Henri Nouwen said there are three ways people identify themselves: 1) I am what I do (business man, secretary, mother); 2) I am what I have (money, power, friends); and 3) I am what others say about me (beautiful, ambitious, bossy). We all have the tendency to find our identity in these things. As we spend the next four weeks looking at our identity in Christ, we’ll be asking this question: “If Christ has made you new, what should most define you?”
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—6to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:1-10
If you could pick a new name, what would it be?
Read Ephesians 1:1-10. What does the word “blessed” mean?
In the Greek, verses 3-10 are one paragraph with the theme of what it means to be “in Christ”. How many times in these verses does Paul use the phrase “in Christ” (or “in Him”)? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
List the spiritual blessings that define your identity “in Christ” because of your adoption (verses 4-7):
- ______________________________________ 4. ______________________________________
- ______________________________________ 5. ______________________________________
- ______________________________________ 6. ______________________________________
Paul writes that even before the foundation of the world God had already chosen those who would be adopted through Christ. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, how does it make you feel that you have always been a part of God’s plan?
Aaron explained that at the time Paul wrote Ephesians, Roman adoption meant that the adoptee had the rights of a fully legitimate child in the new family, an inheritance from the new family, and a complete break/erasure from the old family. How does this compare with what God offers you as His adopted child?
Read Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. According to Dictionary.com, “Abba” is “an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy”. Do you feel this way about God? Have you experienced Him as a loving Father?
Spend time this week meditating on your spiritual blessings in Christ. If you are having difficulty believing or accepting any of them, prayerfully ask God to open the eyes of your heart to feel His love for you. Look for ways to share your blessings with others as a way to glorify your Abba, Father.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
The doctrine of “predestination” can be difficult and controversial. Read through the following Scriptures and questions to help you gain a better understanding of this concept.
What does it mean to be “predestined”?
Read John 6:44, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:29-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:1-2. What do these passages say about being chosen or predestined?
Read Ephesians 1:5 and 9. On what basis does God predestine people?
What do the following passages say about God’s heart toward all people? Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:13, I Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9
Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and Romans 11:33, and write your thoughts on predestination below,