“Costly Christianity”

Ephesians 1:1-14

Today we begin reading the Book of Ephesians. Paul is writing this letter to the churches around Ephesus that have only just begun to meet and encourage each other to live out a life that follows Jesus. 

Before we begin, let’s set the stage. 

What was life like for these churches? 

They were small, much like we are. They met in individual’s homes, or in an outdoor courtyard. They didn’t have a budget, or a minister. There wasn’t a book called “The Bible.” But they did have letters from Paul, the man who started their congregation. Mind you, at the time of reading this letter, Paul was in a Roman prison. 

The congregation would have been made up of born again Jews and Gentiles. Today that sounds normal, but back in the first century Jews and Gentiles didn’t meet together. It was against Jewish law for one thing and Gentiles didn’t always have nice things to say about the Jews either. But here they were, meeting together, worshiping God. Paul understands their need for direction and clarification. Remember, before meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul spent most of his energy killing Christians. Following his conversion, God was using his Jewish wisdom to connect the dots. Paul was able to put the Messiah pieces together with his Jewish knowledge and explain to others how Jesus was God. Most converts in the first century were like most converts in the 21st century. We hear the good news of Jesus Christ, we believe, and we choose to follow Jesus. Then we join a church to figure out what that actually means for our lives. Paul’s letter to the churches of Ephesus will teach us, just like it taught them what it means to be a congregation that lives for Jesus, in a world that doesn’t.

Verses 3 through 14 of chapter one happen to be just one complete, run-on sentence in Greek. We could spend weeks on this sentence alone. Paul is proclaiming the blessings we receive because of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit. Unfortunately today’s church has become confused on what God’s blessings are all about. Today’s Christian looks for that material blessing from God that comes in the promises of health, the promises of wealth, the promise of finding the perfect husband or wife, the promise of healthy children, the promise of a nice home and worry free retirement. We look towards the physical, the material things that come from God. What He intends to give us through Jesus is spiritual blessings. Which are far better than material ones. It’s these spiritual blessings that enable us to deal with the difficulties of a world that’s gone bad. 

As we read through today’s passage, I pray that you will begin to see how God actually blesses us and what God’s blessings actually look like.


Mind you, physical blessings do come from God. We can look back at Deuteronomy 28 and read how God blessed the Israelites for their obedience with material things. They received the promise of land, the promise of cattle, the promise of provision.  But when we compare that to the blessings we discover in the New Testament, with the new covenant under the God-man Jesus, we discover the blessings going inward and they become internal. They are relational and deeper than any material thing we can experience here on Earth. 

The blessing following Jesus’ incarnation, is the promise of the gift of Christ Himself. There is actually a parallel to this in the Old Testament. 

The priesthood, the Levites were to take no inheritance from the land. The Lord Himself would be their portion. In the New Testament, we are told that all believers are a royal priesthood. The gift from the Father that is received in His Son by the work of the Spirit. Hopefully it is no surprise that God is not going to give you everything you have ever wanted. However, He will provide everything you need, through Jesus. When we focus on Jesus as the gift, we realize what really matters is the spiritual gift that allows us to live in this material world with victory. 

That’s the blessing! That’s it! 

It doesn’t get better than Jesus! 

Wrap your head around it. 

The Godhead, became human, as Jesus Christ, incarnate, in order to bless us with a returned relationship with our creator. 

Think about it. 

Humankind with all its self-centeredness and rebellion against God remains the focal point of God’s affection and He blesses us with His presence and redemption. 

In this passage we can see the essence of the Trinity. There is the Father, the giver of the gift, the Son, is where everything is wrapped up and then we see the Spirit, who becomes the communicator. Notice Paul writes we have a “spiritual” blessing. This tells us the quality of the gift and the means by which the gift is given. The quality of the gift changes us from the inside. We were once carnal but we are now spiritual. The Spirit communicates to us what Jesus is like and when we understand who Jesus is and what He is like we have seen the Father. 

Paul puts this clearly at the end of 2 Corinthians 13:14, 

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Notice where this spiritual blessing is found, verse 3, 

“in the heavenly realms.”

This demonstrates how these blessings are not of this material world. This Greek phrase, which means “in the heavenlies” is only found in the book of Ephesians and Paul happens to use it five times. This description isn’t as much a place, like up in heaven, as it is a dimension, like another “realm.” 

I immediately go to the book, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. She writes about the fourth dimension as time and the fifth dimension as a tesseract, a portal through space and time.

Following Jesus’ resurrection He was able to walk through walls and suddenly appear with His disciples. 

I have no concept of what this realm is, but Paul continues to write about it. Look at verse 20, chapter 1, 

“he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,”

Christ has been placed there, in the heavenly realms. Then go to Ephesians 2:6, 

 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”

So Jesus said He would be with us forever, and it seems there is a piece of us that is already with Jesus in the heavenly realm, this other dimension. 

Let’s go to Ephesians 3:10,

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,”

Who are those guys? We will find out later.

Now go to Ephesians 6:12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”   

Paul is declaring a reality to us that most of us have little awareness. But from what we have read, it is the place where the gifts of God are obtained, but it’s also a place where the child of God and the church of God engages in spiritual warfare. 

Check in time. 

Most of us spend the majority of our time right here, in the physical reality of our lives, our earthly realm. When we think of heaven we think of “up.” 

But we’ve just read that Christ contains the gift of the heavenly realm. He comes to us and He demands that we rise up, not by the flesh, but by the Spirit and participate in this heavenly realm. By the time we get to chapter 6 Paul explains that not only is Jesus in the heavenly realm, but so are evil forces. There are battles going on there. 

No wonder we don’t want to go there. 

Yet, Paul is telling us in chapter one that as Christians, we are to be taking every spiritual blessing Jesus offers and come closer to Jesus and the Holy Spirit so that we can be prepared for this spiritual warfare. 

There is a parallel for this in the Old Testament, where Moses takes the Israelite slaves out of Egypt and takes them to the Promise Land. Along the way they encounter difficulties, many due to their own making. 

When they eventually arrive in the Promised Land, that is where they experience battles. Along the way the Israelites spent most of their time wandering in the wilderness because of their obstinate behaviors towards God. Many Christians today spend a lot of their time in “wilderness living.” We are not engaged in the battle. Paul is telling us that on this side of heaven, walking with Jesus means we will combat evil. Remember Jesus told His disciples, John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Next in Ephesians, 1:4-5 we see that this gift plays itself out in election. 

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— “

The church has had more separation by interpretations of this verse and the doctrine of “election” than any other doctrine. There are many theologians who believe that election involves God choosing a particular person or group of people to a particular task or relationship, especially eternal life. 

Personally I can’t go there. I do not believe that election is a divine determinism. Like somewhere back in time, God Jesus and the Holy Spirit made a static decision long before the beginning of creation and said, 

“What about so and so we are going to make? 

Let’s make her and 

then let’s send her to hell.” 

That sounds weird doesn’t it? 

Is that your idea about God?  

If you believe this then the question arises, 

“Why would God choose anyone? 

For all have fallen short of the glory of God. 

And yet, we are told Christ died for all, 

that whosoever believes is saved. 

So what is “election?

We never read about election where God chooses one person rather than another. Any time we read about “election” in the New Testament it is directly connected to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. We can go back to the Old Testament and read about a chosen or elected person, Abraham, back in Genesis 12. 

God calls a pagan man, named Abraham. There is no evidence that Abraham believed in, or knew God or followed God before his calling. And yet, God told Abraham, 

“I will make you into a great nation,

    and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

    and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

    and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

    will be blessed through you.”

Another chosen or elected is the Israelites. They definitely didn’t deserve it. They rebelled the whole way from Egypt to the Promised Land and yet God says in Exodus 19:6, 

“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’”

What are priests? 

They are mediators between God and humans. Here God says the Israelites were to be a mediator of God’s redemptive plan. 

In the New Testament, John 15:16 Jesus says, 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—

Election isn’t about God choosing someone before the beginning of time, but instead, it’s about God choosing people and nations 

to be carriers of His redemptive plan to all. 

Election has three realities: 

1- It’s God’s work, start to finish

2 – It carries with it a daunting responsibility to carry God’s redemptive message to all

3 – It is a privilege, you have become co-heirs with Christ

So is everyone chosen? Elected? 

Yes, God has chosen Christ to be the sacrificial lamb for everyone, universally. 


God’s free gift will not be universally responded to. 

I’m sure many of us here know of someone who has heard the gospel and for one reason or another they have decided to turn away and not accept the free gift of salvation. 

As far as I can see, election is wrapped up in Jesus. 

Isn’t that a wonderful gift?! God has chosen us in Jesus. For those of us who have responded affirmatively to that decision, our eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit, to the reality of what Christ has done for us. 

Then, “In him,” verse 7&8, 

We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. 


Grace is receiving a blessing that you don’t deserve. 

Not only does God give us grace, He also provides 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, 

This means we should know God’s will for our lives. I remember having graduated from college and being offered two teaching positions and having no idea which one God wanted me to take. I went to my pastor at the time and asked him how I could tell the “will” of God for me. His answer has remained with me for all other decisions that have come my way. 

God’s will for me was clear, “Love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my might and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself.” 

Either decision would allow me to do that. Whichever decision I chose, I was to do so with Jesus as the center of my life. Jesus promised to be with me wherever I went. Without a clear direction from God as long as I lived for Him, God will use me wherever I go.

Ultimately, all things will be brought under Christ, Philippians 2:10-11

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

This is not about a universal salvation, but of a universal rule of Christ. This is what Paul was calling the early church and the church today, to work to that fulfillment which has already been accomplished on the cross. 

The victory is patiently working its way out 

as God continues to give room 

for people to respond 

to decisions God has made 

about them 

through Jesus. 

We may wonder why God is taking so long to return? Basically, God has time, He’s patient. 

This is actually a good thing. 

So where does that leave us? Verse 13 & 14,

For those included in Christ, 

when we heard the message of truth, 

the gospel of our salvation, 

When we believed, we were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit

And the Holy Spirit that lives within us…

Is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance

Until the redemption of those who are God’s possession

To the praise of His glory. 

God has given Himself freely through Jesus

If we want the inheritance of Jesus

We must put ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus.

By doing so we enter into the spiritual battles. 

The problem is we want the inheritance without submitting our will. 

But God wants more. 

The choice isn’t an easy one. The cost of discipleship is heavy, but the price of living a life without Jesus is even worse. Paul understood the cost of following Jesus. He was sitting in prison because of his belief. The book of Ephesians is an honest letter to a church of believers of what it would take to live for Christ in a fallen world. 

May we as followers of Jesus, live each day for the praise of His glory. 

Let’s pray. 


“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”