In this cryptic sentence Paul opens the door into Ephesians and gives us a glimpse into what awaits us.
It is a key to this book of spiritual treasures.
You would never know that Paul was writing this letter in prison
because there is not the slightest trace of despair or depression.
Just one glimpse into its atmosphere will fill your whole being with assurance and deep peace.
It is impossible to live habitually in Ephesians and be depressed.
This opening thanksgiving in Ephesians is properly designed as Paulís " Hymn of Grace."
The reason for this is seen in verse 3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."
God is declared " blessed" because He is the Blesser.
It is He who hath blessed us.
Evidently the word "blessed" is used in a double sense.
We can bless God only by words, but He blesses us by acts of love and grace.
He is praised because He has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing."
God does provide material blessings, but here the emphasis is on more important things - "spiritual blessings."
As to their nature they are spiritual.
People properly praise God from whom all blessings flow, but the blessings
Paul has in mind here are not physical, material, or temporal.
They are the gifts of grace which the following verses describe.
They include adoption as sons of God, forgiveness of trespasses, the sealing of the Holy Spirit,
and the assurance of eternal glory.
These blessings are experienced in "the heavenlies," where believers are now raised by faith in Christ.
So the blessings with which God has blessed us are blessings originated in heaven.
While we are still in our earthly body on earth, we are enjoying a foretaste of the blessing,
which we will enjoy in heaven.
When we think of the word, "blessing," we probably think of it as some benefit,
as something bestowed upon us by the good grace of someone able to do it.
Therefore, someone who gives us something of value for our benefit or our advantage is blessing us.
As a result we are better off than we were before because of what was done.
The word is used also to refer to anything we receive that we could not have earned or purchased.
We speak of that as a blessing.
When we speak of a "spiritual" blessing, we refer to the kind of blessing it is.
We can also determine the nature of the blessing by the context within where this benefit occurs.
For instance, a financial blessing would pertain to money matters,
and a physical blessing would refer to the physical body.
So, a "spiritual blessing" would refer to the spirit of man meaning that which is inward.
The blessings are spiritual not merely because they pertain to the soul, but because they are derived from the Holy Spirit.
These blessings come from God through the Spirit.
But the point in view is what they are, not how they reach us.
The expression "spiritual blessing" is a comprehensive one, covering all the good that comes to us by grace.
So we have a balance.
On the one hand, the kind of blessings which are Spirit-produced,
and on the other hand, the source of these blessings which is the Holy Spirit.
The context tells us that these heavenly gifts are the gifts of grace and the following verses describe them.
All these blessings are designed for those who are in fellowship with Christ.
They are for those who belong to Him, and who are one with Him.
To be "blessed" with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places one must be in Christ.
Paul who was childless and homeless, knew little of physical and material blessings.
But when it came to spiritual blessings, he enjoyed the boundless wealth of heaven.
Whatever our spiritual lives require, God amply and abundantly provides.
He has given us "every possible spiritual benefit in Christ." (Verse 3, Phillips)
Let's summarize the blessings which God has bestowed upon us by saying:
So you see at the very outset of Ephesians, Paul magnifies the grace of God
to the Ephesians that they, too, might be filled to overflowing with praise.
God is said to bless us when He bestows upon us every provision for our spiritual peace and prosperity.
We are said to bless God when we offer praise and thanksgiving for His provision.
More than twenty-five years had passed since Paul met the Lord Jesus near Damascus.
Still he was counting his blessings and praising God for them.
Paul is not praising God because God desires to bless him, nor because God has determined to bless him,
but because God has blessed him.
And so must we because we have been so blessed.
"God Did A Wonderful Thing For Me"
"I was a sinner all covered with shame,
Lost and defiled with no merit to claim,
Somehow God loved me in spite of my sin-
Saved me, redeemed me and cleansed me within.
Could I forget it - that wonderful time
When I was saved? 'twas a moment sublime!
All through life's journey I'll sing of His love,
Someday I'll tell it to angels above.
Numberless blessings He since has bestowed,
Mercies from Heaven like rivers have flowed;
So many wonderful things He has done,
And praise His name, He has only begun!
God did a wonderful thing for me,
One glorious happy day,
God did a wonderful thing for me,
When He took all my sin away."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org