“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.” – Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)
Whenever we attend a memorial service at a funeral, one part is almost always included is a eulogy. It may be given by a minister, a family member, or friend. The eulogy’s purpose is to speak well and to bless the one being memorialized. The first word in our verses today is “Blessed” and it is derived from the same Greek word we get “eulogy.” It means to praise or commend. Every human has a supreme duty to bless God by thought, word and deed. Not all do. As faith believers we have already been fully blessed in Christ. When the Apostle Paul writes “blessed be” he is using the meaning to give praise to God. When the Apostle writes “has blessed” he is saying that all who are in Christ have already received from Him every spiritual blessing possible. God has already given believers total blessings. And, this He did when God chose us to be in Christ before the world was made by Him. This promise of being holy and blameless before God became ours before the worlds foundations were set. It was God’s choice to promise this for His creatures and its for His praise and glory.
“…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,…” Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)
We sometimes select a verse that comes from a long sentence written by the Apostle Paul as is the case today. Much of our Bible in the New Testament was written by God’s apostles through letters to the first century Christians to encourage them. It is a prayer that begins with v. 14 where Paul says he bows his knees before the Father. Paul often wrote about how he prayed for his Christian friends. Today’s verse comes from one of those letters he wrote to the Ephesian believers. But not only to the church in Ephesus. His letters were circulated among all the churches. Also, these words were inspired by God for us too. God is able and ready to strengthen us with power in our inner being. Whatever you are facing today if the Holy Spirit is present in your life He will strengthen you and bring you through it. And, there is no limit to what God can do for each of us. It all comes, out of God’s glorious riches. Do your sense the need for strength and power? Don’t hesitate to trust God for whatever you need today, even right now.
“He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,” – Ephesians 3:16 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul often wrote long complex sentences and this verse is and excerpt from one of those time. Though the prayer for the Ephesian believers begins in verse 14 and ends in verse 19, Paul’s request is in verse 16. In this prayer he asked for only one thing: His petition in this prayer is that we be strengthened in the inner man. The result of this is that through faith Christ dwells in our hearts. “Dwell” is not a word used frequently in our day but in this passage Paul is praying for our faith to be dwelling in our hearts and permeating our whole being (personalities). “Dwell” refers not to the beginning of Christ’s indwelling at the moment of salvation. Instead it denotes the desire that Christ may, literally, “be at home in,” our lives. That is, dwelling at the very center of and deeply rooted within our being. It is a promise, if we let Him, that Christ becomes the dominating factor in our thought (attitudes), words (speech), and deeds (conduct). Being rooted and grounded in love is for our understanding the awesome extent of Christ’s love.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)
God never promises the absence of distress or a journey without challenges to meet and obstacles to overcome. What He promises is His presence as the Holy Spirit. The presence of God’s Spirit assures us that we have Him and in Him, is God being our paraclete*, alongside as our guide and comforter. We also have the guarantee that our inheritance is reserved for us and kept for us we cannot and will not lose it. There is no one who can barge into our lives and overwhelm us with anything that will cause our separation from God. Like a ship or boat, small or massive, The Holy Spirit invisibly, yet indispensably, is the rudder for the ship of our soul. He keeps us from crashing on the rocks, keeps us afloat and going the right direction. The Holy Spirit is also our pilot. We are not alone on our journey. We’re sealed in Christ. Once upon a time, red wax with an identifying stamp in the wax was used seal the ownership of a letter. Sealing declares ownership and secures contents. It is the Holy Spirit as God’s seal that protects us. His word of promise is our seal.
*The Holy Spirit as Paraclete: The term Paraclete (παράκλητος, paraklētos) appears four times in John’s Gospel in reference to the Holy Spirit in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7 and once in 1 John 2:1 in reference to Jesus. English bibles translate the Greek word as Helper, Advocate, Comforter, Counselor.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)
These days when a house is bought and ownership changes, there is generally first an amount of money put into and account to guarantee the earnestness of the buyer. Remember when we first learned the doctrines of grace? At first we did not know much about saving grace. We did not know whether God had converted us, or we had converted ourselves. As we read and listened to Bible teaching, we began at once to see how God the Father planned, and God the Son carried out the plan, and God the Holy Spirit made the plan effective. We learned truths which we might have believed before, but which we could not clearly and fully understand. The joy of gaining the knowledge of God’s truth was exceeding great. Having got a hold once and for all of the truth of God in that moment His Holy Spirit increased our knowledge, and opened the eyes of our understanding, we had the earnest, the guarantee, that we were promised. One day shall see, not through a glass darkly, but face to face, and then we shall know the whole truth, even as we are known now by God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV)
This passage assures us that our salvation is by the grace of God. We did nothing to make it ours, we can’t. God’s love has done three things: (a) it has made us alive with Christ, (b) has raised us up with Christ, and (c) seated us with Him in the heavenly places. This is all promised and done because what Jesus did for us. It becomes what happened to us in Christ Jesus. Although still flesh and bone walking on this earth breathing air, what Christ did, became a reality so true that God considers it a done deal for us. When God draws us to Himself and offers us a new life in Christ Jesus, we received it by grace. Although this is difficult to understand with our human reasoning, and various questions arise as we’re trying to grasp how it is; we rest on the faith given to us by grace and accept it as truth. We do not have to fully understand everything we receive for it to be true. It’s true because God has declared it true by His will⸺that is what makes it true and for us right here, right now, it’s accomplished.
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,…” Ephesians 1:15-17 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the people in the churches he had established, he would often fill the sentences with teaching and truth that run very long. In the first chapter of this letter, verses 3-14 and 15-23 are one sentence each in the Greek. The Apostle is sharing the reasons for the thanksgiving he offers on behalf of the saints in Ephesus. What Paul says about the Ephesians becomes a promise for us. He writes, “For this reason” which references what we believers possess and is every spiritual blessing—including election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of His will, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and their inheritance—Paul now prayed that his readers might know God personally and intimately. Also, because of their faith and love for other saints, he continued to give thanks for them and makes more requests for them. Although some versions start a new sentence at verse 17, there is no break in the Greek. He asks God to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. These are solid promises worth our giving thanksgiving to God and love for each other.
“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.” Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)
Three times in this letter to the believers in Ephesus, Paul uses the term “heavenly places.” The heavenly places are not often on our mind and yet as this letter tells us, this is where our real treasures are in Christ. We have received not one spiritual blessing but all spiritual blessings. God our Father has blessed us with riches promised and untold, particularly spiritual ones. The knowledge of God, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, eternal life are spiritual riches and blessings which no human reason or method has revealed to us, but only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit these promises are made known. Paul says that it was determined by God choice, by His eternal decree made before the foundation of the world. God chose us so that our sinful life might be wiped away by the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. All because of His love for us, He chose us, and not because of any goodness we produce through our actions, thoughts or words, we will and do stand before Him blameless and holy. It has been planned this way by God and there is no other way but by believing in Jesus.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” Ephesians 2:19 (ESV)
How are we no longer strangers and aliens? This verse indicates that once we were strangers and alien to the household or family of God. What has changed? What happened? We can look back in this letter Paul sent to the believers in Ephesians and learn the answer to these questions. Paul, writing under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit tells us that by the grace of God we have been saved through faith believing in Jesus Christ. And here is yet another promise, the faith that we have was given to us as a gift from God. So God gave us the faith we needed to believe and receive eternal life. No one is saved and goes to heaven as a result of what they do. Good works are the product of being saved, not the means of being saved. The means is the gift of faith and God’s grace. We didn’t deserve it and we have it only because God made it available to us through his work on the Cross of Calvary. We are in the household of God as family members because of this new birth in Christ. Now, isn’t that something to be thankful for?