The Greatest Blessing of All (Ephesians 1:3-14)Nov 22, 2022
What is the greatest blessing God has ever given you? What is the best thing God has ever done in your life? Usually people tend to answer this question by remembering some material, physical blessing, some healing, some miracle, some problem that was solved.
However, the Bible teaches us that the greatest blessing God has ever given us is spiritual and not material. The apostle Paul says that God blesses us with all kinds of spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1:3-14:
(v.3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
What blessings are these? Following the order and structure of Ephesians 1, we can affirm that Paul speaks of a threefold blessing. Three aspects of this spiritual blessings: the election of the Father (v.4-6); the redemption of the Son (v.7-12); and the seal of the Holy Spirit (v.13-14).
Let’s see each aspect of this spiritual blessings separately:
1 - ELECTION OF THE FATHER (Eph. 1:4-6)
“He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
This is a doctrine that is poorly understood by many Christians. There are Christians who don’t even like to talk about predestination, there are people who are angry with this doctrine of election. And I believe that this doctrine is so misunderstood and poorly loved because it messes with something very precious to us all: our pride. The doctrine of election removes the control we think we have over our own life and salvation. We like to think that we are the agents of our salvation; that we are worthy of our salvation; that we have won our own salvation.
See the words of Paul here:
(v.4): “he chose us in him before the creation of the world.”
(v.5): “he predestined us…”
(v.6): “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
The doctrine of election talks about the choice of the sovereign God the Father of those who will be saved in Christ Jesus. This choice does not depend on our merits. God chooses us regardless of our future actions. God the Father chooses, elects and predestines people, not based on our merits or works, but freely, by his own grace, based on the merits of Christ, before the foundation of the world.
Salvation is not by works, we are not worthy of such a great favor, we do not deserve it, because we sin, we choose to sin, we turn our backs on God.
In v.5 the Bible says that God predestined us “in accordance with his pleasure and will”. The significance of this is that our election is based on God’s pleasure and will and not on something good that he saw in us. It was God alone who chose us, for his own glory. That is why we should not look for reasons in us to say: “This is why God chose me! I'm not that bad ...” or “I help people, that’s why I was chosen ...”
No! It is not our works that make us acceptable to God. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that because of our sin, the distance between us and God is so great that we are not able to save ourselves or even prepare ourselves for salvation. It is only by the will of God and not by our actions. Salvation is by grace and not by merit.
Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God says in John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit.”
The doctrine of election shows the great love of God in saving poor sinners like us. This understanding of God’s sovereignty is a refuge in the dark days, in those moments when we feel alone and hurt. How great is God’s love for us, who loved us when there was nothing lovely in us and chose us while we were still dead in our sins. What a great love! What a marvelous grace!
May this understanding fill our hearts with fear and love for our heavenly Father! Let us not try to find reasons in us for our salvation but let us look to God as the author and finisher of our salvation, and may we rest in God’s sovereign election!
2 - THE REDEMPTION OF THE SON (Eph. 1:7-12)
“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 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
The second aspect of the spiritual blessing that was given to us is REDEMPTION IN THE SON. In the New Testament, redemption is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity. We were slaves to sin. We lived according to our own pleasures; we followed the course of this worldly system (Eph. 2.1-3). Miserable, poor and sinners. Our condition without God was terrible. As slaves to sin, we were not worthy of anything. We were spiritually dead.
Through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, the price of our ransom was paid. On the cross Christ redeemed us, he bought us and freed us from all types of slavery. God, in his infinite grace and mercy, sends his Son to die for his people, for his chosen ones, to free us from the bondage of sin.
It was God the Father himself who determined the death of the Son, the death of Jesus. Our redemption and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was a divine plan. It was the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.
On that cross, according to the divine plan, the price was paid, and the price was the life of the Son of God. The price was paid so that we might be freed from the guilt of sin, that we might be reconciled to the Father, who chose us before the foundation of the world.
On the cross, all our debt to God was paid off, all our sin was forgiven, and our salvation was won. It is not we who have won our eternal salvation, it is Christ who has won it on the cross when he cried out “It is finished”!
At the cross, all human pride falls to the ground. No human work is enough to stand us up before God. Christ Jesus alone is sufficient. In him (in Christ) our election is confirmed, and our redemption is won.
Look at Christ and not yourself! If you look at your deeds, your works, you will have an illusion about salvation. We fall into idolatry when we focus too much on our own efforts and not on Christ Jesus. Look at the cross of Christ and rejoice in the great redemption that he has provided for us.
3 - THE SEAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Eph. 1:13-14)
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The third aspect of the spiritual blessing is the seal of the Holy Spirit. When we believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
A seal had at least two main purposes:
a) Authenticate something as genuine and true;
b) Mark someone’s property (show to whom you belong to).
The moment we believe in the gospel, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This indicates that we are, in fact, children of God by adoption and that we will be with Him forever. It is like a guarantee that God gives us!
When we believe in the gospel, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This indicates that we truly belong to God. We are the exclusive property of the Lord.
God elects us. Jesus Christ bought us with his blood shed on the cross. And now we have the seal of the Holy Spirit. The salvation we have in him is eternal, it is something that lasts forever. We can’t lose it.
Those who have been called by God, repented of their sins and have placed their faith in Christ’s sacrifice, are sealed with the Holy Spirit for eternal salvation.
This is the greatest of all blessings that God could give us. This threefold spiritual blessing should bring rest to our souls.
Paul’s attitude towards these truths is one of gratitude and worship. That is how he begins his letter:
“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.” (v.3).
May these truths of the election of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the seal of the Holy Spirit (everything that involves our salvation), bring us to our knees in gratitude and worship.
Embrace these doctrines; see in these truths the love and grace of God that reaches us, despite ourselves.
Pastor Thiago Silva