So Great Salvation – Ian Hamilton

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:3-7

One year, my wife and I went to London for a vacation, and while we were there, we visited the Tower of London to see the crown jewels. They were magnificent. They were, however, out of reach, locked away in bulletproof glass cages. Not out of sight, but out of reach.

In these verses Paul is displaying the crown jewels of the gospel—jewels that are not out of reach and which are, by God’s grace in Christ, the permanent possession and present experience of every Christian, even if it is not always consciously done. More particularly, Paul is describing to us the glory of salvation, which is the crown jewel in the Christian’s inheritance. Here, as perhaps nowhere else, we see what it means to be a saved sinner. Paul wants these believers in the church at and beyond Ephesus to see how fabulous the jewels of God’s grace in Christ are. He understands that our greatest need is to grasp and to be grasped by the wonder of the gospel.

When we are gripped by the greatness and glory of our salvation in Christ, everything else, in a sense, takes care of itself. When Paul encouraged the church in Corinth to give generously to the needs of the poor saints in Jerusalem, he reminded them of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 8:9). This, as we have already noted, is the theological grammar of the Bible. The imperatives of duty are rooted in and flow out of the indicatives of grace. It is this foundational pattern that keeps the Christian life from becoming cold, clinical, and metallic. The great preservative against legalism and the great encouragement to true holiness in the Christian life is the exposition and consideration of who God is and His amazing grace to us in Christ.

Paul has a deeply pastoral reason for writing as he does in Ephesians 1:3–14. Ephesus was a noted center of idolatry. Luke recounts this in Acts 19. As Paul begins his letter to God’s little flock in the great city of Ephesus, he clearly wants to encourage them to grasp something of the “width and length and depth and height” of God’s love to them in Christ (Eph. 3:18–19). Paul understands that this, more than anything else, will help them to stand faithfully for Christ, no matter how sore the opposition and persecution.

The application to us should be obvious. If we are to live courageously for our Savior in an increasingly anti-Christian world, we must sink our hearts and minds into the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

Ian Hamilton, Ephesians (The Lectio Continua)