Neighborhood Study Guide

Ephesians 1:3-10 Introduction
I once received a very peculiar gift. It was a piece of artwork that was clearly valuable but not at all to my taste. The giver was an uncle I barely knew. And judging from the kind of art that it was, he barely knew me. The gift wasn’t a pleasant thing – rather, it made me quite anxious. You see, gifts, especially great gifts, create a relationship. It’s always nice to receive a gift. When a gift is just exactly what we wanted or needed, we are so thankful. When a gift reflects a special knowledge of who we are and what we like, we are especially appreciative. But how do we feel when someone gives us a very expensive gift; a gift that put the giver at some financial hardship? That creates a tension for us. Receiving a gift of such a magnitude can be awkward because it creates the expectation of a relationship; and it can change the nature of the relationship. Only in relationships of deep trust and affection, can such gifts be given without judgment or fear. In Ephesians 1, the abundance of God’s blessings continue to roll out. In verses 7 to 10, we find out that God has given us forgiveness and redemption at great cost to himself. We also discover that God has not only given us these blessings, but he has blessed us further by revealing to us his plan and purpose. Indeed, God’s gift is tied to a relationship and can only be understood in the context of a growing knowledge of God. Let’s read the text below.

Ephesians 1:3-10 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Questions 1. According to this passage, why did God redeem and forgive us? What does this tell us about God? What does it tell us about us and our situation? What does it tell us about our relationship? 2. Paul says that God ‘lavished’ this gift on us. What is difference between forgiving and ‘lavishing forgiveness’? 3. Many people find the idea of ‘redemption through his blood’ offensive and uncomfortable. It feels so unloving that God would punish Jesus for our sins. Tim Keller, as pastor from New York speaks to this issue in a recent essay. Does the paragraph over help you understand the need for Christ’s sacrifice? How?

When Jesus was cut off from God he went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. He experienced the full wrath of the Father. And he did it voluntarily, for us. Fairly often I meet people who say, "I have a personal relationship with a loving God, and yet I don't believe in Jesus Christ at all." Why, I ask? "My God is too loving to pour out infinite suffering on anyone for sin." But this shows a deep misunderstanding of both God and the cross. On the cross, God HIMSELF, incarnated as Jesus, took the punishment. He didn't visit it on a third party, however willing. So the question becomes: what did it cost your kind of god to love us and embrace us? What did he endure in order to receive us? Where did this god agonize, cry out, and where were his nails and thorns? The only answer is: "I don't think that was necessary." But then ironically, in our effort to make God more loving, we have made him less loving. His love, in the end, needed to take no action. It was sentimentality, not love at all. The worship of a god like this will be at most impersonal, cognitive, and ethical. There will be no joyful self-abandonment, no humble boldness, no constant sense of wonder. We could not sing to him "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." Tim Keller

God makes a sacrifice on our behalf by redeeming us and buying us back. In this way, he shows his love. No passage in scripture makes this more plan than John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” This makes sense to us – true love costs. But the blessing of such sacrifice goes greater than this. In 1 John 3:16 (That’s ONE JOHN), the author shows that Jesus’ love is not only enacted by sacrifice, it is made known by sacrifice. His death shows us his love. “By this we know love; that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” God is not content simply to love us from afar. He wants us to know him and his love. He wants us to live in complete understanding of this love. This is why Paul goes on to show that the next blessing is a revelation of the mystery of his will. We will talk about mystery more later, but now it is enough to know that God has made himself and his plans known to us. Questions: 1. In verses 9-10, Paul says that the ultimate purpose of God’s plan for the fullness of time is to unite all things in Jesus – both in heaven and on earth. How does knowing God’s ultimate purposes change the way we live here and now? Does it? Practical Questions

1. True love is costly love. Jesus reveals this on the cross. What sacrifices do you see yourself making in the people you are called to love – family, church, neighbors, city? 2. How, practically, can we come to know and understand God’s love more? How have you seen your understanding of God’s love increase in your life?

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful