Archive of Pastor Darby's Sermon Notes, transcribed from his original typewritten documents

Eph 1:3-14


Sep 21, 1950

Good afternoon friends, today we are going to take a look at a few verses of scripture in Ephesians.

God has never revealed a more profound truth then that in Paul’s inspired letter to the church at Ephesus. A more important one for the unregenerated man is that of Romans, which tells how we may be right with God.  But presupposing that we have become right through receiving God's own rightness by faith in Jesus Christ, then the greatest thing we can know and realize is the nature of the blessings in Christ which have thus become ours. And this is the theme of Ephesians.

After the usual greeting or salutation in verses one and two, the theme is stated in verse 3, in these words:

“Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.”

“Us”, of course means Christians. But a Christian is not merely a moral man or even a church member, but a new creation in Christ Jesus. In the gospel sense, a Christian is one who has been born again, having received Jesus Christ as his Savior and confessed Him as his Lord. Such a one God hath blessed. Notice the past tense.  It is not something God is now doing for him, or is about to do, but something He has already done. To lay hold of the significance of this is the secret of assurance, and peace, and holiness, and power.

He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. Not a single blessing is omitted. There is nothing which God has for us in Christ throughout all eternity that is not ours already potentially in Him. It is as when a child is born into the world in a physical sense. He is small, weak, and helpless, but the man is there, nevertheless, and all his future years will simply be the development of that man. Thus already we have in Christ an eternity of grace and glory, and our glory in the countless ages upon ages will be the apprehension and realization of it in increasing measure.

We have these blessings in Christ. The development phase is seen in the figure of the human body which the inspired apostle so frequently employs to illustrate it. He tells us that Christ is the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fillith all in all.  (Ephesians 1:22,3.)

My head not only governs and controls my body but lives in it. On the other hand, every member of my body lives in my head, this is the vital and indissoluble relationship between Christ and them that believe in him. He is the head, and we are the members of the body.

My eyes, my ears, my tongue, my hands, my feet, have certain privileges or faculties- blessings, let us call them, because they are in me, and separated from this vital relationship to me they do not possess them. It is I, living in them, who give to them these faculties, and sustain them in their possession and use.  So the blessings of the Christian believer are those which he has because he is in Christ as the members of my body are in me.

The spiritual possibilities of such a fact are beyond finite conception, but even the faintest apprehension of them on the part of Christians would mean so much in both their inner and outer life, and go so far to offset and contradict and render null the vain philosophies and empty deceits of the new religionists of these days!

Let not the phrase “heavenly places” mislead us in the interpretation of these words.  It does not mean that these blessings are not to be realized until we die and go to heaven, but only that they are in “heavenly places” in the sense that the source of them, the head, is there.

I have sometimes illustrated it in this way: suppose one were standing in water up to his neck. And suppose the members of this body in the water were talking with each other about their benefits and privileges. Could we not imagine them saying: “We possess all these blessings in the air in our head”? So our blessings are in “heavenly places” because there is our head who is exalted on high. They are spiritual, but still they are literal and real, and to be enjoyed in our physical experience on this earth.

A first blessing- chosen in Christ.

The sum of these blessings we have in Christ is just four, the first being our choice or election in him:

Ephesians 1:4-6 says according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; Having pre destinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

It were as though God first chose the head and then the members to be united to that head in the formation of the body. Such is the significance of the words in him.

But notice when we were chosen. Not even before we were born, or were regenerated, or before the earth was created, but before the world was founded! When an athlete is about to make a high jump he takes a long start, and we may imagine the great purpose God has for us in Christ when He began to choose us for it so long ago.

Notice what that purpose is- that we should be holy and without blame or blemish before him. Nor does this mean merely that at some future time, and in some future world, He will look upon us with such love, but that it has already become true of us in Christ. If the head is holy and without blemish in God's sight, then every member of the body unite to that head is equally so.

What a wonderful privilege this is, to know that at this moment in Christ Jesus I stand before him holy, and without blemish and unchanged! What a privilege to know that all the preciousness which God the father finds in his son Jesus Christ, he now finds in me as a believer on his son, and a member of the body of which he is the head!

And think of his motive in it all as the good pleasure of His will. We have often wondered why God saved us and have sought the answer in John 3:16. But after all, how inadequate that seems to be. It is not enough to know that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it until we know why He loved it so. What was there in the world, or in you or me, to awaken such love as this? The salvation of my soul, or for that matter, the salvation of the whole world, is not worthy of one drop of the blood of the Son of God. Why then did God give His son for the world? The only answer that satisfies is this answer, that it was according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace.

Oh, what a ground of peace and assurance we have here! Had God saved me merely for my own sake, sooner or later He might have wearied of me because of my sin and my unloveliness. But when I know that he has saved me for his own sake, I have the same reason for believing that He will keep me saved as that He saved me at the beginning, and so I have peace, perfect peace.

The second blessing- redeemed in Christ.

It were not enough, however, that God should have chosen us in His Son unless he had gone further and made that choice operative through the cross. We were sinners whom He chose, and our sin must be taken out of the way to make His choice effective. Hence we read:

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to his good pleasure which He hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one, all the things in Christ, both which are in heaven, in which are on earth: even in him.

Notice again the phrase in him it is in Christ we are chosen, and in Christ we have been redeemed. And notice that the redemption is through His blood. It is not the life of Christ that saves men but His death. Had he come into the world and lived the life he did come and said the wondrous things, and done the mighty deeds, and had not gone to Calvary, no soul would have been saved.

Every other man comes into the world to live, but Jesus Christ came into the world to die. His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, and it is for this reason, and this only, that we have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins.

But this redemption includes something further than forgiveness. We are now his friends, and he makes known to us the mystery of his will. And what a mystery this is, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he will gather together all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. There is no restorationism here in the universal sense, for the things in hell are not mentioned. But so far as the things in heaven and the things on earth are concerned, Christ is not only the head of them, but in the dispensation of the fullness of times we are to be the head of them as well in Christ. As this same apostle says in another place: do you not know that the Saints shall judge the world? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (I Corinthians 6:2,3.)  Oh, it is well worth while being a Christian, and it is well worthwhile really to know what it is to be a Christian.

The third blessing- inherited in Christ.

Truth so transcendent lacks example, but though it seems base and sordid, attention may be called to the property transaction which these verses bring to our mind. First, God chooses us to be his own possession, then he redeems or buys us back to himself, and thus being redeemed or bought, we become his inheritance. This is the teaching of the verses that follow:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being pre destinated according to the purpose of him who work with all things after the counsel of his own will- that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  (Ephesians 1:11,12.)

The words “we have obtained an inheritance” are rendered in the Revised Version, “we were made an heritage,” which is a stronger meaning.  It is true indeed, that we have obtained an inheritance in Christ as other scriptures indicate, but this is not the truth which Paul is setting before us here. We call this a stronger truth because it means so much more to us. If only I have an inheritance in God that I might ultimately, through fault of mine, lose it altogether, but when I know that God has an inheritance in me, I am with Paul, persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Tim 1:12.)  The ground of my assurance in other words, is not my inheritance in God, but his inheritance in me. And here again we are comforted by the revelation that this is true concerning us to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory.

The 4th blessing- sealed in Christ.

Here we reached the climax of the transaction. God has not only chosen, and then redeemed, and thus inherited us, but to make sure of his property has taken possession of us. Such is the significance of the words that follow-

In whom he also trusted after that he heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation- in whom also after that he believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:13,14).

The sealing with the Holy Spirit of promises we take to be identical with that indwelling of the Holy Spirit of which Paul speaks of in I Cor 6:19, and to which he refers again when, in the 12th chapter of the same epistle, he speaks of Christian believers as having been baptized by 1 spirit into the body of Christ.

This indwelling of the Holy Spirit, therefore, is an earnest or pledge of our inheritance: that is, of the inheritance which God has in us. In English law an earnest is something of value, it may be money given by the buyer to bind a bargain, or ratify and prove a sale. The parallel cannot be pressed too far, but the truth is clear that God has made us his own beyond a doubt.  The context indicates this by the remark that this earnest has been given us until the redemption of God's own possession, quoting the Revised Version.  If we ask what this redemption is, we find it described in the eighth of Romans as the redemption or, in other words, the resurrection and glorification of our bodies at the second coming of Christ. That this great result will be realized in our experiences made sure to us by the sealing of the Holy Spirit.

A transaction in reality.

The following incident, commonplace as it is, may help to make this clear. A certain New York gentleman purchased the waterfront on the upper end of Manhattan island. When the tide was in, scarcely a foot of his property could be seen, and even when it ebbed there was nothing but marsh and mud.  To the uninitiated, the investment represented nothing of value.

But long since, the waste has been filled in: streets and avenues have been laid out in it, great blocks of buildings cover it, two trolley lines traverse it, and one of the elevated railways runs alongside of it for several blocks. Millions of dollars now represent the value of the property to the heirs of the original purchaser period of course, the former is supposed to have seen these results when he made the purchase, and to have made it with them in view.

But an interesting point is this. At one time in the history of the transaction there was a rival claimant in the person of one who thought he had discovered a flaw in the owne’rs title, and who endeavored to wrest it from him. A tedious and expensive lawsuit followed which lasted a number of years. One day the owner’s council said to him: “You cannot retain the title to your property unless you take possession of it.”

And this is what he did. He drove piles into the mud, erected upon them a small building, just large enough to afford room for a keeper who remained there day and night. Various devices were used to make him leave, firearms among others, but in vain. He held the Fort with absolute fidelity until the legal battle was ended, and the rightful owner entered upon the full enjoyment of his possession.

Although this is a prosaic chapter in the history of a city's material development, Yet it is a kind of parable as well of what God has done in our redemption.

In the first place, he has chosen us in Christ to be his possession, not for what he has seen in us as we are by nature, but for what he has purposed for us in his son. In the second place, he has redeemed or purchased us, not with corruptible things as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of that same son, a lamb without blemish and without spot.

But there is a rival claimant to his property- Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat (Luke 22:31.)  And to protect himself God has taken possession of what belongs to him. He has put his spirit within us as our keeper, and by whom we are sealed as his, unto the redemption of God's own possession under the praise of his glory!  Well, therefore, may the writer of the epistle to the Romans exclaimed in Romans 8:35,37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”