We share our opinions and insights at SBC Voices, but we believe that the Voice that matters most is the one that comes from God’s Word. We present these daily expositional devotions, beginning with a tour of Ephesians called, “Walk Worthy,” in hopes of encouraging our readers to remember to Voice above every voice.
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One. ~ Ephesians 1:3-6 (CSB)
Blessed is one of those church words that we actually hear a lot in our culture. Often if an athlete or actor wins a big game or an award, they will talk about how blessed they feel. When writing this, a quick hashtag search for #blessed on Twitter showed 210 tweets in the last hour. And let’s not forget that you sometimes hear the phrase “Why, bless your heart” from ladies with a southern charm (though the phrase isn’t always used in a positive way).
The word “blessed” basically means to find oneself in a happy position, and we like finding ourselves in happy states. Yet, as Paul launches into the opening of his letter, he focuses far, far away from being blessed in a cultural sense. He assures us that God is providing for our happiness, but where does happiness come from? In Christ—a phrase used in some form multiple times in 1:3-14. And what does happiness in Christ lead to? The praise of his glorious grace—also a repeated phrase. The greatest happiness we can have is found through Jesus and leads us to abundant praise. God wants us to be happy!
God’s provision for our happiness in Christ is not a stingy thing, either. For God has graciously “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” I love the song Come Thou Fount, in fact, it is my favorite hymn to sing, but really the imagery of a spring or fountain of blessing inherent in the title falls short of what Paul is communicating. This is an ocean of blessing, of which we cannot find the shore and cannot plumb the depths.
Paul could have written endlessly on the topic, but instead decided to focus on just a few of the countless ways that God blesses us. The first two, found in verses 4 and 5, unfortunately sometimes get robbed of their beauty in the midst of theological debate. Paul does not shy away from the ideas of election and predestination here, but he also doesn’t focus on them in the way we often do.
We like to argue the means of these. Paul doesn’t address means whatsoever in his words. His intent is not to prooftext a particular soteriology. No, in these beautiful words, Paul speaks to the outcome of being chosen and predestined.
If we come to faith in Jesus, then we are not the same people we were beforehand. In chapter 2, Paul describes our deadness in sin and our enmity with God. That is what defined us before we came to know and follow Jesus. But now, in Christ, we are different. We were dirty, filthy rebels; we are now chosen in love to be holy and blameless. We were enemies of God on the side of darkness; we are now adopted children, destined to forever be a part of God’s family.
This is where Paul wishes us to dwell—our new position and new destiny.
There are days I have, and I’m sure you do too, where I don’t feel very holy or blameless. There are days where sin gets the best of me and I feel like I’m still walking on the side of the enemy or at best I’m a disappointing son. Yet, God says something different to me and to you. In Christ, we have new identities. In Christ, regardless of how we feel at the moment, we have been declared holy and blameless and the day is coming where we will be fully holy and blameless. In Christ, we are God’s sons and daughters and when we stand before him, we won’t be met with a disappointed gaze but the words, “Well done.”
What a way to start a section about our happiness in Christ! What a reminder of what God has done for us, for which he deserves all the credit and praise! What a reason to lift our heads and smile—because of Jesus we are the children of God and he will usher us into his presence holy and blameless.