Spiritual Blessings in Christ (I)
C. W. Scott
The Old and New Testaments of the Bible both teach that the only hope of men and women for salvation from sin and wickedness is through and in Christ Jesus, the Savior. The lost must look to Christ for redemption from sin because it is His blood that constitutes the purchase price for their forgiveness. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many, unto the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Reconciliation of the sinner to God along with his or her pardon are made possible for all men through the suffering and death of Christ but these constitute but a few of the many blessings to be obtained and enjoyed by the believing, obedient and trusting followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
We sing the fine old hymn, "Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." Truly, how fine it would be if all of us would take the time to do just this every once in awhile. The writer doubts that we could really name every blessing materially and spiritually ours to enjoy. However, it would be most stimulating for one to deliberately reflect upon the blessings that individual Christians enjoy of "the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."
The apostle Paul opens his letter to the saints and Christians in Ephesus with the reminder that it was God that had blessed them and that all spiritual blessings were in Christ. It is possible that some of them did not know this! And there are, certainly, many people today (good and sincere people too) that have not learned that spiritual blessings are to be enjoyed or had only in Christ. The voice from heaven instructed the apostle John to write, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13). In order for men to die in the Lord they must first live in the Lord. And before they can live in the Lord they must first get into Jesus Christ. Men and women desirous of enjoyment of all spiritual blessings in Christ should be equally concerned about the conditions and terms that will place them in Christ where these blessings may be obtained. The New Testament clearly outlines the course every seeker after spiritual blessings must take.
Some of the Ephesian Christians had been worshipers of Diana prior to their conversion to Christ: They had given "Diana of the Ephesians," as she was named, credit for the blessings of life that had been theirs to enjoy. The apostle Paul wanted them to know that they were now "In Christ" as his disciples and true followers and all their blessings were theirs in the new relationship with Christ. There were none to be enjoyed out of Christ.
Paul's personal gratitude is expressed in the words of Ephesians 1:3,4, "Blessed be the God and Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." There was a time when Paul recognized God as His Father in Heaven but in the period of His life when he was known as Saul of Tarsus, he did not believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Savior and Redeemer promised by the prophets. Saul believed that the Jesus that was nailed to the cross was an impostor and those that followed him were deceived and they themselves were worthy of death. Saul, whose name was changed to Paul after his conversion to Christ, declared some time later that his initial role was that of "a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious." Paul further states that he obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly and in unbelief. 1 Tim. 1:14-16 reveals, "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."
The apostle Paul was grateful unto Jesus Christ for his redeemed position because it was Jesus who died and shed His precious blood and making his pardon and salvation possible. Paul was also thankful to God the Father for his granting all the good things that he was enjoying. He could affirm knowingly as did James, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Jas. 1:17).
Paul and the Ephesians both were greatly blessed of God. Material and spiritual blessings had been given them in abundance no one can question. But they were no more blessed than all obedient followers of Christ today. Men may appropriate the benefits of the Saviour's death unto themselves upon the same terms and conditions that were accepted and acted upon by those of the First Century. Those in Christ in 1976 are still being blessed by "All spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Those out of Him and who have not through faith and obedience to the Lord's commandments cannot and do not share in the blessings enjoyed by those who have accepted the way and wisdom of Jesus Christ.
Does some one inquire, "How may we get into Christ where these blessings may be obtained?" The answer is the same that the Apostle Peter gave to the inquiring Pentecostians who had been directed to believe in Christ, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). About 3,000 persons on that day believed and obeyed as instructed and were baptized into Christ. In Christ, having put on Christ, one must then obediently remain in Christ, living after His example, worshipping and serving God according to the directions set forth in the Savior's last will and testament.
Truth Magazine XXI: 15, p. 226