All These Riches
Before you begin…
• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.
• Read Ephesians 1:1–14. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Rich. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.
From the Commentary
When Jesus Christ wrote His last will and testament for His church, He made it possible for us to share His spiritual riches. Instead of spending it all, Jesus Christ paid it all. His death on the cross and His resurrection make possible our salvation.
He wrote us into His will, then He died so the will would be in force. Then He arose again that He might become the heavenly Advocate (lawyer) to make sure the terms of the will were correctly followed!
—Be Rich, page 29
Q1: What does it mean to be “adopted” by God the Father? What are the spiritual riches we are offered because of that adoption?
More to Consider: Take a moment to think about adoption as we understand the concept in today’s world. How is the world’s view of adoption similar to or different from what Paul means when he describes God’s adoption of His children?
Q2: Choose one verse or phrase from Ephesians 1:1–14 that stands out to you. This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here. What strikes you about this verse?
He has chosen us (v. 4). This is the marvelous doctrine of election, a doctrine that has confused some and confounded others. A seminary professor once said to me, “Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!” That salvation begins with God, and not with man, all Christians will agree. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The lost sinner, left to his own ways, does not seek God (Rom. 3:10–11); God in His love seeks the sinner (Luke 19:10).
—Be Rich, pages 29–30
Q3: What does Paul mean in Ephesians 1:4 when he says God “chose us” before the creation of the world? What makes the concept of “election” difficult to understand? Why is it critical to seek to understand this tenet of faith?
Note that God chose us even before He created the universe, so that our salvation is wholly of His grace and not on the basis of anything we ourselves have done. He chose us in Christ, not in ourselves. And He chose us for a purpose: to be holy and without blame. In the Bible, election is always unto something. It is a privilege that carries a great responsibility.
Does the sinner respond to God’s grace against his own will? No, he responds because God’s grace makes him willing to respond. The mystery of divine sovereignty and human responsibility will never be solved in this life. Both are taught in the Bible (John 6:37). Both are true, and both are essential.
—Be Rich, page 30
Q4: Read Ephesians 1:11–14. How do the two apparent contradictions of being chosen and choosing to believe create a mystery worth knowing? Why doesn’t God’s sovereignty negate man’s responsibility? Why are both essential?
From the History Books
The concept of predestination is often associated with Protestant reformer John Calvin, but the theological concept of God’s sovereignty was originally examined by Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century AD. While the early church almost universally held up the idea of “free will,” Augustine posed the idea that God’s grace is granted based on His foreknowledge of the human desire to gain salvation.
Q5: What are the most significant implications of predestination? What is appealing about the concept of predestination? What are the challenges to understanding this idea? How might free will and predestination work together?
Adoption has a dual meaning, both present and future. You do not get into God’s family by adoption. You get into His family by regeneration, the new birth (John 3:1–18; 1 Peter 1:22–25). Adoption is the act of God by which He gives His “born ones” an adult standing in the family. Why does He do this? So that we might immediately begin to claim our inheritance and enjoy our spiritual wealth! A baby cannot legally use this inheritance (Gal. 4:1–7), but an adult son can—and should! This means that you do not have to wait until you are an old saint before you can claim your riches in Christ.
The future aspect of adoption is found in Romans 8:22–23, the glorified body we will have when Jesus returns.
—Be Rich, page 31
Q6: Describe the “now” and “not yet” aspects of adoption. What are some of the present riches that Christians gain immediately after they’ve been “adopted”? How does (or should) this affect the way Christians live today?
This letter has much to say about God’s plan for His people, a plan that was not fully understood even in Paul’s day. The word mystery has nothing to do with things eerie. It means a “sacred secret, once hidden but now revealed to God’s people.” We believers are a part of God’s “inner circle.” We are able to share in the secret that God will one day unite everything in Christ. Ever since sin came into the world, things have been falling apart. First, man was separated from God (Gen. 3). Then man was separated from man, as Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4). People tried to maintain a kind of unity by building the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11), but God judged them and scattered them across the world. God called Abraham and put a difference between the Jew and the Gentile, a difference that was maintained until Christ’s death on the cross. Sin is tearing everything apart, but in Christ, God will gather everything together in the culmination of the ages. We are a part of this great eternal program.
—Be Rich, pages 32–33
Q7: What is the “sacred secret”? What are some of the things Paul reveals in Ephesians about God’s plan for His people? How does being part of God’s “inner circle” affect the way we should reach out to those who don’t yet know Christ? How do we keep the “inner circle” idea from becoming a barrier?
He has sealed us (v. 13). The entire process of salvation is given in this verse, so we had better examine it carefully. It tells how the sinner becomes a saint. First, he hears the gospel of salvation. This is the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Cor. 15:1ff.). The Ephesians were Gentiles, and the gospel came “to the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16). But Paul, a Jew, brought the gospel to the Gentiles as he shared the Word of God with them.
The Ephesians “heard the gospel” and discovered it was for them—“your salvation” (Eph. 1:13). Even though the Bible teaches election, it also announces, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). A soul winner does not discuss election with unsaved people, because it is a family secret that belongs to the saints.
—Be Rich, pages 33–34
Q8: Why are Christians called to preach the gospel if the idea of election is true? How is this an example of obedience? Of God’s sovereignty? Of His mystery?
More to Consider: Verse 14 says that God has given us an “earnest” (KJV). In Paul’s day, it meant “the down payment to guarantee the final purchase of some commodity or a piece of property.” Even today you will hear a real-estate agent talk about earnest money. In what ways is the gift of the Holy Spirit like “earnest money”?
Did you notice that after each of the main sections in Ephesians 1:4–14, Paul added the purpose behind these gifts? Why has God the Father chosen us, adopted us, and accepted us? “To the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6). Why has the Son redeemed us, forgiven us, revealed God’s will to us, and made us part of God’s inheritance? “That we should be to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). Why has God the Spirit sealed us and become the guarantee of our future blessing? “Unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14).
We often have the idea that God saves sinners mainly because He pities them or wants to rescue them from eternal judgment, but God’s main purpose is that He might be glorified.
—Be Rich, page 36
Q9: What does it mean that God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself? According to Ephesians, what role do Christians play in that? Why do you think Paul focuses so much in this passage on God’s glory?
There is always more spiritual wealth to claim from the Lord as we walk with Him. The Bible is our guidebook; the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. As we search the Word of God, we discover more and more of the riches we have in Christ. These riches were planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and presented by the Spirit. There is really no need for us to live in poverty when all of God’s wealth is at our disposal!
—Be Rich, page 37
Q10: What are some of the riches that Christians can discover in Christ? How does this truth about riches in Christ speak to those people who are poor in material things? Those who are wealthy?
Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of Ephesians 1:1–14. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.
Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press for people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.
Q11: How does being adopted into God’s family affect you personally? For example, what are the practical results of this adoption? What is the emotional impact? How does adoption by Christ affect your daily routine? The way you interact with family? Friends? Believers? Nonbelievers?
Q12: What is the most difficult thing for you to understand about the relationship between “election” and “man’s responsibility”? How would you respond to someone who says, “Nothing we do matters, because God already preordained everything”?
Q13: What are some of the riches you have already experienced because of being adopted into Christ’s kingdom? What are some new discoveries about God that have come since your adoption? What are some of the hopes you have for this “kingdom life” that you have been granted?
Q14: Think of one or two things that you have learned that you’d like to incorporate into your life in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to focus on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try).
Do you need to focus on what it means to be adopted by Christ? Do you need to better learn what it means to be responsible for your own actions? Do you need to offer thanks to God for selecting you? Be specific. Go back through Ephesians 1:1–14 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that speaks to the area you most need to work on. Consider memorizing this verse.
Real-Life Application Ideas: Research the theological concept of predestination (Calvinism is the most well-known form) and meet with fellow believers to discuss it. Follow up that discussion with a talk about the various opportunities you have in your everyday life to share the good news with others. Come up with practical ways you can be obedient to God in sharing that good news.
Q15: Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.
Notes for Small Groups:
• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.
• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read and studied.
• Before you start the next lesson, read Ephesians 1:15—2:10. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 3 and 4, “Read the Bank Book” and “Get Out of the Graveyard,” in Be Rich.