I was meditating on Ephesians 1:3,
“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.”
Since Paul makes it clear that no spiritual blessing is lacking in the life of any believer, and since Paul also makes it plain that God is to be unceasingly worshipped because of the treasure he has bestowed on his people, it becomes clear we should know all we can about the spiritual blessings we have received.
But what is a spiritual blessing? And are spiritual blessings really valuable? It’s important to ask those questions, for I fear that many have concluded that they are not that valuable.
It might aid in our understanding if we contrast a spiritual blessing with a material blessing. Material blessings are well understood. They include wealth, health, safety, our families, our reputation, as well as our ability to exert legitimate power in the world that allows us to accomplish the goals that are dear to us. I conclude that if Ephesians had told us that in Christ, we have been blessed with every material blessing, most of us would be greatly encouraged. We would be motivated to bless God, for we would conclude that we would have all the wealth, health, family etc. that we so desperately want in this world. Indeed, as I think about my years as a pastor, and the hundreds of people I have prayed with over the years, almost all the prayer requests I have heard have been about the desire for God to give us more material blessings. We ask for prayer, because the doctor’s diagnostic tools have told us that we might have a malignant tumor. We ask for prayer because we might lose our jobs and our financial status is in jeopardy. We urgently ask that God might give us more material blessings, and we are profoundly grateful when he does.
But spiritual blessings, while biblical reason for our worship of God, are hardly a part of our thinking. Why is that? Is it that we truly don’t know what spiritual blessings we have received, nor are we aware how valuable they are?
Paul says that we have received these blessings in the heavenly places. And that too is important. If we were to ask and answer as to where our material blessings are, most of us could do it without any difficulty. Our financial blessings are in the bank or in our houses or in our investments or businesses. We know where they are. Our health blessings are in our bodies, our hearts, lungs, and other organs. But where are the heavenly places that house our often unthought of spiritual blessings?
Reading through Ephesians, we see that Paul uses the phrase, “heavenly places” five times. I will mention two other uses of that phrase. In 1:20, he mentions that Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly places. This is the place of rule, authority, power and dominion. But in 6:12, he mentions spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. The heavenly places are not just one place, but all those places where great spiritual power and authority are exercised, affecting life on earth.
Our spiritual blessings are located in the places of great spiritual power and authority. And what are those blessings? In the rest of Ephesians 1, Paul mentions some of them. They include our election from before the foundation of the world, as well as our adoption, our redemption, and the eternal inheritance that is ours.
And here is the ultimate contrast between material blessings and spiritual blessings: All material blessings will pass away and soon be no more. But the spiritual blessings are our eternal riches.
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