Day Nine:  The Blessings of Being “in Him” or “in Christ”

Day Nine: The Blessings of Being “in Him” or “in Christ”

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In Him We Have Redemption Through His Blood

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7

As we continue praying through Ephesians, sometimes phrase by phrase or even word by word, we come to the beginning of another long sentence that takes up four verses (1:7-10).  And in each of these verses, we see some profound truths revealed about His grace, our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins, the mystery of His will, and the gathering of everything, and I mean everything, in Christ.  I know, it’s quite a mouthful.  So read it for yourself.

We are also introduced, in a bit more detail, to the term, “in Him,” which occurs five times in this first chapter.  And in each of these instances, it shows the source of the blessings we are promised and have received.  Consider the following:

•   We are chosen “in Him” before time began to be just like Christ, “holy and without blame” (1:4).
•   It is “in Him” we receive redemption and the forgiveness of our sins, and in no one else (1:7).
•   In the fullness of time, everything— both in heaven and on earth, shall be gathered together— “in Him” (1:10).
•   Our inheritance we receive is only found, “in Him” (1:11).
•   And we are sealed with the Holy Spirit because we believe the “gospel of our salvation,” which is only found by faith “in Him” (1:13).

But there is so much more to discover.


What Does it Mean to be “In Him” or “In Christ”?

The phrase, “in Him,” is found 26 times in the letters of Paul.  And, even more amazing, Paul uses a similar phrase, “in Christ,” over eighty times in his writing.  This again begs the question: What does being “in Christ” mean, or what is the Spirit trying to tell us by having Paul use this phrase to describe our relationship with Him?

Let’s begin with salvation.

Salvation

According to the Scriptures, salvation is all about being united or reunited with God (and there is much that must take place for that to happen).¹  It’s a process where those He chooses are rescued and redeemed from a life of sin, which made them enemies of God (Rom. 5:10, Col. 1:21), and instead, He brings them into a life in harmony and fellowship with Himself, described as “holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4)— as a member of His family, and adopted as sons (Eph. 1:5).  But there’s more.  God also transforms or re-creates us into something new, something we were not before our redemption in Christ.  This is called regeneration, and it’s when we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29) or, as Jesus called it, being “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:16).  So much so, that when God sees each of us, what He actually sees is us in His Son, “in Christ”— clothed with the imputed righteousness, not of our own, but of His Son.  And this was something the Father did for us by grace.

For He (Father) made Him (Son) who knew no sin to be sin for us, (why) that we might become the righteousness of God (how) in Him (or “in Christ”) – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Let that sink in for a moment.

This is why God never promises to make you better, but to make you new.  The old man, the unregenerated man born in sin (you before Jesus came into your life), must be crucified and put to death (Gal. 2:20).  And only then will He, God, resurrect you into a new creation, someone created in the image of Jesus who is now capable of having a relationship with Him as a child of God (1 John 3:1).

This brings us to the practical aspect of being “in Christ,” which is sanctification.

Sanctification

Sanctification is the process by which we, as redeemed, regenerated believers, are progressively transformed into the likeness of Christ in our daily lives, and given the freedom to choose to surrender to Him and follow Him in every aspect of our lives (Gal. 5:16-17).  Sanctification is the means of experiencing the “abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10), as we are “set apart,” or sanctified for His purpose.  And it’s where we become more like Him and less like us, and in doing so, bring glory to His name (Matt. 5:16).  Bottom line, sanctification is what brings joy in the Christian life— becoming more like the One we love.  And it allows God to work in and through us, as we remain connected to Christ, the Vine, and “bear much fruit” for the Father’s glory (John 15:8).  Again, read it for yourself in John 15.  It’s the perfect picture of a sanctified life.

Sanctification is a work of God’s grace that begins at the moment of salvation and continues throughout our entire lives.  It’s what defines your devotion to Him and is the tangible, visible product of being “in Him” or “in Christ.”  Let me explain.


Being “In Him” and Not “In Me”

When we come to understand the incredible honor and privilege we have of being, or living, “in Christ,” the blessings in our life begin to open up like floodgates from heaven.  We can then see how our Father did not leave us alone, as orphans, to somehow find our way back to Him by the sheer determination of our will.  But, as Jesus promised, He remains with us, within us, in the Person of the Holy Spirit who, in every aspect, is fully God, just like Jesus and the Father (John 14:16-18).  This makes us truly invincible to the attacks of the enemy (1 John 4:4; Eph. 6:11), since we are “in Christ” (Jas. 4:7).  Let that sink in for a moment.  If it helps, try to envision physically being “in Christ” or being clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27): Satan would have to get through Jesus before he can lay a hand on you, since you are “in Him”— which we are.  And what a blessing that is!


But There is More

Being “in Christ” also has some practical blessings that are often overlooked, especially in our culture of shame, degradation, and others constantly trying to erode your confidence in… well, everything.  Consider the following.

Identity:  We now know our identity is found in Christ rather than in our accomplishments, failures, or what others think of us.  This realization provides a great sense of security and confidence in this troubling culture of self-promotion (Gal. 2:20).

Purpose:  When we recognize and embrace that we are united with Christ, it gives our lives meaning and purpose.  Just think, we are called to live for Him and to advance His kingdom (Phil. 1:21).  What could be a grander purpose than that?

Strength:  When we face trials and challenges (and we all do), we can draw strength from our relationship with Christ, knowing that He is with us and will never forsake us because we are “in Him” (Phil. 4:13).

Relationships:  Being “in Christ” also means being part of His body, the church.  This understanding leads to greater love, unity, and service within the Christian community and His Kingdom (1 Cor. 12:27).

Eternal perspective:  Our union with Christ gives us hope and assurance for the future, knowing we will one day be with Him for all eternity (1 Thes. 4:16-17).  And if that doesn’t put a smile on your face, nothing will.

In addition, being “in Christ” means we share in Christ’s death, resurrection, victory over sin, and eternal life (Rom. 6:3-8).  It also means we are adopted into God’s family (Eph. 1:5) and are made new creations in Him (2 Cor. 5:17).  And the list goes on.  Everything, it seems, that is good in our life comes from being “in Christ”— who is the source of all our blessings, our righteousness, our future, and our life.

So rest in this amazing truth today.


Time to Pray

As you pray, remember all you have because of all He has done for you and given you.  And thank Him for not allowing you to aimlessly wander this life alone, but for placing you “in” His Son, “in Christ,” and imputing the perfect righteousness of His Son to His now “adopted” child— you.

And we will talk more later.


Notes

1. Such as regeneration, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the other aspects of salvation that are, not to sound too simplistic, all included in the one package.  See Romans 8 for some of these.

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Day Eight:  The Joy of Being Chosen and Adopted

Day Eight: The Joy of Being Chosen and Adopted

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The Blessing of Every Spiritual Blessing

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will.
Ephesians 1:5

As we have been praying through the book of Ephesians, we’ve previously focused on Ephesians 1:3, which talks about God, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, having blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  It’s important to note that “blessed us” is in the past tense, meaning we have already received these things.  And what have we received?  Read it carefully… “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  And the word “every” means just that— every, as in each, all, the entire, in totality and without exception. In other words, there are no spiritual blessings we haven’t already received.  None.  And that, in itself, is quite a blessing, don’t you think?

It’s also true we don’t always experience all those blessings today, usually because of our lack of faith or disobedience.  But the reality is those blessings are available to us, right now, for the asking.  This begs the question: What exactly are those spiritual blessings?  As we continue reading in Ephesians, we find some of those blessings laid out for us one after another and, quite honestly, they’re spectacular.  There’s really no other word for it.  So, let’s look at the first one.


We are Chosen Before the Foundation of the World

Ephesians 1:4 says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”  The first blessing we received was that God chose us in Christ before we had time to do anything good or bad or before He discovered anything in us worth choosing, which is more than amazing.  It means (and you can look at Romans 9 to learn more about this) that because of His will, His volition, and what He decided to do, He chose us— who were so undeserving of His love, grace, and mercy— to be just like His Son.  Therefore, we are “holy and without blame before Him in love.”  Holy and blameless… sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?

Another incredible aspect of this, which we’ve talked about before, is the fact Jude 1:24 says that not only did He choose us to be holy and blameless before Him, but He will also make sure we make it to the finish line in one piece— still holy and “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).  It says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  This is one of our spiritual blessings in Him, which should give us great confidence and bolster our faith, especially as we see the growing clouds of persecution and deception right over the horizon.


Predestined for Adoption as Sons

But it gets even better.  Ephesians 1:5, the verse we’ll be praying through today, says, “He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”  Think that through.  The term predestined means God predetermined our outcome beforehand and has already decided how this is going to play out.  It says God predestined us, despite our sin, pride, apathy, and failures, or as it says in Romans 5:8, “while we were still sinners”— to be “adopted as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.”

I love the word “adoption.”  It’s not a Jewish concept but a Roman legal procedure where a person was received into a new family and given all the rights and privileges of the other natural-born children.  Think about that.  Adoption is where someone with no ties or history to a particular family is granted full access to that family as a member, as a child, and equal to the other children in every way.  The Scriptures state God decided to bring us, who were not part of His family (who were actually enemies of His by sin – Rom. 5:10) into His family, not as servants, slaves, second-class citizens, or as independent contractors who have to prove their worth, but as sons.  And if you want to take it one step further, you’ll find in Romans 8 that we’re not only sons of God but also heirs, and the Scripture then dares to say we are “joint heirs” with Jesus Christ Himself (Rom. 8:17).  I know, it’s so amazing, it’s hard to believe.  So read it for yourself.

Today, if you’re looking for something to thank Him for, you can begin with the fact you’re a son of God because of His predetermined choice of you before the foundation of the world to make you just like His Son— “holy and without blame before Him.”  Then, if that wasn’t enough, He chose to bring you into a relationship with Christ unto Himself.  You are not simply granted access into His Kingdom, like a citizen.  But you are invited to dine at His table as His son.  Let the reality of that sink in for a moment.  It should take your breath away.


According to the Good Pleasure of His Will

“But why?” you may ask.  “Why would God do something like that for us?”  Or, make it personal… “for me?”  It’s really simple.  Pride tells us maybe it’s because we’re smarter than others, or perhaps we somehow deserved it because we cuss less than our friends or only watch PG-13 movies… or whatever.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The Scriptures declare He did it because of His good pleasure.  Specifically, “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5, 9).

Let me give you a common understanding of what that phrase would sound like if it were written today.  We would say it like this: “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself… because He wanted to.”  That’s it.  No other reason needs to be given.  He did it because He felt like it, because He chose to.  It was something He wanted to do, and it made Him happy.  It was “according to the good pleasure of His will”… and nothing more.


Surrender and Give Thanks

So, as you pray today, think about what Christ has done for you.  Think about how blessed you are to be a son of God, adopted into His family for no other reason than it brought Him pleasure to do so (Eph.1:5).  I mean, He chose you and me and somehow, in ways we may never understand, it put a smile on His face.  And I’m sure glad it did.  So open up your heart to Him, surrender to Him, and give Him all that you are, because He is so worthy.  As Romans 12:1 states, it is our “reasonable service” or expected response to what He has already done for us.

Remember, you are loved, cherished, and chosen by the Creator of the universe to be like His Son and to have direct access to the Father… His Father and your Father (Heb. 4:6).  After all, you are family.  You are a son of God, predestined for adoption, and “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).  That’s past tense.  You have these blessings now.  Let this truth fill your heart with exceeding joy, unspeakable peace, and profound gratitude as you go about your day, knowing you are a part of God’s family, not because of anything you have done, but because of His great love for you (Eph. 2:4-5).


Time to Pray

And face it, nothing this world has to offer sounds better than what you already have.  It’s just stuff, worthless trinkets and toys— and you are a son of the King.  So begin your prayer time with Him by surrendering your life to the One who called You His own and adopted you into His family.

And we’ll talk more later.

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Day Seven:  The Incredible Blessing of Being Chosen

Day Seven: The Incredible Blessing of Being Chosen

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God’s Choice vs Our Choice

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Ephesians 1:4

We have looked at the blessings the Lord has given His children in Christ, even to the point of the promise of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), which are now ours because of Him.  And one of the greatest blessings is being chosen by God to be adopted as His son.  Nothing can compete with this.  Nothing.

Just think, when we were not looking for God or even had Him on our mind, He chose to bring us into His family as His child for no other reason than “the good pleasure of His will” or simply “because He wanted to” (Eph. 1:5,9).  And if God wants to do something, who is going to tell Him, no?  Not me.

So, in Ephesians 1:3, we are introduced to the wonder that we have, past tense, already been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  And every means just that, every— or all, each, the entire, in totality, and without exception.  In other words, there are no blessings that you have not already been blessed with.  You have them all, every one of them, and on steroids.  But that doesn’t mean you are currently experiencing those blessings.  That is another subject altogether, and we’ll dig into that when we talk about the life of sanctification at a later time.  So hang on.


The Sum of Our Blessings

Let’s look at just a few of the blessings the Lord reveals to us in the first few verses of this chapter.

•   Election:  Where God chose us before the foundation of the world to become just like Him, holy and without blame in love (1:4).
•   Predestination:  God pre-determined that we would become His son through adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself.  And He did this, not because we were worthy or somehow merited sonship.  No, He chose us to become part of His family because He wanted to, and for no other reason (1:5).
•   Acceptance:  God, for some reason I’ll never understand, chose to accept us into fellowship with Himself regardless of our past or how bleak our present may seem.  And He did this because of His Son (1:6).
•   Redemption:  God chose to pay the price for our freedom from the consequences of our sins by the sacrifice of His only Son.  He redeemed us and forgave all our sins— past, present, and future, because of the riches of His grace (1:7).
•   Mystery:  And if that wasn’t enough, He has made known to us the mystery of His will because, again, He wanted to and it brought Him pleasure (1:9).

This we could call, “Our Blessings, Part One.”  But it gets even better.


The Sum of Our Blessings… Uh, and Even More

The book of Ephesians tells us even more about how blessed we are in Him.  For example, the sphere of our spiritual blessings is in the heavenlies (our translators added the word places in 1:3).  This is where God dwells and where we will spend eternity.  So our blessings are not temporal or have an expiration date, like everything else in this life.  No, they exist, like God, forever.

We are given a glimpse into Christ’s present enthronement, which is also in the heavenly places, seated at the right hand of the Father (1:20).  And we are then told, since we are “in Christ,” that our present enthronement is also with Him in the heavenly places (2:6).  And it is in the heavenly places (or heavenlies) that the angels witness God’s wisdom on display in His church as a rebuke to them (3:10).  And finally, the battleground of our present conflict with the forces of evil spirits are also found in the heavenly places (6:12), where God is seated with His Son and we with Him.  Can you think of a safer or more secure place to be?  It gives you another sense of what Jesus meant when He said,

“And I (Jesus) give them (His sheep, you and me) eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” – John 10:28-29.

And how is all this possible?  Keep reading.

“I and My Father are one” – John 10:30.

Case closed.  Mic drop.  It doesn’t get any better than that.


“I’ll Take Him”

And it all begins with His choice of us to call unto Himself.  Amazing.  Even as the shy, fat kid with thick glasses, God wanted us on His team.  Therefore, He chose us and called us by name before we even knew who God was.  This is what it means to be chosen by Him.

The fact that God has chosen us for salvation is a staggering thought and should elicit praise from those He chose for all eternity.  And maybe it will once we fully understand what it means.  The Scriptures say that before we were even born, before we had done anything good or bad, when God had no reason to choose or not choose us, He had already set His love upon us and predetermined to save us and make us like His Son (see Romans 9).  And this choice was not based on our merit or worthiness, but solely on His grace and loving-kindness toward us (if it seems I am belaboring this point, well, I am.  All of life changes when you fully grasp what you have been given in Christ).  As Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is (note) the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

But God’s choice goes beyond just salvation; He has also chosen us to have a personal relationship with Him.  Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have been reconciled to God and adopted as His children (Eph. 1:5).  That means we are no longer strangers or enemies, but beloved sons and daughters who can approach God with confidence and call Him “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).  In fact, we are also deemed heirs and joint-heirs with His Son.  Read it for yourself in Romans 8:14-17.  This intimate relationship is the foundation for all other blessings we receive in Christ.  It is the foundation from which all our blessings flow.


Chosen to Be Holy and Blameless

God also reveals in Ephesians 1:4, the purpose for which God has chosen us: to be “holy and without blame before Him.”  This means that our salvation is not just about escaping hell or enjoying eternal life or having our “Best Life Now”— as some believe.  No, it’s about being transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) and living a life that is pleasing to Him.  As 1 Peter 1:15-16 exhorts us, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all (pas) your conduct, (why) because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'”

Being chosen to be holy and blameless is both a privilege and a responsibility.  It means that we are set apart for God’s purposes and called to reflect His character in all that we do.  It involves putting off the old self with its sinful desires and putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).  This is not something we can accomplish in our own strength, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to renew our minds to be more like Christ (Rom. 12:1-2).

And in Jude 1:24, God is praised for being able to “keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  So God not only makes us holy and blameless but will make sure we remain that way because it brings Him exceeding joy (and it will bring us joy as well).  This is all part of the blessings we have in Him.


The Antidote for Pride

One last thing before we pray: Do you realize that God chooses almost everything regarding our salvation and how He wants to be worshiped?  Research it yourself.  He chose His disciples, not the other way around (John 15:16).  He chose the people of Israel to be His special people (Deut. 7:6).  He chose Moses to lead His people out of Egypt (Moses certainly didn’t volunteer for the job).  He chose the tribe of Levi to serve as priests unto Himself (Num. 3:12).  He chose the exact blueprint for the Tabernacle and the Temple and how it was to be built.  God chose specifically how He wanted to be worshiped in Leviticus.  He didn’t leave that up to the passing whims of His people.  And He even chose that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were to be engraved on two onyx stones and placed on the shoulders of the ephod (Ex.28:5-10).  Let’s face it, God chose almost everything and did not leave any of this up to you or me.

Except one thing.

After salvation, after we are changed by regeneration and the Holy Spirit lives within us (Eph. 1:13-14), God allows us to choose (and expects us to choose correctly) how we will worship and serve and obey Him with the lives He has redeemed and given back to us (John 14:15).  Again, this is called sanctification, and we will spend quite a bit of time unpacking what that means at a later date.

So, once you understand God’s sovereign choice in just about everything, where is the place for our pride?  Exactly, there is none.  Think about that before you pray.


So Let’s Pray

As we pray today, being guided by His choice of us in Him before the world was created, be filled with gratitude and a deep desire to serve and honor Him with the life He has blessed and given back to you.  Nothing, I believe, would please Him more.

Dear Father,
I come before You with a heart overflowing with gratitude for the incredible blessing of being chosen by You.  It amazes me that even before the foundation of the world, You set Your love upon me and predestined me to be holy and blameless in Your sight (Eph. 1:4).  I still don’t understand why, but I can never thank You enough.

I recognize that this choice was not based on any merit or worthiness of my own, but solely on Your grace and loving-kindness toward me (Eph. 2:8-9).  I am humbled by the realization that You wanted me to be part of Your family, not because of anything I have done, but simply because it was Your good pleasure (Eph. 1:5).  And again, I don’t understand why, but thank You so much for this blessing.

Thank You for adopting me as Your child through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of Your will.  I am overwhelmed by the privilege of being able to call You “Abba, Father” and to have a personal, intimate relationship with You (Rom. 8:15).

I understand that being chosen by You comes with the responsibility to live a life that is pleasing to You, reflecting Your holiness in all my conduct (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  And I know I haven’t always been at the top of my game in that regard.  Forgive me and help me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to put off my old self with its sinful desires and to put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

I praise You for Your ability to keep me from stumbling and to present me faultless before Your glorious presence with great joy (Jude 1:24).  And I trust in Your faithfulness to complete the good work You have begun in me (Phil. 1:6).

May my life be a testament to the riches of Your grace and the depth of Your love (Eph. 1:7).  Use me as an instrument of Your will, and may I always find my greatest joy in serving, honoring, and obeying You (John 14:15).

In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Day Six:  Being Thrilled With What You Already Have

Day Six: Being Thrilled With What You Already Have

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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


The Cup is Always Full

Let’s face it, we live in troubling times.  Almost everywhere we look, there is division, chaos, fear, uncertainty, and corruption that erodes our confidence in our so-called “sacred institutions” and can be so depressing they often keep us from wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  The future, for many, looks bleak.  And the present doesn’t look so hot either.  But that should never be said of a believer— especially after praying through this one verse, which is part of a long, single sentence in the letter to the church at Ephesus.  No, this truth should give us hope and encouragement as we see life, not from the physical, horizontal perspective, but from God’s perspective.  After all, His way is always better.  And our problems always look smaller, almost insignificant, when viewed from heaven (Isa. 55:8-9).

Remember, we don’t have to choose to look at the glass as either half full or half empty.  It is always full, totally, right to the brim.  But it’s not necessarily full of the same thing or with what we can readily see.  Half may be water and the rest air.  But it is still full, nevertheless.  And so it is with God.  Some things we can see and some things we can’t.  But He is still present, filling everything to the brim, even if our eyes are not open to Him moving.  Then, we rely on faith in His promises and rest in the goodness of our God (Rom. 8:28).  What an incredible place to live.

For this is where we experience the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).

But don’t take my word for it; experience His peace yourself.  Ask Him to put you in a place where you have nowhere to look but up, and see what this will do for your faith.  Still not sure, then check out Hebrews 11 for some examples.


“Blessed,” “Every,” and “Heavenly Places”

When you pray through Ephesians 1:3 today, focus especially on three key phrases: “has blessed us,” “every spiritual blessing,” and my favorite, “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.

In our last time together, we spoke about the past-tense nature of our blessings, meaning they have already been given to us, and we possess them now (even if it doesn’t feel like it so much).  This is not some minor grammatical detail, but a liberating spiritual truth once you wrap your mind around it.  Basically, all God has in store for His children is available to us today, right now, in our present situation.  The phrase, “has blessed us” means we don’t have to wait until He returns to earth to set up His kingdom, or we die and go to live with Him in heaven, or the trump of God sounds and the rapture takes place before we come into possession of “every” or “all” (pas) of our spiritual blessings.  Nor do we have to earn them by living flawless lives or working ourselves ragged to gain His favor.  No, we have them with us already, always— just like the Holy Spirit, who continually dwells in us.

Next, we are drawn to the words “every” (pas) and the phrase “spiritual blessing.”  For me, I am reminded He has held nothing back from me, and I am now completely “blessed” with “every” or “all” spiritual blessings.  Our Lord, our Father, has already bestowed on us things we cannot understand— truly amazing things, unheard of things.  Try this one on for size:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man (what) the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4).

And these things are described as being “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).  Ah, takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Plus, the “spiritual blessings” we possess are just that: spiritual.  They are blessings that pertain to our spiritual life, our relationship with God, and our eternal destiny— you know, the things that last, unlike cars or money or houses or fame.  And they are blessings that involve the work of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, the word translated “spiritual” (pneumatikós) always pertains to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Always.  You might want to look into that amazing truth yourself.

And finally, these blessings are not limited to our time here on earth, but are reserved for us “in the heavenly places” where God dwells.  Where time is abolished.  Where we will spend eternity with Him.  Where our true reality resides, and not just this shadow of things to come.  And where it really matters.


Some Blessings That Matter Most

As a quick reminder, look at some of our “spiritual” blessings revealed in just the first fourteen verses in this chapter (we will look at each of these in the days to come):

1. Election – Ephesians 1:4
2. Adoption – Ephesians 1:5
3. Acceptance – Ephesians 1:6
4. Redemption – Ephesians 1:7
5. Forgiveness of Sins – Ephesians 1:7
6. The Revelation of God’s Purpose in History – Ephesians 1:10
7. Our Inheritance – Ephesians 1:11
8. Sealing by the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 1:13

Tell me, what more could we need, or want, than what we already have?


“Complete in Him”…er, Lacking Nothing

One final thought before we pray.

While looking at this passage, I was also drawn to Colossians 2:9-10, where the Lord tells us we are “complete in Him” and, by definition, lack nothing.  It means, there is nothing to add to make us more than we are.  There is nothing we need to make us whole or more loved by the Father.  In Him, and only “in Him,” we are right now, at this present moment, and just like we are: complete.  And the word translated “complete” is pleróō which means to “make full, supply abundantly, or impart richly.”  This is who we are in Him and the spiritual blessing we already possess.

And if that wasn’t enough, in Psalm 23:1, our Shepherd, the Lord Himself, promised us, “I shall not want.”  Do you know why?  Because we are already, past tense, “blessed” with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  What is there to want if we already possess all there is to have in Him?  Makes you think, doesn’t it?


So Let’s Pray

I hope you experience a bit of awe when you pray this verse today.  And I hope these truths will give you pause to reflect on how much the Father truly loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter your past— and no matter how messed up your present may seem.

Now, armed with this, go to Him in prayer, use these marvelous truths to allow His Word to guide your prayers, and see how our Lord desires to reveal Himself to you.

Dear Father,
Once again, I come before You with a heart full of gratitude and praise for Your choice of me “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  And I thank You that in Christ, You have blessed me with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).  What an incredible truth this is!  To know that the moment I placed my faith in You, You chose to lavish upon me the full riches of Your grace and blessing (Eph. 1:8) for no other reason than the “good pleasure of Your will” (Eph. 1:5).  Thank You so much for giving me what I don’t deserve, nor ever will.

And thank You that these blessings are not something I have to earn or strive for, but are already mine in Christ.  Thank You for the forgiveness of sins, for my adoption into Your family (Eph. 1:7), and for the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13-14).  Thank You for the wisdom, the hope, the peace, and the joy that are my inheritance in Christ.

Father, I pray these truths will not just be intellectual knowledge for me, but become living realities in my life.  Help me grasp the incredible scope and magnitude of the spiritual blessings I possess in Christ.  Open the eyes of my heart to see myself as You see me— seated with Christ in the heavenly places, blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 2:4-7).

I pray the truths of these blessings will transform the way I live each day.  Help me to draw upon the spiritual riches that are mine in Christ, to walk in step with Your Spirit, and to live out the fullness of life that is mine in Your Son.  When challenges and trials come, remind me that my life is anchored in the unshakable realities of Your eternal kingdom.

Above all, may the truth of these blessings lead me to a life of continual praise and thankfulness to You.  Keep me from ever taking Your grace for granted or living as a spiritual pauper when in reality, I am a spiritual millionaire (or billionaire)!  Fill my heart with wonder and awe at the glorious inheritance I have in Christ.

Finally, Lord use me to be a conduit of Your blessings to others.  Let me not hoard the spiritual riches You have given me, but freely share them with those around me.  Make me an instrument of Your grace, Your love, and Your truth in this world.

Thank You, Father, for the unsearchable riches of Christ that are mine in Him (Eph. 3:8).  I pray I will spend the rest of my days exploring the depths of these blessings and living in light of the glorious truth of who I am and what I have in You.

In Jesus’ precious name, I pray.  Amen.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Day Five:  Overlooking and Neglecting Our Blessings

Day Five: Overlooking and Neglecting Our Blessings

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Our Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:3a

The phrase “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” appears three times in the New Testament, and in each instance, it highlights some often-neglected spiritual blessings that believers have in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3).  And once we learn to embrace these blessings and not let them slip out of the spotlight because of our trials, temptations, or just the chaotic stuff of life, then we can remember how truly blessed we are, regardless of how we feel or what others might say.  Long two sentences, I know.  But let’s look at some of the incredible things God has already given us by virtue of our redemption provided by the sacrifice of His only Son (John 3:16).


The Letter to Ephesus

In Ephesians 1:3, Paul proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (why) who has blessed us with (what) every spiritual blessing (where) in the heavenly places in (how) Christ.”  He then lists some of these blessings that are easily ignored.  For example (and we’ll only look at the ones found in this one, long sentence):

   We Have Been Given Every Spiritual Blessing: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed (past tense, action already accomplished) us with every (pas) spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ” (Eph. 1:3).  This overarching truth sets the foundation for all the blessings that follow.  In Christ, we have been granted access to every (pas) spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms— which means there are no existing blessings we do not have access to.  Everything, all of them that ever existed, are available to us as His children.  This is the meaning of the adjective “every” (pas) in the Greek.  It doesn’t say we have been blessed with “some” of the blessings or “most” of them are available to us.  No, it says “every” or “all” (pas).  Think about that for a moment.  Do you understand what that means?

   We Have Been Chosen for Holiness (to be just like Him): “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).  Before the creation of the world, before time began, God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in His sight.  And our holiness is not based on our own efforts, which are usually littered with failure, but on His sovereign choice and the work of Christ in our lives, where He imputed His righteousness to us (2 Cor. 5:21).  God chose us to be like Him, holy, faultless, and without blame, simply because He loves us and wants us to be with Him (Jude 1:24).

   God Determined to Adopt Us to Himself: “Having predestined (to predetermine the outcome beforehand) us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, (why) according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).  God not only purposed to adopt us as His children, but has also elevated our status as children to heirs, and even joint-heirs with Christ Himself (Rom. 8:16-17).  Can you imagine what that means (we will unpack this truth at a later time)?  God determined, long before we proved ourselves worthy or not, to bring us into His family as His children for no other reason than “the good pleasure of His will.”  Or, as we would say, “Simply because He wanted to.”  It was His choice to choose you as His adopted child, and this unspeakable blessing should make everything else in life pale by comparison.

   God Has Chosen to Accept Us to Himself: “To the praise of the glory of (what) His grace, by which He made (His action and not based on our merit or work) us accepted (charitóō – to be highly honored or greatly favored) in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).  The world may reject you, as they did Jesus, but the Father never will.  By grace, God has determined to accept us unto Himself, even covered with the scars of our sins and past failures, because of His great love for His children, including you and me.  And again, what problems in life could we possibly have that compare to this blessing?  I can’t think of any.  Can you?

And all this is only from Ephesians 1:3-6, which is just the second sentence in this letter.  Can you imagine the multitude of blessings we can find elsewhere in Ephesians?  I, personally, have found over sixty— and the number keeps growing daily.


How Should We Respond?

In light of these truths, what should we do?  How should the blessings of God change our view of life, church, worship, and how we approach Him and others?

First, with gratitude and praise.  When we reflect on what we already possess in Him, our hearts should overflow with praise and thanksgiving to God for His grace in Christ, freely given— no, lavished, on us (Eph. 1:8).  We did nothing to earn or deserve these blessings because they flow from God’s love and mercy alone.  So, as we meditate on these spiritual riches, let us remember the words of David: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Next, we should be encouraged and strengthened in the face of trials.  When we encounter hardships that just come with life, we remember that our identity, security, purpose, worth, future, and hope are always anchored in Christ, and not in our circumstances.  Pain and suffering are for only a moment, but eternity lasts forever.  And we have a compassionate Father who is ‘the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3), who will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).  From His perspective, our sufferings and trials are nothing more than “light afflictions, which is but for a moment” (2 Cor. 4:17), and are “working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Finally, these blessings should inspire us to live holy and godly lives.  Truth is, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4).  That seems to be one reason He created us in the first place.  Therefore, our lives should be marked by growing conformity to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29, which is called sanctification), by our daily choosing to put off the old self and put on the new (Eph. 4:22-24).  And as we abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit, we will bear His fruit that gives glory to our Lord and points others to Him (Gal. 5:22-25)


Let’s Put it All Together

There is so much more to this life with Christ than we have been taught or experienced in the church in the West.  And I’m not sure why that is.  But, our blessings in Him are inexhaustible and already ours in Christ.  They are not some future promise for those who meet some predetermined condition, nor something we receive only when we die and go to heaven.  They are ours now, as stated in the past tense.  We have been “blessed” (past tense) with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (where God lives) in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Tell me, what does this world offer that you don’t already have in Him?  That’s right, nuthin’.


So Let’s Pray

As you pray, remember to never cease to thank and praise God for the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8), that are yours, right now.  And ask Him to give you a life overflowing with gratitude as we share with others the wonders we have found in Christ (1 Pet. 2:9).

Dear Father,
I can’t thank You enough for all the blessings that are mine because of Your choice in me before the foundation of the world.  It literally takes my breath away.  And just think, You chose me for no other reason than the fact You wanted to.  Lord, I am overcome with humbleness, knowing that I’m Your son, adopted into Your family because of Your love, mercy, and grace.  And that this is something You actually wanted to do.  You forgave all my sins.  You redeemed me and made me an heir, a joint heir with Your Son.  How is this possible?  And why did You choose me?

Lord Jesus, I don’t know the answers or what You had in mind, but thank You for making all of this possible.

Would You teach me to show the same grace and gratitude towards others that You have shown me?  And never let me get so burdened with the trials and temptations of today that I forget who I am in You, and once again view myself for who I once was.  That person is dead, buried with Christ.  I know I am no longer that person, but I am now someone new, created in Your image.  Lord, help me live like that today, just for You.

And let me remember today, and commit to memory, Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Father, bring this verse to my memory several times today and let me contemplate how truly blessed I am.  Thank You for all You’ve done for me.  And allow me to live a life worthy of Your grace and sacrifice.

In the name of Your Son Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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