Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 2, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 2

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“Ephesians: Themes in Relationships



The inspired Apostle Paul, in his own inimitable way, worshipfully praises God by succinctly comprehending the gospel of the everlasting covenant in this centerpiece verse worth committing to memory. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

“Blessed” means to “eulogize,”—to use good language, to speak well concerning. Filled with a thankful heart for how God has spoken well concerning Paul, the apostle expressed his worship and gratitude by speaking good words about God.

The movement of these words was in the past tense. “God hath blessed us.” The everlasting covenant was just that because before the foundation of the world the Father and the Son made an agreement that if mankind should sin, the Father would forgive and reconcile His enemies, receive them into His family, and give them an inheritance. For His part, the Son contracted with the Father to be the Representative of the fallen race and mediate the blessings of the covenant as its Guarantor. The Holy Spirit would apply all these blessings to the sinner. The economy of the Godhead was committed to its purpose in creation and to see it accomplished should the obstacle of sin present itself. There was a united God-family at the heart of the universe.

When Adam [mankind] sinned, God was not caught off balance. He immediately promised Eve “all spiritual blessings” in the “seed” Christ Jesus (Gen. 3:15). Christ bore their sin and became the sacrifice in order to pay the death penalty owed by sinners to the law.

The Gift to them was eternal life both in their present probationary existence; and, should they cherish the gift, forever-life in the eternal inheritance of Paradise restored. God spoke this same blessed promise to Noah and Abraham. The covenant was God speaking good words to Abraham (Gen. 12:2, 3). “For all the promises of God in him [Christ] are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20).

What are all these spiritual blessings? Everything is “in Christ.” We receive all spiritual blessings in Him. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32).

Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins—justification of life (Rom. 5:18). In our Representative we have been reconciled to God. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

This gift of all things in Christ is in accordance with the fact that He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that in Him we might obtain holiness (Eph. 1:4).

The destiny chosen for us is the adoption of children into the family of God (Eph. 1:5). Accordingly He accepts us in the Beloved. In the Beloved we have redemption through His blood. All this is the making known to us of the mystery, namely, that in the fullness of times He will gather together in one household all things in Jesus Christ, both things in the heaven and things on the earth.

The purpose of God is that in Christ we have already obtained an inheritance. All who believe in Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is called the Holy Spirit of promise, because it is the surety of the promised inheritance. This seal of the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). These are some of the spiritual [of the Spirit] blessings.

“But all these benefits are only temporary, unless they are received through faith. It is by the cross, the death and resurrection of Christ, that all men live, whether saints or sinners, and so all are sharing in the benefits of His work now, and all will come forth from their graves because of the resurrection of Christ; but it is only those who receive these benefits by a personal faith in Jesus as the One through whom they come, who will be able to retain them to all eternity, God has ‘blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,’ but we must acknowledge that these blessings are all in Christ, and that they are received and retained only as we receive Him, else we shall not be able to keep that which God has given to us.”[1]

Why are “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”? By this we are to know that our true citizenship is in heaven in Christ. Christian patriotism is to be a zealot for the kingdom of God. Hence we have been called out of this world—“For all that is in the world [which is you and me], the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). But God has not physically removed us from this world; yet, He has spiritually separated us from the world by the seal of His Holy Spirit. Thus we may be a blessing to the world by imparting to it the good news of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul E. Penno


[1] E. J. Waggoner, “Notes on the International Sunday-School Lessons. The Resurrection of Jesus, Mark 16:1-8,” The Present Truth, March 31, 1898, pp. 198-200.


Note: Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the inspired source for many of the unique “what-Christ-has-accomplished” and “what-He does-in-you” concepts which make the 1888 message of Christ’s righteousness so unique. The 1888 Message Study Committee has just published Robert J. Wieland’s accompanying commentary on Ephesians, YOU’VE BEEN “ADOPTED.” Call (269) 473-1888 to order; ask for the special introductory price.


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