It is easy to be filled with thanksgiving the first time we confess Christ, for the riches of God’s grace and mercy shine so clearly the moment we come out of the darkness of sin and into the light of the kingdom. Over time, however, as we walk with Jesus and face the struggles of everyday life, it can be difficult to maintain the spirit of thanksgiving we enjoyed at our conversion. We need reminders of all that Christ has done for us so that we never forget our need to thank and bless God for His work.
Paul gives us these reminders in Ephesians 1, and in today’s passage the apostle tells us that our Creator has not only saved us from His wrath through Jesus’ blood, but that forgiveness is not the only gift lavished upon us in the Savior (Eph. 1:7–9). That grace would have been more than enough, but in Christ the Father has bestowed this forgiveness “in all wisdom and insight” (v. 8). We need not only the pardon of our sins to be faithful disciples of our Lord, but also the knowledge of how we should live in light of our forgiven status — in freedom without taking advantage of God’s mercy or presuming upon His grace (Rom. 6:1–14; 1 Peter 2:16). The wisdom and insight needed to accomplish this hard task is given to us in Jesus (Eph. 1:8), but that does not mean that we always put this wisdom into practice, for Paul asks in Ephesians 1:17 for the insight given in Jesus to increase. For wisdom and insight to be effective, they must be cultivated, and we cultivate what the Lord has already given to us in Jesus through prayer, the study of His Word, fellowship, and the other means of grace (Col. 1:9–11; 2 Tim. 2:15; Philem. 4–7). If we do not continually nurture this wisdom, we may lose our ability to practice it, just as Solomon started out looking for wisdom but later fell into foolishness (1 Kings 3:1–15; 11:1–43).
Pouring wisdom and insight upon us, God also made known to us “the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9). Charles Hodge offers wise comments here, reminding us that a biblical mystery is not mysterious “in the sense of incomprehensible as in that of not being able to be discovered by human reason, as it is a matter of divine revelation.” The mystery of God’s will is His plan to redeem His people through the death and resurrection of His Son, the way of salvation that we cannot discern from nature but receive by faith alone as the Word of God is proclaimed to us (1 Cor. 1:18–25).