This morning, I preached on Eph. 1:1-14. As I was preparing, I was a bit torn between wanting to talk about our position as "saints" (holy ones) in Christ, but also wanting to talk about the 6 blessings in Paul's effusive declaration in vv. 3-14. However, this problem was resolved when I realized that all 6 of the blessings relate directly back to our being holy (set apart by God for His sacred purpose).
Paul addressed his letter to faithful "saints". We ought to feel a bit of a start at this - saints? Who, me? Holy? Really? But that is how God sees us in Christ. I expected the Phii Nong to look a bit confused or skeptical this morning when I started off with, "สวัสดีพี่น้อง ผู้บริสุทธิ์ในพระคริสต์" ("Greetings brothers and sisters, holy ones in Christ"), but they didn't even blink - I guess they're pretty secure in God's work in them. A good thing, though it made me wonder if I'd prepared the wrong sermon. I went on to tell the Native American story of "the Changeling Eagle" - an eagle that had been raised from birth as a chicken and thought of itself as a chicken. "Sometimes we are like eagles who've been told we are chickens. And when we forget who we are in God's sight, we lose sight of God's plan and blessings for us, and we start to act like spiritual chickens."
The six blessings of Ephesians 1:3-14 are: (1) God chose us to be holy and blameless; (2) God predestined us (i.e. set us apart) to be His children; (3) God redeemed us and forgave us through Christ's blood (the 'how' of holiness); (4) God revealed the mystery of His will - to bring all things together under Christ (i.e. why He has set us apart); (5) God has predestined us (i.e. set us apart) to be for His glory (again, why); and (6) God has sealed us with His Holy Spirit - the guarantee of all these blessings.
It was pretty exciting for me to see just how this all fit together. (I owe Eugene Peterson for the breakdown of the "six active verbs of God's blessings".) A good principle of interpretation is to use the context to interpret any passage of Scripture. Understanding these blessings - which have a real flow to them - can help us understand our identity as "saints", "holy ones" in Christ, and guard against living our lives as changeling Christians.