God’s Special Calling And Inheritance In His People.
Ephesians 1:15 – 23.
This is the first of two prayers in the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Ephesian church. He had written this circular Letter from his imprisonment in Rome around A.D.60, and his purpose was to strengthen the believers in their faith as he exposited the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ. During those times, the challenges to the church were enormous: the politically adversarial climate of Roman occupation, together with a nascent religious persecution of all things Christian, the existence of a proliferation of heresies, and the accompanying economic deprivation of non-Roman citizens. And yet, it is surprising that Paul did not pray for these issues. Instead, he rose above their immediate everyday desperate concerns, focusing them on just one important facet of their faith: the hope of their calling in Christ, and the riches of His glory in them (Eph 1:18). Why did Paul choose to emphasize that? What was his confidence in the Ephesian believers that emboldened him in his particular prayer objective for them?
There were two reasons: the Apostle heard about the Ephesians’ faith and their love for the people of God (Eph 1:15). He distilled a deeply profound principle on the content of their faith; what they believed determined how they lived through those troubled times. Inevitably, the trial of our faith would surface the reality and depth of our belief, exposing the centrality and intimacy of our relationship with our Lord. How we live is a reflection of that vital bond. Secondly, the reality of their faith was evidenced by their loving expression of it towards ALL His people. This gradual but revolutionary dispositional and behavioural change was an unavoidable demonstration of their transformed love; it was nothing short of being an unambiguous extension of Christ’s explicit love to and through them. They truly and publicly loved one another – everyone could see it.
Paul then progressed from belief and faith and its expression, to the surpassing greatness of His power that made all this possible (Eph 1:18-19). He prayed that they would know the mind-boggling hope (or assurance) of God’s calling – a purposefully initiated Divine power to save despicable humanity (cf., 1 Cor 1: 18-31). Note the pronoun, that it was His calling (never our calling) and His inheritance (never our inheritance). Can you imagine the incredulous decision by God, who created and owns everything in this universe, yet He decided that puny, sinful man has become His singular fortune – the riches of His glory of His inheritance? God had invested His glory in man, and by implication, what we say and how we behave do impact Him and His glory! Furthermore, God’s power also resurrected Christ, and ultimately, it will bring everything in subjection to His church, with Christ as her head (Eph 1:19-22). Paul is absolutely convinced that everything that has happened and will occur in His creation is under His absolute control as a result of His unbelievable power. There is certainly no requirement to put our trust in anything or anyone else!
Like the Ephesians, where spiritual wisdom and the knowledge of God are concerned, there is nothing intrinsically in us that deserves His grace, but to have our eyes opened by His Holy Spirit is the key to grasping these overwhelming truths in living as a testimony to God’s calling and inheritance in us. We are only limited by the measure of our faith, which reflects the actuality of our union with our Lord.