Home > Uncategorized > The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 11 of 155)

The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 11 of 155)

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ephesians 1.13: In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;…

The previous verse was about those who first hoped in Christ, how their purpose was to live to praise his glory. It is not clear exactly who these people are, but I think we can basically identify them with the first people who preached Christ. Paul considers himself a member of such a group, and we see that he now moves to address his audience, the Ephesians, who are among those who came to believe in Jesus through the praise and preaching of the original believers.

This verse describes a remarkable process that takes place in a person when they come to believe. Let us consider the order of events. One hears “the word of truth.” This is a preaching of the reality of who God is and what he has done in Christ. It is the gospel of our salvation, the good news of how a human being, and humanity, is redeemed. As we have seen already, it is a different story from the other stories that we hear so often about what matters in life, about what we really need, and about what salvation is, and how one attains it. It is a story founded on the grace of God.

It is the story of how we have nothing to offer God, but God in his love has everything to offer us, how this God became a man and took up into himself everything about what that means. This man, Jesus, experienced our joys, but also our sorrows; this man bore all of our temptations, our sins, our sufferings. This man died, and this man rose again, and has made a way for us to be united to God.

This strange story is the truth about our world, about our lives. When a person comes to believe it, and believe in Him who the story is about, he or she is “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God himself, the love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father. When we believe in Jesus, his spirit dwells in us like we are a temple of God, because that is what we are. In the later Old Testament times, the most intimate contact that God had with humanity was through his temple, where his presence would dwell in a special way. Even within the temple, there were different levels of God’s presence: there were the outer courts, the sanctuary, the Holy place, and the Most Holy place, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. There was a veil covering this, and only once a year could the high priest enter in.

But now the veil of the temple has been torn in two because of the work of Jesus Christ, our great high priest:

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. (Matthew 27.50-51)

The most Holy Place is no longer in the temple but is now in a person. The high priest now no longer enters the temple once a year, but enters our hearts once and for all when we trust in him. Think about all that it means for a place to be Holy, a place to be set apart for God to dwell in, to be the center of his activity and the foundation of his presence in the world, the center from which his love radiates to fill all of creation. And then realize that this is what is meant for our hearts when we believe in Jesus. God lives in us, individually and communally. Humanity is the most appropriate dwelling place for God in all of creation, it is the center of his activity. The living, active, creative love of God the Father is remaking our hearts in the image of his Son.

This does not mean that we are perfect now but rather that we are now the center in which his work is taking place. This is an awesome and scary responsibility! But it is God’s doing and his grace is with us in the process. The Holy Spirit lives in us, reveals to us our sin, and teaches us the truth both about what a human being should be and about what God is like–teaches us how to love our neighbor and how to worship. Our characters and lives are being shaped by Christ to reflect Christ, and this is how God is redeeming the world, bringing his kingdom, his rule on all the earth.

Next verse (I will stop saying “tomorrow” since I may not keep up such a pace! I will try, however):

1.14: …this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. September 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

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