"What is our relational God like?”
He is the relational Trinity! Mind blowing!
A buddy and I were chatting the other night about this key question. God is unknowable. Not beyond knowing and experiencing, of course. But beyond fully knowing since God is also mystery. For me, immeasurable oceans of His vastness still remain undiscovered after my forty+ years of walking with Him. What I do know and experience, though, oh my, what a delight and a blessing. The first part of Ephesians chapter 1 begins to answer the two most essential questions in life.
1. “What is God like?”
2. “How does this God see and know me/us?”
Similar to Genesis 1:1, Paul begins first with God in relationship to His people. Specifically, Paul launches Ephesians with what scholars call the Trinity (or Trinitarian, which means “from the description of God as Trinity”). The relational Trinity, one God in three persons, Father, Son and Spirit, all equally God, is mind-blowing theology. It's also life-impacting Reality that ravishes my heart as truth intersects life. A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about God.
For me, the first two verses tap into what is at the core of Paul’s ministry. This is typical Paul. He begins in 1:1-2 with a concise summary of what he spells out in more detail in Ephesians 1-3. The connected relationship between God and His people supplies what these 1st century followers needed for life. Into His “saints,” that is those set aside for God, He pours out grace (God’s unmerited, divine favor and enabling) and peace (the presence of God’s deep, abiding wellbeing that penetrates every aspect of life). Grace gives us resources for life and peace provides a safe, secure, life-releasing home (similar to the Hebrew word Shalom).
Now open your Bible to Ephesians 1:3-14. Take time to read and reread 3-6, 7-12 and 13-14 as small units, time and again. Briefly summarize the gist of each unit before moving on. Action-learning is essential to maximize impact.
Paul has the capacity to surprise us! These words from 1:3 to 1:14 tumble out as one unending sentence in the original manuscript. Can you sense Paul’s awe and wonder in these passages…and His excitement that we might “get it”? His heart is ready to explode. His energized outburst of heartfelt praise to the Triune God arises from Paul’s enthusiastic love towards God. He glimpses what the Triune God has done in, for and with us in Christ, and the vast possibilities. Each section concludes with “praise of His glory,” (or His magnificent splendor, or the brilliance of God’s presence, the stunning Reality of who He is).
And God has included us in His plan spanning eternity.
Notice how Paul first calls us to exuberant praise to God for who He is and what He has done in verse 3. God fashioned us as worshippers to become more like whatever we set our hearts on. Nothing is more crucial for us than to set our hearts in loving adoration and passionate desire on God. As worshippers, “we become what we behold,” so let’s delight ourselves in Him.
The Relational Trinity, God the Father (1:3-6).
We praise God the Father because: (1) our Father blessed us with every good gift imaginable (1:3). (2) Our Father chose us before the world was created, demonstrating that our unending relationship with Him is based on His sovereign choice, not anything we could ever do (1:4). (3) Our Father predestined us to be adopted.
In human adoption, parents set their hearts on a specific child to be an integral part of their family. God set His heart on us for His Family. Now, don’t get hung up on the words “predestination” or “chosen.” Focus on the main-&-plain of what it says. God initiated to adopt us into His Family because it was His great pleasure. Don’t stumble over the magnitude of this promise, but soak in it, embrace it, “to the praise of His glorious grace.” I would like to rest here awhile, but Paul rushes on.
The Relational Trinity, God the Son (1:7-12).
In Jesus Christ through faith in Him, (1) we have been ransomed from our enemy’s clutches and fully forgiven, each and every one of our sins (1:7-8). (2) Paul then gives us a glimpse into the epic, cosmic adventure to which He has joined us in Jesus Christ. We are participants in a far-reaching call, something larger than ourselves, something that will ultimately bring all things together under His Father’s headship (1:9-10). (3) Again Paul emphasizes that God chose and predestined His people in Christ according to God’s plan formulated before time (1:11-12). First and foremost, Paul underscores the God who initiates. God longs to have our lives count “for the praise of His glory.”
The Relational Trinity, God the Spirit (1:13-14).
The Spirit of God, equally divine along with the Father and Son, (1) includes us permanently in Christ the instant we believe. (2) The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal that marks us for Himself, (3) since He Himself is the deposit guaranteeing our unending life with the Father, Son and Spirit “to the praise of His glory.”
Download booklet from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community.Also, visit my website at: JimFredericks.com