|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 2
Meditation Title: Praise & Blessing
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
God is worthy of our praise and worship. The fact that most of the time we don't praise and worship Him is simply a sign of our spiritual blindness. The fact that people even deny God or speak badly of Him is an even greater sign of foolishness. It was the psalmist who said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psa 14:1). Paul was elsewhere to condemn sinful man in that, “since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” (Rom 1:20,21). Paul, now in this letter, has things on his mind that he wants to convey to the Ephesians, and the very thought of these things evokes praise in him.
He has just greeted them with a blessing: “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He has described the believers as ‘saints' which simply means ‘holy or consecrated ones' which is what all Christians are. He has desired grace – God's power or ability for us to live out our lives as His children – and peace, which comes through that relationship. Instantly these are things where there is an interweaving between God and man. This book is all about that. It isn't about ‘God out there' and it isn't about us on our own. No, it is all about the coming together and interaction of God and man that results in transformed and changed men and women who form a ‘called out people', the church, and it is all the work of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus when he asks for grace and peace for them, it is from both the Father and the Son, for it is a joint activity.
But now, as we've already noted, he praises God. Praise automatically rises within him when he thinks of what God has done. Praise is about acknowledging someone's achievements. Worship is about acknowledging God's greatness, the fact of Him being infinitely greater than us, but praise focuses on what He has done. We praise our children when they have done well. We praise God for what He has achieved.
Do you notice how he links Father and Son: “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” He wants to remind us at every turn that Jesus is God's unique Son and that God is uniquely his Father. But he's not just ‘Jesus', he is ‘our Lord'. Paul is quite clear; Jesus is our Lord, because he is the Christ or the Messiah, the anointed one sent by God to save us. Every word is significant. Paul is quite careful in the way he uses each word, and we shouldn't miss the significance of each word therefore.
But now comes the reason for Paul's praising God: “who has blessed us.” A frightening number of people never seem to see this, that God's intent is to bless us. Now the word ‘bless' is not a word commonly used today but in the Bible it is very significant and used a great deal. When God ‘blesses us' He ‘decrees good for us' and when God decrees something it IS done. So Paul is praising God because of what God has done and the outworking or end product of what He has done is that He has been able to decree good for us.
But there seems a condition on this blessing as far as it is being mentioned here: “who has blessed us in the heavenly realms.” Now to catch the meaning of this we have to look at the other four times that Paul uses this phrase in this letter (and nowhere else). The next reference is, “which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” (1:20) which clearly refers to heaven as a place. Then comes, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (2:6) which suggests us being linked to Christ who is in heaven. This is followed by, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (3:10) and “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (6:12) both of which suggest that there is a spiritual dimension of which we need to be aware.
Putting these together we can therefore suggest that our being blessed “in the heavenly realms” means that our origins have been settled in heaven and God decrees good for us from heaven now, and in heaven in eternity. It also suggests that in the spiritual world where we (knowingly or unknowingly) interact with angelic forces or demonic forces, God decrees good for us. As the Bible indicates that this spiritual realm also impacts the material realm, it is also a suggestion that God decrees blessing in every aspect of our lives.
“Every spiritual blessing in Christ”? Yes, everything that is good that can be considered as part of the outworking of Christ's work on the Cross, is for us! Perhaps a shorthand for this is the sense of Paul's rhetorical question in Romans 8 put as, “God is for us” (Rom 8:31). Yes, all of God's intents, attitudes, call them what you will, in respect of us, are GOOD. Be blessed! Praise Him!