One of my favorite Bible passages is in the Book of Ephesians, a letter written by the apostle Paul for and about the church, the body of Christ, those who believe. That includes, not only the church at Ephesus, the original recipients, but every Christian. The letter is filled with the truth of God’s love, grace, and mercy toward us. Someone has said that the theme of the whole Bible can be found in the first 14 verses. When I first read those verses, I knew I had to memorize them, and they have uplifted and encouraged me many times over in my life. They have become a favorite of mine, for it is here, in the beginning of his letter, the apostle Paul proclaims our spiritual blessing[s] in the heavenly places in Christ.
It is pleasant to enjoy the physical, material blessings of this life. Those blessings are the focus of the world. There is nothing wrong with physical and material blessings and I hope you have many and count yours and give thanks for them often. But as believers, we have something better, something above and beyond the blessings of this world, and it is glorious to know them, understand them, and store them in our hearts. They are the spiritual blessings we have been granted in Christ Jesus. So I would like to go through this passage with you, taking just one of these blessings at a time. I want us to look at them, think about them, tuck them away in our hearts and minds, and let them become sustaining food for our souls.
In recounting our blessings, Paul begins, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Notice how many blessings we have been granted. Not just one or two, not just a few, but God has lavished us with every spiritual blessing. Paul goes on, in one long elaborate sentence (in the Greek), to enumerate those blessings for us. As you read the verses, notice a key phrase that stands out and is repeated 11 times - in Christ (or in Him, or in the Beloved). Notice that it is in Him, through Him (1:5), and for Him that we have been blessed.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention of His will, which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Today, I would just like to list the blessings for you, so you can be thinking about them, meditating on them. Next time, we will begin at the beginning and consider each blessing in turn and what it means to us. Of course, you can probably think of more blessings God has bestowed upon us, and Paul actually mentions more in the rest of his letter, but these are the ones that stand out as the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ.
His will revealed to us (1:9)
Given an inheritance (1:11)
Sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13)
You will notice from the list that Paul immediately introduces some words that one commentator noted “take discussions to the ‘deep end of the pool’ very quickly,” words such as He chose us (1:4), He predestined us (1:5).” What the commentator means is that these words have been known to stir up controversy. But lets go back and look at Ephesians 1:3 to see the context in which Paul uses those words. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. They are words that inspire Paul to bless the name of God! They are words that bring joy to Paul’s heart and praise to his pen as he writes. For Paul these words are not controversial. For Paul these words bring a sense of joyful praise to God and words that inspire him to bless the name of God! They are words that describe the depth of God’s love for us, words that should stir our hearts to praise too!
I’ll look forward to looking into our spiritual blessings and praising God with you in the weeks to come.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
May all of these blessings be yours and evident in your life,
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.