his only Son. He now promises you an eternal inheritance, the glory of which you could not comprehend or even compare to anything on earth. The proper response is to rest your gaze on all of these spiritual blessings he has given and promised and bless him in return (verses 3-4).
If you have yet to trust and hope in Christ, the invitation has been mailed out. The door is open today, but it may be closed tomorrow. Though you are a sinner, there is redemption in Christ. Trust in him to save you and call upon his name!
Pastor Rory St. John