Did you know that we find ourselves in a fierce war? I’m not talking about a pandemic or quarantine, but an ongoing spiritual battle that has been raging since the Garden of Eden and will continue until Jesus Christ returns to establish a new heaven and a new earth. This battle is, simply put, the battle against good and evil which manifests in us as mere mortals as the battle between our will and the will of God for us. We want health, wealth, and happiness here on earth, and we want it now, but our Father in heaven has so much more in store for us. In Ephesians 1, Apostle Paul shows us the spiritual blessings God has planned for us since the beginning of time. Spiritual blessings of an election, a glorious inheritance, and a perfect relationship with him where we live with him forever. The gratitude for these blessings, when taken to heart, far surpasses any natural blessings we can ever receive here on this side of the heavenly realm.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed 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 upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:3-14
Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the house churches in Ephesus around A.D. 62 during his imprisonment in Rome. Ephesus was a wealthy, influential port city on the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
In Ephesians 1 Paul recounts the spiritual blessings found in Christ, planned by God since the beginning of time and now lavished on his people. According to the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, the book of Ephesians explodes in adoration and praise from the very beginning. Paul explains that we praise God for our election in Christ (verses 4-5), illuminates God’s gracious love (verses 6-8), elaborates on God’s will for all mankind to be saved (verses 8-11), his plan of redemption and how we, as his heirs, received the seal of his Holy Spirit (verses 12-14).
The Father, as the giver of every spiritual blessing, came up with a plan to rescue mankind from sin and Satan. Jesus Christ, the Son, carried out the plan through his life, death, and resurrection serving as a reservoir for this blessing. The Holy Spirit communicates and clarifies the plan, to make it a personal reality for those who respond to God’s gracious offer.
As we discussed earlier this week, Christ is our greatest gift and spiritual blessing. As we grow in Christ and trust in his victory over sin and death, we are prepared for spiritual warfare. Just as the goal of the Israelites being freed from bondage in Egypt was not to wander around the desert but was to reach the promised land, so our goal is not to wander here on earth looking for morsels of natural blessings but to be with God for all eternity.
I found this sermon by Josh White very inspiring in studying Ephesians 1.
Let us study these spiritual blessings.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,Ephesians 1:3-5
Paul starts this letter by clarifying immediately that God chose us to share in all his benefits of salvation. He adopted us as his children which gives us insight into his will, grants us forgiveness and allows us to grow in the image of Christ through the gifts of the Holy Spirit to do the will of God and have the hope to live forever.
We see examples of God’s election throughout scripture as he chose Abraham as the father of all nations, the Israelites as his chosen people, and also the disciples to continue the spread of the gospel. It is important to realize that election begins and ends with God. He chose us, not the other way around. All who are in Jesus Christ are chosen and no one was chosen at the detriment of another. Instead, we should understand that this calling is specific to each one of us to fulfil what God has purposed for us individually. We cannot understand this mystery and it is not our place to question this reality.
What we must understand, however, is that this election comes with a daunting responsibility: to carry the gospel to all. Firstly, we must accept the calling and respond by submitting ourselves to the rule of Christ. Therefore, some are not called because they reject the calling. But, once you are called, Satan will do his utmost best to tear you away from Jesus, therefore the battle within will rage stronger and stronger, continuously trying to tear you away from the will of God and pull you towards the will of your sinful humanity.
The predestination implies that God chose us when we were still sinners and adopted us as his sons. In Roman law adopted children enjoyed the same benefits as biological children, and sons inherited the Father’s wealth. This is the reason Paul uses “sons” to refer to all God’s children – male and female.
This election is completely up to God and there is nothing any mere human can do to earn salvation. We are powerless in this transaction which should humble us even more and cause gratitude to overflow for his grace.
6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed 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 upon us, in all wisdom and insightEphesians 1:6-8
We learned in the first part of this study that God’s ultimate purpose for the creation is to praise his glorious name, which he achieves through redemption. We have been freed from slavery (redeemed) by the blood of the Lamb as an atoning sacrifice which was the final and perfect sacrifice.
As humans, we love something or someone based on how lovable the object of our affection is. God does not work this way. We are sinful fools who keep on committing sin even though we know the price Jesus paid for us. Yet God loves us so much that he chooses us, not based on who we are, but based on who he is (Josh White). To receive this gift, we must acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves and it is only God who can save us because Jesus has taken our place on the cross.
In fact, the entire course of Jesus’ life here on earth is one act of redeeming love. He was without sin and was obedient to God during his life, and especially, on the cross. Through his obedience, we can be reconciled to a perfect relationship with God.
Are you feeling grateful yet?
God’s will for us
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:9-12
The mystery of God’s will was revealed through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He saved us from the future we deserved – eternal damnation – and wants all of creation to bow under the authority of Jesus.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.Philippians 2:8-10
God wants to save all of us and wants us to live with him for all eternity. This predestination gives us comfort because it assures us that God is, and always has been, in control of all of creation. Everything that happens is predestined by God and he uses us as his chosen as instruments to fulfil his plan. This truth fills us with the reassurance that evil will not triumph (Romans 8:28-30) and that God’s plan for his people will be fulfilled. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together for good. Therefore, we find peace in the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, and God is in control.
The seal of our Inheritance
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 3:13-14
When we accept our calling and election, God places the royal seal of the Holy Spirit on our foreheads, which certifies the authenticity of our acceptance of God as being genuine (John 3:33; Acts 10:44,47). The Holy Spirit serves as our guarantee that we belong to him and he will do as promised.
5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.Galatians 4:5-7
The presence of the Holy Spirit gives us the power to transform into the image of Christ by yielding to his rule over our lives.
A good marriage is characterised by mutual submission and surrendering one’s own wishes to the good of the other. This is true love. We are being prepared to enter a marriage with Jesus. The Spirit helps us to prepare as the bride of Christ by pointing out to us the parts that need to be surrendered and to be consecrated to grow into this worthy bride.
Ultimately the crown of our spiritual blessings can be summarised as our transformation into spiritual beings through our faith in Christ which glorifies our childhood in God, and gradually, extinguishes our sinful human nature.
This inheritance is our greatest treasure, and thus, should become our greatest reason to give thanks.
Click on the link below to watch my Facebook Live discussion on our Spiritual Blessings: