There is a phrase that I use quite frequently in my preaching, writing, and praying before services. In some form or fashion I often say that the Christian life is a quest to enjoy what Christ has already purchased. I doubt that the phrase is original with me (so little is original with me—that’s why I say that). However, I thought it may be wise to show where I get this notion from Scripture.
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with two really long run-on sentences (v3-14 and 15-23). In 1:3-14 Paul outlines the “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” that are ours in Christ Jesus. All of these spiritual blessings are ours because of the electing love of the Father, the redeeming work of the Son, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit. These spiritual blessings encompass everything that Christ Jesus has purchased for us.
In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul beings his prayer, “For this reason”. I take that as connecting verse 3-14 with his prayer. What Paul says in verse 15 is “because of this (3-14) and because I have heard of your vibrant faith which evidences your claim to these spiritual blessings” I pray the following.
What then is the content of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians? Fundamentally he prays that believers will “know” the spiritual blessings that are theirs in Christ Jesus. I take this “know” to be far more than just head knowledge. I take it to be a “knowing” that is parallel to tasting—perhaps even feasting. I take Paul to be praying that they “know” their future hope, their inheritance in the saints, and their power in Christ primarily so that they will live lives of happy satisfaction in God instead of torn apart by all that the world offers.
Jerry Bridges tells a story in his book The Gospel for Real Life about a Southern plantation owner who leaves $50,000 (a great sum of money in the 1800s) to a former slaved that served him faithfully his entire life. A lawyer of the estate notified the former slave of his vast inheritance. Weeks went by and the former slave never requested any of his inheritance. Finally, they decided to send a banker out to explain to this man what his inheritance was and that he could draw out money any time. The old man replied, ‘Sir, do you think I can have fifty cents to buy a sack of cornmeal’? He could have asked for much more—but he died having only withdrawn 50 cents from a $50,000 inheritance.
I take Paul’s prayer to be that the Ephesians (and us) might really come to understand what spiritual blessings we have so that we enjoy what Christ has purchased and not live as if he’s only purchased a little, only redeemed us a little, only forgiven us a little, only triumphed on our behalf just a little.
God desires that we enjoy every bit of the spiritual blessings that Christ has purchased. And that is why I preach, pray, and write that phrase so often and where I get it from. This is why I give my life to helping others (and probably mostly myself) come to really understand and thereby enjoy what Christ has purchased on my behalf.
A really good resource for exploring “the unsearchable riches” is Jerry Bridges’ work The Gospel for Real Life.
Explaining the picture of Scrooge McDuck:
I still remember watching Duck Tales as a child and seeing the joy that Scrooge had in swimming in his vault of money. Believers have been giving a much more valuable treasure than a vault of germ-infested coinage. We have been given every spiritual blessing. We have everything we need in Christ for life and godliness. It occurs to me that we should be swimming in grace with more joy and exuberance than dear old Uncle Scrooge swims in his money.