What We Believe: Foundations
Ephesians 1: 3–10
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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
We’ve been looking at the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, and we’ve been using the outline of the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest summary of biblical doctrine, to do it. When you get to our topic for today, salvation … It says, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting.” That’s salvation.
Where do you go in the Bible to talk about salvation? It seems like the Bible is all about salvation.
What I’ve decided to do is take this text, which, by the way, in the original Greek was one sentence. This is one long sentence.
Therefore, what I’m going to do here is do a survey of all that the Bible says about salvation in Jesus Christ, which is right here in this text. It doesn’t go into any detail at all and, therefore, I won’t go into much detail. I will simply, in a sense, give you the comprehensive view.
You say, “Well, it doesn’t say the word salvation anywhere. What makes you say this is about salvation?” It says, “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,…” Every spiritual blessing. Then Paul goes on to talk about every spiritual blessing. That’s salvation. Salvation is multidimensional. Christian salvation is all sorts of blessings.
So let’s take a look at every spiritual blessing. Let’s take a look at this powerful salvation. We’re going to learn
how we get every spiritual blessing,
what those spiritual blessings are,
why we can have those spiritual blessings, and
how to know whether you have them.
How we get them, what they are, why we can get them, and how to know if you have them.
How We Get Every Spiritual Blessing
How does every spiritual blessing come? It comes in him. Look at how often it’s said.
In verse 3 it says we get every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Then in verse 4, “He chose us in him.”
Then down in verse 7 it says, “In him we have redemption.”
In verse 6 it says, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
So we get grace in him.
We get redemption in him.
We get every spiritual blessing in him.
If you have Jesus, you have every spiritual blessing.
If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have anything. It comes in him.
In other words, to become a Christian is to be united to Jesus Christ. You’re united to him, and all the blessings come with him. All of them. Once you have him, you have everything.
The best example we have of this is marriage. First of all, legally. Here’s how the illustration goes. Here are two people. They’re not married, but they’re thinking about it.
One of them is poor. One of them has had a pretty messed-up life. One of them has nothing, and the other one has done everything right, made every right move, has worked incredibly hard, and is rich. So you have one person who’s rich and one person who’s poor. If they get married (and this has been the case for centuries and centuries across all of the various cultures) … If a rich person marries a poor person, they share the wealth.
The poor person may not have deserved any of it. The rich person has worked hard to earn it all. But when they get married, they share that wealth. So the poor spouse receives with the rich spouse the riches of the spouse.
The Bible simply says everything Jesus Christ has … When you’re united with him by faith, when you believe in him, when you give yourself to him, everything he has comes to you. You’re united with him legally.
Romans 6 says we’re united with him in his death and in his resurrection. What does it mean to be united with him in his death and in his resurrection? Well, on the one hand, why did he die on the cross? He died on the cross for sin. He died to pay the penalty for sin. Do you know what this means?
In your town, wherever it is, if there’s a stop sign law, you have to stop at the stop sign. If you go through the stop sign, now you’re guilty and you have to pay the fine. Whatever that fine is, when you pay the fine, the law has no more claim over you. None. To be united with Jesus Christ in his death means that you are as free from guilt and condemnation as if you died for the sin. If you’ve done something really wrong but you’re united with Christ, you are as free from condemnation as if you died for that. It has all been paid.
Then it says we’re united with him in his resurrection. What is his resurrection? How can we be united with him in his resurrection? We’re still mortal here. What that means is Jesus’ resurrection was his reward. It was reward for his service. It was reward for all that he did. It was his vindication. It was his triumph.
What this means is that all of the things Jesus Christ deserves for everything he has done, all his honors … When you’re united with him, they’re yours. God treats you as if you deserve all of the things he has achieved.
When you become a Christian, no matter who you are or what you are in yourself, no matter what your record is, all of Jesus’ awards are pinned to your chest, and the whole world salutes, and the Father loves you and accepts you and honors you.
Second Peter, chapter 1, verses 3–4, have one of the most amazing statements in the entire Bible. It says that we have everything we need for life and godliness, because we’ve been made partakers of the divine nature. It means that when you become a Christian, united with Christ, you’re united to him not just legally, but his Spirit comes into you. That means, as it were, the genetic material, spiritually speaking, of God comes into you.
All the rest of your life … Just like your physical life is basically just the outworking of the biological DNA that’s put into you at the beginning, so the rest of your spiritual life is the outworking of this new genetic material that has been put in you, the very lifeblood of God, as it were, the divine nature. To say that when you become a Christian you’re united to not only him legally but also united to him vitally and you have his Spirit and you have divine nature in you.
God’s very Spirit in you, his nature in you …
There is no wound in you that can’t be healed.
There is no brokenness that can’t be repaired, and
there’s not a single binding habit from which you cannot be liberated.
In other words, when you’re united with Christ, all spiritual blessings are yours. Either in embryonic, budding or developing form or in full-blown form, it’s all yours.
In him. In Him we get every spiritual blessing.
2. What they are.
What are some of those blessings? He mentions three of them. Let’s just talk about what those three are. There are certainly more. Every spiritual blessing. There are many aspects to salvation, but here are three.
One of them is in verse 5: adoption.
One of them is in verse 7: redemption.
One of them is at the very end in verse 10: consummation.
Let me explain.
First of all, adoption. What does that mean?
In ancient times, when Paul was writing, people generally didn’t adopt little children to raise them the way we do today. When you hear adoption, you’re thinking of something probably a little different than what Paul was talking about when he used the term adoption. Generally, people adopted children not because they wanted to raise children but because they wanted an heir.
See, a man who was lord of an estate did not have an heir. There was no one to inherit it. So he would adopt someone (maybe a child, but more often an adult) and that person would now be the heir. What’s so radical about what Paul is saying … He’s looking at Christians and saying, “We, us …”
Who’s that? Men and women. Back in those days, women were never adopted. They weren’t chosen to be heirs. Only men were chosen to be heirs.
Here’s what Paul is saying. In Christ, men and women, slave and free, Jew and Gentile are all equal heirs of every spiritual blessing. Of course, to be adopted means the person who adopts you is no longer your boss but your father, which is access, intimacy, security. You don’t get fired by your father. So there’s security and access and inheritance and also a name, identity. When you’re adopted you get a new name. That’s who you are. You might have thought you were this or that. It doesn’t matter. This is your name now. You might have had a dishonorable name. Now you have an honorable name.
Next redemption. What do you think redemption means?
I’ll just tell you the root meaning of the word redemption in the Bible. Adoption is one thing. Redemption is another thing. Redemption means we’re all slaves.
How are we all slaves? Well, you have to live for something. You say, “I don’t know if I believe in God.” Well, you’re living for something. There’s something that makes your life meaningful. “I’m living for my children. I’m living for my career. I’m living to make a difference.” Fine. But I want you to realize that whatever you’re living for is your master, and the only master that doesn’t enslave you, according to the Bible, is God.
The Lord is the only master who dies for your sins. Your career will not die for your sins, and your children won’t die for your sins. You’d better not make them. Anything else that you live for is going to drive you, is going to enslave you. You have to be careful.
I’m a Pastor, so I’m doing ministry. I’m preaching. Why am I preaching? Well, I’m preaching to serve God and to help you. Right? Or I could be preaching so I can feel that I’m a worthwhile person, so I can feel successful, so I can say, “Look at all of the people I’m helping.”
In that case, my preaching becomes a master, and I’m serving the preaching, and the preaching is not serving you. That means anything, even stuff like preaching, can become a master. If God is not the absolute center of your life, and if he’s not the root of your salvation … I’ll put it another way. If you have any identity other than that you’re his child … Until you’re adopted, you’re enslaved, because your name, your identity, is coming from something, and whatever that is is going to drive you. It’s going to enslave you.
Finally, resurrection, or you could also call it consummation. In fact, it’s more than resurrection. Verse 10: “… as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth..” The promise is that eventually God is going to put an end to all suffering and evil. He’s going to make the world new, and he’s going to get rid of death.
When it says “to unite all things” what he means is everything is falling apart. Things fall apart. That’s true at every level. Law of thermodynamics. Things are falling apart. What is death? Things that were cohering in your body fall apart. What is war? What is racism? What is poverty? Things that should be together are being split apart.
So those are the blessings. How do we receive them? In Christ. What are the blessings? There are a few.
3. Why we can get them.
It tells you in verse 7. “We have redemption in his blood.” Here’s why we can have spiritual blessings. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, he died in our place. What does that mean? Every time Jesus Christ ever addressed God, he called him “Father,” except when he was on the cross he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It’s almost like Jesus Christ lost his sonship so you and I could be adopted and brought in.
Jesus Christ was bound and nailed so we could be redeemed and liberated.
Jesus Christ was put to death so we could have life everlasting.
Through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, all of these things can be yours. So why? Because of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for your sins. When you accept what he has done and rest in what he has done and ask God the Father to accept you because of what he has done, you’re united, and they all come.
4. How to know if you have them.
How do you know you have received these? How do you know you’ve had every spiritual blessing?
I think the answer is that grace becomes glorious to you. Do you notice verse 6?
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
All of this is to the praise of his glorious grace. Is that the theme of your life? Do you find grace glorious?
What do I mean by “grace glorious”? Glorious means beautiful. If you find something beautiful, you just can’t get enough of it. If you find a certain kind of music glorious, you play it over and over again until your family is sick of it. It touches your aesthetic center, so you listen to it.
Or it could be a painting or it could be a book or it could be a passage of something. Here’s the thing. Once you realize Jesus Christ died for you, he gave his life for you to save you.
If grace is glorious to you, it lifts you up. It touches your aesthetic center. Everywhere you see substitutionary atonement, it’s the most beautiful thought in the world.
Is it to you? Is this the ground note of your life, the glory of grace? Does it give you this eternal sense of humor about yourself, so you can never take yourself that seriously again because you know you’re saved by grace? There’s no “of course” about you anymore. That’s a sign that you have every spiritual blessing given to you in Jesus Christ.
Our Father, thank you for showing us how multifarious, rich, astonishing our salvation is. Every spiritual blessing. How we ask that you would give us that sense of richness and that sense of joy and even the sense of humor, not taking ourselves very seriously ever again, that should all come from understanding “our salvation. Please, Lord, let us live into our redemption so we’re not bound by anxieties and fears.
Let us live into your grace so that we find our lives sweetened by the knowledge of that. Let us live into our adoption. Let us live into these things. Let us live in the hope of the resurrection so we don’t fear death anymore. Father, we pray that you would help us to appropriate the greatness of life that should come from knowing our salvation as it is in Jesus Christ. It’s in Jesus’ name we ask it, amen.