Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:1-6)
Valentines are wonderful expressions of affection, affirmation, and acceptance. Every one of us needs those things, as well as an occasional reminder we are accountable to a higher authority. In some church traditions, we are reminded of our duties, but not as often given a reminder of God’s warmth and love. This text from Ephesians is God’s love letter to us and contains the same elements that constitute a valentine: an address, a status, gifts and an inscription. A commitment is implied and, as with a valentine, we’re asked if we want to receive it.
God’s love letter is addressed to the “saints” and “faithful” who lived in Ephesus (v. 1), an ancient commercial center filled with corruption and carnality, like many of our modern day communities. It also contains their position, “in Christ” they are people who have put their faith not only in a Person, but also in a personal relationship, thus giving them status with God.
That status is described in the word “saints.” Unlike earthly traditions that convey the notion that “sainthood” is dependent upon accomplishments, God defines sainthood on the grounds of what “saint” means, which is one who has been forgiven and is holy in His sight. Something happens to every person who puts their trust in Jesus as Savior. In an instant, God, as Judge of the universe, deems us perfectly clean before Him. There will still be a good deal of growth. However, just as when an infant is first born, and he or she is cleaned and named, God says that we are His sons and daughters and made holy by the righteousness of Jesus. He’s made a commitment to us, and He call us His saints. In this letter, Paul is writing to people who haven’t mastered spiritual living, and yet are called “saints” and “faithful in Christ,” because they have put their full faith in Jesus. These people were in the spiritual growth process.
Have you ever felt unworthy because of your weakness? It’s so important for us to hear our Father God’s heart and to know the measure of our value in His sight when He addresses His love letter to us. He does not view the weakest of us as less loved than any others. Indeed, at times, the weakest among us are the ones upon whom Father God focuses His greatest attention. God loves us even though we still have things to overcome.
Gifts come with God’s valentine
God not only sends us His love, but also His gifts, “every spiritual blessing” (v. 3). Paul uses the same word here that occurs in 1 Corinthians 12 “pneumatica.” It is an umbrella term encompassing the workings of the Holy Spirit in power, fruit, grace and gifts.
“In the heavenly places” doesn’t refer to another galaxy or distant location but to the invisible, spiritual realm. The idea is that in the immediate, invisible realm around you, where our enemy the Adversary is, God sends great hosts of angelic resources to your defense. These gifts in the invisible realm are as real and available, as if they were seen. They are not only to meet your own need, but also for you to deliver to others, gifts of healing, encouragement, comfort and miracle grace. God’s Word tells us there is reason to praise Him, for we are His valentine recipients. “Blessed be God…” Paul writes, who has given us these resources in the invisible realm.
There is a mindset among some believers that if God has a gift of the Spirit, He’ll just give it. Scripture does say the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts according to the Lord’s will. But the Bible also describes an explicit stance of our souls that is to characterize us in the light of this promise. We would “earnestly desire the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31). God says, “I distribute gifts where I find people who are open, available and desirous of being instruments, not only of receiving, but also of transmitting gifts of the Spirit.” It doesn’t happen by accident. The people who receive God’s gifts are those who are also willing to deliver them.
The inscription, the commitment, and our receipt
The inscription in God’s valentine is built around three key verbs: chosen, adopted and accepted (vv. 4,5,6). As years go by, expressions at the human level of commitment and affection can wane in their meaning, but God’s Word isn’t like that. When He says these words, they are precious, assuring and to be engraved upon us in an unforgettable way.
“Chosen” has to do with unique and specific selection. Today, around this planet, hundreds of thousands of decisions for Christ will be made. God is not just recording numbers in Heaven. Every single one of those dear people is a chosen vessel in God’s mind, conceived of before they were born for a unique plan and a purpose. God delights in their coming into redemption’s provision. You are chosen.
“Adoption” bears on the fact that God has made a choice to commit to us as members of His family. He has brought us into the provisions of all of His promise and all of His resource. He doesn’t simply say, “You’re forgiven of your sins.” He makes a commitment wherein He inscribes His name upon us (see Rev. 3:12). The price has been paid for our adoption through the blood of His Son. The documents have been signed in blood, and we are His. No one and nothing can ever change that. We are adopted, and we are accepted as His Beloved.”
Dear one, as you open this “valentine” from God, do so knowing you are a loved member of His family. When you receive God’s love, it affects how you show love to others. This day, I encourage you, reach up as if giving Him a return embrace of His reach toward you and declare, “Lord, I receive Your love, and I welcome it.”