The mention of pancreatic cancer made my heart skip a beat. My Dad had died from it a year earlier and I know how aggressive the disease can be. As the lady on the train shared with me how her family was dealing with the disease, I listened carefully. I shared with her how having faith in Jesus had helped my family through the grief and I asked her if she had any spiritual beliefs. She said she was spiritual and as she elaborated I continued to listen and prayed constantly. However every train station brought us closer to our destination and I wanted to leave her with something that would give her a taste of the gospel. I chose Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
I wanted my travelling companion to know “every spiritual blessing” is found in Jesus. Every single one of our spiritual needs has been met by God the Father through his son Jesus. It seemed she didn’t think Christianity had a lot to offer, but I wanted to surprise her with the news that Jesus is the source of every spiritual blessing. The following verses elaborate on what this spiritual blessing is.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Christians lack absolutely nothing and have absolutely everything they need to not only stand before God the father as holy and blameless, but to be his child! Go ahead and read those verses again and soak in them. In Christ we are holy, blameless, loved, chosen and adopted. How very special we are to God!
Often we are reluctant to share our faith because we worry what other people will think of us. But their rejection or acceptance of our message does nothing to change your identity in Christ. Use Ephesians 1 to remind yourself of who you are in Christ. Nothing can change this. God has chosen you to represent him. So go ahead confidently – even if you don’t know what you’re doing, God sure does. Trust him – you are the right person for the job.
Of course, it wasn’t just the spiritual blessings I wanted to share on the train, but how we have them. Paul is celebrating not just our identity in Christ, but God’s goodness and grace in giving them to us through Christ.
This becomes clearer in the next few verses:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephesians 1: 7-10).
The gospel message is that Jesus is the Saving King of heaven and earth. Of course, Jesus redeems us, so again we see our story being celebrated here, but the bigger message is about the richness of God’s grace which sent his Son to die on a cross in the first place. But that’s not the whole story. Having died for us, it is God’s good pleasure “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth” under the rule of Jesus. It is impossible to celebrate our identity in Christ, without celebrating Christ, our saviour and king. This has two implications for evangelism.
Firstly, how do we tell our story of salvation? Do we wrap it up in God’s larger story? Is Jesus the focus of your testimony? It is well worth taking the time to understand this. Not only will it fill your heart with joy and celebration, but it will give you opportunity to point others to Jesus when you share your story.
Secondly, now is the time to tell others about the wonderful Lordship of Jesus Christ. We can’t leave this out when we tell others about Jesus. To only speak of Jesus saving us, or God adopting us is to obscure Jesus’ identity. How can people follow Jesus as King, if they don’t know he’s ruling? The question many of us ask though, is “how do we do this”? The next couple of verses touch on two ways this can be done.
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. (Ephesians 1: 11-14)
The very existence of God’s people on earth, marked with the Holy Spirit is proof of the reign of his son Jesus and brings praise to God. So be encouraged! Just letting people know you are a Christian is part of the way we bring glory to God. Of course it’s worth asking whether your life matches this declaration. Do you live like Jesus is your king? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Our life should reflect the reality of who we are in Christ.
Finally, we need to tell people the gospel. The Ephesians were included in all these blessings when they “heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation” and believed. The only way our friends and family, workmates and world can be included in these marvellous blessings is for them to hear that Jesus is the Saving King. Could you explain this to a friend? There are lots of ways to do this, but it does help to practice a gospel outline to at least give you clarity on the main points. On that train that day I started with Ephesians 1:3.
I took out my pen and wrote on the back of my business card the words from Ephesians 1:3. I then asked her, “Is it ok if I give you something?”. I showed her the card and explained “I’ve written a small piece of the bible down for you to reflect on. If it means something to you, or you’d like to know what it means, my contact details are on the other side”. The lady took the card and read the bible verse. “Thanks very much” she said “That’s very special”. All I can do now is pray that God will lead her to the rest of Ephesians 1 so she too can know everything Jesus has done for – to the praise of God’s glory.
Thoughts to Ponder:
- What brings praise to God?
- Does your testimony reveal your decision to believe the gospel message?
- Does your life match your identity in Christ?
- Given the opportunity, could you share the gospel message with someone?