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baby smiling at christmas December 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Ephesians 1, 2, 3

Adopted and Included

It is the Christmas season, and for many of us we think of the Christ child. It is wonderful that Jesus was not just the Savior born for Jewish people. He was born, lived, and died for all people who will believe in him. We who believe that Jesus died in our place, was buried, and rose again from the dead are adopted into his family (more...). We have the full rights and privileges of being his children. Furthermore, we have been given all the riches of our spiritual inheritance. That truth, however, was not always known.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church to reveal the mystery of their heavenly inheritance and to answer the question, “are the Gentile [non-Jewish] Christians as good as the Jewish Christians?” God’s favor had always been on the Jews whenever they lived obediently. Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesian believers while under house arrest in Rome after his third missionary journey. Ephesians was one of his prison epistles. When the church of Ephesus unsealed the scroll that Paul wrote, the mystery was revealed: both Jews and Gentiles had received a valuable inheritance, an inheritance received by God’s grace through their faith in Christ.

Paul said God chose Gentiles and Jews to be saved because it pleased him (Ephesians 1:3-8). It glorified his magnificent nature to take worthless clay and make beautiful vases; to take people from being sinners to become saints (a Biblical word for true believers in Christ), who would be holy and blameless in his sight. Therefore, because of his grace and good pleasure, before the creation of the earth God chose them to be saved and adopted into his family. Then, when the time came, Jesus, his only beloved Son, paid the price for their (and our) redemption. He provided forgiveness of all sins for those who turn to him in faith. (more...)

How could the Gentiles be sure that they were eternally secure in the family? Paul continues in Ephesians 1,

… you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory, (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV).

To have this inheritance credited to us, like the Ephesians, we must believe that Christ provided it for us and accept it personally. After believing, we are guaranteed to receive it as though it were deposited into our account and sealed in a vault until the time when it is to be revealed.

Paul wanted the believers in the city of Ephesus to understand and increasingly appreciate their hope and inheritance, and the incredibly great power that was in them. Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that

the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us [Jews and Gentiles] who believe, (Ephesians 1:18-19a, NIV).

Do we wish this for ourselves? As we have matured in Christ, have we come to understand and appreciate our hope, our future inheritance, and the power we have now within us to accomplish his will? What great joy was theirs! What great joy is ours, too, if we believe the gospel and act on it.

Did the Gentiles do any thing to deserve God’s grace? No, not at all. Paul said to them,

As for you [Gentiles], you were dead in your transgressions and sins, … but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved, (Ephesians 2:1,4-5, NIV).

Like the Gentiles and Jews of Paul’s day, there remains nothing good about any of us, but God extended his mercy and grace to us. We were once alienated from God and from his people Israel and were without hope, but now through this mysterious revelation we are included with Israel in one body, the church. We are now “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,” with all the privileges therewith (Ephesians 2:19, NIV).

Based on God’s mercy and grace to us, how shall we then live? Paul instructs us, “…we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV). We will find out more about that in our next lesson.

Lessons to live by:

  • Rejoice that we are included as God’s children, his heirs, if we have believed the gospel and are now saved (more...).
  • Since God has been gracious to us, let us live for him, careful to do good works.
  • God's power and presence resides in us to do all his holy will.
  • Let us include others by sharing the gospel with all people.

Today’s Bible memory verses:

Ephesians 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

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