Eph. 1:3 - Blessed in the Heavenlies

“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.” – Ephesians 1:3

So, what exactly does it mean to be “in Christ”? What are the characteristics of someone who is in Christ versus someone who is not? That’s precisely what we’ll be exploring over the next several weeks.

Paul begins his teaching on this subject with the statement above, that those who are in Christ have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Wow! Really? Aren’t we just as fallen and broken as everyone else until we get to heaven? Well, yes and no. It’s true that we still have the pull of our fallen nature acting upon us. Paul repeatedly teaches about the war within us between our old selves and new selves, our flesh versus our regenerated spirit (see Gal. 5:16-26, Rom. 8:1-17). But, according to this verse, there is a distinct spiritual difference at work in the present for Christ followers. Paul says we have been blessed, not will be blessed.

And what is it that we’ve been blessed with? What are the “spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms” that are ours in Christ? Well, Paul will elaborate on that in the next few chapters and we’ll take each blessing one at time, but this week I want to focus on the phrase “in the heavenly realms.” At first glance, this seems to communicate that the blessings we’ll be discussing aren’t really in the here and now, they’re “up there” in the heavens and we’ll only really experience them in eternity. But, our modern division between heaven and earth, physical and spiritual, isn’t really the way the Bible talks about these things. The picture painted in Scripture is that there is an overlap or intersection between the spiritual and physical worlds. When Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is near,” he isn’t saying that it’s coming soon, but rather that it has come close enough to touch.  

The image in Ephesians 1:3 isn’t of some spiritual bank account containing bonds we can access once we reach heaven. Rather, it’s a picture of God reaching into our physical world from his throne on high to change things for us in the here and now. When we truly grasp the reality of our identity in Christ, it changes how we live our lives on a daily basis.

This ought to inspire us to worship. Jesus didn’t retreat into heaven to wait in a safe place until the world comes to an end. God is not far off. No, Jesus, through his Spirit, is on the “front lines” of our lives pushing back the gates of hell, restoring what has been broken in us and in this world. This is the God who invites us into relationship with him. This is the God who reaches into the lives of the helpless, the marginalized, and the broken, redeeming them to their status as chosen sons and daughters of the King.

Sean's Picks

Seeing His Scars - I loved this article by my friend Steve Grusendorf for Alliance Life Magazine. If you've been hurt by your past church experience, our hope is that you find Grace to be a place of healing.
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