August 4 - Ephesians 1:11-14

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you 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.

There are quite a few wonderful pieces of information in these verses, but I want to look at only a couple of them.

I want to begin with the idea that “we, who were first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”  This implies that there will be others who follow.  Now, the argument could be put forth that Paul isn't thinking of people like us being ‘first,’ that he is only considering those who were part of the first century church; but I don’t agree.  There had been many who followed Jesus Christ before the church in Ephesus came into existence.

No, Paul speaks to each of us and reminds us that God wants to use us according to his will. We are first among many … we can also look backward to a long legacy of those who followed Jesus, but that isn't what this is about.  We have a responsibility to those who come after us. We are the first of these to put our hope in Christ.  We were included in Christ when we heard the message of truth.  It is not to end there.  As Christians, we are called to go out and tell the world about the good news.  The world might be an immense mission field, or it might be as small as outside our own front door.  We might find it by serving in work camps or traveling to international locations; we might find it by collecting food for those in need.  We might find it by preaching or teaching, or just by loving small children who are friends with our own.  We don’t all look the same or respond to God’s call in the same manner, but we are the first of many.

There is a little bit of a verse here that has gotten lost. In verse 13, we read that we were marked in Jesus with a seal – the promised Holy Spirit.

Now, in the Revelation, we read a lot about seals, some which mark those who belong to the Beast and others which mark those who belong to God.  A great deal has been made of what those might look like and when they might occur. The Revelation is one of my favorite books in Scripture, but I refuse to apply current and contemporary imagery to very ancient symbolism, especially when we find the true meaning of this symbolism within Scripture itself.

The mark of a Christian is the Holy Spirit. It isn't something visible that we must worry about finding in the final days. Read the verse here again:

“When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, (you) were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” This is the mark of a Christian and no medical implant or identification chip can remove that seal from us.