Summary: As God's adopted children, we have an interitance of God's abundant grace--every spiritual blessing. We do not need to wait in order to receive our inheritance. It is ours now.
Ephesians 1:3-14 “Heirs of Grace”
Good news comes in many forms and each of us has specific desires of what we want to hear.
• “Congratulations! You’ve won the Lottery!”
• “You’re cancer free and you are cured. You don’t have to see me again.”
• “We found an exact match of an organ donor for you.”
• “You’ve been selected to compete with the United States Olympic Team.”
• “The Chicago Cubs have won the world series!”
Paul has good news to share with the Ephesians and with us. In many ways, it overshadows the words of good news that we dream of hearing.
In the original Greek, verses 3-14 are one sentence. Paul’s hymn of praise is a skillful use of the Greek language. But, as our grade school English teacher constantly reminded us, run on sentences in English is bad form. They are also difficult to translate.
One characteristic that leaps out at us is the use of the past perfect verb tense—a past, completed action. God has blessed us, in him we have redemption, he has made know the mystery of his will, and we have been destined. This verb tense is vitally important for the Christian. We have all that we need in order to live out our lives as Christians and as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Often we see ourselves as needing something to grow in our relationship with God. We might see our need for more patience, for a deeper sense of joy, for more compassion, or for a stronger hope. Paul argues that we already have patience, joy, compassion and hope. They are not things that we need to receive, but rather they are characteristics that we can claim as ours and live in their reality. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul exhorts them to clothe themselves. He doesn’t tell them to go shopping. The Colossians (and us) have all the clothes we need.
Another important point that is apparent in these verses is that God is active and we are passive. In other words, God gives and we receive, and not the other way around where God expects and we work hard. Martin Luther was on to something when, speaking to a group of his fellow monks in Heidelberg in 1518, he offered the following proposition for debate: "The law says, 'Do this,' and it is never done. Grace says, 'Believe this," and everything is already done."
Paul’s words celebrate the truth that we are adopted. We were destined to be adopted! For Paul this is not the election of individuals but God's election of Christ, and God's choice for all of us, in him. Christ is the one who represents all humanity; thus in choosing Christ, God chooses all of us. God pursues humanity -- all of us -- with relentless love. God’s family is inclusive and not exclusive.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like for a child to hear the news that he or she is being adopted. To know that you will no longer be passed from one foster home to another feeling alone, rejected, and believing that you are endured only because of the money you bring in to the household.