Spiritual Blessings In Christ
“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)
Alone, poor, and friendless, a man died in a Chicago shelter. He never knew an inheritance of four million dollars awaited him back in England. So many people die every minute around the world not knowing there is a great inheritance of blessings awaiting them back in Heaven. A Roman historian named Titus Livius once said, “Men are slower to recognize blessings than misfortunes.” Ephesians 1:3-14 represent those great blessings given to those who are in Christ.
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with one single, complex sentence in Greek. Verses three through fourteen represent the longest sentence in the New Testament. It is composed of one truth built upon another. It encompass the past, present, and future time. The great theme is all the blessings found in Christ. The sentence speaks of the role of the trinity in providing saints with these great blessings. It begins with the will of the Father (1:4-6); the work of the Son (1:7-12) and finally the witness of the Spirit (1:13-14).
John R. W. Stott described this great sentence as “a gateway, a golden chain, a kaleidoscope, a snowball, a racehorse, an operatic overture, and the flight of an eagle; all these metaphors in their different ways describe the impression of color, movement and grandeur which the sentence makes on the reader’s mind.”
Response to God’s Blessings
Upon contemplating the blessings, Paul is about to enumerate, he praises God: “Blessed be God…”Blessed” comes from the Greek eulogeo from which is derived the English terms “eulogy” and “eulogize”. During the funeral, a eulogy is offered as a message of praise for the deceased person’s goodness. It occurs three times in its various forms in verse three. Paul is showing his appreciation to the “Blessed” God who has “blessed” us with every spiritual “blessing.”
Reasons for Blessing God
Paul gives two reasons for blessing or praising God. First, God has given His Son to an unworthy world of lost sinners. ‘”or God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Lord Jesus Christ” represents the various roles the Son of God has fulfilled in the Scheme of Redemption. He is “Jesus” because He is our Savior. “Christ” represents the fact He is the “anointed one” or Messiah of promise. His authority and headship is embodied in the term “Lord”.
The second reason is that God is the source of these blessings. God is a giver. God is the only source of these gifts or blessings (James 1:17). Consider the message in the song: “O Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Recipients of Blessings: “Us”
These blessings are not for everyone, but only to those represented in the term: “us.” Paul was addressing this letter “to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). Only Christians are “in Christ” and therefore only they are the recipients of these spiritual blessings. However, they are available to all people who are willing to put on Christ in baptism (Gal 3:27).
Representations of these Blessings
These blessings are comprehensive. They include “every” spiritual blessing; not just a few, but every single one. In other words, no one can name a single spiritual blessing that is not found in Christ. Blessings involving the Father include saints being: “chosen by God” (1:4); “predestined by God” (1:5-6a); and “accepted by God” (1:6b). Blessings involving the Son also involve the fact that “God has redeemed us” (1:7a); “God has forgiven us”(1:7b-8); “God has revealed His Will to us” pertaining to His plan to gather into one all things in Christ (1:9-10); and “God has given us an inheritance” (1:11-12). The blessings of the Holy Spirit include the sealing and earnest of our salvation
Also representative of these blessings is seen in the term “spiritual.” This could be in reference to the Holy Spirit – “all the blessings of the Spirit,” referring to the Holy Spirit of God. “Spiritual” contrasts these gifts with those which are physical, material blessings. God is the source of the physical blessings of rain and material wealth (Acts 14:17). Those blessings in the material world are temporary. They rust and breakdown. Spiritual blessings are of a superior quality in that they do not deteriorate with age. They are never outdated like computer technology which quickly becomes obsolete. Spiritual blessings are everlasting.
The final characteristic is seen in the fact these blessings have already been given by God to the saints at Ephesus. They are not blessings waiting for Christians in Heaven and waiting to be enjoyed later. They are to gifts already in hand and a blessings to the saved today.
Realm of Blessings
These spiritual blessings are found in two spheres which are overlapping. They describe the temporary human sphere “in heavenly places” and “in Christ” which represents the eternal, spiritual sphere.
The phrase “heavenly places” is literally “in the heavenlies.” It only occurs in the letter to the Ephesians where it is found five times (Ephesians 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). Some believe this is Heaven. However, in Ephesians 6:12 there are both good and evil are in the heavenly places. This cannot be said of Heaven. These “heavenly realms” do not refer to a physical location but to spiritual reality. MacKnight gave the meaning here as “in the Christian church.” Therefore, heavenly places equals the church on earth which can be invaded by evil (Eph. 6:10f).
The phrase “in Christ” is found three dozen times in Ephesians. In addition to these Paul makes reference to “in him” and “in whom” several times. “In Christ” does not refer to a geographical location but to a relationship or spiritual connection with Christ. Only Christians refer to themselves as being “in Christ.” A Buddhist never speaks of being “in Buddha” or a Muslim does not claim to be “in Mohammed.” Christ is the “place” where believers reside. They are in Christ because they have been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26,27). Are you in Christ?
– Daniel R. Vess