What Spiritual Blessings Belong to God’s People in Christ? (Part 1)
This is the first part of a five-part blog series.
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians (after he greets them, of course) with these words: “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” (1:3).
God’s blessings are not primarily material but spiritual, Paul says, and he tells the Ephesians (and all followers of Christ) that in Christ they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. But what are those blessings? Paul describes at least five in Ephesians 1:3-14.
Blessing #1: Election to Holiness
First, Paul makes the amazing statement that God has chosen his people for himself. This is sometimes referred to as the doctrine of election. The Bible teaches that before the foundation of the world, God chose to save a particular people for himself (Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-6, 11; 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:7-8; 17:8). Imagine that you are pushing a cart up and down the aisles in a grocery store, and putting certain items in the cart as you go. Why are you doing this? Because you want these things. You are choosing them for yourself. You are going to purchase them and make them yours, and then you’re going to take them home with you and enjoy them. This is a crude illustration of what God has done in electing his people for salvation. And the amazing part is, he chose us in Christ before the world ever existed! Paul says in Ephesians 1:4 that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” Before the first brick was ever laid in the universe, God set his affections on us and chose us for himself.
And the purpose for which he’s chosen us is holiness. Paul says that God has chosen us for himself so that “we should be holy and blameless before him” (1:4). Imagine that you have a friend who makes a living restoring classic cars. He takes the ugliest, most beaten-up old junkers and turns them into beautiful machines. One day, he takes you on a trip to pick up a rusty, broken-down 1970 Corvette Stingray with a thrown rod, dented-up fenders, a moldy interior, and ripped-up seats. As you head to the junkyard to pick up this piece of junk, why are you excited? It’s not because the current state of the car is anything to brag about (you’re actually afraid to touch it for fear of getting tetanus, and you wouldn’t dare go inside it without some kind of HazMat suit on). So what is so exciting about his choice of this particular car? Because of what he’s going to turn the car into. His choice of the car means it’s destined for greatness! And so does God’s choice of us. It means that we are destined to be holy and blameless before God.
Next: Blessing #2—Adoption into God’s Family