Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ephesians 1:3: Blessed ... in Christ!

In this short verse Paul uses "blessed" three times. God is to be blessed because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. If we're not careful we can run right past this statement and fail to appreciate the inspired redundancy.

To bless God is to compliment him in the highest way. In fact the Greek word here is the root from which we get "eulogy" which means to speak well of someone. Of all those who are deserving to be well-spoken of, God is foremost of all. Why? Obviously there are myriad reasons. Look up, look around, breathe in, breathe out. Everything you see from the amazing show the night sky brings to the grandeur of mountains, lakes, oceans, and wildlife all declare the greatness of our God. Add to that the joys we find in the various facets of life and we could build a list miles long of things for which to praise and speak well of our generous God. But none of that is what Paul has in mind. Here he wants to start us off down the track of the spiritual gifts God has poured out on us, in rescuing us from the brokenness of our souls and our world. In the following verses he will enumerate them one by one, but here he simply summarizes the whole lot. God is worthy of our highest words of praise for he has granted us every spiritual blessing that can be enjoyed by humanity. He has withheld nothing of the spiritual benefits that can be ours in this life.

But lest we stop reading and sit back to enjoy the bounty of God at this point, Paul adds two clarifying phrases. Both are necessary to understand just what he means by these "blessings". First, they are not temporal or material, but are to be understood within the realm of the "heavenlies." This word is used 5 times in the epistle (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). When we take them all into account we find that this word describes the spiritual realm in which our real battle is being fought. It is the arena of authorities and powers, and is also the realm in which the risen Christ dwells. It is in this realm that we live as well, as redeemed children of God, And it is in this realm that the greatest blessings from God are to be found. God has not promised us wealth, health, or any other element of temporal happiness. He has promised to forgive our sins, grant us Christ's righteousness, put the Spirit within us, gift us for service, and progressively transform us into the very image of Christ. These are the greatest gifts, and these are the primary reason we look at God and magnify his glory.

At this point we might be feeling pretty good about ourselves. The Almighty has chosen to shower down his gracious generosity on us. We are the objects of his love, the recipients of his full array of blessing. But wait just a minute! Turns out these blessings are actually being bestowed on us, not because of who we are, but because of who we are in Christ! Simply put, God the Father loves God the Son, and all those who are united by faith to the Son receive the blessings of the Father. There is no spiritual enjoyment, no grace gift from heaven that can be experienced and enjoyed apart from a vital union with Christ. Outside of Christ there is no forgiveness, no righteousness, no gifting, no transformation, no eternal life. Jesus said "apart from me you can do nothing." Here Paul is saying "apart from Christ you have nothing."

If we understand this correctly we will find that our passion will be to know Christ more fully, to grow more and more in our appreciate of his character and redemptive work on our behalf. For the deeper we go into Christ, the more fully will we experience and appreciate the treasure trove of divine blessings that are ours from the hand of our heavenly Father.

Hope this helps,



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