Our Glorious Redemption: Union With Christ (Eph. 1:3-14) part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 20 September 2017

The spiritual blessings we have in Christ consist of, but are not limited to, all the elements of ordo salutis. So then, what does it mean that we have received every spiritual blessing in Christ?

First, it means that we have received all spiritual blessings in the power or virtue of Jesus Christ, on His credit. How could God choose us before the foundation of the world (v. 4)? This election was obviously for our redemption and redemption is for sinners. It was possible, then, only because God chose His Son to be the Savior of His elect people. How about predestining us for adoption as sons (v. 5)? Can fallen sinners ever hope to be adopted as God’s children? Of course not! This is possible only because God’s chosen Redeemer is God’s only Son. And if God could bless us with grace (v. 6), it’s only because His beloved Son fulfilled the covenant of works as our Champion and Representative. 

 

It is obvious how we could have redemption (v. 7): it is because Jesus purchased us with His blood from the bondage of sin and death. And how can we ever expect God to reveal the mystery of His will to us (v. 9)? This is the kind of thing a person does with his closest friend or confidant. It is only because Christ as the Son knows His Father’s will and He as our Savior reconciled us to God. If God could plan to unite all things (v. 10)—not just Jews and Gentiles but also man and the whole universe and man and God—it is because Jesus is the eternal Son of God, sovereign Lord of all, and Redeemer of His people.

Our Glorious Redemption: Union With Christ (Eph. 1:3-14) part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 19 September 2017

We can see why this is such an important concept. In our journey through ordo salutis, we have stressed that salvation is from sin in all its aspects—from its punishment, from its power, from its presence, and even from its possibility. But why is sin so bad that we must be saved from it? Ultimately, it is because sin separates us from God: “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Our salvation from sin, then, is only a means to a greater end: it is for us to be united with God! In other words, Jesus should not be viewed simply as the means through which we receive the elements of ordo salutis. Jesus is also the very goal of our salvation.Why should we consider our union with Christ the goal and the essence and the fullness of our salvation?

 

 

Paul begins this section by blessing God: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:3). This is a thesis statement of sorts for what he is about to say in this doxology and in this letter as a whole. As such, it contains many important ideas. For the sake of time, I will only mention two that are pertinent to our topic for today: 1) God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places; 2) God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Our Glorious Redemption: Union With Christ (Eph. 1:3-14) part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 19 September 2017

You might have thought that this sermon series on ordo salutis (order of salvation) ended with last week’s message on glorification. Sorry, thismessage will be the last one. It is true that glorification is the final element, the culmination of the order of salvation. But this series on ordo salutis cannot be complete if we don’t address this central biblical idea called “union with Christ.” This idea is derived from the phrase frequently used in the New Testament to describe the believer’s position: “in Christ.” And Paul actually says in Rom. 6:5, “For if we have beenunited with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Why do we need to address this idea in our reflections on ordo salutis?

Certainly, not merely as an element of ordo salutis. As we will see, this idea of “union with Christ” or “being in Christ” is what threads all the elements of ordo salutis together. We can say that each element of ordo salutis highlights a different aspect or benefit of our union with Christ. Through this, we will conclude that salvation is not what we get from Christ but what we find in Christ.

Our Glorious Redemption: Glorification (Rom. 8:18-25) part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 15 September 2017

Even the greatest spiritual blessings we enjoy here will not compare to our future enjoyment of the eternal blessings in heaven. Likewise, the greatest affliction and pain we go through here in this world will seem only too light and brief when compared to the eternal weight of glory we will have in heaven. “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal” (Crowder, “Come as You Are”). If that is true here on earth, how much more in heaven!

Let us live in the hope of our glorification! Hope is a powerful thing. It can sustain us through overwhelming challenges and repeated setbacks. It can shine a ray of light into the darkest of circumstances and breathe life into what seemed lifeless. Hope is a powerful thing even when it is baseless. But the hope of our glorification is grounded in what God has predestined before the foundation of the world, whose fulfillment cannot be thwarted. It is as certain and unchangeable as the past. For the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the first fruits of our future resurrection. No darkness of despair can overcome the light of our hope; no weight of affliction and pain can squash the heavenward buoyancy of our hope. And no amount of worldly possession or position or power or prestige can make us arrogant. For they are nothing in comparison to the surpassing magnificence of our glorification!

 

 

Our Glorious Redemption: Glorification (Rom. 8:18-25) part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 September 2017

Paul suggests that there is a connection between man and the creation, that their fates are bound together. It is not just human beings who suffer and groan; “the creation [too] was subjected to futility…” (v. 20) and “bondage to corruption” (v. 21) , “groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (v. 22). But the two are not just united in suffering; they are also united in hope as well: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (v. 19); “…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v. 21); “not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (v. 23).

From these words, we learn more than the unity between man and the creation; we also learn the priority of man over the creation—that is, the fate of the creation depends on the fate of man. We should not be surprised by this. That connection was established all the way back at the time of creation. Why is the creation in so much suffering and misery when God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them “good,” “very good” (Gen. 1:31)? Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve. In announcing the punishment, God said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you…” (Gen. 3:17). This was because the connection was established even before the Fall. One of the blessings God bestowed on man was, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” (Gen. 1:28). Even more significantly, man was made of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). So, when man must die under the curse of sin, he must return to the dust (Gen. 3:19). Because of this connection, man and the creation were united in the Fall, united in their present groaning in suffering and futility. But the two are also united in the hope of glorification by the same connection. Since man’s Fall brought curse and futility and groaning to the creation, man’s redemption must also include the creation: man’s glorification will be accompanied by a renewal of the creation.

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