Every Spiritual Blessing

Posted on March 22, 2017
Filed Under Exhortation, From Daily Readings, Short Pauline Epistles | 2 Comments

Paul, as he began the epistle to the Ephesians (chapter 1), wrote of how they had available to them “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” This begins a powerful section of scripture in which Paul enumerates several (but not all) of these blessings. The importance of this statement is far reaching!

If every spiritual blessing is “in Christ” then that leaves no room for any other source of blessing! This is the same idea that Peter and John conveyed to the Sanhedrin concerning Jesus:

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

All spiritual blessing, including that of eternal salvation, is found only in Christ!

Paul, when writing to the Galatian brethren made it clear that there was one way to be in Christ:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

Only when one is baptized into Christ has he put on Christ. One is not “in Christ” if he has not yet been baptized into Christ!

Paul was, therefore, writing to those in Ephesus who had already been baptized into Christ, and reminding them of the blessings that were available to them in Christ. We can briefly consider the blessings that Paul enumerated for these brethren, and understand that the same blessings are available to those who are baptized into Christ today as well!  

We are predestined to adoption.  While the idea of predestination has been vastly misused in the religious world, we can certainly see the importance of it in Paul’s writings. Many think that Paul is declaring that individuals were chosen or predestined by God before they ever were born. That is, He picked who would be saved and who would be lost before the first person lived. However, that does not fit with all that we know about God’s nature. He is not, for example, a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11, ASV), which means that He cannot choose one person over another based solely on His whim!

Paul was declaring that those who chose to be in Christ, through obedience to Him, were predestined to adoption. Anyone who obeys gets to be the child of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Himself (Romans 8:15-17)! God predetermined that all the faithful would get this great spiritual blessing!

We are redeemed.  Because of the shedding of the blood of Jesus, we had the opportunity to be redeemed by God, bought back from the sure destruction that is rightfully ours. Of course, Paul wrote that it is “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:7). As we have already noted, we are only “in Him” when we are obedient to His instructions, which means being baptized into Him. Paul wrote extensively about being baptized into the death of Christ in Romans chapter 6. It is in baptism that we put the old man of sin to death, and resurrect a new man, walking in newness of life. It is in baptism that God does His work of forgiveness, His work of redemption! We are baptized into Christ, and we are redeemed from a life of sin and death!

We have received the riches of His grace. It is because of the grace of God that we have received the revelation of His will. He did not leave us without any idea of what He expects of us. He has revealed to us “the mystery of His will” (Ephesians 1:9).

In chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul wrote about the process through which God made this revelation. His Holy Spirit made known the mystery of the will of God to men like Paul, who taught it to others, and also wrote it down so that it might be known for all future generations. That one message was intended for all people, and for all times. This again points to God’s fairness. He did not choose certain individuals to be saved or lost. He provided a message that had the potential of saving all. It is up to each individual as to whether he will listen to the message and accept, or choose to reject the grace of the Lord!

We have obtained an inheritance. Not only do we enjoy great blessings in this life, but we have been given an eternal inheritance. It is provided to those who “first trusted in Christ…” God has provided an eternal inheritance for those who are willing to listen to and obey His son! That inheritance is so sure, it can be spoken of as if it has already been attained by those who are faithful!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7–8)

Paul could write about the reward that was waiting for him, having confidence that his inheritance was secured. That didn’t mean he could cease being obedient, for his faithfulness was important for his eternal salvation:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

Like Paul, we need to be pressing toward the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” but we can also have confidence that the reward is there and awaiting us!

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.  Paul’s list of blessings ended with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, given to the one who had trusted in Christ after having heard the “word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Those who have heard the message of truth and been obedient to it are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Paul wrote of this seal as being the “guarantee of our inheritance.” This idea of a “guarantee” is similar to our use of a “down payment.” There is something given, such as money, to ensure the preservation of that thing which is to be purchased (such as a house or a car). Paul said that the Holy Spirit is given as the guarantee, or down payment, of that thing which is to be fully realized at a later date (our eternal inheritance).  God has purchased us, and sealed us with His Holy Spirit of promise (Acts 2:38)!

Paul was not trying to list every blessing that we have in Christ, but he did want us to realize that every spiritual blessing we have is found only in Christ. We have not even tried to list every blessing that Paul wrote of in Ephesians chapter 1! We should, however, have confidence in the blessings that have been given to us. They should serve to encourage us to be obedient to Christ so that we can have those blessings, and remain obedient so that He will continue to provide them to us!