If you’ve been a part of the Missio family, even for a short period of time, then you are probably quite familiar with the six acts of the true story of God: Creation, Rebellion, Promise, Redemption, Church, New Creation. We never tire of retelling and rehearsing God’s true story in word and deed, in language and life. We believe the Bible tells one story from beginning to end, the true story of the whole world. This good news or gospel story offers the liberating reality that through Jesus our identity can be given, not earned. As we have been traveling through the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, we see Paul—like so many of his letters—taking us through the true story of God. How does Paul do this? Let’s look at it together.
In the act of Creation, God creates humanity in his image—to reflect his likeness to the world. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them.” (Gen.1.27-28). In Ephesians 1:3, Paul states that we are blessed again by God. This is Creation language.
In the act of Rebellion, Adam and Eve chose to follow their own way rather than God’s way (Genesis 3). Their refusal to trust God and his word for all things lead to not only their own punishment, but also to the entire creation being under a curse. Paul certainly hadn’t forgotten this part of the true story. In fact, Paul reminds the Ephesians of just how bad their situation used to be: "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-4).
In the act of Promise, we read in Deuteronomy 7:6: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” In Ephesians 1:4 Paul tells us that God “chose us in Christ…that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
In the act of Redemption, Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1:7 that we have redemption through Christ's blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
As the Church, Paul tells us that we have already obtained an inheritance and are sealed with the Spirit as we learn to love God and love others (Ephesians 1:11-15). God’s plan from the beginning has been to display his “manifold wisdom” to the rulers and authorities of this world and in the heavenly realms through the church (Ephesians 3:10).
And in New Creation, we know and hope for the inheritance that is to come, as God finally unites all things in heaven and on earth in Christ (Ephesians 1:10-14).
Where else do you see the acts of God’s true story at play in Ephesians?