When sharing the gospel, it is tempting to emphasize the “blessings” that come from being a Christian — we want to emphasize things like, “God will make your marriage better,” or “you’ll be a better parent and have better children,” or “God will provide everything you need — you’ll never lack for anything” (which is too often interpreted as, “you’ll be rich and have everything you want and need physically).
It is true that God provides physically for His children and that He gives wisdom for living including for all relationships. But God’s great gift to His children is Himself. And in giving Himself, He gives spiritual benefits that far surpass anything physical a believer might want. This is Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 1 — “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…” (Eph 1:3).
Notice the following realities about the spiritual blessings the believer has from God.
His blessing is complete. He has blessed. That is, it is not just that He is blessing believers or that He will bless believers, but that He has (completely) blessed them with every spiritual blessing. It’s completed action.
His blessing is comprehensive. He has given every spiritual blessing. He gives common blessing to all men (life, breath, rain, sun…), but He gives spiritual blessings only to those who are His — these are particular for believers only. And they are infinitely extensive — these verses reveal that He has provided us with —
- election and adoption (vv. 3-6)
- redemption /forgiveness (vv. 7-8)
- revelation (vv. 9-11)
- redeemer (vv. 11-12)
- sealing of the Spirit (v. 13)
- eternal spiritual inheritance (v. 14)
- And as if that is not enough, notice the promise of Eph. 2:7 — for all eternity He will continually unfold the riches of His kindness toward us through the provision of Christ, and never run out of demonstrations of His grace!
His final blessing has commenced. The blessings are in the heavenly places. That is, the blessings originate from and reside in heaven (i.e., they come from God) and are granted to us — they come down from heaven to earth. This infers our home is not here and the blessings we seek are there, not here. Our citizenship is in heaven and our anticipation is eternal and our strength is Spirit-given (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-2).
But the blessings belong to us now as well (notice that Paul says, has blessed). They are all that the follower of Christ needs for his spiritual well-being. I.e., to be saved is actually to have a bit of heaven on earth! This is a reminder that all we will need to dwell in heaven and enjoy God He has already granted to us. Eternity really has started already.
His blessing is in Christ. The only means of enjoying these truths are through the person of the eternal God-Man, Jesus Christ. The phrase in Christ refers to the relationship a believer has with Christ — it infers fellowship that is the result of the work of Christ on the cross to redeem sinful men. They are redeemed from sin so they have the ability to see Him (and not suffer judgment). The believer is sanctified progressively from sin so he has a capacity to enjoy Christ. The believer is in Him, united to Him, alongside Him, bonded to Him and related to Him. Nothing a believer has is without Him. Everything a believer has is directly because of Him.
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted, “If you leave out the ‘in Christ,’ you will never have any blessings at all.…Every blessing we enjoy as Christian people comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This verse is the introductory statement and theme of an extended delight and exultation in gospel. It is a reminder that the gospel is the means by which we come to Christ and the means by which we stay in Christ and enjoy Christ. The gospel is not just what we need to come to be saved; it is our very life. It is the sum and substance of all that we will ever be spiritually.