Who Am I 3) I Am Blessed

3) I Am Blessed

Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

 

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase ‘the Lucky Country!’ What you may not know is that phrase was coined by the writer, Donald Horne in his 1964 book bearing the same title. According to Donald Horne Australia is the lucky country. We are lucky because we have wealth and prosperity, because we have a great health system and good life expectancy, because we have a great lifestyle and a great education system, because we know relative peace and political stability. The ironic thing is that when Donald Horne used that phrase he was being derogative. Australia has all these things, not because we are clever, or industrious, but by sheer luck. And that’s the problem with luck, you can just as easily be unlucky. You can suddenly loose your job, or suffer illness, or have an accident, or experience relational breakdown. So many of us define our lives in those terms. I’m lucky because I’m living the life I always wanted. Or I’m unlucky because life isn’t turning out how I wanted. The problem with defining yourself as lucky or unlucky is that it can change from day to day, and even moment to moment. But according to Paul our identity isn’t sometimes lucky, or sometimes unlucky, it’s always blessed. According to Paul if you are in Christ then you are blessed. The goal of this sermon is that by the end you will be able to say, ‘No matter my circumstances in this life, in Christ I am blessed!’

 

1) What does it mean to be Blessed?

So firstly, what does it mean to be blessed? Is ‘blessed’ the same as lucky, or fortunate, or happy? If you get the job you’ve always wanted are you lucky, or blessed? How is being blessed different from being lucky, or fortunate?

a) Blessing comes from God

Well, firstly, blessing comes from God. Notice in our text, Paul says, ‘3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us… (Eph 1:3a)’ It is God who blesses us. Luck, or fortune, on the other hand, is the result of fate, or chance. As Christians we don’t believe in luck, we believe that God is in control, that everything happens for a purpose. We believe that because of our sin we deserve bad things, we deserve death, and we believe that because God is gracious and merciful he gives us good things, he blesses us. Blessing comes from God.

b) Blessing is about heaven

Secondly, blessing is about heaven. Paul continues, ‘3 …[God] has blessed us in the heavenly realms… (Eph 1:3b)’ We aren’t blessed because of what we do or don’t have in this earthly life, but by what God has in store for us in heaven. We aren’t blessed because our life is going exactly how we want it, rather we’re blessed because the life we have after this one will go exactly how God has promised. Paul says that God has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. That’s what we’re talking about this morning, not all the ways God blessed us with earthly blessings, like houses, cars, clothes etc, but how he has blessed us with spiritual blessings.

c) Blessing is only found in Christ

Thirdly, blessing is only found in Christ. Paul says, ‘3 …[God] has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph 1:3c)’ And here’s the point, it’s only those who are ‘in Christ’ who are truly blessed. It’s only those who are connected to Jesus, who have a personal relationship with him, who have put their faith in his death and resurrection, who are blessed. So often we consider blessing in terms of what we have or don’t have in this life. And because of that we say stuff like ‘They’re not even Christians but they have a nice house, and a nice car, a good job, they’re healthy and happy, look at how God has blessed them.’ And then we say, ‘But look at me, I’m struggling, life is difficult, things have all gone wrong, why isn’t God blessing me?’ It’s that attitude that I want to address this morning. Because Paul wants us to get this, ‘If you are in Christ then you are blessed, no matter what is going on in your life!’ And the reverse is true as well, ‘If you are not ‘in Christ’ then you are not blessed, no matter how great things may be going in your life!’ Being blessed is all about our spiritual status. Blessing only comes from God, it’s about our eternal destination, and it’s only found in Christ. If you are in Christ, then you are blessed… period. I want you to say this with me, ‘In Christ, I am blessed!’

 

2) How has God Blessed me?

So how does God bless us? What has God done for us in Christ that is so great? Well Paul lists off seven ways that God has blessed us in Christ. In the original Greek this whole passage is a single sentence, 220 words. It’s probably the worst punctuated passage in history, but what it does do is convey Paul’s excitement over the many ways God has blessed us. He just lists them off one after another after another.

a) The Blessing of Holiness

He starts with the blessing of holiness. Verse 4, ‘4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:4)’ We looked at this last week, the fact that in Christ we are holy, we are saints. If you are in Christ then you can say ‘I am holy.’ And this holiness isn’t based on what you do but on what Jesus has done for you. It’s not based on how you see yourself, but on how God sees you in Christ. And that’s why it’s such a blessing, it’s not a holiness that is earned, it’s a holiness that is given. On the cross Jesus trades places with us, he takes upon himself all of our un-holiness and he places upon us all of his holiness.

Here’s what this means: you don’t need to be perfect, Christ is your perfection. You don’t need to live a perfect life, Christ already has in your place. However saying that, because you are holy, you can be holy. Last week we saw that Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us choose holiness instead of sin. As a teenager you don’t have to rebel against your parents because that’s what teenagers do, because in Christ you can live a holy life. As a single person you don’t have to compromise your values to find a relationship, because in Christ you can chose holiness. If you are in Christ you are no longer defined by your sin, or by the world, or by other people, you are defined by God, and he calls you holy and he helps you be holy. You have been blessed with a whole new identity, which isn’t failure, or fake, or fruitloop, but holy. I want you to say with me, ‘I am blessed because in Christ I am holy!’

b) The Blessing of Predestination

Next, Paul talks about the blessing of predestination, the idea that God chose us before the creation of the world to be his children. Paul writes, ‘4 …In love 5 [God] predestined us... (Eph 1:5a)’ Does God just randomly chose people, like the kid’s game ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’ but rather ‘duck, duck, damned’? That’s not what the Bible teaches, rather Paul says God predestines us in love. It’s not random, rather God deliberately and carefully chooses those who belong to him. And it’s not because he looks into the future and sees us choose him, because the Bible says ‘11 …there is no one who seeks God. (Rom 3:11)’ Rather before we did anything good or evil, before the foundation of the world, before a star got hung in the sky, God chose us. That’s predestination, that while you choose hell, God chooses heaven, while you choose damnation, God chose salvation, while you choose to run from God, God chose to run after you. The blessing of predestination is that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done, or what you’ve failed to do, God could save you. It doesn’t matter how rebellious you are, how religious you are, how ridiculous you are. It’s not about you at all, it’s about God and whether or not God chooses you. And if he does you are blessed, because if God chooses you he will save you. So I want you to say it with me, ‘I am blessed because in Christ God picked me!’

c) The Blessing of Adoption

The third way God has blessed us is by adopting us. Paul says that in love God predestined us ‘4 …to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ… (Eph 1:5b)’ So many kids don’t have a father, and maybe you grew up without a dad, or you had a dad who abused you, or abandoned you. But Jesus comes along and he says when you talk to God, you start, ‘9 …Our Father in heaven… (Mt 6:9b)’ And Paul says that, ‘15 …you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15b)’ In Christ God becomes our daddy, that’s what Abba means, it’s what a little child calls their father, it’s a term of affection.

The blessing of being adopted as God’s child is amazing. If you are in Christ, then you are no longer an orphan, you are no longer without a family, you are no longer uncared for, you have a Dad, you belong to a family, you are loved, and cherished, and cared about.

The blessing of adoption changes the way you talk to God. He’s not some celestial vending machine he’s your heavenly Father. He’s not out to get you, or hurt you, he wants what is best for you. He’s not distant and uncaring, he wants to hold you in his arms and care for you.

And it changes how we feel about the future, because as God’s sons we receive an inheritance. Because we belong to God’s family, we get to inherit the family estate. Paul talks about our inheritance three times in Ephesians, and our inheritance is heaven, an eternity living with our heavenly Father in our heavenly home. The blessing of adoption means you have a Father named God who loves you. Say with me, ‘I am blessed, because in Christ I am God’s child!’

d) The Blessing of Redemption

Next Paul talks about the blessing of redemption. He writes, ‘7 In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood… (Eph 1:7a)’ To be redeemed basically means to be set free from something. Once something enslaved us, or controlled us, but we have been rescued, or delivered from whatever that was. The classic example in the Bible is how God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. In the same way we have been freed from bondage to sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin no longer is your master, you don’t have to remained chained, or enslaved by food, or alcohol, or sex, or popularity, or power, or any other sins, because Jesus came to redeem you from sin. Whatever once enslaved you, Jesus has come to free you. That’s the blessing of redemption, you have been set free from the power of sin. So repeat after me, ‘I am blessed because in Christ I am redeemed!’

e) The Blessing of Forgiveness

Next, is the blessing of forgiveness. Paul writes, ‘7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins… (Eph 1:7b)’ The Bible says that everyone sins, but our natural tendency is to make excuses for our sins. We say stuff like “I didn’t do it,” or “it’s their fault,” or “there are extenuating circumstances,” or “it’s not that big of a deal. I know people that have done worse.” Or we hide it, hoping we won’t get caught. Or we punish ourselves, hoping to pay God back. Or, you could just be forgiven. That’s the blessing that we receive in Christ, the forgiveness of all our sins. If you are in Christ, you’re forgiven. You’re forgiven for everything you’ve done in your past, and everything you’ll do in your future. Jesus wants you to know that if you come to him and trust in his death on the cross for your sins, then he forgives you. He means it, you don’t need to pay God back, you don’t need to suffer, you don’t need to do anything because Christ has already done it on the cross. He has paid your debt in full. Repeat after me ‘I am blessed, because in Christ I am forgiven!’

f) The Blessing of Grace

God has blessed you and blessed you and blessed you and blessed you yet again. So bear with me, because blessing number 6 is the blessing of grace. According to Paul our redemption and our forgiveness are all ‘7 …in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us… (Eph 1:7b-8)’ Paul isn’t just talking about grace here, he’s talking about the riches of God’s grace, how God has lavished his grace on us. This is a father who not only gives an undeserving kid an ice cream, but an ice cream with two scoops and choc-chips. God isn’t stingy with his grace, he is extravagant in his gifts to us.

Let me explain the grace of God to you. There is common grace, and this is the grace that God gives to everyone, believer and unbeliever. The Bible says that God gives life and sunshine, and food to both believers and unbelievers. Does God love the whole world? Yes, he does. Does God pour out love, unmerited favour, generosity, kindness, provision on all people? Yes, he does. But then there is special grace, how God gives eternal life to sinful undeserving people through faith in Jesus Christ. Only special grace allows sinners into heaven. Only God’s special grace in Jesus blesses people with holiness and redemption and forgiveness. Only special grace turns sinners into saints, and spiritual orphans into sons of God. And we get so caught up in God’s common grace, whether God blesses us with a nice house, or a good job, that we forget about God’s special grace, the fact that God has given us eternal life, that God has rescued us from hell, that God has completely changed the whole trajectory of our lives. Let me hear it Westside, ‘I am blessed, because in Christ I have received grace!’

g) The Blessing of the Holy Spirit

Finally, Paul talks about the blessing of the Holy Spirit. He says, ‘13 …Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. (Eph 1:13b)’ Last week we looked at how the Holy Spirit helps us live out our new life in Christ, but here Paul says, the Holy Spirit ‘14 …is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance... (Eph 1:14a)’ If you have the Holy Spirit you are guaranteed eternal life. It’s not that we can’t lose our salvation, it’s just that Jesus can’t lose us. Our salvation is all about what God has done, how God has declared you holy, how God predestined you, how God adopted you, how God redeemed you through Christ’s blood, and forgave your sins, how God lavished his grace on you, how God gave you the Holy Spirit. The blessing of the Holy Spirit is that when he takes up residence in your life he comes to stay. You have the third person of the Trinity living in you guaranteeing that what God began in you he will bring to completion, that you will reach your destination, that you will receive your inheritance. Let’s say it again, ‘I am blessed, because in Christ I have the Holy Spirit!’ If you are in Christ, you have received every spiritual blessing. God has blessed your socks off!

 

3) Why would God bless me?

But you might be wondering why God would do all this for you? Why would God bless you so much? Why would God give me all these amazing things? The fact is, that’s just the sort of God he is, a God who loves to bless his people. You don’t have to try and make God bless you, God wants to bless you. One of the first things we learn about God in Genesis 1 is that after he makes Adam and Eve, ‘28 God blessed them... (Gen 1:28a)’ That’s what God does, he blesses people. But Paul tells us that God blesses us so that we can bless him. Paul starts our passage by saying, ‘3 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. (Eph 1:3)’ That word ‘praise’ is actually the exact same word that is later translated as ‘blessed’ and ‘blessing.’ They all come from the same root word eulogew, where we get the word eulogy, to speak well of someone. God speaks well of us, God calls us holy, God calls us his children, God calls us redeemed and forgiven, so that we might speak well of him, so that we can declare his goodness, so that we can bless the God who has so richly blessed us. In fact, three times in our text Paul says that God blessed us, ‘6 to the praise of his glorious grace... (Eph 1:6)’ And ‘12 in order that we… might be for the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:12)’ God has blessed us that we might sing his praises, that we might glorify God, that we might give our lives to him in worship.

 

As we come to the end of our service this morning, I want to give you the opportunity to do two things. Firstly, I want to give you the opportunity to thank God for the ways in which he has blessed you. I’m just going to leave those 7 blessings up on the screen and give you some time to thank God for each one, or just for the one that has impacted you the most this morning. And secondly, I want to give you the opportunity to bless the God who has so richly blessed you, to praise him for his glorious grace towards us in Christ Jesus. So firstly, let’s come before God in a time of silent and personal thanksgiving.

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