Have you ever opened a can of sardines and noticed how each fish is jam-packed together and sealed? Well, that’s how Ephesians 1:3-14 seems to me. It’s one incredible, ginormous paragraph that Paul wrote while sitting in prison. He was undoubtedly encouraging himself as he penned those words of promise and revelation for our souls.
Before we begin these weeks of delving into his words, it’s necessary for us to understand a key phrase: in Christ. Volumes could be written about this phrase but in a nutshell, being in Christ means that you are a faithful follower of Him through His forgiveness. He has taken away your sin and given you His righteousness. When that happens the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and gives you divine guidance every day. Consequently, where we go, He goes. What we hear, He hears. What we see, He sees. Kinda scary, huh? When we are in Christ Jesus (‘in the Beloved’ or ‘in Him’) we receive a new identity; the old is gone and the new has come. We are no longer identified by our sinful self, the old man, but we receive a heavenly citizenship with heavenly privileges in the new man.
Now, when you think heavenly you probably think of when you die and go to heaven. Even though that’s true, that’s not what Paul is talking about. He’s talking about the here and now; he’s talking about those privileges that are given to us by the Spirit of God for today.
Do you remember that God created us ‘in His image’? He desired a people who would love and follow Him as a son follows a father. He made a representation of Himself in us and when we become His follower we are restored to that image. That is being in Christ. Paul had a revelation of that image and in fact uses that phrase, and no one else does, over 30 times in the book of Ephesians and over 200 times in the rest of his writings! I think he’s making his point. It is crucial, as faithful followers of Christ, to internalize what it means to us to be in Him.
Next week, in this archival message, we’ll be unpacking those verses to see what legitimately belongs to us and be reminded of His promises. I want to walk through that paragraph in Eph. 1 with you and become, as Mark Driscoll says, revelation receivers. The Holy Spirit will give you new life as you read and meditate on His Word for it’s written to you, the Church, and no one else. Metaphorically, it’s the Head (Jesus) speaking to the body (us) in order to remain strong and enduring. So, take a few moments this week to read and re-read those verses. You’ll be overwhelmed at first, everyone is, but watch for that key phrase, in Christ, and let it’s marvelous meaning flood your heart and mind.