When times are hard it is sometimes difficult to remember how blessed we are. We are living through a time of an unprecedented pandemic in recent history. There is political unrest seen in countries that are looked to as the pillars of democracy. The world seems to be going crazy! Yet in the midst of all of this turmoil we need to remember who we are because of Jesus. As Paul began his letter to the Christians in Ephesus he reminded them – and those who read it today – that we have every spiritual blessing if we are in Christ.
“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his legal heirs through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will—to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 NET)
We have been chosen by God. Before the world was created he determined that Christians would be a particular kind of people: they would be “holy and blameless”. Notice that this says nothing about certain people being determined by God to be saved but says everything about the type of person those who were saved would be.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our offenses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:7-10)
One of the greatest blessings that we have in Christ is forgiveness. Our forgiveness was purchased through the blood of Jesus when he died for us. This is not something that we earn but it is on the basis of his grace. Grace is all about providing something for us that we could not do ourselves. Notice how much grace we are given: it is ‘lavished’ on us! In other words, it is much more than we need or even realise.
“In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12)
Because we are in Christ we have been claimed by God as his own. Again we see the idea of being ‘predestined’. This time the emphasis is that we – not individuals but Christians – have been predestined to be “to the praise of his glory”. We have his grace, we have forgiveness, and, as a result, he has claimed us as his own. This gives us the hope we have – and it is all because of Christ.
“And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
One final blessing is mentioned in this hymn of praise: we have the promised Holy Spirit, received when we became a Christian. This is what Peter proclaimed on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39). This is a down payment of the eternal blessings that God has prepared for us.
Despite what goes on around us, never forget that because of Jesus we are the most blessed of all people!
Readings for next week: Ephesians 1-6; Philippians 1-2