Perhaps one of the hardest things for us believers to grasp is the assurance of our salvation. It is easy to worry when we stumble in sin or think that we must clutch onto our salvation in our own strength. This is where a huge difference is noted between the Christian faith and all other religions: we don’t save ourselves – Christ saved us through His once-and-for-all sacrifice (1 Pet 3:18)
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Eph 3:11-12
For context, by saying, “this was…,” Paul was referring to the preceding truths about his stewardship of the gospel, and the timely revelation of it to the spiritual forces (angels and demons) in the heavenly places (v1-10).
He then says, “with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here again Paul elevates the theme of the Lord’s complete and total sovereignty and foreknowledge. If ever we are tempted to doubt that God’s plan will come to completion, we can refer to Scripture like this to be reminded that it will never, ever fail, and He works out even the deepest mysteries to His faultless purpose.
The Greek word rendered “purpose” in this verse is captivating. It is prothesis, and it is also commonly translated as “consecrated” or “offering,” and specifically in relation to the Bread of Presence or showbread, which was set before God at all times in the temple (Ex 25:30). In essence, the full gospel revelation to all creation was carried out in accordance with the eternal, Bread of Presence offering in Christ Jesus. Wow! There’s an entire sermon in just that fact alone! And this upholds that from before the foundation of the world God had already sealed the plan of salvation through His Son, and the perfect sacrificial offering Christ made is ongoing forever.
Hebrews 7:24-25 corroborates this by saying, “but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” And again, in Hebrews 9:12, “and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
A great and often overlooked benefit of this truth is just what the apostle wrote here, “we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him,” Jesus, our High Priest. The Lord does not want us to live in fear of losing our salvation as this erodes His finished work on the cross. We are firmly sealed in Christ (2 Cor 1:21-22), and therefore should have boldness to approach Him in confidence, knowing that He hears us, loves us, and holds us secure.
But how do we gain this confidence? We must approach Him through faith (cf: Heb 11). Faith is strengthened by trusting God to save us from our sins, and knowing that if He saves us, we are truly safe and need have no fear. Then, we live out our faith, trusting Him to lead us in our daily lives, through the valleys of temptation and trial, through sickness, pain, hunger, suffering, and through the good times of rich blessings, abundance, health, and happiness. Faith is a muscle we must exercise constantly to have a boldness and confidence in approaching the throne of grace. One way to exercise our faith is to believe wholeheartedly that Christ Himself holds our salvation eternally in His pierced hands, and nothing and no one can take it away (Rom 8:38-39).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7