Passage: Ephesians 1:3-14
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
As the pandemic drags on, many of us feel worn down, with seemingly no end in sight. Times like these can reveal what we’re truly hoping in. In the midst of Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul gives us to two solid hopes, and guidance on how to access those hopes.
First, Paul points us to the hope that is found in belonging to God. Just as Paul talks about the inheritance that believers have in God (“every spiritual blessing”), so we ourselves are God’s own “inheritance”—his treasured possession! As God’s treasured possession, we can know that we are truly known and deeply loved by God—not because of anything we’ve done but because of who he is. This truth that gives us confidence and security in life.
Second, Paul points us to the hope of God’s presence with us. One day, the whole earth will be filled with the felt awareness of God’s presence, but until that time, God has given believers his Holy Spirit as a “guarantee” or “down-payment” of his presence as they go throughout life. The Holy Spirit comforts us with the awareness that God is with us.
Finally, we access this hope by faith. Our hope is based ultimately not on the love we exercise, but on the love in which we trust—the love of Jesus for us, which he demonstrated convincingly on the cross. When we believe, we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” who ministers this hope to us, fortifying us for any trial.
- The Hope of Belonging to God (1:11-14)
- The Hope of God’s Presence with Us (1:13-14)
- How to Access this Hope: by Faith (1:13-14)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Ephesians 1:3-14)
The Hope of Belonging to God (1:11-14)
Q) INTRO: Pastor Bobby shared how this pandemic is exposing what many of us are hoping in. What are some ways in which the pandemic is helping you see what you’ve been placing your hope in?
Q) Re-read verse 11 and verses 13-14. These verses talk about our obtaining an inheritance (vs. 11) and our being God’s inheritance (vs. 14). What comes to mind when you hear the word “inheritance”? What truths does this illustrate about what we have in God? What truths does this illustrate about how God feels about us? (NOTE: When verse 14 says “the guarantee of our inheritance,” the phrase “our inheritance” should be understood something like “the guarantee of our being God’s inheritance”).
Q) Pastor Bobby talked about how our being “God’s inheritance” means we are his “treasured possession,” and that we belong to him—an idea seen throughout the Bible. How can knowing that we are God’s “treasured possession,” both individually and as a community of believers, give us hope in the midst of this pandemic?
Q) Think of someone you know who is close to you, but who is not a follower of Jesus. If you were to share with them about how belonging to God is giving you hope at this time, how might you put it? Briefly practice explaining this truth with them in mind.
The Hope of God’s Presence with Us (1:13-14)
Q) Re-read verses 13-14. What does Paul mean when he says we were “sealed” with the Holy Spirit when we believed in Jesus? What does the image of being “sealed” communicate?
Q) What do you think Paul means in verse 14 when he says that the Holy Spirit is the “deposit” or the “down payment” of our inheritance? What is the function of a “deposit”/“down payment,” and how does this help explain the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that the Holy Spirit comforts us by giving us the awareness of God’s presence with us. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt very aware of God’s presence with you? When was it, and what was it like?
Q) What is a trial you are facing in the near future—maybe even over this next week? How might the awareness of God’s presence with you change your outlook on this trial?
How to Access this Hope: by Faith (1:13-14)
Q) Verse 13 says that we were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit “when we believed in him” (Jesus). What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus? How, if at all, is this different than simply believing that he exists? (NOTE: The idea is that biblical belief entails trusting in Jesus—trusting in/relying on his love for us, his work on our behalf, etc.).
Q) Pastor Bobby said that “our hope is based not on the love that we exercise, but on the love that we trust?” What does he mean by this? How is this a freeing truth?
Q) How might you encourage someone who says, “I do believe in Jesus, but I don’t feel like my faith is very strong”?
Q) Who is one person who is close to you but not a follower of Jesus who might be encouraged by a truth from this passage or from the sermon? How might you take a risk and share this with them?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.