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And now back to our study…
Ephesians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Verses 3-14 contain only five sentences. Personally, I find that Paul’s exceedingly long and drawn out sentences sometimes make it difficult to focus on the point he is making, but if we break it down into phrases, the meaning becomes clear.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” – In other words, ‘Praise and worship be to God, the father of Jesus’. The rest of the verses in this passage tell us why God deserves our praise.
“who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” – Who does ‘us’ refer to? It hearkens back to the Saints of verse one, and includes all those who belong to Christ. It includes old and young, male and female, Jew and Gentile, believers in Paul’s day, as well as you and I.
What spiritual blessings do we enjoy as a result of being a child of God? These would include forgiveness/redemption/justification through the blood of Christ, grace, our adoption as children of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are not material or temporal things related to this physical world, but they are spiritual gifts which prepare us for our eternal home in heaven.
Do you give praise to God for blessings related to your earthly life, such as clothes, food, housing, etc? You are right to do so, for all blessings come from God; but do you also give regular thanksgiving and praise to God for your spiritual blessings which make you fit for an eternal heavenly home? Or do we sometimes begin to take those things for granted? The Christian would do well spend some time ruminating on our upcoming transition from life on earth to life in Heaven. A renewed focus on the heavenly should affect the way we live on earth. It also helps put a lot of things into proper perspective!
“in the heavenly places” – The word ‘places’ is not the best choice, when translating from Greek to English. Maybe the word ‘matters’ or ‘things’ would be better. The meaning of the phrase is that God blesses us in Christ with regard to things pertaining to heaven or things that prepare us for heaven.
“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” – Perhaps in the past, as you quickly read this passage, you missed the awesome significance of this phrase. The blessings of salvation, grace, adoption by God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit were bestowed upon us before the foundations of the world!
Have you ever given someone a last minute gift? Maybe you forgot to buy them something for Christmas or their retirement and so you rush out and get the first thing you see, just to have something to give them? Is it possible that you have received a gift that you felt was given without much thought on the part of the giver? Has someone ever given you a gift that had no value or meaning? This is NOT the case with God.
Salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit were never an afterthought. They were not given to us by chance. They were not given to us in a haphazard manner because God was caught off guard by the fall of man. They are not crumbs from the table of God. God is not ‘going with the flow’ and making things up as we race toward the end of this age.
Rather, these spiritual gifts are the direct result of intention and design on the part of God Almighty! This means that God had planned to give them to us before he even created planet earth. He planned to give them to us long before the fall of man. He planned to give them to YOU before you were even born. These gifts are priceless and they flow from God to us as a part of his eternal purpose and plan that was in place from ages past!
God chose to do this, which clearly implies that he had a choice. He could easily have refused to grant these blessings, but because of his great love for us, he did not.
“that we should be holy and blameless before him” – The purpose or the end result of these blessings is that we become holy and blameless before God. God did not choose us because we were holy; we are holy because God has chosen and redeemed us through Christ. Only through the blood of Jesus can we stand blameless before God.
1 Peter 1:18-20 – …you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you, who through him are believers in God…
So… given the astounding spiritual blessings that God has poured out upon us, and considering that we did absolutely nothing to deserve them, we should forever be in a state of praise and worship towards him (which is where Paul started in verse 3).
We tend to think of praise and worship as something we do with our mouths, or with musical instruments. This is correct, but it actually only scratches the surface of praise.
Webster’s dictionary defines praise as this: To extol in words or song, to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works, to do honor to; to display the excellence of.
How do we do honor to God? How do we display his excellence?
I Peter 2:9-11 says this: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Who in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul…
Peter explains that we honor God and display his excellence to the lost world by living a holy life; a life that reflects the holiness and love of Christ himself. According to Colossians 3, we are to put off the deeds of the old man and, as in verse 12-14, we are to “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection”.
So, how are you honoring God and displaying his excellence to a lost world? Please write in and share with us. Tell us about a time when you were ‘God’s hand extended’ to another individual. What was the circumstance? What was their reaction? How was God glorified?
We would also like to hear from those of you who were going through a rough time and a Christian showed forth God’s praise by ministering to you. What were the circumstances? How did you feel before the person came along to help? How did you feel afterward? Did it make a difference in your walk with God?