One of the major themes of the book of Ephesians is this idea of the “heavenlies” or “heavenly places”. We see this phraseology repeated five times throughout Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Because of the emphasis on “heavenly places”, Paul’s letter doesn’t deal with everyday controversies, problems, and issues like the other epistles do. He reveals a 50,000-foot view of our salvation and redemption. Paul is trying to show that when you’re looking at the large, grand perspective, the eternal perspective of our lives, and how God has saved us and redeemed us and made us His children to enjoy Him and be with Him forever, the everyday problems and issues all seem to dim and disappear.
Don’t get me wrong. Living the day-to-day life as Christians in this world is hard, it’s painful, and sometimes it just feels like you’re just not going to make it. God is telling us through the book of Ephesians that, in order to make it through those kinds of days and maybe even those kinds of months and years, we need to have a heavenly perspective—an eternal perspective.
Paul outlines this eternal, heavenly perspective that will help us through the everyday pains and problems of this life in Ephesians 1:3.
“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 …” (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
We Are Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing
Paul tells us that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. To say that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing means that, out of all the spiritual blessings available and possible, you have them all. Not a single one is missing.
And what exactly is a spiritual blessing? Spiritual blessings are all the blessings we need in order to be saved. They are all the blessings that Jesus purchased and accomplished for us through His perfect life lived, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead so that we might be saved. Everything you need to be saved—in Jesus and because of Jesus—you have them all. There’s not a single blessing you lack.
Paul also says that you have all of these blessings right now. Notice it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us …” Who has blessed us. Past tense. Already done. Paul doesn’t say God intends to bless us sometime in the future, he says we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
What an incredible claim.
Eternal Over Temporal
So why don’t we feel blessed? Most of the time, it’s because we have an understanding that blessings are physical.
At one point in the history of God’s people, that was the case. The primary way that God expressed His blessing was physical. In the Old Testament, God’s blessings were expressed largely in a material and temporal sense. But as we enter into the New Testament, we see that the things God had shown in the physical and temporal, He now shows in the spiritual and eternal. For example, in the Old Testament God’s law was written on tablets of stone. Now, the New Testament says that it is written on our hearts. In the Old Testament, God dwelled in a tabernacle within a temple made by human hands. Now, the New Testament says He dwells in the midst of His people.
There is a shifting from the physical and temporal to the spiritual and eternal. So is the case with our blessing. If we’re going to have an eternal, heavenly perspective, we have to know the difference between the physical and the spiritual. We have to treasure the eternal over the temporal.
Spiritual Blessings Are Better
If we are meant to treasure the eternal over the temporal, then we can know that spiritual blessings are better than physical ones. But sometimes, we don’t feel that. We want our blessings to be tangible—something we can touch, see, and feel. If we’re honest, many of us would even be willing to trade in a little bit of our spiritual blessings for physical ones. Trade in a little faith for some money. Substitute a little sanctification for some health.
I’m not saying that physical blessings are evil. I’m just saying spiritual blessings are better. Specifically, they’re better in two ways.
Spiritual blessings are better because they prove you are in Christ. One absolutely amazing way that spiritual blessings are better than physical blessings is that, if you have them, spiritual blessings prove that you’re in Christ—that you’re united with Him. Many of us struggle with the question, “Am I saved?” The presence of spiritual blessings in your life act as a constant reminder that yes, you are. You do belong to Him, and He abides in you. We see in Ephesians 1:3 that our God “has blessed us in Christ ...” That shows us that the only place these spiritual blessings—things like a tender conscience, a submissive will, faith, hope, love, patience—can be found is in Jesus. So, the only way we could display any of those spiritual blessings is if we’re in Jesus.
Imagine this, you’re lying on your deathbed, surrounded by all the physical blessings you have ever wanted. Could you conclude that you’re going to heaven because of all the temporal things surrounding you? No, because physical blessings are blessings that God gives to both believers and unbelievers alike. The Bible says, God causes the sun to rise on both the wicked and the righteous. There are plenty of millionaires that will die and not be with Jesus.
Now imagine that you may not have had a life full of physical blessings, but you lived a life filled with spiritual blessings. Could you conclude that because God had blessed you with all the spiritual blessings you could ever dream of through Christ that you must be His? Absolutely. Spiritual blessings give proof to our salvation, proof to our relationship with Jesus in ways that physical blessings can’t.
Do you see the massive difference?
Spiritual blessings are better because they produce worship. In light of the fact that God has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ, what does Paul do? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ...” Paul is blessing God. He’s worshiping God. Paul’s understanding that we have been blessed by God with every spiritual blessing produces worship in his heart. Consider all the spiritual blessings Paul lists in verses 3-14 that we needed to secure our salvation.
We needed the blessing of being chosen before the foundation of the world to be His. We needed the spiritual blessing to be made holy and blameless. (Ephesians 1:3-4) We needed the spiritual blessing of being adopted so that we can no longer be His enemies, but be called His children. (Ephesians 1:5-6)
We needed redemption.
We needed the forgiveness of our sins.
We needed the blood of Jesus, and we needed to know that it’s through Jesus that God is fulfilling all of His plans for our salvation. (Ephesians 1:7-10)
We needed the spiritual blessing of the Word of Truth.
We needed the gospel.
We needed to be made to believe.
We need the Holy Spirit.
We needed all of those things to be saved. And God gave every single one of them to us in Christ Jesus. Paul is showing us that when you step back from the day-to-day and look at all the ways of how He has been orchestrating your life before the foundations of the world, and how He has given you absolutely everything you need in order to be saved, your heart will produce worship to God. You will see that the only proper response to this God is by saying along with Paul, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …”
So spiritual blessings are better than physical blessings because they produce worship in ways physical blessings can’t. You see, spiritual blessings produce worship, but it’s not always so with physical blessings. While spiritual blessings make God out to be the prize, physical blessings have a tendency to make the physical blessing out to be the prize. When it comes to having an eternal, heavenly perspective, worship is absolutely the key. Without worship, we will never be able to have an eternal perspective there’s nothing like worship that can give us a taste of the heavenlies, a taste of eternity. Because that’s what the heavenlies and eternity is all about—it’s about worship, it’s what we were created for.