Please focus on what is clear about God the Father. The relational Trinity has chosen and now resources His people to connect and partner with Him as image-bearers. These verses do not describe the Trinity as a celestial object of study. Instead they depict this relational Community-God working out His eternal plan in conjunction with His people. Let’s dig a bit deeper to mine more treasures.
God the Father always takes the initiative.
Note that verse 3 names the Father and the word “he,” referring to the Father, takes the initiative throughout. Note also the three sweeping assertions of what God has already done for those who are His. Paul launches this indispensable letter, not with God in His abstract characteristics. Instead, Paul describes this touchable God as He blesses and relates to His people.
“What is God like?”
First, God the Father is relational at His core and blesses us!
He blesses us! God began by blessing us when He created humanity in Genesis 1:28, and He continued blessing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, God’s people in the Psalms…all the way down to His people today. What God does flows out of who God is. He is a generous God who blesses. God designed us to be blessed with every blessing imaginable in Christ and continues blessing His people as co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). In fact, Jesus is the pledge of our Father’s ongoing generosity. The Father already gave us His very best, Jesus, as a certain pledge of all else that He will bless us with (Romans 8:32). The Father’s heart is fixed to bless us. None of God’s people are excluded. In fact, view every command and prohibition in Scripture as God’s guide directing us to God’s “blessing portal” where He pours out His love most profusely. Don’t ever get over the wonder.
Second, God the Father chose us in Christ.
Do you remember a story from your childhood when you were chosen last for a team (“You have to take Fredericks”)? What message does this convey? By sharp contrast, the Father chose us before creation so that we would know that this choice rested on what is in God’s heart, not on something we accomplished. God did not choose us “despite” who we are. Such a “stray dog” view of God’s loving choice is shattered by this language. What did the Father choose us for? To live in His presence (“before Him”) in complete spiritual health and beauty (“holy”) and without blame. Stop please. Mull this verse over in your mind like you savor a morsel of delicious food.
This God who spoke the universe into existence speaks personally to you because He chose you! Don’t allow any so-called theological arguments to detour you from what is essential. Before time began, this God chose you to be His own treasured child. His choice to include you in His Trinitarian quality of life was formulated in His eternal counsel before the foundation of the world (and, yes, Paul will get to our part later…for now rest in God’s initiating first-love). Its execution then does not primarily hinge on us, but on God’s determined goodness, greatness, and generosity.
Third, God the Father predestined our adoption as sons into His forever Family.
Now, with predestined, focus on the benefits God provides. It was God’s pleasure to preplan before time to adopt you and me. We were outside, and now we are included forever within His Forever Family circle as His Blessed and Beloved sons and daughters. This is our true identity. This word “predestined” furthers the intentionality of “chose” and adds the flavor of a desired destination. Again, this adoption into His Forever Family was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, planned before time and executed the instant you placed your faith in Christ. The Father is tickled pink to have us as His children, Blessed Ones.
What the Community-God planned for you and for me before creation (compare God’s intent in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man…”) has now been conclusively fulfilled in Jesus Christ for all who embrace Him by faith. Behind everything in creation and in history lies this eternal purpose of God. We are no accident, but the determined choice of a Father who delights to bless. Again, there is mystery (what else would you expect when an uncreated, eternal Being communicates with His creation?!) Focus on what is clear and crucial, not any wrangling over a single side to Both/And concepts. What is clear? Our Father initiated with His first-love to include us with Him before time began.
Synthesis: What does Paul mean?
God ushers His people into a fellowship with God through faith in Christ. It’s so close, so intimate, so deep, so real, so alive that everything God the Father is, everything He has are shared with us personally. Staggering as it may be, inconceivable as it may appear to us, this is what Paul is saying. The Father destined nothing short of Himself as our inheritance. The Father, Son and Spirit give us existence to bring us into profound intimacy with Him. This relational intimacy release God’s very being and life and joy into us so it becomes ours.
Paul concludes this small, yet life-impacting, section with this passionate outburst of praise: “to the praise of his glorious grace.” Soak in this until it blows your mind! No human mind can grasp such great and monumental promises from a God who always comes through (which is why Paul will pray for us to experience this in 1:15-23).
Download from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community.
Also, visit my blog on the relational Trinity at: BeholdingTheTrinity.blogspot.com