Beginning this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, I will be preaching a 12 part sermon series out of the book of Ephesians called “Packed.” Here, throughout the summer, I will be posting bible study prompts, devotionals, and group discussion questions to my blog related to the passage we are studying that week. These posts will run in conjunction with the sermon series and help you study God’s Word on your own throughout the summer. In case you missed it, here are the previous two posts in this series:
Ephesians 1:3-14 Study Questions Part 2
- As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth. Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24. “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
- Read Ephesians 1:3-14
- Numerous times in these verses, the idea of God’s “choice” or “predestination” of His followers is mentioned. Make a short list of each reference to God choosing us. What questions does this concept raise in your mind? Is there any part of it that is comforting to you? Any part that is troubling to you?
- According to 1:4 we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. Since none of us are older than planet earth, this implies that God’s selection of us to be His followers preceded our birth and life, including any good OR bad decisions we have ever made. In what way is the doctrine of predestination important to understanding the depth of God’s grace (in your opinion)?
- According to 1:5 we have been “adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.” The idea of adoption works in concert with the idea of predestination. Just as an adoptive parent made an intentional choice to bring an orphan child INSIDE their family so that the child might receive the blessings of the family, so God made an intentional choice to include you and me inside His family, that we might receive “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Understanding that the blessings we receive in Christ are not an accident and have been intentionally given us by God, what can you conclude about God’s general character and attitude toward us?
- Warren Wiersbe said this about the notion of adoption: “You do not get into God’s family by adoption. You get into His family by regeneration, the new birth. 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!” Wiersbe goes on to say this, “When you were born again into God’s family, you were born rich [spiritually rich].” How do these ideas help you understand more the idea of being “adopted” by God?
- Speaking of predestination, Francis Foulkes said, “It [election] involves a paradox that the New Testament does not seek to resolve, and that our finite minds cannot fathom. Paul emphasizes both the sovereign purpose of God and man’s free will.” Interact with this statement. Do you agree or disagree with it? What further thoughts do you have on this subject?
- Regardless of your understanding of what “predestination” implies, it is very clear that the concept is a Christian concept, mentioned repeatedly in Ephesians 1 among other places. To the best of your understanding, why do you think God chose to reveal this aspect of our spiritual story to us? I don’t think the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write about predestination to give Christians something else to argue about. Reflect on today’s study and see if you can make a hypothesis about what God’s intention was in revealing to us this advanced truth.
- Each time our predestination is mentioned in this section, it is tied to the “purpose of God” (see 1:5, 11). Do you see anything in verses 6 and 12 that might indicate what the ultimate purpose of God is?
- Do you have any specific applications you take away from today’s reflection on God’s intentional decision to bless us “before the foundation of the world?”