In Christ, the people God chose and Christ redeemed at the cross now receive these spiritual blessings (1:3) applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit, who works through the proclaimed gospel message.
Hearing the Gospel “When you heard…” (Eph 1:13a)
Notice first the word ‘when.’ Paul has already spoken of the Father’s choice of his people from before creation, and Christ’s accomplished redemption at the cross. Now he calls to mind another time. “When.” Before eternity God chose his people, but there still had to be a ‘when.’ On a historical day in history Christ died for our redemption, but there still had to be a ‘when’ – a day when these blessings were applied!
When is the ‘when’? “When you heard…” The application of these blessings started when we heard the preached message of Christ! God not only chose his people, he also chose that Christ would die to save us; and he not only ordained how we would be redeemed, but he also ordained how the redemption would be applied. God’s appointed means of saving his elect is through the Holy Spirit empowered preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17, ESV (See also 1 Peter 1:22-25)The Saving Message. “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…” (Eph 1:13b)
Which message is the one the Holy Spirit uses to apply redemption to God’s people? Many today try to define the gospel in different ways. But God’s word tells us what the gospel is:
• Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you... that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, ESV
The gospel is the good news that God sent Christ to rescue his people by dying for our sins on the cross, being buried, and rising from the grave with all power and authority! He appeared to his disciples and sent them out to proclaim this good news, so that those who hear may repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. These disciples who believe are to be baptized, and are to gather together as local churches who build each other up and proclaim this gospel.
The Faith Response. “and believed in him…”(Eph 1:13c)
It is not enough for this gospel to be “heard,” or even known. It must be believed! Christ must be received by faith.
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
- For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
- How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:14-17
- For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21b-24