Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blessings All Mine...I Mean Ours

Working on exegesis of Ephesians chapter one for teaching prep, and am taking apart verse 3. Paul here is opening up this long section outlining the blessings of God upon His people. A careful examination of this single verse gives some deep insight into these blessings, which we so often breeze over. And also gives us a much more Biblical understanding of what the term "blessing" really means in God's view.

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.

First, we see that the blessings in view here are already ours. Note the past tense: "has blessed us." Not will, of might, or could, or is. The tense is in the past. God has already given these blessings to us. They are ours now.

Second, we see that the blessings are sufficient. We have been given "every" blessing. There are no good things the Father intends to bless us with that He has withheld. Every means complete, sufficient for all our needs.

Third, these blessings are not physical. They are in fact "spiritual." There are of course physical blessings from God, such as children, spouses, friends, employment, health, etc. But that's not what Paul has in view here. The focus is on the eternal spiritual good that God has done for us. This alone destroys the false ideas of the health and wealth gospel charlatans.

Fourth, the blessings are not of this world. They have their reality anchored "in the heavenly places." God's good to us finds its ultimate fulfillment not here and now, but there and then, for eternity.

Fifth, these blessings are available only through Jesus Christ. God the Father has given His blessings not arbitrarily, but specifically to those who are "in Christ." The goodwill of the Father has flowed to His people through their trust in and unions with His Son.

And lastly, these blessings are given to the church. Notice that Paul says God has "blessed us." The inclusive plural reference makes it clear that these blessings from God the Father are to us. To individuals, yes. Each person must embrace the gospel and Christ personally. But the blessings listed here are for us, corporately, the people who God has specifically chosen as His to receive His blessings, as a community of His people. In fact, verse 4 goes on to reinforce that intentionality of God in providing these blessings through His Son: "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him."

This first opening verse of Paul's benediction serves as a gateway to the great truths contained in the rest of this section of the letter. All the details of those blessings -  chosen by the Father, adopted as children, redeemed by the Son, heirs of God, sealed in the Spirit - have to be linked back to these fundamental principles.

Blessings all mine,,,I mean ours. With ten thousand beside...

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