SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#1 EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING

Paul commences his message to the Christians in Ephesus with a statement of exultant praise to God:

'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' [1:3].

This verse, which summarizes all that Paul is about to say in his first three chapters,  is rich in meaning. It also establishes clear boundaries within which we are to understand salvation.

The first boundary excludes that kind of  teaching that proposes a division between God the Father and Jesus the Son,  making the Father intent on judgment and the Son intent on salvation. It is, Paul says, God the Father who has blessed us with this total salvation in Christ the Son.

The second boundary excludes physical blessings from the salvation given us in Christ. Paul clearly defines salvation as 'every spiritual blessing'. This forbids us to expect or to teach that Christians should be healthy and wealthy, or to teach that physical healing is in the atonement. This also outlaws any anticipation of political or national blessedness as part of the heritage obtained in or through the Christ.

The third boundary is in the word 'every'. This word outlaws the teaching that there are spiritual blessings beyond and beside Jesus Christ - that to get saved is one blessing, but that there are spiritual blessings to be sought and obtained additional to salvation. Rather, Paul states, we have been given 'every spiritual blessing' in Christ.

The fourth boundary is established in the phrase 'in Christ'. This concept, which we will meet many times in this letter, removes for ever any thought that we ourselves have earned, merited or in any way deserved these blessings. They are given to us 'in Christ'. Whoever has received Jesus Christ, has also, in him, received every spiritual blessing. Whoever has not acknowledged Jesus Christ, simply does not have any spiritual blessing because they do not have Christ.

The fifth boundary is not as clear in the NIV translation as it is in the Greek text. The words 'in the heavenly realm' refer to the origin of these blessings. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer us. They are not earthly spiritual blessings. They are blessings that originate from God, and are therefore, as Peter says in his first letter, incorruptible and indestructible [1 Peter 1:3-5]. Every spiritual blessing that God [=heaven] has for us, is already ours in Christ.

The final boundary is in the verb 'has blessed'. It is past tense. [Aorist in the Greek - a one-off, definitive action in the past.] It's already done. God has, in a decisive way at at point of time in the past, blessed us with every spiritual blessing. If we do not feel blessed, that is simply our feeling - God's fact is that he has already blessed us. Even if we are ignorant of these blessings, still they are already ours.

When we move beyond these boundaries and try to explain Christian salvation in terms forbidden by these boundaries we reduce this amazing blessedness to something incredibly different, an imperfect, impotent, incomplete, and insecure salvation that depends largely on our own personal endeavours and not on God.

Let us all examine ourselves and repent of any perceptions outlawed by this powerful statement of Ephesians 1:3.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017