By Mike Willis
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. . . (Eph. 1:3).
With these words, Paul began the heart of his letter to the church at Ephesus. I committed this verse to memory as a young lad and its truths become more important to me as I grow older. Please consider these lessons from this verse.
All Spiritual Blessings
Not all of God’s blessings are spiritual. God has bountifully blessed us with physical blessings as well. He is our Creator (Gen. 1:1) and Sustainer. He gives “us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with gladness” (Acts 14:17). “For in him we live, and move, and have our being. . .” (Acts 17:28). (See Psalm 65:9-13) for praise to God for His work in sustaining His creation.)
This verse teaches that “all spiritual blessings” are “in Christ.” Neither this verse nor any other verse teaches that all physical blessings are “in Christ.” The Scriptures teach that God’s physical blessings fall on the righteous and unrighteous just alike (Matt. 5:45). The prosperity of the wicked has been a problem for the righteous to understand (See Psa. 73); yet even these verses demonstrate that God’s physical blessings are not limited to those who are “in Christ.”
This is a lesson of which we need to be reminded. Those who are associated with the PTL, the 700 Club, and faith healing ministries teach that God’s physical blessings are especially directed toward the righteous. Who has not witnessed someone on one of these programs relate his testimony? He describes his abject and desperate condition before he became a Christian in words similar to these, “I was suffering from some disease, I had lost my job, my wife and I were having marital problems, our children were running with the wrong crowd, and my creditors were hounding me.” After he tells about giving his life to Jesus, he then relates his present condition in words like this, “Now I feel good and am healed of my disease, my wife and I are happier than we ever have been, my children ‘ are little darlings, and we have more money than ever before.” The implications of these testimonials is that God’s physical blessings are especially directed toward the righteous. No verse in the Bible teaches that. The life of Jesus and Job verify that this is not a true doctrine.
Paul stated that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings “in Christ. “
“In Christ” designates a relationship which the believer sustains to Jesus.(1) All of God’s spiritual blessings are made available to man through Jesus Christ. He is the “water of life” which so quenches man’s needs that he never thirsts again (Jn. 4:13). He is the “bread of life” which so fills a man that he never hungers again (Jn. 6:35). Every spiritual need that man has is completely satisfied in Christ.
The implications from this statement are obvious. We do not need to keep searching as if God had other spiritual blessings for man which are not available to those of us who are in Christ. Hinduism Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, and any other so-called “world” religion do not have any spiritual blessings for man which are not available in Christ. I need not to fret that I have never read the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Rig- Vedas, or other “holy” books. I do not need the writings of Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, Reverend Moon, or any other prophet claiming to have received a latter day revelation. If all of God’s spiritual blessings are available to me in Christ, I can be perfectly content knowing that I have all that God has for man when I have the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible.
The person who is not in Christ does not participate in or share any of these spiritual blessings. Regardless of how good, honest, and sincere a man might be, unless he is in Christ, he does not share the spiritual blessings of God. All of God’s spiritual blessings are in Christ; none of them are outside of Christ. Unless you are “in Christ,” none of these spiritual blessings are available to you.
The Blessings In Christ
Paul did not leave us in doubt as to what blessings God has made available to us in Christ. Consider some of them:
1. “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him” (1:4). Some only read “he hath chosen us” and then declare the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. What this verse teaches is that God chose to make men holy (sanctified and set apart) and without blame (having no sin chargeable to one’s account) before Him. This was to be done through Jesus Christ. Hence, through Jesus Christ, I can enjoy the spiritual blessings of being holy and without blame. (See also Eph. 5:25-27.)
2. ”Adoption as children” (1:5). God also adopted us as His children by Jesus Christ. As a child of God, I can call on God as my Father (Matt. 7:7-11). God could have chosen a variety of relationships toward us. He could have been indifferent toward this world, as the Deists imagine; He could have been amused by this world, as some ancient people thought of the gods of the Pantheon; He could have been filled with animosity toward us. Instead, He chose to adopt us as His children. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. . .” (1 Jn. 3:1).
3. “He hath made us accepted in the beloved (1:6). Those of us who were alienated from God have been reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.
4., We have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (1:7). In Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven through the purification which comes when His blood washes them away. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away sins (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19). This is another spiritual blessing which God has given us in Jesus Christ the forgiveness of our sins.
5. He has “made known unto us the mystery of His will. ” The revelation of God’s will toward mankind was given through Jesus Christ. We do not have to grope in darkness, searching to find out God’s will. He has revealed it to us in the gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit in revealing God’s will to us was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to the apostles (Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:13).
6. He gathered together in one all things in Christ (1:10). Men of every background are united in Christ. Male and female, bond and free, Jew and Gentile, black and white, rich and poor are reconciled to God in one body by the cross (cf. Eph. 2:16). The unity which we have in Christ Jesus is a spiritual blessing from God.
7. “We have obtained an inheritance” (1:11). In Christ, I have a hope for inheriting the blessings of heaven. I have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4) for me. I look forward to receiving eternal life, living with God, and having all of the evils of this world removed (Rev. 21:4). This is the “one hope” of Ephesians 4.
The Fulness of God
The blessings which God has for us in Christ are available in the church. The church is the body of people for whom Jesus gave His life (Eph. 5:26), “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (5:27). The spiritual blessings which God has for us in Christ are available to those who are in His church.
Consequently, the church is the “body of Christ, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (1:23). The fulness of God’s blessings to man is in the church. Many religions look for the fulness of God’s blessings at some future time when Jesus will return to this earth and rule on this earth for a thousand years. That is in conflict with what Paul revealed. He stated that Jesus is presently reigning over everything (1:20-21) and that the church is the fulness of God’s blessings to us.
We do not look forward to a future earthly kingdom. We look foward to the second coming of Christ, the judgment, and our eternal home in heaven.
How To Get “In Christ”
Inasmuch as being in Christ is important in order that one might inherit these spiritual blessings, we need to know how to get into Christ. The Lord told us how to get into Christ.
In order to get into Christ, a man must hear the gospel preached, believe it, repent of his sins, confess his faith in Jesus, and be baptized (immersed) in water. Paul wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
The man who does not believe in Jesus cannot share God’s spiritual blessings (Jn. 8:24). The man who has not repented
of his sins cannot share God’s spiritual blessings (Lk. 13:3). The man who will not confess Christ does not share in God’s spiritual blessings (Matt. 10:32-33). The man who will not be baptized cannot receive remission of his sins (Acts 2:38) or be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
My friend, all spiritual blessings are in Christ. Are you in Him?
1. Those who hold a doctrine of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit need to carefully examine this language. To be “in Christ” does not mean that I enter into the physical body of Jesus and dwell in Him. Rather, it means that I sustain a spiritual relationship to Him. The same is true when one reads that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It does not mean that the Holy Spirit comes inside my body, which would be an incarnation of Deity and destroy the uniqueness of Jesus; rather, it means that I enter a spiritual relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII; 21, pp. 642, 662-663
November 1, 1984