Although the purpose of this blog is to write about personal finances, it is also to do so from a Christian perspective. So there will be posts that drift away from finances and towards other Christian topics, like theology and doctrine. This is the first of those posts. For those financial nerds out there, this may not be what you were looking for, but I would encourage you to keep reading anyway, as I find these topics to be orders of magnitude more important than maximizing our investment returns.
Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee[a] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[b] to the praise of his glory.
Some friends and I were discussing this passage recently. We did get into the classic Calvinism/Arminianism debate for a bit, but since the nature of salvation is not Paul’s point in this passage, we moved on. When read in the context of both the preceding verses and the entire book, Ephesians 1 is focused not on the process of salvation, but on the blessings of salvation. There are numerous things going on in this passage, but we focused on only one – the Christian’s inheritance. God, through Christ, “lavishes us (v.8)” with blessings, redeeming us out of our selfishness, arrogance, and impurity. Other Scriptures indicate that we have been made co-heirs with Christ, that we are more than conquerors, and that we are sons of the Living God.
Given these clear blessings of identifying with Christ through faith, we thought about why this is. Though we are made in God’s image, we are no gods ourselves. Why should we be elevated even above the angels? Why would God humble himself in Christ, take the form of a servant, just to lift up and redeem a people that had rejected him? Indeed, he died for us while we were still sinners. He adopts us, calls us sons and daughters, and grants us an inheritance of “every spiritual blessing (v. 3).” He has given us everything. Every spiritual blessing. And not because we did anything to warrant such treatment. We didn’t even ask for it. He gave this grace out of his overflowing love.
Just knowing that he did it out of love doesn’t really satisfy me though. At least not on the surface. What kind of love must this be? Certainly one that I don’t comprehend. The story of Hosea comes to mind. Why does God love us so much? It seems that Christ, because of his love, has stepped in for a sinful race, taken the punishment for the evil we caused, fulfilled the Mosaic Law of perfection, and brought that sinful race up to his level of righteousness.
This thought, though, led us to more questions. Are the redeemed in Christ made more perfect than the sinless Adam and Eve? It seems by comparing the environments of the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem pictured in Revelation, that our inheritance in Christ actually surpasses what Adam and Eve experienced before the fall, even when they “walked with God in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8).” Are we made more holy through the process of redemption in Christ? Maybe Christ’s work on the cross is so complete and so perfect that it actually brings us beyond what God (also through Christ) identified as “good” in the initial creation. I think a better way of looking at it is through God’s glory. Thinking about our status is a bit anthropocentric. Let’s remember that God does things for his glory, and the work of Christ and redemption of humankind certainly brings God glory.
Even though we know God’s love and grace is the source and cause for our salvation, it still doesn’t make complete sense. It never will to us. The mystery of God giving us an inheritance that we didn’t earn through his own sacrifice is quite an awe-inspiring thought, even if it does cause us to drown in our own questions when we explore it. Let us always remember to come up for air, remembering that God has secured us by the Holy Spirit (v.13-14).