Much of the New Testament speaks to the blessings of God’s divine goodness and mercy. When God is in covenant He blesses those who are His in a uniquely different fashion.
Instead of the everyday blessing such as are fitting in His providential care of all humanity (Matthew 5.44-45), to those who are His through Christ there are extended “every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1.3).
Let us consider some of these particular blessings as developed in the Ephesian letter which are uniquely given to the Christian.
The Blessing of Consecration
In Ephesians 1.4, Paul describes that kind of people that God chose to be his, those who would be “in him” (i.e., in Christ). As a consequence of being united with Christ we experience the working of God to be made “holy and without blemish.”
These two terms showcase an important implication of union with Christ: in coming in contact with the redemptive Christ, His holiness and purity has been transferred to us.
This may seem to be a difficult concept to accept, but there is biblical precedent. In Exodus 29.37 the statement is made that “whatever touches the altar shall become holy” (cf. Leviticus 6.18). This is in keeping with atonement.
In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the “propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2.2), which reflects the fact that Jesus “is the personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner.”
Union with Christ, and his holiness, implies that we have been identified with a righteousness that is not our own (Philippians 3.8-9).
The Blessing of Adoption of Sons
In Ephesians 1.5, the apostle continues to enumerate another blessing which comes
from union with Christ (i.e., “in Christ”). Paul declares God intended that through Christ the Christian has been included into the “family” of God.
Adoption implies a change of relationship; in fact, “sonship” is extended and forged in Christ. The apostle uses this language in critical moments to establish the intimate union with the Heavenly Father through Christ.
In Galatians 4.5-6, he speaks of redemption. This is not simply a matter of emancipation, it is the act to incorporate an outsider and make them an intimate member of the family with all the rights with which such an effort comes.
As a result of being integrated into the family of God, fear of spiritual slavery is removed by “the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (ESV). Christians have membership in the family of God.
The Blessing of Being Sealed with the Holy Spirit
In Ephesians 1.13-14, the Apostle stresses the blessing of God’s faithfulness by using the language of “seals” and “pledges” used to mark that Christians are His.
The words of a Stevie Wonder song, “signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours” would be right in keeping with the words of these verses.
Much discussion has been brought to the nature of the Holy Spirit as this seal and pledge, but it seems that the best way to appreciate the language is in the following view:
The Holy Spirit is metaphorically the anointing (1 John 2.26f.), the sealing, and the first installment of eternal life. Full payment is made in the resurrection of life and consummated at the” coming of Christ.
God dwells with the Christian, and this is an exclusive blessing which demonstrates the Lord’s faithfulness. This blessing was extended to us in order to stress that we are under the Lord’s protection.
Forgiveness is a vast subject and is the result of the atonement made on behalf of sin. The Bible develops a rich concept of all that is needed to experience forgiveness, and it also outlines tremendous blessings.
And while we have not exhaustively considered the subject of forgiveness, enough of the concept has been surveyed to appreciate the blessing forgiveness actually is and the blessings which are available to the Christian.
Consecration, “sonship”, and the faithfulness of God’s provision to keep us in His care are all tremendous blessings owing to our union with Christ.
They should make any curious soul searching for God, move towards union with His Son in immersion so that they may realize “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1.3).
- William E. Vine, et al., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson, 1986), 2.494.
- George Goldman, “The Spirit Within: A Seal and Guarantee – Ephesians 1.13-14; 3.16” in Exalting Christ in the Church: Unsearchable Riches in Ephesians and Colossians, edited by David L. Lipe (Henderson, Tenn.: Freed-Hardeman University, 2002), 129.
- Bruce Morton, Deceiving Winds: Christians Navigating the Storm of Mysticism, Leadership Struggles and Sensational Worship (Nashville, Tenn.: 21st Century Christian, 2009), 22. Morton has an excellent discussion on this section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, explaining rather well the background of the seal common to this part of the ancient world (pp. 21-25).