June 12, 2022
Greatly Blessed – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 1: 3 - 14
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

More From This Series

Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians 1:3–14. If you’re joining with us this morning for the first time, we are in a series on the Book of Ephesians called Life Together. We’re just working through it, line upon line, precept upon precept, in an expositional style.
This is one unit. This is what theologians or students of the Word call a pericope—a passage, a unit of thought. We’re going to work our way through it probably over the next four weeks. We’re going to take four sermons to work our way through this wonderful doxology on the part of Paul. And we’re going to make a beginning today simply with verse 3, in a message I’ve called “Greatly Blessed.”
It’s been well said that if you look out at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within yourself, you’ll be depressed. Because the good that you would do, you don’t do. And that which you don’t want to do, you find yourself doing. Look out—distressed. World’s in a mess. Our country’s going in the wrong direction. Look in—depressed. Look up—blessed.
God is on His throne. Jesus is at His right hand. We’ve got the promise of His glorious return for His church. And, we’ve got the fact, according to Ephesians 2:6, that we have been raised together with Him and that we’re seated with Him in the heavenlies.
So, let’s get blessed this morning by reading this blessing. Ephesians 1:3–14:
“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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
“In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Amen.
Verse 3: “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 . . .”
E.V. Hill was a gifted preacher of the gospel—an African American minister of Jesus Christ, literally born in a log cabin. He started his church in LA in the middle of the explosive Watts district. All his life, his ministry, and his preaching made a difference.
David Jeremiah tells about a time when he was at a commencement and convention at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He heard this great man of God preach a memorable, unforgettable sermon entitled, “What Do You Have If You Have Jesus?”
He had 12 points to his sermon. He started to work through the wonderful benefits of being in union with Jesus Christ, that you are redeemed and forgiven, accepted. You have a joy that’s unspeakable, full of glory. You have a peace that passes all understanding.
In the middle of his sermon, to give some dramatic effect, he noticed there was a table for the commencement service; it had all kinds of awards and books on it. So, as he got to each point, he grabbed a book. And, to the surprise of the faculty, he threw the book each time out into the audience, with these words: “Here, take that.” He’s trying to dramatize what we get when we get Jesus. We get all these blessings. God wants us to have this, and God wants us to have that. He’s working his way through these awards, through this stack of books, when Dr. George Sweeting noticed that he was working his way toward a very fine and expensive Ryrie Study Bible—which he rescued before E.V. Hill could get his hands on it.
David Jeremiah never forgot the moment, never forgot the message, never forgot the points—12 memorable points—about what do you have when you have Jesus. The following year, E.V. Hill was invited back. As he got up, his first words were, “Number 13.” Can you imagine?
What I love about that illustration is that it illustrates the fact that once you begin to talk about what you have if you have Jesus, you’re in for a long discussion. You’re in for an extended conversation. You could talk about what you have when you have Jesus forever. In fact, that’s what we’re going to do, forever. We’re going to talk to Him about the fact that He redeemed us by His blood out of every nation, tribe, and tongue.
As we return to our study in the letter to the Ephesians, Paul gives us a long sentence, not a long sermon. But he gives us a long sentence—one of the longest sentences you’ll find in any of Paul’s writings. Here, Paul is breathless, thrilled, caught up in the rhapsody of soul concerning what the Christian has in having Jesus. He doesn’t stop for 12 verses. As I’ve said, one long sentence in the Greek; 202 inspired words, as this man of God rehearses all that we are in Christ, all that we have in Christ, all that we’re yet to be because of Christ. Like E.V. Hill at the Moody Bible Institute that day, this man of God, Paul, is lost in wonder, love, and praise concerning God’s eternal plan and provision for him in Jesus Christ.
Paul says in verse 6, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Paul says in verse 12, “to the praise of His glory.” Paul says in verse 14, “to the praise of His glory.” He’s thankful for the will of the Father in choosing and predestining him to adoption and acceptance in Jesus Christ. He’s thankful for the work of the Son in redeeming him and shedding His blood for the forgiveness of his sins. He’s thankful for the witness of the Holy Spirit, who regenerated him, brought him to faith, and now indwells him as a token and as a guarantee of future salvation. Paul is in a rhapsody of soul.
One writer says this: “Paul, in his exuberance over these incredible dogmatic truths, simply kept writing one subordinate clause after another in his desire to get his point across. He was so enthralled with his subject matter that, in a staccato fashion, he moved from one point to another, ostensibly without even taking a breath.”
And, by the way, Paul is locked up when he writes this. Paul’s in prison, right? Ephesians 6:20, he’s an ambassador in chains. This is one of the prison epistles. We looked at that in the introduction a couple of weeks ago. But, while he’s locked up, he’s locked onto the benefits and blessings he has in Jesus Christ. Paul is not feeling sorry for himself one iota. He is humbled by the electing sovereign mercy of God. He’s happy to be in Christ and all the benefits that accrue to him, and he’s hopeful for future salvation.
I hope you’re not feeling sorry for yourself this morning—not if you’re a man in Christ, not if you’re a woman in Christ. This should be a rhapsody of soul, given who He is—and He’s yours—given what He’s done for you and promises to do out into eternity.
Oh happy day, oh happy day when Jesus washed my sins away. He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day. Oh happy day, oh happy day when Jesus washed my sins away. That’s Paul, Ephesians 1:3–14.
Now, before we go any further, these 12 verses form a doxology. This is a blessing. This is a eulogy, a thanksgiving before God. Paul begins his engagement and his encouragement to the Ephesians by blessing God for blessing him with every conceivable blessing. Did you notice the language? Blessed be God who blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Just think that through. Paul wants to bless God for blessing him with every conceivable blessing. Is that where you’re at this morning? Is that what has led up to the Lord’s day service here for you and me? Will that be that which marks us as Monday turns into Tuesday and on into Wednesday?
Are we in that frame of mind like David in Psalm 103:1–5: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Is that the first thought that came to your mind this morning when you turned around and moved to get out of bed? “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” And let’s not forget His benefits this day. He’s forgiven me my sins. He has healed my diseases. He has redeemed my life from destruction. He has fed me with good things, and He has renewed my strength.
Here’s another thing. Before Paul outlines the doctrine, he wants them to think about . . . There’s doxology. You’ve got doctrine in doxology, and doxology in doctrine. One growing out of the other; the other producing the other. I love that. As Paul begins his outline of the doctrinal part of his epistle, he wants for himself, for them, and for us as readers something more than a confession and a mental ascent. He wants heartfelt, real-time joy in our discipleship, our evangelism, and our worship. Doctrine leads to doxology.
Some years ago, I was at the Moody Bible Institute for a conference. When I pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, our staff would always go to the pastor’s conference at Moody in Chicago. I remember Warren Wiersbe one year preaching. I don’t remember the breadth of the message, but I know somewhere in it he addressed this issue of theology and doxology. The one leads to the other; the other produces the one.
He took us through a little bit of Romans 9, 10, and 11, which is deep. It deals with the doctrine of election and God’s undeserved favor toward the nation of Israel. It deals with the fact that His covenants with them and His gifts to them are irrevocable, and someday He will restore their favor among the nations. And then Paul talks about how we as Gentiles have been grafted in to that blessing that God has poured out on them.
When he works his way through all of that, here’s what he says, Romans 11:33–36:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall not be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.
And he said this. This is the part I never forgot. Don’t trust a theologian that doesn’t sing. Don’t trust a theologian that doesn’t sing. See, Paul’s a theologian, and he’s getting into the depths of eschatology and the last things and the nation of Israel—its past, its present blindness, and its future restoration. But he finishes on a high note of praise. Don’t trust a theologian who doesn’t sing. Election in both Romans 9, 10, and 11, and election in Ephesians 1 is a doxology, not a debate. It’s a doxology; it’s not a debate. It’s something that thrills the heart. If you’re a Calvinist, you better be a happy one, a joyful one, a kind one, a humble one, and a gracious one who thrills at the glories and grace of Jesus Christ. This is a doxology. Don’t trust a theologian who doesn’t sing.
Our study of theology shouldn’t make us contentious, arrogant. It should make us humble and joyful and a worshipful type.
I was at chapel some years ago at The Master’s Seminary, as a student then, and we had a visit from Dr. John Piper. A wonderful day it was when Dr. John Piper came to Master’s Seminary. I remember the sermon. It was on exultary preaching. Now, he knew our school was one of the premier schools on expository preaching, which was handed down to us from our president, Dr. John MacArthur. Exposit the text. Divide the Scripture truly and rightly. And, certainly, Piper was on board with that, but he said, “We’ve got to go one step further. God isn’t just looking for expository preaching but exultary preaching.” That, as you expound the text, as you get into layer upon layer of understanding regarding the glory of the gospel, it should produce in you a song. It should produce in you a doxology. You should be a happy minister of Jesus Christ—a glad expositor of the Scriptures.
There’s two things I remember most about it. When he got around to talking about the Holy Spirit and first mentioned the word “Holy Spirit,” he got down under the pulpit and then he came back up, and he said, “Am I allowed to mention the Holy Spirit at The Master’s Seminary?” But the other statement was this. In the middle of his sermon, making the point about exultary preaching, he pointed his finger. He was on a roll, and he pointed to us all. “If you don’t sing in your sermon, get out of the ministry!” Now, whoever was sleeping woke up by this point. What a memorable statement. If you don’t sing in your sermon, get out of the ministry.
Paul is singing in his sermon here to the Ephesians. He can hardly catch a breath. He’s so excited to be a recipient of God’s gracious dealings with him in Jesus Christ.
Let’s be happy Christians. Let’s be those who thrill at the sound of Jesus’ name, at the retelling of the gospel—us understanding all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Let’s repent of our yawning. Let’s repent of the thought that “I’ve heard this before.” May it not be water off a duck’s back, so to speak. Let’s thrill. Let there be a rhapsody of soul among us here at Kindred about the gospel.
So, as we begin to look at these verses and work our way through, I’m just going to stick with verse 3 for today and unpack this wonderful opening verse, which constitutes the headwaters of this great waterfall of cascading truth. There’s three things we’re going to look at: the source of these blessings, the sphere of these blessings, and the scope of these blessings. Look, if you look out, as we said—distressed. If you look in—depressed. Let’s look up, where Christ is seated, and let’s be blessed.
Let’s look at the source. Verse 3: “Blessed”—here’s the source—“be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God the Father is the benefactor. We are the beneficiary.
James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above . . . from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
The God who is worthy of our blessing has blessed us with every conceivable blessing. And you’ll notice these words: “has”; “who has blessed us” (Ephesians 1:3). These possessions are ours. All of these benefits in Jesus Christ are ours. If you go back to the Book of Joshua, God gave Israel the land of Canaan. It was theirs. It was their possession. But they had to go and possess the possession. And you and I can grow in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but, you know what? Right now, we possess all the spiritual blessings necessary to live the Christian life. We’ll come back to that. That’s your status. That’s your state. And it’s a ground for rejoicing.
Our Father God has deliberately blessed us by choosing us, predestining us, adopting us, accepting us, forgiving us, and guaranteeing within us—through the presence of the Holy Spirit—the hope of heaven. Wouldn’t you say He has been lavish in His love? Therefore, let’s be lavish in our praise.
Darrell Johnson has got an excellent commentary on the Book of Ephesians. Let me quote him here and paraphrase a little bit as I go along. But we want to focus a bit on this word “bless.” He said this: “‘Bless.’ It involves the hands and the knees.” The Greek word is the word from which we get “eulogy,” “thanksgiving.” It translates to Hebrew baruch, a word involving the posture of kneeling. “To bless is ‘to bring a gift to another while kneeling out of respect’ (Jeff Benner). To ‘bless’ means to come before another, go down on one’s knees, stretch out one’s hands, and offer a gift. To ‘bless God,’ therefore, means to come before His presence, kneel in adoration and submission, lift up our hands, and offer a gift.”
Give Him all that you are, and give Him all that you have: time, treasure, talents. And we’re told to do that. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let’s go before Him and offer ourselves, our family, our business, our time, our money, our talents to Him.
But notice: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us . . .” Same word, same thought. So Darrell Johnson goes on to say this: “‘Blessed us’! Same exact word used in ‘Blessed be . . .’ We bless the God who has blessed us. . . . God has come to us, knelt before us, stretched out His hands [on a cross] to us, and given us a gift. . . . The Living God has come to us in Jesus Christ. The Living God has gotten down on His knees in Jesus Christ. The Living God has opened His hands, and given us the gift of Himself in Jesus!” Isn’t that marvelous?
I don’t know what’s going on in your life. I don’t know what’s occupied you, but this better started occupying what you think about and what you focus on: that God so loved you and me and the world that He gave His only begotten Son—that the God of all the universe, who made heaven and earth, was made flesh and dwelt among us and was made sin, that we might be made righteous before Him. Is there anything more glorious? Is there a thought in the world of math and science and medicine more glorious than that? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us . . .” (Ephesians 1:3).
God humbled Himself, and Christ became obedient to the death on the cross. Amazing. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. And when we have been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing His praise than when we first begun.”
The source of these blessings, the sphere of these blessings . . . Now, there’s several spheres. There’s different layers to this. Look at the text, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us . . .” That’s the source. Here’s the sphere: “with every spiritual blessing in”—that’s the location—“the heavenly places.” “In”: that’s the location, sphere in Christ.
Let’s unpack that. First and foremost, these gifts and displays of God’s goodness and grace are ours in, through, with, by union with Jesus Christ. See, when you and I put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit brings us into vital union with Christ, right? The bride to the bridegroom, the branch to the vine. You get the analogies we looked at a few weeks ago. So, by faith, we have union with Christ. And our union with Christ is the outcome of the Father’s will who chose us to that end and the Spirit’s work who brought that about in real-time, through an effectual calling.
And you know what? All that Jesus Christ is and all that He has accomplished as prophet, priest, and king—it’s ours in Christ. The fruits of His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, enthronement, and promised return are ours to enjoy, because we’re in union with Him. Where He is, we are representatively there. What He has achieved is ours by heritage.
John MacArthur’s right. Christ’s riches are our riches. His righteousness is our righteousness. His resources are our resources. It’s through Christ, it’s in Christ, in union with Him that we access these gifts and benefits.
Look at verse 3. In Christ we have spiritual blessings. Look at verse 4: “He chose us in Him . . .” Look at verse 7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood . . .” Look at verse 11: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance . . .” That’s what we have in union with Jesus Christ. You need to start counting your spiritual pennies, my friend, and all that you have in the Savior.
And, by the way, here’s a wonderful thought. It’s not a question of how long you’re in Christ. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a year in Christ. I met a young man at breakfast just a few months in Christ yesterday. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a year in Christ or 50 years in Christ. It doesn’t matter how deep you’re in Christ, whether you’re paddling or you’re submerged. These are your blessings, young or old, mature or immature. We might only give ourselves 1 out of 10 for evangelism, 2 out of 10 for prayer, 3 out of 10 for holiness, but it doesn’t matter. Well, it does. I want you to get beyond that. But, you know what I mean? It doesn’t matter in terms of these blessings are still yours. All you have to be is in Christ. It’s not an issue of time or depth. In Christ, in union with Christ, all of these are yours—presently, entirely, irrevocably.
Philip Graham Ryken says this marvelously: “We are blessed with every spiritual blessing ‘in Christ’ (Eph. 1:3). Just as we were utterly lost in Adam, through the imputation of his sin, so we are completely saved in Christ, through the gift of his salvation.” It is in covenant with Christ that “we are predestined, redeemed, forgiven, adopted, reconciled, sanctified, and glorified. Christ is not only the beginning and the end of our salvation, he is our salvation, for in him we receive everything we need to be saved. The location of our salvation is Jesus Christ.”
Here’s an analogy. I stole this from one of the writers I’ve been studying this week. He says this, “If we have a friend who owns an exciting sports car, although we can admire it from a distance, we only really enjoy it when we are racing along the motorway in the car with them.”
Now, I’m in a conversation right now with a guy in the church who has a car I want to drive. It’s a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. All right? It’s got 800 horsepower. Now, I’m admiring it right now from a distance. We’re working on a calendar to get my time in the car. I’m admiring it right now from the outside looking in. But I want to get on the inside. I want to smell the leather, and I want to burn some rubber, legally, I think.
My friend, it’s one thing to admire Christ in the gospel. And some of you are here admiring it, and I respect that. There’s some element of God-fearing reality in your life. But you’ve got to get in on the inside. You’ve got to know Christ and taste Christ. And, when you’re in the inside, when you’re in union with Him, this is all yours. This is all ours, as we head down the highway of discipleship.
Secondly, you’ll notice that these are spiritual blessings. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but I think these are spiritual in contrast to material—not that God is not interested in the material welfare and wellbeing of His people. He has given us “all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). But this is a focus on salvation—one’s soul’s wellness and wellbeing. And I think the word “spiritual” is best understood as things pertaining to and things belonging to the Holy Spirit. Maybe a way to understand it is “Spirit blessings.” Spirit blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with [Spirit blessings].”
See, the plan and the provision of God in Christ is made real to us through the agency and activity of the Holy Spirit. He’s the One that regenerates. He’s the One that brings us to faith in Jesus Christ and convinces us of sin and righteousness and judgment to come. He’s the One that baptizes us into the body of Christ. He’s the One that then takes up residence in our life, indwells us, and, according to Ephesians 1:13–14, seals us as the guarantee that God’s going to completely save us. You can’t lose your salvation. He gifts us with enablements to serve the body. He wrote the Bible, by the way. And therefore, when you read it, He’ll have a conversation with you about understanding it. It’s called illumination. He empowers us. I think you get the point.
As one writer says, “The Holy Spirit is the warden of God’s treasure house of blessings.” And that’s, by the way, why you better be walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the flesh (Galatians 5). That’s, by the way, why you need to be filled with the Spirit and not be drunk with wine (Ephesians 5:18). And that’s why you must not grieve Him and hurt Him by a lifestyle opposed to His will (Ephesians 4:30–32).
These blessings are fundamentally spiritual, not material; sacred, not secular; timeless, not temporary.
Robert Gromacki says this, “In that culture, enormous wealth was centered in Ephesus, and it became known as the Bank of Asia. All believers, in contrast, have been made rich in Christ.” Isn’t that what Paul says here in Ephesians 1:7? “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . .” Are you counting your spiritual pennies? Stop looking at your bank balance. Stop feeling poor about yourself and your circumstances. You’re in Christ, my friend, and you’re rich. And God has blessings that stretch out into an endless future for you.
Ephesians 2:4: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . .” Look at 3:8, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ . . .”
I’ve told you before about the old days when tax collectors would come to a person’s house, and they would ask about silver and that which they had by way of wealth. They went to a poor man’s house one day, and they asked him to list his possessions. And he said this, “Well, I have everlasting life. Two, I have a mansion in heaven. Three, I have peace that passes all understanding. Four, I have joy unspeakable. Five, I have divine love that never fails. On top of that, six, I’ve got a beautiful and faithful wife. Seven, I have healthy and happy, obedient children. Eight, I have loyal friends. Nine, I have songs in the night. And ten, I have a crown of life awaiting me in heaven.” The guy said, “Sir, you are very rich. And, best of all, none of it’s subject to taxation.”
See, there’s no recession in God’s kingdom. Okay? I don’t want to minimize the challenges we’re going through—inflation, stock market up and down. Are we going to go into a recession? Hope not. Let’s vote in November and make sure that we turn the tide. But that’s all irrelevant to the fact that in Christ, we’re rich always, forever. We’ve got things and we possess things in Him that moth and rust don’t corrupt and thieves can’t steal. We are rich, richer than we think. There’s no recession in the gospel world and in the kingdom of God.
Here’s another point. We’re not done with this, the sphere: “in the heavenly places.” This is a challenging text. Again, if spiritual contrasts material, heavenly contrasts earthly. In verse 1, verse 3, it’s the sphere of spiritual blessings. In 1:20, it’s the scene of Christ’s present enthronement. In 2:6, it’s the scene of our present enthronement with Christ. In 3:10, it’s the locale from which angels witness God’s wisdom exhibited in the church. And in 6:12, it’s the region which is the source of conflict with evil spirits.
It’s not just heaven where God dwells. It’s the supernatural realm of God. It’s the place where He operates. It’s a spiritual dimension. It’s an unseen world that Christ has triumphed over, where Christ is enthroned. That’s why Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:18 says that we don’t just look at what is seen but what is unseen. And it’s important that we add that realm to our thinking.
Our neighbors live in two dimensions: their ego (their self) and the environment, one affecting the other. But we are at least three dimensional, aren’t we, as Christians? We deal with self and our environment, but we deal with the spiritual realm—who we are in Christ, what we have in Christ, and what He’s doing in the heavenly places. And, remember, we’re united to Him. According to Ephesians, we’ve been raised with Him, and we’re seated with Him. That should profoundly affect the way we live. The Lord Jesus lives there literally. We live there representatively in union with Him, as members of His body (Ephesians 2:6).
So, in a real sense, where He is, we are. Therefore, the heavenly realm and our spiritual blessings in Christ ought to be our constant focus and our point of reference—not self, not circumstances, but the spiritual realm, who and what we are in Jesus Christ.
That has all kinds of counseling and pastoral implication. The present circumstances of your life must never be allowed—or the mood you’re in must never be allowed—to define you, discourage you, or defeat you, because you are seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. And in union with Him, we accrue all the saving benefits of His saving work. We’re accepted. That’ll help you with rejection. We’re forgiven. That’ll help you with bitterness. We’re elevated. That’ll help you in low moments. And we are awaiting a future hope and glory. That’ll help you with depression.
I played golf the other day with a realtor from our church, and I was working my way through this passage. I said, “You know, my friend, you guys always say the same thing: location, location, location.” And they’re right. When it comes to purchasing a home, it’s location, it’s the schools, it’s the views, it’s the vistas, it’s what’s accessible from where you are. Location, location, location. And Paul wants us to be mindful of that. His physical location was a room in prison. His spiritual location: raised with Christ, seated in the heavenly realms, accruing all the benefits of Jesus’ saving work.
Listen to me. I don’t know what you’re dealing with, and I’m not minimizing what you’re going through, but your physical location and your present circumstances is not the whole story. And you must never let it become the whole story. You must live in two places at once: in Christ, at Ephesus; in Christ, wherever you are, no matter how hard the circumstances. Elisabeth Elliot is right. “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” Location, location, location.
You know the story of Jonathan Edwards—how he was booted out of his church by disgruntled members as he tried to reform it. He was faced with backbiting and backstabbing. Yet here’s what one friend of his observed: “That faithful witness received the shock unshaken.” That was of his dismissal out of his church after a congregational vote. “I never saw the least symptoms of displeasure in his countenance the whole week, but he appeared like a man of God, whose happiness was out of the reach of his enemies . . .” See, my friend, when you are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, you’re out of the reach of your enemies, as you define your life by your location in Christ.
Okay, let’s move on quickly. Time’s gone. The scope. Let’s go back to verse 3 and wrap this up. We’ll be a few months, maybe a few years, in the Book of Ephesians. No, we won’t. We’ll pick up speed a little bit. Hear, hear: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with”— what does it say?—“every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Look at the extent of that, the expansiveness of that. Chosen in Him. Isn’t that a blessing? Predestined in Him. Isn’t that a blessing? Accepted in Him. What a blessing. Adopted by Him. What a blessing. Forgiveness of sins. What a blessing. Someday to be gathered in His presence in the midst of an internal kingdom. What a blessing. Right now, we have the guarantee of that by the engagement ring of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, promising a future unbreakable marriage with Christ.
Look at the extent of our blessings. Every possible spiritual blessing necessary to live the Christian life is already ours. Remember, Canaan was theirs, but they had to possess what was theirs by right—divine right, divine decree. And, my friends, you need to possess your blessings, which are marvelous in scope. We don’t need a second blessing.
I think someone asked Adrian Rogers that question one day: “Do you believe in a second blessing?” He says, “Yes, if you mean by that, that you come to a greater understanding of the first blessing.” That’s what the second blessing is: understanding the first blessing and the scope of it and the depth of it. There’s nothing missing. Christ is adequate. We are complete in Him, right? (Colossians 2:10). We can ignore the peddlers of a false gospel that tells you that they have a way to some extra blessing. None of us are more blessed than the other. God has made all grace abound to us in all sufficiency, in all things, to all of us (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Let me wrap this up. We have a shepherd. Go back to Psalm 23. If the Lord’s our shepherd, if we are in a relationship with the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ . . . If we’re in union with Him, we shall not want. We are complete in Him. Our cup overflows. We’re not drinking from the dregs of a cup. We’re drinking from an overflowing cup.
That’s a wonderful picture, by the way. That’s the picture of a good shepherd. When we did our study on Psalm 23, in verse 5, we reminded ourselves that that image of the cup was a real image. In the Middle East, there were stones with a hollowed out center—stone cups. And the shepherd would come to the well on a hot, dusty day, and he would do the hard work of dropping the rope with the leather bucket into that deep well, maybe a hundred feet below. In the heat of the day, he would pull on the rope and pour out that little leather bucket into a stone cup. Now, the careless, heartless shepherd never filled it. The good shepherd, he filled it to overflowing. And David says, “That’s what God has done for me. Just as I was a shepherd to my father’s sheep, God is being that to me, and my cup overflows.”
Listen to Haddon Robinson on that very text: “This is the God we serve . . . this is the blessing He brings . . . with Him the calf is always the fatted calf; the robe is always the best robe; the joy is unspeakable; and the peace passes understanding. There is no grudging in God’s goodness. He does not measure His goodness by drops like a druggist filling a prescription. It comes to us in floods. If only we recognized the lavish abundance of His gifts, what a difference it would make in our lives!”
Paul agrees. That’s why he begins this letter with a doxology, with a torrent, a flood of cascading truth in Jesus Christ. He wants us to understand what we have and who we are and what’s ours forever.
Some years ago, through the kindness of a friend, June and I flew down to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. We had an apartment available to us in a beautiful marina. I was down there on a writing project, and we needed the time away. It was a very enjoyable week, but on the flight home, there was an emergency. We were taxiing down the runway, heading back to John Wayne Airport on a 737, when about halfway down the runway, picking up maybe 70, 80 knots of speed, the pilot slammed on the brake. We all went forward in our seats. He pulled off the runway, and we’re all kind of looking at each other, wondering what was going on. When things settled down, he came on the loud speaker and told us that there’d been an engine light, and they didn’t want to take off. They apologized, but they believed it was the prudent thing to do. And we all agreed. All right?
So, we ended up in the airport for several hours. And then we were told, “You know what? We can’t get you a flight till tomorrow, so we’re putting you over in the five-star Hyatt on the beach.” I remember clearly in the line, as this was unfolding, some guy said to me, “Are you going to complain?” I said, “About what, that the guy didn’t kill us? That we’re going to a five-star hotel on the beach? I don’t know if you have anything to do, but I have nothing better to do than that.”
So, we go down to this Hyatt. Five star. It was five star. Beautiful hotel. We were told that dinner was on . . . I think it was American Airlines. So June and I went to the room. We come back into the foyer and caught an eye on the buffet. So we headed into the buffet and enjoyed that and felt pretty satisfied. We came out and ended up talking to several other passengers. We learned that there were five restaurants in the hotel, and we had gone to the worst one. There was a five-star steakhouse on the beach, and we settled for HomeTown Buffet. Dinner’s on us. We didn’t realize we had five choices, and we sold ourselves short.
My friend, God has given you all blessings. Let’s bless the God who has blessed us with every conceivable blessing. Don’t sell yourself short in what God has for you in Jesus Christ.
Father, we thank you for our time this morning in your precious Word. You alone have the words of life. So glad we’ve turned off the television, shut out the noise, and come and heard a gospel word that would remind us as we go about our business this week that we are spiritual billionaires—that we have all that we need for life and godliness in Jesus Christ, and it can’t be taken from us. Help us to revel in the source of this blessing, our Father in heaven. Help us to revel in the spheres of this blessing, our Lord Jesus Christ and His elevation in the heavenly realm. Help us to live the scope of it as more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Lord, for those who are still admiring Christ like a sports car on the outside, help them to get on the inside and go speeding down the highway, thrilled at having a relationship with God’s Son, by faith, because of grace. These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.