Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 4
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber explains ways in which we have been blessed and show why is God worthy to be praised.|
A Call to Praise
Would you turn with me to Ephesians 1:3. I want to entitle this “A Call to Praise”. Paul is writing to the faithful saints in Ephesus, and he with a call to praise. Verses 3-14 comprise one sentence. In those verses we have the picture of the church , how it was redeemed and the rewards for the church one day. The whole Trinity is involved. Let me give you a brief outline. Verses 3-6a look back to the past and speak of God the Father and our election. Verses 6b-11 look at the present and speak of Christ’s work on the cross, which affects our redemption. And verses 12-14 look to the future and speak of the work of the Holy Spirit and our inheritance that is to come. It is truly a call to praise.
People today are burdened down with self. Self-worth, self-acceptance, self-image. All these terms. I am sure you’ve heard that. People are looking for identity. They are looking for something, but they are looking in all the wrong places. What Paul is going to show us in Ephesians is a wonderful truth. As a matter of fact, God has to reveal it to your heart. This is the thing that so frustrates me as a preacher. I may convince you, but I cannot convict you. The Holy Spirit of God has got to turn the light on inside your life. That’s what Paul wants for these Ephesians. He wants for them all the self-worth, all the self-image, all the self-acceptance that is found in a right relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Paul wants the Ephesians to understand their position in Christ. That’s why you don’t jump to Ephesians 6, which deals with warfare. You start with Ephesians 1, which reveals to us through scripture who we are and whose we are in the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants the saints there at Ephesus, the faithful ones, to be enlightened.
If you’ll look at verse 18 of chapter 1, this really is the theme of that chapter. He says in 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart will 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.” To understand and to be enlightened he begins by a call to praise.
Verse 3 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.” Now there are three things that I want us to pull out of verse 3.
First of all, I want us to see the one who should be blessed.
Secondly, I want you to look at the ones who have been blessed.
And then thirdly, we want to look at the blessing that the blessed possess.
The One Who Should Be Blessed
Let’s begin by looking at the one who should be blessed. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now when you deal with the Trinity, it’ll blow your mind if you try to understand it. But if you ignore it you’ll miss salvation. We know that God is one God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He begins this call to praise by looking to the Father, the first person of the Trinity. And he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is obviously God the Father that begins our call to praise. In the phrase “blessed be”, notice in your translation the word “be”, the little word “be”, is in italics. This is what is known as a Hebrewism. In other words, it is bringing from one language to another. What the Hebrews would do is leave out the verb. And when the verb is left out it makes something that much more emphatic and that much more absolute. What Paul is saying here when he says, “blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is there should never be a time when He is not blessed. This is absolute. There’ll never be a time when He does not deserve our praise and does not deserve our blessing.
Let’s look at the term for “bless” there. There are three terms in verse 3. The first one found here is eulogetos. It comes from two Greek words, and draws a picture for us. The word eu, means well or good. The word lego, means to speak. So what Paul is saying here is God is worthy of our praise. The Father is worthy of our praise. Speak well of Him. To speak well of someone is to praise them. To say, “I bless you,Lord” is the same thing as to say, “I praise you Lord.” The Lord is worthy of our praise. The word “bless” there is an adjective, and it describes an attribute of God the Father. He is worthy of our praise.
We saw in verse 2 He is our Father. It says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But I want to share something with you. In this absolute sense that God the Father should eternally be praised, it is not because He is our Father, it is because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why He is eternally to be praised. Now this gets exciting. When you go back to the OT you see that phrase “Blessed be God” or “Blessed is God.” They refer to God as the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You see that all through the OT. And so the Hebrews would say “eternally is He to be blessed because He is the Father of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.” But we are of the new covenant, a better covenant. And we come before the Lord to praise Him, and we say, “Oh Father, we praise you. You are worthy to be praised. Not just because you’re the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but because you’re the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eternally is He to be blessed. Eternally is He to be praised.
The term “Father” to me is a very precious term because it has to do with the word which means creator, preserver, the governor of all life. But the word, as it talks about the Father, speaks of His loving-kindness and of the care of a Father. Why are we to praise the Father? Because He is the God of love. How do we know that? He’s the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Does it bother you sometimes when Jesus is called the Son of God? The Father, the Son. Now let’s be really honest. Do you ever think about the Son, that the word “son” somehow renders Jesus a little bit less than the Father? People are trying to figure out the Trinity. We can’t figure it all out. God the Father, God the Son. They’re equal.
Philippians 2:6 says of His equality, “who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” In other words, He did not have to steal identity with the Father. It was already there. He’s equal to the Father. The Son is equal to the Father. That’s so hard sometimes for my mind to comprehend. I accept it by faith. I do not fully grasp all of that. Yet He is equal to the Father. Then why is it He came to this earth and submitted to His Father? This is what’s difficult sometimes for some people to realize. Why is God the Father to be blessed for all eternity? Because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You mean that Jesus Christ came to this earth and literally submitted to His Father? Yes!
Look in Philippians 2:7. It says, “…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Maybe this could help some of the confusion. He has always been the Son of God. Always. He’s always been there. He came to earth to become the son of man. He took upon Himself a body. It was a perfect sinless body. He lived perfect and sinless on this earth and took our sin upon Himself, but is the God-man. He submitted to His Father, and that was the will of the Trinity so that the cross could be accomplished and man’s redemption could be purchased.
So we see a Father who is willing to send His Son into this world so that people that are no more worthy than we are of His grace. And we see the loving-kindness and the reason why for all eternity He deserves to be blessed. What father would send his son to die for people that are unworthy? Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father” not of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That should be an eternal worthiness that we understand of Him to be praised. If you want to praise, start with the Father. We’re going to deal with the Son and the Holy Spirit as we go through verse 14, but we are beginning with the Father.
The Ones Who Have Been Blessed
Secondly, let’s look at the ones who have been blessed. He says in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us”. Now we need to look at this to understand just a little bit of what’s going on. There are three different words for “blessed” as we said. Eulogetos is the adjective which modifies an attribute of God’s character. He is worthy to be blessed. But here is the verb eulogeo. It refers to the act of blessing, to act on one’s life on their behalf, to do good for them. Here eulogeo is an aorist active participle. Now this is what’s important. He has blessed us. What does that phrase mean? First of all, it’s in the aorist tense which means it’s already done. Aorist tense is completed action. How many times have we come before the Lord and said, “Oh God, will you bless us?” And Paul is saying, “Folks, that is the wrong thing to say. Come before Him and thank Him because He has already blessed us.” That’s aorist tense– completed action. The active voice means that the Father is the one that has done the blessing. That is why He deserves eternal praise. He has blessed us in Christ. If it were not for Christ none of the blessings would be there. And then thirdly, it is a participle. A participle is a verbal adjective. In other words, it simply describes what the subject has done. We’re speaking of the Father. What has the Father done? Why is He worthy of eternal praise? He is the Father of our Lord Jesus, and He has blessed us. He’s already blessed us. Here we see that God has spoken well of us. Now when we bless, we praise. But when God speaks He creates. And what He creates or what He does is good.
Now the one thing we want to ask ourselves is who is Paul writing to? Who is the “us”? He has blessed us. Look in verse 1. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints who are at Ephesus.” Now who is he writing to? He’s writing to the saints who have been cleansed by the blood, taken up out of the mire of sin, that have been set apart for His use. And he goes on to say, “the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Now, my mind is kind of inquisitive. And so I ask the question, “Do you mean He did not bless the believers who weren’t faithful in Christ Jesus?” Oh yes, He blessed them also. It is all resident in Christ Jesus. But why does he make it so imperative that you understand that these are the faithful saints in Ephesus? I think it’s this: If a person has not received the grace of God, then when you talk about His blessings it means nothing to them, nothing at all. But listen to this. When that person has been saved by the grace of God but is frustrating that grace and is not seeking after God and not living as God would have him to live, it also frustrates him, and he could care less about how he has been spiritually blessed.
When you find a Christian who has been blessed in Christ but is not seeking after Christ, he doesn’t want to hear about spiritual blessings. We’ll see that in a moment. He wants to know the material blessings and the other things. He has an external outlook. He does not have an internal outlook. And so Paul says, I am writing this to saints faithful in Christ Jesus. You’re the ones who are going to blessed by what I’m saying. You’re the ones who will end up praising the Father because you’re the ones who are seeking after the right things.
Many, many times in my life people have come to me and tried to share with me what God has done for me. But if I’m not seeking after the Lord, if I’m not living after Him and don’t have a heart for Him, then it means nothing if it is not something I can see, touch, or feel. But brother, when you start seeking after Him and start learning of the blessings God has given to you, that is when it does something to radically change your life. That’s when all of a sudden truth begins to be received, and that’s when we begin to be set free in our walk. When we’re down and looking up that’s when the blessings begin to mean something to us.
So the ones who have been blessed are saints, beloved of God. They are the delightful saints, the ones who are seeking after Him, the ones that are faithful in Christ Jesus in Ephesus. He wants them to know about the blessings that God has given already in Christ to all of us. You know, as we go through this one of the prayers that I have is exactly what Paul prayed. I just pray that God will turn a light on inside of you to let you see what has already been done for you in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s already there, folks. It doesn’t have to come, it’s not something you have to ask for. It has already happened. We’ve got to learn to appropriate what God has already done.
If you’re attending a church and you’re saying to yourself, “People here are just not friendly. They don’t pay any attention to me. I am going to go someplace else,” then you can go from church to church to church to church to church and not find what you’re looking for. But if you’ll come to Christ, come into the Word of God, you’ll realize you have everything you’re looking for, It’s wrapped up in Jesus Christ. It’s spiritual, and it’s already been given to those who seek after him. It will radically transform your life. That’s the key.
We don’t seem to understand that coming to church, to the organization, or to the programs means little in eternity. What I’m trying to get you to is a person, a person. It’s in Him that you have every spiritual blessing on this earth.
Who are the ones who have been blessed? The saints. Who are the ones who appreciate that message? The faithful ones in Christ Jesus. If you’re not faithful, you’re not seeking after Him. I don’t mean perfect, but if you’re not seeking after that which God offers then this means little to you because you’re saying, “It doesn’t pay my bills.” And you’re looking at it externally, and you’re overlooking what is internal in your life.
There are a lot of Christians still trying to get what they already have. They are chasing after something they already have. Like Manly Beasley said, “We’re trying to get into a room we’re already in.” He has already blessed us, and Paul says, “Praise the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has already given us the blessings in Him.” When you understand what God’s done for you, one of these days it’s going to make you stand up and shout.
The Blessings that the Blessed Possess
Thirdly, and finally, let’s look at the blessings that the blessed possess. “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.” Every spiritual blessing. Now if this is God’s Word, it’s God’s Word, and it ought to become a standard for all of us. Look at this. Take it apart. The word “every”, pas, in the Greek, means each and every one and then the whole of it when you finally see it. Now I don’t see the whole blessing of God right now. But I know that I have it all in Christ Jesus. In other words, not one single blessing has been left out. It’s already been given me in Christ Jesus. Now let me ask you a question. People come up to you and they say, “Oh brother, have you had the second blessing?” What does God say? You have every, every blessing in Christ. Maybe it hasn’t hit you yet what you got when you got the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t need the second. I don’t need the third. I got them all, resident in Him. Why should I be seeking it anywhere else, in an experience or someplace else? It’s in Him, and that becomes very important to us in just a moment.
Let’s move on in the verse. “With every spiritual blessing”. Now that’s why he writes to the faithful ones. Like I said, they enjoy this, but people who aren’t spiritual or seeking after God could care less because they are looking for the external blessings of this world. “Spiritual,” pneumotikos, refers to that which is communicated or imparted by the Holy Spirit of God. “You mean I already have that?” You already have that, not so much in realization, but you have it in the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, “every spiritual blessing.” Now here’s the third word for blessing in this verse. They are all in the same family. Eulogetos is the word that is an adjective which we saw first. “Blessed be the God and Father.. .who has blessed us,” That is eulogeo. And now it’s eulogia, “with every spiritual blessing” The word here means a favor, a gift. But I think there are two better meanings. One is benefit. When you think of a blessing, a favor, you think of something that is beneficial. But not only beneficial, there’s another meaning for the word that is translated that way: the advantage, spiritual advantage. Every spiritual advantage and benefit is ours in Christ Jesus. We’re in a spiritual war, as we’re going to see in Chapter 6. What does this tell you? Before you ever get to that war, you’ve got every spiritual advantage and benefit that is resident in Christ Jesus. “With every spiritual blessing.”
Now look at this. Where are they located? “In the heavenly places.” That means in the heavenlies. The Greek word is epouranios, which refers to that which pertains to heaven. The antonym tells you more than actually the word itself because the antonym shows you what it’s not. Many times you learn what something is by seeing what it’s not. The antonym is epigeios, which pertains to earthly things. Here Paul just backs it up one more time. He didn’t give us every material blessing in Christ. That’s the old covenant. That’s Israel. They had land. They had health, all these things. But that ends. That’s temporary. He gave us every spiritual blessing. And where do they reside? They reside in the heavenlies. These benefits, these advantages are not something that are earthly. These benefits, these advantages are of something that is heavenly.
Now where? “In Christ.” Christ is the anointed name, the Messiah name, the resurrection name. It’s in Christ. Implied in that is what He had to do before these blessings could ever be ours and how we had to respond before He could be in our life. And now resident in Him are those blessings. If I am not walking in cooperation with Him I have no realization of what’s mine that is resident in Him. In other words, it has to be a life of seeking and obedience before realizing these things become real to me in my daily walk, moment by moment. He says there are spiritual blessings resident in the heavenlies and in Christ. And it has everything to do with that which is internal and eternal. Material or physical or tangible things are thrown in. That’s in addition. But what He promises here is what is spiritual.
What is so great about having spiritual blessings as opposed to material blessings? I’ve thought about this. Why is it so wonderful that He has given us these spiritual blessings? First of all, they never change. What does that mean? Well, anything tangible, anything material or physical changes because your needs change.
Years ago in my life to get a brand new basketball would have been a great blessing. When I grew up we had hand-me-down [used] basketballs from some neighborhood kid. I had a basketball goal on a tree outside, but it was a blessing to get a basketball. I would have said to you, “I have been blessed. I got a basketball.” But that was years ago. You can give me a brand new basketball, but something changed about me. That’s not as big a blessing as it used to be. That’s the way tangible things are. That’s how material things are. They change. But spiritual blessings never change. Nor does our need for them change.
Look at verse 7 of Ephesians 1. He’s going to give us a list of these blessings. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.” That’s why when somebody comes and says, “I want my marriage back together,” that’s not the blessing you’re looking for. What you’re looking for is the grace to deal with the sin that got the marriage in the problem to begin with. The mercy and those things are eternal, they never change. But your marriage is always subject to change. What you’re really looking for is to know that you are back right with God when you’ve made mistakes and failures in your life. That’s what He gives us in Christ Jesus. That’s what the world is starving for. Our government and the secular world are trying to meet needs with tangible things. You can’t do it. God has promised us spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And that’s the basic of needs of all mankind. They never change.
Secondly, they are not subject to time or space. They operate in the sphere of heaven where God is. He oversees them. I love that. He makes sure to it. He is the divine administrator of all these things. There’s the presence of God.
Thirdly, their source is Christ. That tells me that they are pure. They’re perfect. They’re exactly what I need. That’s what spiritual blessings are. You can’t buy something that is material that fits your need. But that which is spiritual is perfect because it’s perfect and pure.
Fourthly, they’re free. What collateral could a man give for spiritual blessings? We can never earn them.
Fifthly, they are gracious. Man is never worthy to receive them. This is the beautiful thing. Let me show you something, will you? If you’re discouraged, you’ve failed, you’ve blown your life away, your blessings are still in Christ Jesus. What you have done since then doesn’t make any difference. If you’ll come back to Him and bow to Him, those blessings are yours right now if you want. That’s the beautiful thing about what he’s saying here. It’s not as if you can fail and miss out on the blessings. Well maybe in realization, but they’re still all yours, resident in Christ.
I don’t know how many times I have had to speak maybe just a few hours after I have done something horrific in what I have said or thought. Sometimes I have said things to my wife or to my son or to my daughter or somebody else in this world, fleshly, carnal thoughts or words, and had to stand up and preach. I tell you what it will do to you in a hurry. It will teach you these gifts are gracious, and when I come and confess my sin immediately the joy can be restored because it’s already there. Now there are certain things I must do sometimes to come to Him to repent and receive the cleansing. I understand that. But it hasn’t taken away from a single blessing. They’ve already been given, and they’re in Christ Jesus. And the moment I am ready to come back to Him and humble myself before Him, that’s the very moment I begin to realize that which He has already given me in Christ Jesus.
I was home with my mother when she had leukemia, for a week years ago when she died. My sister lived there in the same city. I was just the world’s worse person to be with that week. I was not nice at all to my sister. She had a lot of problems, but I didn’t take that into consideration. She hadn’t visited my mother every day, hadn’t stayed with her, and I was just down on her. And every time she would say something I would cut her short.
That’s not like me, but at the same time that’s what my flesh is like.
At the end of that week I left, got on the plane, sick of the whole mess. I got into Atlanta, and as I was sitting there God began to move over me. I began to feel the conviction of what I had done. But you know, right on top of conviction sometimes the devil turns it into condemnation. And it was just like he was walking up in front of me and saying, “You louse, you sorry rat.” It was a Saturday. “You’re going to preach tomorrow. You louse. You realize what you’ve done all week long. You louse. You don’t hold the truth. You don’t live the truth.” And the devil was just accusing me and accusing me.
As I sat there tears welled up in my eyes. I don’t know how God speaks to you when you sin, but I’ve got to do something. I mean it just makes me feel like I’ve been kicked right in my chest. I’ve got to do something to get it right, and I didn’t know what. As I was sitting there a verse came to me. It was that verse that says, “in that while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you.” I began to realize God loved me in spite of what I had done, and everything that had been given me in Christ Jesus was still there. The problem was I had walked away from it. And if I would just come right back and confess, be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, repent of my attitude, surrender and open my arms back to Him, everything that had been given would still there. Nothing is taken away, and all the blessings are still resident in Him.
I don’t know if that says anything to you or not. Material blessings aren’t that way. Spiritual blessings are that way. They are resident in Christ Jesus. Everything you have is in a person, and His name is Jesus. And if you’ll come to Him and bow down to Him, you’re going to start realizing inwardly what you’ve been looking for all along. The key is that repentant heart. When you are ready to bow, at that very moment, you become accessible to the things that are yours in Christ Jesus. They’re all available, as Paul says in the verse, in Christ. The problem with most of us is, we look for it in everything except where it is found.
Sometimes I go home and say, “How did the message go?” I love it when she says, “AH, that was great!” That’s all I need. I don’t need it from anyone else, just from my wife. I know she will tell me the truth. Some days I go home and I ask, “How did it go?” She’ll talk about the weather, other things. It doesn’t take me long to figure out what’s going on. And I’ll say, “It didn’t go across too good, did it?” She’ll say, “Wayne, let me ask you a question. Do you get your acceptance out of how well you preach or do you find it in simply pleasing the Lord Jesus?” She told me one day, “You know, sometimes I might have been in a mood in which I wasn’t ready to hear it. So you shouldn’t have asked me. Ask Him, and if you pleased Him that’s where your acceptance is to start with. It’s not with other people.”
Oh folks, if we could just see that. “Praise the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.” Spiritual things, that’s what we’re looking for because we’re spiritual people. And if we don’t have our needs met spiritually in Christ, they’ll never be met anywhere else. That’s the key.