Every Spiritual Blessing in the Heavenly Places
“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, NASB).
Ephesians 1:3-14, an overview
We need to turn our minds now to look in through the doorway. If you have been outside on a cold winter day, it is nice to feel a little bit of warmth when the door is opened, but you wish you would go in.
What a delight it is to step in that door and feel all the warm air surge about you. The cold oppressive winter wind is shut out. This is what happens when we step into the Book of Ephesians. This is what happened to Paul. You see once, he started writing about these special truths of God’s grace, he couldn’t stop. Sentence ran into sentence.
The apostle was so intrigued about all the things that he was writing that he kept going on and on. Ephesians 1:3-14, then, really has no complete thoughts. It is all one.. It is one long sentence. Each truth, built upon another, becomes a tall tower of truths. Altogether they present the lovely truth of the gospel of Christ.
We will be looking closely into this in the next couple of weeks. Today, however, we will limit our minds to just Ephesians 1:3. This verse is like the swirls of warm air that surge about us after entering a warm house on a cold blustery day.
We also want to note the other root word that is repeated three times in verse 3the word ‘blessed.’ If you have the NIV version, you will not see this. Try the Greek! Circle the three words that start with the same first five letters.
euloghtov o yeov kai pathr tou kuriou hmwn ihsou cristou o euloghsav hmav en pash eulogia pneumatikh en toiv epouranioiv en cristw.
“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).
God the Giver
God is the Giver or Provider of these good gifts. In the first creation we find that it repeatedly states that “It is good.” No one dare fault God on the way He made things. This is the reason that we find sickness and problems occur because we do not observe God’s ways. This is true in our environment, personal health or society. In the new creation, this is a term I am using it to distinguish it from physical creation, we find again that God is doing good things.
There is a lot of doubt whether what God gives us is the best. Again, we find a body nicely function is beautiful and good. If I have a little mouth sore, I fuss until it gets better. I want it normal. Normal means I can ignore it and enjoy eating and drinking beverages. I don’t feel pain. The same is true with God’s spiritual blessings. They are to be desired. They are good and lovely. With them, our lives are beautiful and wonderful. Without them, we have guilt, loneliness. We are driven by our sins and have problems in our relationships. People do not know what normalcy is. They figure they have to put up with a bad marriage or fears. The good news, the Gospel truth, is that God has brought a whole other set of good things in this world that can restore us to normalcy. His love through Christ solves all those problems.
People are afraid God’s commandments lead to restraint. If they do, they lead you out of bad places. I have to be careful not to eat too many walnuts or I get a mouth sore. If I am smart, I don’t eat them. The same is true. When we learn God’s ways, they bring joy to our lives because they help us live the best lives possible. I say all this that we might give great praise to our God for bringing all these blessings into our lives. We don’t deserve them. But they are here for us to reach out and obtain. Will you reach out for the very best in life? God has provided it. We must not fault the Giver. The problem is ours, ours and ours again. God has given us so many good things that they overflow our lives. We simply need to trust Him.
When we begin to see all these very kind things He does, we see He is very different than the God we thought He was. He is not mean or evil. We do not need to fear His words. Our fears actually keep us from accepting His truths into our lives. We can trust Him. God is worthy of all worship even if He did not kindly treat us. But when we combine His worthy and holy person along with this insight into His love and care for us, the spirit of worship and adoration are lifted very high. Worship has little to do with singing songs we like or with music that we prefer, but from being overwhelmed by the outpouring of His love. This is the reason He alone is worthy of all glory and praise; He alone is to be blessed. He is the Giver of all good things.
His people are the recipients of these blessings
We are the recipients. Later in the same verse it is quite clear that those in Christ has been given these good things. If you think it unfair that only those in Christ receive them, then you should recognize that you have an invitation to come to Christ and enjoy them too. God is not partial. If you think it unfair that those in the dark jungles have not heard of Christ, then you go and tell them. If it is important to you, and it should be, then go. Or if you cannot go, then give, pray and send. The Book of Ephesians exists because one man dared to face a hostile pagan culture and preach the Gospel.
We have talked a bit already how the Lord has graciously brought these good things to us. The Chinese speak about the eight blessings (Ba fu) as the summary of all good things. They are found in Christ. Now you might say that these are not the same kind of blessings. These are spiritual blessings. That is true. Let’s think a bit more what spiritual blessings really mean.
Examining the spiritual blessings
The Greek word ‘spiritual’ has a wide range of uses from describing the invisible part of man (soul), things relating to the wind, that part of us affected by the Spirit of God or those things that are not earthly. It probably does not exclusively mean one of these things here, but it is a blend. This is made clear by the reference from which these blessings can be found, as well as in the general context. We will limit our discussion to the phrase where these blessings can be found ‘in the heavenlies’ or as some versions put it ‘in the heavenly places.’ This word is used five times in Ephesians (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).
Eph 1:3 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,
Eph 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
Eph 3:10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We might want to conclude that ‘in the heavenlies’ is what we know as heaven, but it cannot be. Or if it is, then heaven will need to be first washed clean too. Notice Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Even in the heavenly places, there are evil spiritual forces. We must conclude that this phrase is the same as the spiritual world.
The spiritual world is every bit as real as the earthly world. We might think of it as in another dimension. We should not think of the spiritual world as completely separated or removed from our earthly world. At times, such as in Ezekiel 1, man gains the opportunity to gaze into the spiritual world. But usually, he cannot. In fact, so few people know of this world that many scoff and laugh at any such world. Man is willing to believe in higher beings in other parts of the universe but not one High Being who made them. He is willing to explore all sorts of unknown things like dark matter, but he is dogmatic there is no spiritual world. Humanists live in blindness because they are not even open to the existence of the spiritual world. They believe many things but not that. It would demand a life change which they are unwilling to put up with. And so would we, if it wasn’t for God’s good grace.
Paul has said “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50). The spiritual world is different. Just because we cannot see this world, it does not mean that it does not exist. God has made it invisible to us, or we have through our sin made ourselves blind to it. Seeing this world is not as important as realizing or knowing that it is there and allowing what is there to sharpen your own perspective of life. This is what we call belief. A confidence in what we cannot see. It relates not only to God, Christ’s work but many other facets of this world such as demons and heaven itself. This is what Paul the Apostle is doing in this book and especially in the first part of Ephesians.
He is very concerned that we gain from all the special blessings that Jesus Christ has secured for us. Someone in Europe had no one to give his money to when he died. He chose ten random people from the telephone book to give his inheritance. If it was you receiving a notice that you now had a bank account with $100,000 in it, what would you do? Unless you believed and acted on that belief, you would never write a check on its account. The money will go unused. Spiritual blessings refer to at least two different aspects of our lives as His people.
Blessings #1: Becoming God’s child.
They first and foremost include all the work that Christ has done for us. In other words, forgiveness of sin by Christ’s death on the cross would indeed be included as the spiritual blessing. There is no greater blessing in the sense that, without Christ, we would suffer hell’s eternal torment without it. What is the sense having a special coupon that welcomes you as a special guest to some fancy hotel and its restaurants free of charge any time you want if you are dead. There are, then, no spiritual blessings apart from Christ.
Blessings #2: Being God’s child.
There are, however, also a host of blessings that can be found in Christ. Once we are hidden in Christ, once we are saved and shield by the blood of Christ, we find that we are on the end of a long line of blessings. In fact, and do notice with me, he says ‘every spiritual blessing.’ We can be safe to say that God has secured for us all the spiritual blessing there is for us. The Father has given all His best to His children. He has held nothing back. We who deserved nothing now have everything.
As Paul continues on, he will specifically mention what those specific blessings are. We will leave that for the next messages. But what I would like to leave you with is that God has given His all to give us every blessing that is in the heavenlies. Let us think through what this means.
God is trying to tell us here that He has given us the very best things. Some people might fear the word ‘spiritual’ blessings. They just want the earthly blessings. Give him a million dollars, and they will be content. Now you might be convinced that the earthly blessings are really better. But what if the spiritual blessings were actually better. You thought the earthly were better but they were not. If the spiritual blessings are so much greater and available, would you not want your friend to tell you about it? Just think about ‘Black Friday’ when all the people rush out in the middle of the night to get those great bargains. Can you see that God has secured something much greater? If God belabored through Christ to give us these good things, would you not entertain the thought that the spiritual blessings must be better in every way? The value is seen in the price.
We must evaluate things on how long they last. Would you want $100,000 for one time or $10,000 each year? When we think of earthly things, we know they will but last but for a few years. Many of us are content on enjoying things but for a few years. Maybe we will live to 70. But they just do not compare to spiritual blessings which last forever. They do not end. Part of those spiritual blessings is a promise of a new body without sin, without pain, without any sign of deterioration or age. Our new bodies in a new and wholesome society will endure forever. They are true blessings because they endure.
We need to be careful to define earthly and spiritual. Many think the spiritual starts in the next life. This is not true. It starts now. The scriptures state “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” not will bless us. Spiritual blessings are something already done; it is written in past tense. They are now to be enjoyed. The spiritual world is not merely for the distant future world after our earthly experience. The spiritual blessings are to radiate our earthly lives.
If it wasn’t for Christ, I would not be enjoying a wonderful marriage with my dear wife Linda. I would hate her. I would not care for her. Christ has done many things for my marriage. He has totally transformed it from being a “I want that” to a beautiful relationship where we joyfully and lovingly serve each other. The parenting courses that I teach release God’s spiritual blessings to our whole families. The truths impact our lives. And so it is with all forms of discipleship. Jesus told us to tell others what He commanded them because it is through the truths of our spiritual blessings that enrich our earthly lives.
Let me mention one more thing but the list can go on and on. What is the difference between being lucky and receiving some special prize and receiving a special gift out of love? A prize is the only thing the world can hope for; it is void of real meaning. The secular world does not know of God and the significance that transposes this life on earth. Even if someone received an iPhone, it would be just a gadget. In a few years it would be phased out by newer products, lost or broken.
But if the gift was from one who sacrificed a lot so that I could receive that one thing that I needed the most, our hearts would be touched and moved each time we would touch that special gift.
It is moving when two men recently on the street below saw a 4 year-old boy fall from above and scurried to catch him in which they did. It is nice to hear my cousin trying to give up one of his kidneys to help my aunt (his Mom). It is equally moving to see those going into the 911 burning towers looking to save when they might not be saved themselves. It is most stirring, however, to realize that God would in His love, totally voluntarily, reach out to those who despised Him and bring them to have all that He has at the cost of sending the righteous and holy one who died a despicable death because of us. Much forgiven, much loved. All that we have seem empty in comparison to the relationship that we have in Christ. The Giver is more important than the gift.
When he says ‘all spiritual blessings’ there is nothing that God has not secured for us who are in Christ.
I want us to do two things for applying this two our lives.
(1) Repent from your love for the world. Confess those thoughts and actions that depict your lack of trust that what God has given us in Christ, ‘every spiritual blessing,’ is in anyway inferior to what the world offers. You chase after those things of the world because you believe they are better. Your life betrays your heart.
(2) Pause and ask God to show and convince you through this series on Ephesians of the absolutely best and most treasured spiritual blessings so that you more deeply adore and bless the God who has undeservingly given you all these things in Christ.
Unworthy: We are unworthy of God’s call to share in His holiness. Only because God willed it did Paul the ferocious become Paul Christ’ servant. Only by God’s kind grace in Christ have we ever been called to serve Him. Appreciative: This raises up in us a great and constant delight in being His. We belong to Him. Saints-holy: What we do with our time and money have everything to do with the Lord’s will. Blessed: we are absolutely blessed beyond all comprehension. The more we understand these truths that God has made possible in Christ, the more our lives are shaped by the great work of God.
In these first few verses, we are just crossing over the threshold into this vast storage of truths written all throughout the Book of Ephesians. It is from grace we can serve Him and more grace which pours every spiritual blessing into our lives forever and ever. All the more we need to better learn to worship and adore Him.
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