All Spiritual Blessings of Christ

All Spiritual Blessings of Christ


– We are in the book of Ephesians. This is lesson number
four, lesson number four. Today we’ll actually get into the book. While you are looking at that sheet we’d ask you to take out your Bibles also to Ephesians four,
excuse me Ephesians chapter one we’re in lesson four. And the scriptures will also be put up on the screen so you can either follow the screen or follow in your own Bibles. Alright well we we reviewed the fact that the Ephesian letter was
written by Paul the Apostle while he was in prison in
Rome between 61 and 63 AD, talked about the history of when this was written last week and the week before. It was delivered to the
city of Ephesus by Onesimus who was a slave who had been converted in the Roman prison by Paul
and then released at some point and so he took the letter to Ephesus. Also took a letter back to his master Philemon who lived in Colossi. And the connection there is Colossi’s about a 100 miles west of Ephesus so he also brought the letter to Ephesus. Ephesus we said was a key congregation in a key location and
much of the evangelization of that area began from
that point in Ephesus. Now Ephesus flourished
as a church but in time it began to lag in its original zeal so a warning was given
to it by John the Apostle some 30 years later in
his book The Revelation, his book called The Revelation. He talks to Ephesus and warns
them about their lack of zeal. Anyways back to the the
writing of this letter after Paul left Ephesus
as a matter of fact John the Apostle came to work
and he settled in Ephesus and he was there until his last day. So that church, significant church, influential church as far
as the spread of the gospel is concerned two apostles that we know of who had a kind of a base
there to to do their work. The book of Ephesians can
be divided in several ways and I gave you one such outline last week. We went over that last week. If you wanted to break
down this particular letter you could say the first part, the blessings that are
available in the church, secondly the universality of the church, thirdly the obligations of the church. And under that third section
there were some subheadings. Obligations of the church, unity, righteousness and faithfulness. So just by the outline you
can see right away that the book of Ephesians is about the church, very much about the church
so if you wanted to study about the church, its character its goals, so on and so forth you would take a look at the letter to the Ephesians. But the thing to remember about Ephesians is that it focuses on the importance of the church in God’s plan. Some people say oh the church
is not important I can, I can worship God I don’t need the church. And as I mentioned to you
before anyone who says that obviously has not read the
New Testament carefully, and certainly has not studied
the letter to the Ephesians. So in his letter Paul
says four main things about the church, number
one that the creation and the blessing of the
church was the objective that God had from the
very beginning of time. Anyone who says the church
isn’t important doesn’t realize that God considered the
church very important. Because it was His goal
from the beginning of time from before the beginning
of time to bless the church. Another thing that Paul will talk about is that the true, or
rather that true living can only be experienced as a
member of the body of Christ and that everyone could
be a part of that body. He emphasizes that idea. True life is within the church. A lot of people, you ever
hear people say sometimes I don’t know how folks do
it who are not Christians. who are not part of the church. I don’t know how they manage their lives. What they’re really saying is what Paul is talking about here. True life, the true experience of the life that God designed for
us as spiritual beings is experienced in the church. Third thing he says that
the church is the light in society insofar as setting the standard for what is right or
how to treat one another and the revelation of Christ in his word. One of the problems that
we’re always fighting against is to is to not become
so insular in the church. We live in this bubble here and the only people we know are other Christians. The only people we talk
to are other Christians. We have to fight that natural tendency because part of the role
of the church in society… when Jesus says you’re
the light of the world He’s not only talking about the light like we ought to love our enemies,
we ought to love each other, that kind of light but
also the light that says this is right and this is wrong. I’m always disappointed
when I see someone who doesn’t believe in God stand
up and speak truth to power. That’s the role of the church in society. And then a fourth thing that he taught, and we’ll get into that,
and the fourth thing he says is that in the end the church
will arise as victorious over every physical and
spiritual enemy including death, So four main ideas that he
talks about in this epistle. So I’ve given you an outline
and I’ve also given you some broad ideas or concepts that
are that are talked about here. So keeping all of this
in mind let’s go into the first chapter, examine the first part and that is the blessings that Paul says are reserved only for the church. So let’s open at Ephesians chapter one. He begins with the greeting. Verse one and two he says Paul an apostle of Christ
Jesus by the will of God to the Saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. So as was the custom,
Paul introduces himself at the beginning of the letter. Today we sign at the bottom
yours truly at the end. In those days the letter
started with that. Hello I’m Paul or hello I’m
Michael, so on and so forth. So it’s normal way to start a letter. Note that he also establishes
his own credibility and authority as an inspired apostle. He’s not self appointed,
he’s appointed by God. So right away from from the very beginning he’s speaking with authority. He also recognizes them
as faithful saints. And that’s not necessarily unusual but in other letters Paul
doesn’t necessarily do that for the church that
he’s talking to because many times they had
problems like I Corinthians. When he’s talking to the Corinthians. Pretty soon in the first chapter he says I’m surprised you’re
abandoning the gospel. Right away he gets down to it immediately. But for the Ephesians they were faithful. They were a church that
was that was dear to him. Again he completes his greeting
with a familiar blessing. Grace and peace from God
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace was that quality of God that led God to offer salvation through
the death of His son. God could have could have simply chosen universal condemnation, that’s it. Either you live perfectly
or you’re condemned. But He offered another way,
He offered the way of grace that we could be forgiven on
the basis of faith in Christ. And so when he just uses the word grace there are a lot of
things that are compacted into just that word and
remember he’s speaking to people who are members of the church. He’s not speaking to nonbelievers. He assumes that believers, his readers we’ll understand the
potential of that word grace. And then the word peace was the result of that gracious action on God’s part. The idea is that there would now be peace between all men who believed in Jesus. Peace between those men,
those people and God. And there would also be peace
in every saved person’s soul. One of the benefits of salvation is the peace that comes with it, the peace, the interior peace that we feel, that we actually experience emotionally. It’s not all, when I get to
Heaven I’ll have the experience. It’s right now I’m experiencing things that come with the salvation. So this was a way that Paul compressed the entire Gospel message
and its effect on mankind in just a few words,
grace and peace be to you. Just those few words said
everything that he has taught them and shared
with them in the past. Alright in the second part of this section Paul will discuss God’s essential purpose when it comes to the church. Now God’s purpose from
the beginning of time was to create an entity. And that entity of course is the church or you can call it the
body of Christ, Christians, saints, the saved, the
redeemed, the household of God. There any number of ways
to refer to the church. So God’s purpose from
the beginning of time was to create an entity upon whom, upon which He could lavish
spiritual blessings. It’s like a rich grandfather
who’s got everything and he’s just waiting
for a grandchild to just pour his love on that grandchild. Well not a perfect analogy but
those of us who are parents and grandparents understand
what I’m talking about. And so the Bible is the account of how God accomplished this and
Jesus Christ is the person through whom He accomplished this. Remember the this here is I want to give blessings to the church. And the church is that thing
that entity that He did it for. So in verses three to 14 Paul describes the nature of the blessings,
the nature of the gifts that God planned from
the beginning of time to give to the church
through Jesus Christ. So we’ll start reading verse number three. He says 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. So God blesses or God gives gifts that are spiritual in nature to the church in connection with Jesus Christ. Now the gifts are spiritual in nature. That’s one of the things we
can tell from this passage. And we can also tell that God has given all of the available gifts. He hasn’t held any back. Everything He had to give He’s given. And these things or these
gifts are given and received because of, and in relation
to, Jesus Christ only. Not in relationship to Moses. Not in relationship to Elijah. And certainly not in
relationship to the Buddha. Okay? Or to Muhammad. He says these gifts are in
relationship to Christ in Him. In Christ is the term for this. And so the decision or
excuse me in verse four let’s read that first then we’ll go on. He says in the Heavenly places in Christ just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, stop there. The decision to do this
thing give the gifts was made before the beginning of time. It wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t something He said oh maybe I should give something. You know like that
commercial where the husband stops off at 7-Eleven and gets some gum and he pays for his gas and then goes oh yeah yeah Mother’s Day yeah. Give me those flowers
there, a buck and a half that are on the counter. It’s not like that. All of history fits into His plan to give gifts to the church. And for those of you who were
in my Great Doctrines class Paul here is, what doctrine
is he talking about here? He’s talking about the
doctrine of election. God chooses Jesus Christ to be the vehicle through whom these gifts will come. And those who are united
to Christ by faith these are the ones who
will receive the blessings. That’s the correct concept
of election in the Bible. And he makes mention of
it here in Ephesians. So in verses 4B to 14 Paul
describes some of the blessings that God has prepared
to give to the church. So let’s get back to the verse he says just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the
world that we should be holy and blameless before Him. There’s the first gift. Those in Christ would
be holy and blameless. In other words without impurity. So those in Christ would be
able to look at themselves and see no impurity, no imperfections. You see the gift that that is? Again it’s not just a theological idea. If I can look in my own
soul and see no impurity because of Christ that
gives me a tremendous peace, tremendous courage, tremendous confidence. And those in Christ he
says have no condemnation. So when I look at myself
I see no imperfection. When I look at God I have no fear. Isn’t that the thing we’re afraid of? We’re afraid of coming before
God and being condemned. And he says here before
the beginning of the world God planned to give gifts to those who would be associated to Christ. And two of those gifts
would be perfection, no impurities, and no
fear of condemnation. He goes on in verse five
and says He, excuse me, in love He predestined
us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself according to the kind
intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace which he freely bestowed
on us in the beloved. By the way this is a very long passage. It just goes on and on and on. That’s why I have to
break it down in pieces. But remember what he’s doing. He’s describing the gift that God intended to give to the church from before the beginning of time. So here he says those who are in Christ become sons of God and
recipients of His grace. What does that mean
for me in a true sense? Not just as a concept
but in my experience? It tells me who I am. These people say I quit my job and I liquidated my bank account
and I just took off because I wanted to find out who I was. I wanted to find myself. Those who are in Christ
they know who they are. They don’t have to go to
Europe to figure it out. They’re sons of God, they’re
the daughters of God. And in that relationship
and in that identity I find how I live my
life, I have my identity. I know it doesn’t matter if I’m Italian, or American, or Asian, or black, or white. That doesn’t matter anymore,
I know who I am essentially. And I know who I’m going to be forever. So we keep reading same
idea verse seven and eight. In Him, notice he always
repeats in Him, in Him, in Him. He’s always saying in
relationship to Christ. So in verse seven he says in Him we have redemption through His blood. the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us
in all wisdom and insight. I’ll stop there. Those in Christ also
have forgiveness of sins because their sins have been redeemed. How? Their moral debts to God
because of their sins have been paid for by the death of Christ. What a blessing that is. Again how do I see this
as a blessing in my life? I see it as a blessing because even though my status is perfect with
God the reality of my life from day to day is I continue to sin in so many different ways. This gift here says that my
sins those sins are forgiven. There is a way for those
sins to be forgiven as a Christian we read that in John. I John chapter one, seven and eight. If we confess our sins He
is faithful to forgive us and the blood of Christ washes over us. But the idea is we have
an avenue of forgiveness. It’s like a tool that he’s given us. He said now bring that
forgiveness thing along with you because in this life you’re
still going to stumble. You’re still going to fall,
you’re still going to sin. So remember one of the
gifts I’m giving you is you have the avenue to forgiveness. How many people in this
world are constantly whipping themselves or trying to purge if you wish their own sinfulness? And they never succeed. It’s like Kleenex. Every time you clean one up,
whoops another one pops up. That’s what sin is like. What a great gift this is. We keep going, verse nine, just
one big long sentence here. He says, and we need to
back up just a little bit. It says in all wisdom and insight He made known to us
the mystery of His will according to his kind intention which He purposed in Him with a
view to an administration suitable to the fullness of times that is the summing up
of all things in Christ, things in Heaven, and
things upon the Earth. And the class said huh? What did he just say? I understand the words,
I get the words but I think you lost me Paul. What he’s saying basically
is those in Christ have insight into God’s
overall plan for man. We’re not walking around
blindly not knowing. Those who are in Christ
they know the beginning and they know the end. They know how it all started,
how it all went wrong, how God fixed it, and
how it’s going to end not only in their lives but
in all of life, in reality. Now it’s not stated here in this passage but basically what Paul
is referring to here is that at the end God’s goal
is to unite all the saved, The Jews and the Greeks, the Gentiles, to separate the saved from
the unsaved at judgment and then to unite all the saved
with God in Heaven forever. We know the plan. We understand it, we live it. And it’s a gift because unless God would have revealed it to us we wouldn’t know what it is. That’s the idea of the gift. In verse 11 and 12 we
keep going it says also we have obtained an
inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after
the counsel of His will to the end that we who were
the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In other words those in Christ become God’s witness here on
Earth, that’s a gift. We’re the salt, we’re the light. You don’t think that’s a gift? The church is the vehicle
by which God is revealed and through which God is praised. Paul says the church is
here to provide praise and to provoke praise to
God from other people. That’s why it’s such a shameful thing that people associated with Christianity let’s just in general are
dragged into court for having, for sexual sins or for having cheated, or lied, or stolen, or whatever. It’s a terrible thing
because by their actions the world is deriding the church. Now we know the difference, a
restoration biblical church, the difference between that
and a denomination and so on. We know the difference don’t we? But people in the world they don’t know, they don’t make those fine differences. For them it’s all the
same Catholic, Protestant, Church of Christ, Baptists all the same. You’re all in the same
boat, you’re Christians. You’re followers of Jesus aren’t you? So we shouldn’t be too
smug when another group drops the ball or does something shameful. We shouldn’t be too smug
because out in the world they’re painting us with the same brush. And the shameful thing is Paul
says that one of the gifts that God has given to the church
is this is the only vehicle by which He is praised by human beings. Not by the Boy Scouts,
not by the US government. not by NASA, you don’t understand. There’s no other organization that He has delegated this task to. And at the end he says by
virtue of its very existence the church not only gives
praise, the church is praise. You don’t understand that I go back to my grandpa example right. You have your little
grandson or granddaughter or whoever she is, little
cutie four or five years old. She walks in and your friends
are there people in the church and they all turn around and look at her. Do you have to say anything? They all go awe look at, she’s so cute. She looks like her grandmother. You know what I’m saying? Just by walking into the
room that little child is praise for your family,
provokes it from other people saying what a little cutie
and so on and so forth. Well multiply that a zillion times you’ve got what the
church is supposed to be. It is the praise of
God, and it provokes it. Alright we need to move
quickly here oh boy. Verse 13 and 14 he says in Him you also after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation,
having also believed you were sealed in Him with
the Holy Spirit of promise who has given as a
pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption
of God’s own possession to the praise of his glory. Those in Christ have
possession of God’s Holy Spirit as a gift for their
own spiritual pleasure. We’ve talked about this, the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is a delightful thing to
commune with God intimately. In addition to the
possession of the spirit the presence of the Holy Spirit is the identifying factor that guarantees all of the other promises. We are resurrected from the
dead because we have the spirit. We have eternal life
because we have the spirit. God give these things to
those who have the spirit and you know what, He knows whose are His. He knows who has the spirit. We spend half of our religious exercise trying to figure out who’s got
the spirit and who doesn’t. That’s a waste of time. God knows who has the spirit. So these are the major gifts that those who are united to Jesus by faith, and we’ve talked about this before. How do I express my faith
and my belief in Jesus? Well according to the
Bible I repent of my sins, I’m immersed in water,
I’m baptized in His name. This is what it means to be in Christ. To be in Christ means to be related to Christ or united to Christ. By faith means I have expressed my faith according to Christ,
repentance and baptism. So now he’s going to talk
about the value of the gifts. After reviewing the
blessings that God bestows Paul expresses a prayer
in which he asks God to help his readers understand more deeply the nature and the value of the
gifts that they now possess. How many of us have ever
said youth is wasted on the? On the young right? When you’re young you
just don’t appreciate what you have, all that energy. I remember my children
when they were teens young adults living at home. They go to bed at 10:30 at night and they’d sleep through the night and wake up at 10
o’clock the next morning. They didn’t even get out of bed. I’ve had two or three lifetimes
between 10:30 at night and 10:00 in the morning
if you know what I mean. Well Paul is praying that
the church at Ephesus realized what it had,
the value of the gifts. And so he makes a prayer for the church. Verse 15 he says for this reason I too having heard of the faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ which exists among you and
your love for all the saints do not cease giving thanks for you while making mention
of you and my prayers. So because they have been
faithful so far as a young church despite persecution Paul
prays that God will give them the ability to know God more intimately. People say what is Heaven like? I’m not quite sure what we look like but the Bible tells us that Heaven will be the experience of having
a relationship with God without the hindrance of sin and death. No sin, no death so my
experience of God is full. So he wants them to begin
experiencing this phenomenon now. Don’t wait ’til you get to Heaven. I want you to taste Heaven now. In verse 18 and 19 he says I pray that the eyes of your
heart may be enlightened so that you may know what
is the hope of His calling what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ Jesus. So in this continued passage
he describes in more detail some of the things that
he wants them to know about God that will prove
to be a blessing to them. So what does he want them to know? He wants them to know the
hope that’s in front of them. Well what is that? Eternal life. He wants them to know the
riches of the inheritance. What is that? Eternal life. He wants them to know the
greatness of God’s power. Well what is the greatness of His power? He’s going to resurrect them from the dead and give them eternal life. So all of these things
refer to the same thing, our resurrection, our glorification. and then our exaltation. Three things that happen. We’re raised from the
dead, we’re glorified. Our bodies are changed. We put on a spiritual body but then there’s a third thing that
happens that we don’t talk about very often and that’s the exaltation. Resurrection, glorification, exaltation to the right hand of God, the experience. The glorified body simply prepares us to have the experience of
being with God forever. We could not be with him
in this particular body. It would be like, we’d probably evaporate I think because of our sinfulness. Alright verse 20 let’s finish this out. He says which He brought about in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right
hand in the Heavenly places far above all rule authority
and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things in
subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over
all things to the church which is His body the fullness of Him who fills all in all, end of sentence. Imagine if you’re an English teacher and you were trying to
parse, that or diagram it. It’d take a blackboard. So in verses 20 to 23
he completes this prayer by describing how these
things were acquired and how they are presently administered. How? Through Christ. Those in Christ will resurrect
and be with God in Heaven because that’s where Jesus is now. And that’s what he’s talking about. He died, He resurrected, He’s overall, He’s at the right hand of God. He’s saying where Jesus is
that’s where you’re going to be. And I want you to
understand that as an idea but I also want you to
start experiencing that as a reality of spiritual life. So he prays that they can
appreciate more and more the reward that they have
been called to receive as disciples of Jesus who guarantees it. How? By the virtue of his
sovereignty over all things. I trust a guy who was
raised from the dead. That guy I trust. Anybody else, I only have one question
for any other prophet. Did you raise from the dead? Well no. Okay see you bye. My life is with the one who
was raised from the dead and who promised me the
same thing, I’m with Him. So here a couple of things that we can learn from this passage. I think we’ve learned
a lot but a couple of kind of life lessons,
or religious lessons. Lesson number one spiritual
blessings are only available if one is united to Christ through faith. So where’s the lesson? I need to verify my life if I have faith and if it has been expressed
as Jesus would have it. Repentance and baptism. I don’t want anybody going
to Heaven and saying to God and God saying well did
you believe in Jesus? Well I sort of kind of did. No He’s going to ask did you believe that Jesus is my son the Divine son? He’s going to ask did you obey the gospel? Did you repent and be baptized? Well you know I wasn’t too sure. Really? How many times were you taught that? After 2,000 times, 2,000
lessons on this subject you still did not respond? I think He’ll say what
more did I have to do to get the point across to you? Second lesson, spiritual
blessings are far more valuable than material ones yet
they are given for free. If we are truly wise we
would worry less about trying to gain and keep material things and spend a little more time
in search of spiritual things because the spiritual
blessings are eternal. After all Jesus said what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Your IRA account? Your two houses that are paid off? Your boat? Will you be able to
exchange that for your soul? And then the other lesson
is spiritual blessings are appreciated and enhanced
through the activity of prayer. Paul prayed for them to
begin experiencing the joy associated with the
blessings that they had. Many times what’s missing
in our spiritual lives is prayer, or prayer to know God and know and appreciate his gifts. Prayer is like the starter. We got all the stuff,
we’ve got all the gifts. But prayer is the starter
that [fingers snap] starts the insight,
starts the engine running. We have everything but many
times we’re not enjoying it. And usually this is
because we don’t understand that spiritual things are
tasted they’re contemplated their experienced in
the dimension of prayer, in the dimension of
service, in the dimension of worship and sacrifice and obedience. Those are the doors we
have to walk through in order to begin experiencing
the spiritual blessings that we already have, we have them. So the first step to Heaven usually begins by getting down on our
knees, first step to Heaven. Alright well that’s lesson
four, chapter one Ephesians and I mean we could go back
and do the whole passage again and there’s so much more to see there. But I think that gives
us a good overall view. So that’s our class where
this morning we’re dismissed. Thank you for your attention.

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