Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first ten verses of the second chapter. With the ten verses that are before us today we experience a transition within the epistle which Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation. If you look back to that which was written in the first chapter you will find three distinct parts within those twenty-three verses. When you read the first chapter of this epistle you will first and foremost notice the greeting of the epistle which was customary to the epistles which Paul wrote—whether to the churches, or to those individuals whom he wrote to. Immediately following the greeting that is found in the first two verses of the first chapter the apostle Paul transitions to acknowledging that which God the Father of our Lord Jessie has done in us and for us. We find the apostle Paul writing how God the Father or our Lord Jesus blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul then goes on to write what these spiritual blessings look like—namely, how these blessings were not and are not carnal, natural or temporal, but are eternal and incorruptible. One thing I absolutely love about these spiritual blessings is that not only are they in heavenly places, but they are also in Christ Jesus. It is necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for as we read in the New Testament gospel which Matthew wrote, Jesus Himself instructed us to lay for ourselves, and to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust can corrupt, nor where thieves and robbers can break in and steal. There is something absolutely powerful and wonderful about these spiritual blessings being found in heavenly places and being found in Jesus Christ, for it speaks—not only in the security of those blessings, but it also speaks to scope of those blessings.
Please understand that what I mean when I write about the security of these blessings is that there are found in heavenly places, which means that there are found in that place where no human hands can be found. There is something powerful about a temple that is made without human hands, for a temple made without human hands cannot be ever be touched with and by human hands. The temple which was formed and created in the day of Pentecost was one that was formed and created without human hands—a reality which is quite remarkable and astounding considering the first two temples were made with human hands and were destroyed by human hands. With that being said, there is something incredibly powerful about that which is given by hands which are not natural or earthly, but are given by the hand of God. It was James who wrote that every good and perfect gift comes down from God the Father in whom there is no shadow of variance or turning. Oh there is something to be said about that blessing which does not originate in the natural realm, nor is even manifested in the natural realm. There is something to be said about those blessings which originate not in or from the earth, but from and within heaven itself. The very fact that the apostle Paul wrote concerning these blessings that they are found in heavenly places suggests and speaks to the powerful reality that such blessings are not even found within or upon the earth. Did you know that there are blessings the Lord our God has blessed us with and provided for us that can neither be seen, nor touched in the natural and earthly realm? Did you know that there are blessings which our Father in heaven can give and provide us which can never and will never be given by human hands. With that being said, such blessings can neither be touched with human hands, and there are no hands within or upon the earth which can touch or destroy those blessings. It is absolutely necessary that we understand this third verse in the first chapter of this epistle, for I am convinced that it is this third verse that serves as the key to unlocking and understanding the entire epistle which Paul wrote to this Ephesian congregation.
Read the third verse again in it’s entirety and hold the words contained therein in the back of your mind when attempting to read the epistle thus far: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Notice the marked truths that are contained within this single verse, for this verse begins with the word “blessed,” and notice that it doesn’t even have anything to do with us. This word “blessed” doesn’t even originate with us, nor does it even relate to us, for when the apostle Paul uses the word “blessed” for the first time he uses it in direct connection with God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a far cry to read the word “blessed” and to think of it it any other terms other than ourselves. More often than not when we think about and consider the reality and concept of blessings we think about it in terms of we ourselves. Very rarely will we, very rarely do we ever think about the concept of blessing in relation and connection to anyone else other than ourselves. In fact, I would be so bold and brazen to ask you to show me what your prayers are like, and I will show you who your prayers are really focused on. Would you be shocked to hear and read that there are countless prayers which are nothing more than long Christmas lists, or long wish lists, or a long litany of desires, wants, and pleasures? What we find in this third verse is completely contrary to anything and everything we think within our natural hearts and minds, for more often than not we think of the concept of blessing in direct connection and relation to ourselves, and we never turn our attention and our focus on God the Father. Tell me—when you appear before the throne of grace, and when you pray to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is your prayer and are your prayers all about you, or are you able to focus on someone other than yourself? The very fact that the apostle Paul opens and begins this verse with the word “blessed,” and does so with respect to the Father and not ourselves brings us face to face with the reality that everything is not about us. I can’t help but think about how many times we spend so much time focusing on ourselves, and even in our prayers we focus on ourselves alone and don’t have any bandwidth or capacity for anyone else other than ourselves.
The third verse of the first chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation begins with the word “blessed” and is directly connected with God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand this—particularly and especially when we read and consider the words which Jesus used to teach and instruct us how to pray. Consider if you will the words which Jesus used when He was delivering His Sermon on the Mount: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as thy hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think t hat they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:5-13). When teaching and instructing us how to pray Jesus not only instructs us to not be as the hypocrites are, but to also pray in a specific manner. Jesus instructed us to enter into our closet, and when we have shut the door, pray to our Father which is in secret. This is directly set against the way and method the hypocrites pray, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets. Moreover, the heathen and hypocrites use vain repetitions in their prayers as though by some chance continued and vain repetition will somehow bring the prayer to a different level. I absolutely love what I read in verses five through eight of the sixth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, for within those verses Jesus sets the stage for the awesome reality that in prayer it is not about ourselves at all. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand that when we enter into our closet and shut the door to pray to our Father in heaven—although it is just we ourselves alone with the Father in secret—it is not about us at all. That which Jesus speaks in verses five through eight are a powerful example of those who when they pray make it completely and utterly about themselves and have absolutely no capacity to deflect the honor, the glory, the majesty, the splendor upon God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we read the third verse of the first chapter of the epistle which Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus we find the apostle first focusing on and direction all the attention to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and doing so by using a word that more often than not we use to describe ourselves. Notice the use of the word “blessed” in this passage of Scripture, for the apostle Paul begins with “Blessed be God” and then transitions to “blessed us”—a marked and noticeable use of the word. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—do you have the capacity to focus on anyone other than yourself? Do you have the capability and the capacity to focus on anyone other than yourself—not only in prayer, but also in the way you live your life? Or, does everything always and continually have to be about you? I realize and recognize these words might seem harsh, and they are in no way meant to be condemnatory or accusatory by any means. What I am trying to do when speaking these words is bring us face to face with the reality that our lives—even though we are the ones living them—do not belong to us, nor are they even about us. I was in work recently and there was a riddle that was put on the white board, and the riddle is as follows: “What belongs to you, yet everyone else uses it more than you?” Do you know the answer yet? If you haven’t figured out the answer, the answer is simply your name. Although your name is yours, and although your name reveals your identity and who you are as an individual as is expressed on your driver’s license, on your social security card, on your birth certificate, and the like, it is used by everyone else round about you. Consider the fact that when you introduce yourself to others, or when you refer to yourself, more often than not you use the words “I am.” Please don’t miss or lose sight of this reality, for if you journey into the Old Testament book of Exodus you will notice that the literal name for the Lord is YHWH, which actually means “I am.” Thus, when we introduce ourselves saying and using the words “I am __________,” what we are actually doing is directly connecting ourselves God Himself, for we have nothing and are nothing without and apart from Him. The reason I mentioned the riddle concerning our name is that even though our name is ours, everyone else around us who knows us uses that name more than we are. Similarly, our lives—even though many might say that they belong to us—not only don’t belong to us, but our lives are to be directly connected to those around us. How many times do we view our lives as being all about us, as belonging to us alone, and as not being connected to anyone else around us? I am convinced that we play an incredibly dangerous game with God, as well as with others when we choose to live our lives this way.
The apostle Paul opens the third verse by using a word that is commonly used to describe and apply to us, and does so in direct connection to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only after the apostle Paul uses the word “blessed” in direct connection to God the Father that He then turns and directs His attention to the use of that word in direct connection with us. I would dare say that until we are willing to begin with “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and until we are willing to begin with “Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we dare not make any attempt to transition to the place of “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The apostle Paul opens up this epistle with the word “blessed,” and directly connects and applies it to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then once he has done that—only then does he transition to speaking of how this same God hath blessed us. What’s more, is that not only does the apostle Paul write how God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us, but the apostle Paul goes on to describe how God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. There are several key words and phrases that are found within this verse which serve to paint an appropriate picture of the blessings which we have received from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. When writing and speaking of how God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us, the apostle Paul uses the words “all,” “spiritual,” “heavenly places,” and finally “in Christ.” I absolutely love how the apostle Paul uses the word “all” when writing and speaking of those blessings which God the Father has blessed us with, for it strongly suggests that He has not withheld or kept anything back from us. When God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us, He blessed us with all spiritual blessings. Aren’t you glad that God the Father held nothing back from you—even including His own beloved Son? Remember how Jesus declared “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son,” for this statement alone reveals how God held nothing back from us whatsoever. God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, thus signifying and suggesting the powerful reality that He literally has given us everything we need. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second epistle which he wrote: “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
Paul writes how God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is blessed, and hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, thus leaving absolutely nothing out from what He has offered us. What’s more, is the apostle Paul writes how God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with all “spiritual” blessings. Please don’t lose sight of that word “spiritual,” for when describing the blessings which God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with the apostle Paul uses the word “spiritual,” thus denoting and suggesting that these blessings are not earthly, nor are they natural. The blessings which God the Father of our Lord Jesus hath blessed us with are “spiritual” in nature, and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with the natural and physical realm. I absolutely love how the apostle Paul used the word “spiritual” to describe the blessings which he would go on to include in this epistle, for more often than not we live our lives for those blessings which are earthly and natural. More often than not we spend much of our time pursuing and seeking after those blessings which are earthly and natural—those blessings which can be experienced and manifested in the earthly and natural realm. Pause for a moment and consider the prayers you pray when you are alone with God your Father in the secret closet of prayer, and how much of what you pray for touches on the earthly and natural realm? How much time do you spend seeking after and pursuing that which is manifested and experienced in the natural and carnal realm rather than that which can only be experienced in the spiritual realm? Perhaps the better question that must be asked is around the reality of whether or not you spend your time living in the earthly and natural realm rather than the spiritual realm. The blessings which God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with are spiritual in nature, and therefore have nothing to do with the normal blessings we spend much of our time and effort pursuing and seeking after. The blessings which the apostle Paul speaks of in this particular verse are spiritual in nature, and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with the natural and earthly realm, thus further suggesting that this world is not, cannot, has not, and should never be our home. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote in the eleventh chapter of that epistle:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Concerning Moses, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote the following words which further confirm and reveal this tremendous reality. Consider if you will the words which the author of this particular epistle wrote concerning Moses himself who grew up within the land of Egypt:
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who in invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
The words which the apostle Paul writes in the first chapter of this epistle speak to a reality that is far different from any reality that we experience in the natural and physical realm. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote concerning a country that was ahead, which was a country that was not the same as the country which we left. The blessings which God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with are spiritual in nature, and not only are they spiritual in nature, but they are also found in heavenly places. In other words, not only are these blessings not of the earthly, not of the natural, not of the carnal realm, but these blessings are in heavenly places. It’s necessary that we pay close attention to this and understand this, for the fact that these blessings are in heavenly places suggests that they are out of the reach of thieves and robbers who would seek to break in, steal, and destroy. The fact that these blessings are in heavenly places are along the same lines as a temple that is made without human hands which cannot be touched with human hands, for such blessings cannot be touched by or touched with human hands. I absolutely love that the apostle Paul writes of these blessings as being in heavenly places, for this is a theme that we see within and throughout this particular epistle. In the third verse of this chapter we find the first use of the phrase “heavenly” places, and it sets the stage and tone for a reality that is entirely and altogether completely different from the countless earthly places we spend our days living in and living for. You will notice within this particular verse the word “spiritual,” as well as the word “heavenly,” and both bring us face to face with a reality that is far different than anything we experience within our lives here on the earth. The very fact that the apostle Paul uses the words “spiritual” and “heavenly” suggests the incredible reality that what we have received from God is not of this world at all, and in all reality cannot be enjoyed and experienced the same way the blessings we so often pursue can be enjoyed and experienced. In all reality, I would dare say that we spend much of our time seeking after those blessings which we can experience and enjoy in the natural and physical realm rather than those blessings which can and should be experienced in the spiritual and unseen realm. It would be very easy to focus solely on the fact that these blessings cannot be touched with human hands alone, and not also focus on the fact that these blessings have absolutely nothing to do with the earth. I will make this statement and do so without any hesitation or reservation: Show me what you pray for when you enter into your secret closet of prayer and I will show you who you are and what you truly desire as an individual. Show me what you ask for God when you enter into the secret closet of prayer and I will show you what you truly desire and what truly matters within your life. Either you are living for the spiritual, the eternal, and the divine realm, and that which originates from that realm, or you are living for the earthly, natural, carnal and temporal realm.
When we come to the second chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian congregation we find the apostle continuing this discourse concerning that which we have received from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot escape the fact that nothing of what the apostle Paul writes and speaks about in this epistle has anything to do with what we can experience and enjoy in the natural realm of this earth. Absolutely everything the apostle Paul writes and speaks about in this particular passage of Scripture has to do with that which can only be experienced to the degree and measure that we allow ourselves to live, remain and abide in heavenly places. In the third verse of the first chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul writes how God the Father of our Lord Jesus hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and then in the twentieth verse of the same chapter the apostle Paul writes how this same God raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places. You will notice that those heavenly places are “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” What’s more, is that these heavenly places which the apostle Paul writes about are places where all things have been put under the feet of Jesus, who was given to be the head over all things to the church. It’s necessary and worth mentioning that these heavenly places are not only where Christ Himself has been seated, but these heavenly places are far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. These heavenly places where Christ is seated are a place where all things are under the feet of Jesus, and where Jesus Christ is the head and Lord over all things. Oh that we would recognize this concerning these heavenly places, for these heavenly places are a place of ultimate authority, dominion, and lordship—not of ourselves, but of Christ alone who was raised from death to life. It’s necessary for us to recognize and understand this, for in the first chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul writes how Christ was dead, but was raised to life and seated down at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places. It is this reality that helps set the stage for what we find and what we read in the second chapter. It is in the second chapter of the epistle where we don’t read of Christ being dead and being raised from death to life, but we ourselves who were dead and raised to life.
Consider if you will the words which are found in the second chapter of this particular epistle: “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3). In the first three verses of the second chapter the apostle Paul brings the reality of death back to us ourselves, and describes how we who were dead in trespasses and sins, and we who walked according to the course of this world, and according to the prince of the power of the air, and how we who had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh have been quickened by this same God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, when we come to the fourth verse of this chapter we notice a powerful shift and transition within this chapter, for whereas the apostle initially began by speaking of how we were dead in trespasses and sins, he now shifts to describe how “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). In the first chapter it was Jesus Christ Himself who was raised from death to life and made to be seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places, yet in the second chapter of this epistle it is not Christ who was raised from death to life to sit in heavenly places with the Father, but now it is us ourselves who were dead whom Christ hath raised from death to life. We find and read in this second chapter how we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and again how we were dead in sins, yet how we have been quickened together with Christ, how we have been raised up together, and how we have been made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Please notice the use of the word “together,” for it is not only connected with Christ, but it is also connected to those which are around us. The apostle Paul first wrote how it was Christ alone who was raised from death to life and made to sit in heavenly places, but goes on to write how it is us who have been quickened together, us who have teen raised together, and us who have been seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It is this concept of “together” and this concept of “in Christ Jesus” we must understand, for although Christ was initially raised up alone by God the Father and made to sit in heavenly places, that is no longer the case, for Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and His being made to sit in heavenly places was a precursor and first fruits of we ourselves being seated together with Christ in heavenly places having been quickened together and raised up together. Christ was the first to be raised from death to life to sit with the Father in heavenly places, and now we as the saints of God and brethren of Christ have been raised from death to life, have been quickened together with Christ, and have been seated together in heavenly places with Christ. It’s almost as if Christ was not willing to be seated in heavenly places with the Father without His body and bride right there with Him. It is this reality and concept that we must think about when considering the spiritual blessings which we have been blessed with, for these are realities which cannot truly be experienced in the earthly, natural and temporal realm, but only in the physical realm.