Sunday Sermon: ‘Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing’

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If you are someone who has been a believer for any length of time, you know that it is often a great battle to live what we might call the ‘Victorious Christian Life.’ By that I do not mean that it’s difficult to be keep your salvation, but rather that it’s often difficult to live out our salvation in a way that brings us joy and satisfaction.

Some believe that we just have to establish the right rules and then everything will be OK. Yet Jesus told His disciples in the Garden, ‘Though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.’ Our human nature is too weak to produce genuine Christianity. Others think that all we have to do is – ‘Let go, and let God.’ In other words, just live however you want to live and let God take care of the rest. Yet we also know that this approach doesn’t produce godly character. Those who take this approach often end up cold and indifferent to the things of God. So much so that sometimes we might be temped to question whether or not this person is truly a born-again believer.

So what do we do? There is a third approach and I believe the one God’s Word teaches us. That approach focuses on a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, through which comes the desire and the ability to produce what the Bible calls spiritual fruit. Jesus said in John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Many of us have experienced this numerous times. We have entered into a service, dry and discouraged, yet through the preaching of God’s Word and spirit-filled music that lifts our soul, our disposition is changed and we leave the service much different from the way we came in. The secret to living the victorious Christian life is learning to live in Jesus. That is the theme of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Some have estimated that there are at least twenty-seven references to our being ‘IN CHRIST’ found in this great letter.

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 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: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Note vs. 3 again – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Every spiritual blessing that is possible for God to give, He has given to us ‘IN CHRIST.’ It’s all there and it’s all ours. The question some might ask is ‘What are the spiritual blessings God has given me?’

I. Predestination by the Father

Ephesians 1:4 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: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

A. ‘Predestination’ – Scary Word / Confusing Word

The word ‘predestination’ is a scary word to some. Simply defined it means – {pre-destiny, a predetermined plan for our final destiny}. The reason this word is scary and confusing to many is because they believe that God has predestined some to go to heaven and the rest to go to hell. Yet consider what God’s Word says –

2 Peter 3:9     The Lord is … longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish , but that all should come to repentance.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved .

Revelation 22:17     ‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Romans 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Although there is much about the sovereign will of God that I do not understand, scripture makes it very clear to me that anyone who desires to be saved, can be saved.

Actually, the word ‘predestination’ never applies to God’s plan to send men to hell. (See Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1:5, 11) It is always used in reference to God’s plan to provide a way to take men to heaven.

B. What Has God Predestinated?

1. That Which Will Bring Him Pleasure

We read from the book of Ezekiel –

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways;

What then does God find pleasure in? Jesus said, ‘this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.’ (Jn 6:40)

Paul writes to the Ephesians –

Ephesians 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasurewhich he hath purposed in himself:

2. That Which Will Bring Him a People

Ephesians 1:5   Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children …

a. A People of Purity

Ephesians 1:4  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:

God’s plan  is not just for Salvation. It is also for Sanctification. Sanctification is a word that we rarely use; however, it is a word that we need to become as familiar with as the word salvation. Sanctification is the process whereby God sets us apart from sin and unto Himself. Paul says it best in the book of Titus –

Titus 2:14   Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

b. A People of Position

Ephesians 1:5   Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children …

Whenever we think about being a child of God, many of us envision believers who have a child-like innocence before God and who will one day wonder around heaven playing. That’s not what the Bible means when it calls us God’s children.

Adoption during Bible times carried an even deeper meaning than it does today. When someone was adopted into a family, they went through a process whereby they were given full legal claim to the family fortune. A man who had four sons and adopted another, now had five legal heirs.

Consider what Paul says about this in the book of Romans –

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;  if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

So often we pray – “Oh God, bless me!“, when we should be praying, “Oh God, open my eyes to see the blessings that are already mine!”

That was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians –

Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.

3. That Which Will Bring Him Praise

Ephesians 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

I’ll never forget the morning I first understood verse 6 – ‘To the praise of the glory of His grace…’ Suddenly it dawned on me why God has done what He has done. Suddenly I realized why men were created with a free will. God knew in advance that men would sin, but even before Adam and Eve created the first sin, God already had a plan whereby He could save them. And through this plan of salvation, God would ultimately receive glory for being a gracious God.

II. Redeemed by the Son

Ephesians 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

A. ‘In Christ’

Warren Wiersbe states in his commentary that the thought of the believer being ‘in Christ’ is used twenty-seven times in the book of Ephesians. All that God has done for us, He has done ‘IN CHRIST’ and ‘FOR CHRIST.’ Brethren, it’s all about Jesus.

The same time Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians, he also wrote a letter to the Colossians. Although there were some different issues going on in each church, in many ways the two letters are very similar. Consider what Paul share with the Colossians –

Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence .

Some have questioned why we list Col. 1:18 on our church logo and beside it – “Whatever it takes for Jesus.” Based upon what Colossians 1:18 says – ‘that in all things he might have the preeminence’, we have determined that our desire should be – ‘Whatever it takes for Jesus.’ Whatever it takes for Jesus to have the preeminence. The word ‘preeminence’ simply means – first place.

B. What has the Father done for us IN CHRIST?

1. He has chosen us

Ephesians 1:4   According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world …

2. He has redeemed us

Ephesians 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Redemption means to be released from captivity  through the payment of a ransom.

Matthew 20:28   Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

1 Peter 1:18   Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,… 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Through the redemption of Christ, God is able to completely forgive us of all our sins.

Ephesians 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

So many believe that God should be so loving that He should just sweep our sins under the rug and pretend that they never happened. God has a plan that is far better than that. God wants to grant us complete and full forgiveness which means that the offense will be cut off and removed forever from His sight. The Bible says –

Ps 103:12   As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Heb 8:12   For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

3. He has given us an inheritance that will last forever

Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

What is the inheritance that God has given to His children? Eternal blessedness in His kingdom which is to come, and in that kingdom, to share with Christ all that is His. As I was preparing this part of my message, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a passage of scripture –

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set  the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

4. Sealed us unto the day of redemption

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

III. Work of the Spirit

A. Holy Spirit and Our Salvation

God the Father is the one who predestined our salvation, before the foundation of the world. God the Son is the one who purchased our salvation on the cross. God the Spirit is the one who performs our salvation from its conception unto its completion.

The Bible teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit who:

1. Convicts us of our sins

2. Makes us a part of the sacrificial death of Christ   (baptism)

3. Gives to us new life (Born-again)

4. Indwells us – Comfort and guide / Fill and empower

5. Seals us ‘IN CHRIST’ for security

Ephesians 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

B. Security

Many believers fear losing their salvation. The reason they fear this is because they are looking to themselves to somehow keep themselves saved. Yet the Bible teaches us that it is the Spirit who puts us into Christ in the first place and who keeps us there until the day God calls us home.

Ephesians 1:14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance – until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The word ‘earnest’ refers to a down payment that is given as a pledge of the complete transaction. Paul teaches us in Romans 8, that the Spirit’s presence in our lives gives us the assurance and indeed we are a born-again child of God. Paul wrote to the Philippians – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Php 1:6) God will complete what He has begun and the Holy Spirit is our assurance.

I love what Jude tells us in his short, but powerful letter –

Now unto himthat is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude vs 24-25)

Conclusion –

God the Father predestined our salvation before the foundation of the world. God the Son purchased our salvation on the cross. God the Spirit performs our salvation from its conception unto its completion.

The question is this – Is this salvation yours? The writer of Hebrews asks us – “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” What else do we hope to look to if we ignore what God has done? My friend, there is nothing else.

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