PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW
Coninuing Studies in Ephesians- part four
Let me begin by asking you what you believe your greatest blessing from God might be?
Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. Probably from the same jail cell from which he wrote his epistle to Colossae. Epaphras, who planted the Colossian church was acquainted with Paul (or in prison with him) and informed him of a heresy infiltrating the Colossae and Laodicean churches (Read, Col.2:8,18).
To combat the heresy troubling the Colossians, Paul argued that Christ alone is to be worshipped as the Divine Creator and Head of the Universe thus the Divine Creator of the Universe and Head of the Church. Then, he adds that since Jesus is the Head of the Universe and the Church, then Christians as members of Christ’s Body, the Church, have an intimate and very personal relationship with Him.
These two letters, Colossians and Ephesians resemble closely one to the other that of the 105 verses in Colossians, 75 are found in Ephesians. It is possible that they were written at the same time.
When the Scriptures refer to the Body of Christ, we understand that they are not referring to a universal collective and unseen bunches of churches, without unity, limit, exception, or purpose, but to specific churches in specific locations, with specific doctrines that are apostolic in nature and New Testament in reputation. Every letter Paul wrote was to churches local and visible, not a Church (capital C) universal or invisible.
We see this in his letters specific churches in various places, for example when he begins all his epistles with, to…
“all that be in Rome,’ to “the churches in Galatia,” “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth and with all the saints in all Achaia,” “to the saints in Ephesus,” “all the saints in Christ Jesus which art at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons,” “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which art at Colossae,” “unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and the structured assemblies of 1Timothy and Titus? Not one mention of a Universal and Invisible church in the lot!
The Ephesian letter is no exception. Let’s examine it again, beginning at Verse three. The title of this message, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, is a reminder that all blessings from God are conducive to true and lasting happiness, they are spiritual in nature, and are all in heavenly places.
Paul puts things in proper perspective. He starts with God then proceeds to the “covenant of eternal purpose”, ‘then he comes down to our level dealing with the actual blessings. Martyn Lloyd Jones
Finally these spiritual blessings are in Christ so Paul points us to Christ before giving even a hint of what the blessings might be. Why does he do that? Because we have no spiritual blessings apart from Jesus Christ.
For the next few minutes let’s look at the words Paul uses in verse three of chapter one: Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
First, Paul, uses a word that means ‘to speak well of’—BLESS-ED! Our word Eulogize means the same thing, to speak well of. Most of us are all familiar with eulogies. We eulogize, or speak well of the departed at funerals. We speak well of a departed persons character and honor his reputation.
Rarely in these times do we dare to be honest, preferring to be hypocritical. He may have been a cheat, adulterer, common thief, even ungodly in all his ways, but now that he is dead, somehow we find words that speak well of him and his reputation —Eulogize.
Paul, eulogizes the living God. He speaks well of Him, making reference to His glorious character and impeccable reputation. Paul tells us what prompted this high praise –saying: BLESSED be the God, noting that in my Bible the word is in all caps, it may not be so in yours but it is of no real importance to the thought Paul is expressing. BLESSED be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
When God blesses spiritually or materially we feel encouraged and experience a sense of His approval, believing that he blesses us with a desire that we be encouraged. As children of God we certainly do not want his disapproval.
Secondly, Paul again says that God hath ‘blessed us.’ Note hath Blessed, meaning something He has already done. It has is the same pronunciation but with a different meaning.
Paul’s moves from the One who is Good, namely God, worthy to be spoken highly of; The One ‘to be praised,’ to the ones who profit/benefit by God’s blessing, to those to whom God has done good.
God has called (kletos),—His (eklektos)- meaning those whom He has chosen. Called – Chosen! To the called and chosen He has blessed with all spiritual blessings.
Some frown, squint, roll their eyes, sniff and snort at the idea that God calls some and chooses some—calls but does not choose.
Matthew 22:14 Jesus uses both kletos -called and eklektos –chosen, and reminds us that while many are called, few are chosen. Does this mean that God blesses only the called and chosen? No.
The rain (blessings) does fall on the just and the unjust (the blessed), but these blessings (all good that God does for everyone) refers to blessings earthly and physically enjoyed, received daily by all God’s creatures. But, does not refer to blessings spiritual which are bestowed only on the Called and the Chosen and received daily understood and recognized as current blessings possessed, but are in heaven, in Christ, confirmed and made knowable by God’s word but not empirically observed or empirically experienced that is to mean not fully observed and fully experienced. That will one day change when we are gathered as Christ’s church in heaven then as one Universal Visible Body, then all spiritual blessings will be empirically fully observed and empirically fully experienced.
Someone has cleverly coined a phrase which I’m not convinced totally reliable but says: All of the blessings of God, spiritual or material Christians do in fact have NOW, BUT NOT YET!
The third word Paul uses in verse three is ‘blessings,’ meaning in this case all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Blessings which God has generously bestowed to those previously mentioned and to New Testament churches in other localities.
Would that all His people here below praise Him! Do not all the heavenly host above praise Him? Surely, they are! Should not all of us praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? All God’s people says: Amen!
Paul loved this church. Some believe it is the only church that Paul actually planted, We know from Acts that Paul worked his craft of tent making there.
He enters in to a state of bliss; His heart aflame, wanting to set a fire in the hearts of the Ephesians and writes this letter compelled by a force higher than himself saying:
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
There are any number of teachers today who will tell you that God’s “blessing” is always physical or even always monetary. However, “if the blessings of God are only material or monetary, God has nothing to offer us any more than what a good financial investment might result in a satisfactory return.” This is no means is to deprecate earthly blessing. The New Testament places all the emphasis on the spiritual…
(2 Corinthians 4:18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
(Matthew 6:11) Give us this day our daily bread. And…
(1 Timothy 4:1-5) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
However, we at this time are more earthly minded than spiritual and more easily recognize and appreciate the blessings God showers upon us in this life every day, thinking more of these that on those we cannot yet see, touch or sense physically or intellectually but learn to experience by faith.
Unfortunately, though we Christians have these spiritual blessings we mainly give them little thought or giving no thought to them at all.
Peter, for example 1 Peter 1:3-5 speaks of blessings reserved in heaven and ready to be revealed in the last time. While Ephesians 1:3 gives the distinct impression that we already have these blessings. Perhaps this is because in 1 Peter the language indicates that the apostle is speaking to Jewish minds, though Christian, reminding them of their ancestral wanderings in the wilderness for 40 years, while in Ephesians Paul is writing to Gentile believes with no remembrance or knowledge of any such wanderings.
Paul, in verse three and beyond hurries to help us see the higher value in higher blessings.
God’s blessings, as we shall see as we progress in our study of this treasured letter, are far more lasting than material blessings. These represent the Return on the investment God has afford toward us —His own Son, begotten, not created, eternal…
`One God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all thins visible and invisible,’ and `One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God; begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father,’ and `the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.’
Paul’s desire is for the church to know that God’s blessings are eternal in the heavens and that they are in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are of greater worth. They include blessings of hope, peace, wellbeing, and an abundant life. Spiritual Blessings are far better than natural blessings as they are supernatural; Better than earthly they are heavenly; Better than temporal they are eternal; Better than incidental they are essential.
When Paul says the blessings are “spiritual” he means they are spiritual in administraton in that they are bestowed upon the church by the Holy Spirit. Note…
The Father imparts the blessing;
The Spirit communicates the blessing;
The Son embodies the blessing.
The Tri-unity of the God head is apparently displayed here in full unity of purpose.
When God gives such blessings, it is with the view of blessing His people and making them happy. God delights in granting the desire of His heart. His blessings are always for our profit and because He glories in the giving. They are designed to give us a sense of security, a sense of joy, and a sense of hope (expectation) knowing that God loves us, cares for us and meets the deeper needs of our souls.
To hear further that he hath blessed us means something that God has already done! He ‘Hath’ blessed! we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, as opposed to the temporal blessings that are fleeting, that approach with a promise like a welcome breeze then leave as quickly as it came.
Unlike temporal blessings that are in the main earthly. These Blessings are in the heavenlies, that is the Heavenly Sphere. These are reserved in heaven, they remain in heaven, they are ours now and will be fully retained for us in heaven. (See verse 14)
These are eternal blessings are bestowed according to or in conformity to the will and purpose of God. And bestowed in eternity before the foundation of the worlds, with a view to the will and purpose of God which is that we be a moral people of good reputation having been foreordained by the Love of God, having been foreordained, determined beforehand to be the children of God!
IV. ADOPTED (BORN INTO)
The word ‘adoption’ is mentioned just 5 times in the New Testament and it is a figurative word meaning, the Placing as sons which we become when having been “born again from above.” Which does not mean in “place of the Son,” or in the “Son’s place,” but placed as sons. It means, Placed as sons, in the Son, in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And, as Paul writes we are sons of God placed in Christ because it pleased God to do so to the praise of the glory of His grace! Glory being the out-flashing of His grace. The result of our being placed as sons by his grace and for his glory is that we have been accepted in the beloved! In Christ we are placed and therein accepted in Him!
As accepted in Christ we by his grace and for his glory, have redemption through the blood of Christ, Redemption which is explained as the forgiveness of sins, again conforming to the riches of his grace.
Paul continues in verses 8-11 (read) which he refers back to the argument that Christ is the Divine Creator and the Head of His church and sums up by saying this is all in Christ, both redemption and forgiveness in heaven and which are on earth; even in HIM!
These are heavenly blessings in Christ. And not merely through Christ. Someone may ask, “OK, our spiritual blessings are in Christ but how are we to enjoy them?” Some cry O’ so mournfully: If I could only see God! Just a glimpse! I could enjoy Him and all His spiritual blessings. All spiritual blessings are in Him, and we being in Christ enjoy them in him. We enjoy Christ! 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And, again
Hebrews 1:3 (Jesus) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Having been adopted in Christ we are Accepted in the Beloved One. This has been done before redemption became necessary.
Robert Hawker offers: The text is clear: what is said of choosing, and predestinating, and accepting, is said to be before the foundation of the world, and, consequently, before sin was known upon earth, or redemption from sin needful.”
The capstone supporting these unspeakable blessings of God the Father comes as the result of his own free and sovereign grace; before the foundation of the World; and, consequently, before the Church had its being, and before sin benighted Adam.
VI. TEN THINGS:
One, we know what kind of blessings is meant, “Spiritual.”
Two, we also know their Giver and administrator, God the Father through The “Holy Spirit.”
Three, we know that they were given in love.
Fourth, We know where they are in heaven.
Fifth, we know where they are to be found, “in Christ.”
Sixth, we know when they were given, in Eternity.
Seventh. we know to whom they were given, to the Elect churches. Eighth, we know there purpose, to the praise of his glory.
Ninth, we know why they were given, for our acceptance in the beloved. And Tenth, we know the number of the Spiritual Blessings we own, all of them!
You would find it profitable, as I have, to read through Ephesians counting every blessing you find and know that they are all part of the SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS held in Christ for you all.
But now we experience the results of them all. We have the blessing of first, being chosen and predestinated and in the heavenly places where our citizenship truly is and where we are holy and without blame and where our inheritance awaits (I believe our inheritance to be Jesus Christ).
Surely there is blessing in knowing we have been welcomed into the family of God by being born into it, I prefer that to “adopted.”
Is there not blessing in knowing that He hath abounded in us all wisdom and prudence. Is not ‘in Christ’ to mean in all His wisdom and prudence which is the wisdom of God which is Christ and the prudence or knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and having such bestowed should we not be growing, progressing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord?
Has he not blessed us by revealing his will, pleasure, and purpose in Himself.
That in the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in him.
While we are “counting our blessings” we have in earth, we want to recall that have obtained an inheritance, again that has been predestinated…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. And, that we should be to the praise of his glory.
We will not forget that we have been given the Spirit of Promise, the security earnest guarantee of all that we have in Christ. When realized redemption, that glorious day when we shall be introduced as Christ’s purchased possession and stand before him unto the praise of his glory. Paul writes that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies— Revelation 22:1-2 we read…
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river , was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
For us? Two things—One, as a church we are predestinated to be a holy church without blame. As of this moment we have not much notoriety, good or bad, in this area. We are not well known. The people of this area have been given little cause to evaluate our true character. A character of love and caring and concern for one another is obvious to me and surely to you as well. But outside of this building, not much is known of us. We will work on this.
Secondly, When our true character is expressed by our good works folks will see our love and concern for them. Putting feet to our prayers, seeking the physical and spiritual welfare of the people around us, our love will be obvious, it will not take long for people to know that we are a church that cares and will begin to take notice…that is how a reputation is formed!
This will not come without effort. Christian character is expressed in effort and effort becomes a reputation. A church at rest tends to stay at rest while a church that is active tends to say active.
I say that our church must become, in every meaning of the word, a New Testament Church. If we are to be a true church then we have work to do, character to express, reputation to build. What we have to gain is worth whatever losses we may endure gaining it.
I love the saying of Nate Saint, the missionary killed several years ago by the Auca Indians in Bolivia. Brother Saint said: “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose”.
VIII. CHARGE TO THE CHURCH
As your pastor I’m asking each of you to stand with me in prayer and work. With a view to building a godly and loving character and a reputation for our church that honors our Lord. In time, I will be suggesting specific things each of us can do individually, and things that we can do collectively as people of a true New Testament church to reach this community,’ to see people come to know Christ as their Savior and serve as their Lord – TO LOVE GOD AND ENJOY HIM NOW AND FOREVER!
We are few in number, but consider this, it took just 13 disciples to turn the world upside down. Few in number, oppressed, persecuted but fully committed to the Resurrected Savior. Many of us are not as physically active as we used to be, however, we still can actively pray putting our faith, if not always our feet to the work.
I am asking you WHO ARE CHRISTIANS to live every day for Christ, to put on the whole armor of God, and stand for the greatest cause the world has ever known –Folks, Our Lord has commanded and conscripted us to come along side of ONE ANOTHER to evangelize this community, this city, this world for Christ! Matthew 28:19-20 says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We can do all things through Christ which strengthen us. God has begun a good work in us, surely He will finish it. For our part we must gain back our first love – a love for Him; a love for each other; a love for the souls of men. Will you stand ? I ask again will you stand for Christ? If you will, I ask you to call me THIS WEEK and say, Yes, brother Bob, I will stand for Christ, I will do all that he enables me to do and will always pray for God to be glorified in me. Amen.
INVITATION: Whenever people gather in church there are a few who have not yet come to Christ. These know only the temporal, earthly, blessings of God and nothing of his spiritual blessings in heaven. You may be one of them. Your soul still in darkness, dead in trespasses and sin, you know of Christ but you have no personal relationship with him.
God knows who you are and has in times past spoken to your spirit saying, come unto me and I will give you rest. You have heard but not responded. Your salvation is as near as the one sitting next to you this morning, praying for your soul. The way to all spiritual blessings is in and through Jesus Christ.
Blessed is he whose transgression is covered.
Blessed is the one unto whom the Lord
Imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit
There is no guile (deceit, deception). Psalm 32
COME TO CHRIST AND RECEIVE ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST. AMEN.