Treasure In Heaven: Delivering Yourself From the Bondage of This World

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian saints. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-2).

 

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to this good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

 

            “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit if wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 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: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:15-23).

 

            When you come to the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints you will find an epistle that was written by the apostle unto a church in what is known as modern day Turkey. The epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian saints is the fifth epistle written by the apostle Paul recorded in the New Testament and is the fourth epistle written unto a specific church. The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto one of the churches—at least in the order in which it appears unto us in the New Testament—is that of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. This epistle was immediately followed by the first and second epistles which were written unto the Corinthian saints and congregation. Once the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints draws to a close we find the epistle written unto the Galatian saints before ultimately coming unto the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. If there is one thing we must needs learn and uncover about the apostle Paul writing the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints it’s that this epistle was written by the apostle Paul while he was in prison and is considered one of the “prison epistles.” What’s more is that if you read and study the New Testament you will discover that this epistle is one of the first epistles that would be written unto the Ephesian congregation and/or unto its leaders. The epistle written unto the Ephesian saints would be the first written unto these dear saints before the epistle written by the hand of the apostle John was written unto these same saints. This is not to mention the two epistles which were written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith who was an elder over the Ephesian congregation when those epistles were written.

 

            I am convinced that in order for us to truly recognize and understand the words and language that is found in this particular epistle it is necessary to turn and direct our attention back to the New Testament book of Acts—specifically the nineteenth chapter. If you take the time to read the words found in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of this New Testament book you will encounter the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Ephesus and encountering certain disciples who were there. Upon arriving at Ephesus and encountering the disciples he learned how they had been baptized unto the baptism of John which was a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. The disciples whom the apostle Paul encountered in Ephesus were such that had not even heard of the Holy Ghost nor even the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire which John the Baptist had spoken of. In all reality I would dare say that if we are to truly understand the words which are found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus—not only is it necessary to consider the words which John the Baptist proclaimed concerning one who would come after him who was mightier than he but also the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers at the mount of Olives before His ascension unto heaven and unto the right hand of the Father. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and consider these texts in addition to the words which our Lord spoke unto Nicodemus who was among the Pharisees who came unto Him by night to ask of Him questions—one whom we would later learn was a disciple of the Lord Jesus together with Joseph of Arimathea who would petition Pilate for the body of the Lord Jesus and would prepare it with clean linen and spices and ointment. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of the four gospels as well as the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall indeed baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            Consider now the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark:

 

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts with wild honey: and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost(Mark 1:1-8).

 

            Here is the way the beloved physician Luke recorded the account of the life and ministry of John the Baptist and the message he proclaimed unto those during his generation. Consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke:

 

            “…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: ever tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:2-9).

 

            “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).

 

            “And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people” (Luke 3:15-18).

 

            In the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find the following words:

 

            “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am. Not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizes thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophets? John answered them, saying, I baptized you with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:19-28).

 

            “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            When Nicodemus came unto Jesus by night we find the following words written in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse of the third chapter:

 

            “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that hou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest thou sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).

 

            Finally, here are the words which are written and recorded in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the first verse:

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that He thought the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).

 

            It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to these words for within them we discover that not only would Jesus come and baptize with the Holy Ghost but would also baptize with fire. When John the Baptist came he came baptizing with water unto repentance for the remission of sins. This would indeed be the baptism which Jesus spoke of concerning being baptized in water while the baptism of the Spirit which Jesus spoke of would be of both fire and of the Holy Ghost. When we come to the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul coming unto the coasts of Ephesus and finding certain disciples there. Upon speaking and conversing with the disciples we find the apostle Paul asking them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. These disciples would respond unto the apostle Paul declaring unto him that him they had no so much heard whether there were any Holy Ghost. The apostle Paul would ask them unto what then were and had they been baptized to which they responded by telling him how they had been baptized unto John’s baptism. Paul would respond unto these disciples by declaring how John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come after him. This one who would come after him was Christ Jesus and upon hearing this these disciples which the apostle Paul encountered were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would then lay his hands on them and the Holy Ghost came upon them enabling them to not only speak with other tongues but also prophesy.

 

            What we find in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the tenure of the apostle Paul in the city of Ephesus—not only concerning his speaking boldly in the synagogues but also of the tremendous opposition and affliction which rose up in the midst of the city as a direct result of that which the living and eternal God was doing. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the nineteenth chapter beginning with the eighth verse:

 

            “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:8-12).

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find and read the following words which were written by the physician Luke concerning the time the apostle Paul spent in Ephesus:

 

            “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:13-20).

 

            “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastsus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying, that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshipeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. But when they saw that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Dian, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius  and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly” (Acts 19:21-40).

 

            As you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus it isn’t until the end of the epistle you find that he was in prison while writing these words. What’s more is that this epistle was written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian saints after he had delivered a farewell speech to the elders of the church along the shore of Miletus. It was there at Miletus where the apostle Paul recounted his time among the Ephesians and his labor among them. The farewell speech the apostle Paul gave to the Ephesian elders is such that warrants strong consideration—especially when considering the words which are found in the epistle written unto this same congregation. In fact I would dare say that if you wish to truly understand how this epistle would and could come into existence you must not only understand the apostle Paul teaching and preaching in the school of Tyrannus but also the words he used to describe his time among the Ephesians when speaking unto the elders of the church. There is something truly remarkable and astounding when considering the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for when you read the words the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders you will find him not only encouraging them in his absence knowing they would never see his face again but also warning them of impending danger(s) which they would face in the coming days. It is in light of the impending danger(s) this particular congregation would face in the days after the departure of the apostle Paul that makes the words which he writes in the epistle so incredibly powerful. With the dangers and troubles the apostle Paul knew were sure to come upon this congregation that which he writes in this epistle which was sent the words the apostle Paul writes in the epistle sent unto the Ephesians takes on an entirely different meaning. With this in mind consider if you will the following words found in the twentieth chapter beginning with the thirteenth verse:

 

            “And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and attired at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church .And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20-13-35).

 

            AND NOW, BRETHREN, I COMMEND YOU TO GOD, AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED! Please don’t miss some of the final words the apostle Paul spoke in his farewell speech to the elders of the Ephesian church for some of the very same language used here was also used in the epistle which was written unto them. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the epistle you will find the customary greeting of the apostle Paul—namely that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. Moreover you will find the audience to which the apostle Paul was writing which were the saints which at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul pronouncing grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the typical greeting presented by the apostle Paul at the beginning of the epistles he wrote unto the saints which were present in the cities whereunto he labored. What makes this epistle so absolutely remarkable and astounding is when you consider the fact that when the apostle Paul bid farewell to the elders of the Ephesian congregation he declared unto them how he commended them to God, and to the word of His grace which was not only able to build them up but also to give them an inheritance among all them which were sanctified. There is something to be said about this being built up and given an inheritance among all those which were sanctified for with these words the apostle Paul was not only speaking unto them of being built up among themselves but also of their place among the spiritual body of Christ as a whole. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul committing these dear saints into the hands of the living God.

 

            As we will see later on in this epistle this concept of being built up and given an inheritance among all those who were sanctified will be expressed in the fourth chapter of this epistle. That which we find in the first and opening chapter is the apostle Paul writing unto the saints which were at Ephesus and to the faithful which were in Christ Jesus. Upon approaching the third verse of this opening chapter you will find the apostle Paul speaking of the Ephesian saints concerning God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who had blessed them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that is found in these words for there is something truly remarkable about what is contained within them. The apostle Paul—from the very start of the epistle—emphatically declares and proclaims unto the Ephesian saints that God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this for it is one thing to be blessed with all earthly blessings in earthly places, however, it is something entirely and altogether different to be blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here bring us face to face with the awesome truth of not only being blessed by God the Father of our Lord Jesus but being blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to read the words found here in this passage of Scripture and encounter the apostle Paul speaking of the saints of God and those who are faithful in His sight as not only being blessed and not only being blessed with spiritual blessings but being blessed with ALL spiritual blessings.

 

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome truth of what is found in this passage of Scripture and what is presented here is the apostle Paul emphatically speaking unto the Ephesian saints concerning God the Father of their Lord Jesus Christ having blessed them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In all reality I can’t help but be reminded of the words which our Lord Himself spoke when delivering the Sermon on the Mount towards the very outset of His public ministry. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find our Lord Jesus not only speaking about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness but also choosing to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven where thieves do not break in and where moth and rust do not destroy. Within the words spoken by our Lord there is a powerful invitation to lay aside the cares of this world and that which we would deem as “treasure” in this world and upon this earth that we might truly have treasure in heaven. What’s more is that when speaking unto the rich young ruler the Lord Jesus invited him to detach himself from the cares of this world, from the love of many and from the stranglehold and chokehold much possessions and wealth has on individuals. Jesus gave the rich young ruler an invitation to deliver himself from that which was keeping him from entering into the kingdom of heaven and yet when the rich young ruler realized what he had to give up he departed from the presence of Jesus sorrowful. Having said this I not only invite you to consider the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount, and not only the narrative of the rich young ruler but also the narrative of Lazarus:

 

            “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:19-23).

 

            “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and. Yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? OR what shall we drink: Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:24-34).

 

            Now consider if you will the narrative of the rich young ruler and the invitation the Lord Jesus gave unto this man to deliver himself from that which would not only keep him bound to the possessions and wealth of this world but also from entering into and inheriting the kingdom of heaven:

 

            “And, behnold, one came and said unto him, Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He siath unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).

 

            GO! SELL THAT THOU HAST! GIVE TO THE POOR! THOU SHALT HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN! COME AND FOLLOW ME! Jesus knew and understood that which not only kept this man from inheriting eternal life but also that which would keep him from following him and from having treasure in heaven. Scripture reveals how this man left and departed from the presence of Jesus sorrowful because he had great possessions and was not willing to give up that which he had. This is in stark contrast to that which we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke for when we read of a man by the name of Zacchaeus we find a man who was not only a publican but a chief publican and tax collector. Despite this man being a chief publican and tax collector he desired to see Jesus and was willing to climb into a sycamore tree to see him. What’s more is that when Jesus saw this man in the sycamore tree He invited him to come down from the tree for He must needs dine with and fellowship at house. It would be there in his house together in the presence of Jesus and those who were with him Zacchaeus would not only deliver himself from that which would keep him bound but would also make distribution to the poor and would make reparations for the damage he had done. What is so incredibly important about this passage is the fact that in giving half of his goods, in giving unto the poor and in restoring four-fold that which he might have obtained through extortion Zacchaeus would store and lay up for himself treasure in heaven. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke:

 

            “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down: for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured saying, That he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).

 

            The words which we find here in these passages not only bring us face to face with the tremendous need to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven but these words also confront us with the distinction that in addition to this world having nothing for us we must needs recognize and understand that we must needs deliver ourselves from the things in this world which would captivate and ensnare us. I sit here today reading the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and I find myself thinking about a man such as the rich young ruler who was not only invited to deliver himself from the things of this world but he was also invited to have treasure in heaven as well as following Jesus. It’s incredibly interesting to think about this rich young ruler and how he was given the invitation to follow Jesus and yet instead of following Jesus—not only would he depart from the presence of Jesus, and not only would he depart from the Jesus filled with sorrow but he would essentially turn and go the wrong way. Jesus invited him forward to walk with and follow Him and yet what he did was the opposite of that which the Lord Jesus invited him to do. The single and sole reason this man not only departed from the presence of Jesus but was also sorrowful in the process was because he had many possessions. For this rich young ruler that which he was called and invited to give up was far greater than he was willing to give up. For this rich young ruler he could not part with his possessions—this despite the fact that they were undoubtedly idols and false gods within his life. What makes this passage all the more intriguing when you consider it is that when Jesus spoke of the commandments He omitted the commandments which dealt with having other gods before the one true and living God. Pause for a moment and think about how incredibly significant that truly is for the commandments Jesus spoke unto this man dealt with his relationship with man and yet He completely omitted those commandments which dealt with his relationship with the living God.

 

            When we read the words which are found in the first chapter of this New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus we find him speaking of spiritual blessings which not only have nothing to do with this earth but are also not secure within the earth. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the foundation of these spiritual blessings which are in heaven—namely that we have been chosen in the Lord Jesus before the foundation of the world. Not only have we been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world but we have been chosen that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. At the very heart and center of these spiritual blessings which the apostle Paul referenced is the understanding that the God the Father has indeed chosen us in Christ to be holy and without blame in love before Him in love. In addition to this God the Father also predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself. Pause for a moment and consider that in the family of the living God that man or that woman—even that boy or that girl—who did not have a Father in their life growing up has in God an intimate and personal Father. Remember the words which David the psalmist declared and how even though his father and mother would forsake Him still the living God would take him up and uphold him?

 

            I sit here today reading these words which are found in this epistle written by the apostle Paul and I find myself coming face to face with the fact that not only are we adopted as children by Jesus Christ unto the Father but we have also been made accepted in the beloved. At the very heart and center of this is the tremendous truth that we have indeed been invited into and to be a part of a heavenly family that has its manifestation and demonstration in the earth. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that in Christ according to the Father we have indeed been adopted into a family as children with the living God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob as our Father. Not only this but we are heirs together with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Father of lights in whom there is no variance or shadow of turning. The words and language found in this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the reality that we have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before God the Father in loave. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed blameless and holy in the sight and presence of God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to be those who are indeed holy and blameless in the sight and presence of the LORD our God as we have indeed be predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ and have been made accepted in the beloved. What’s more is that we have redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus and the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace which He abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence as He made known unto us the mysteries of His will.

 

            I cannot escape the language that is found within this passage of Scripture for what we find in this opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints is an incredibly powerful picture of that which we have in and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there would be those who chose to focus on those blessings we can receive in this life and in this world. There are those who would choose to focus on the material and natural blessings we can receive in this world and yet I am convinced that such blessings pale in comparison to the spiritual blessings which we have in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is this reality is not only expressed in the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints but it is also expressed in the epistle written unto the Colossian saints as these two epistles bear similar language and context to each other. In addition to this I can’t help but think about how truly incredible it is the apostle Paul wrote the words which are found in this epistle while imprisoned. The epistle written by the apostle Paul is indeed considered one of the prison epistles and it would be while the apostle Paul was bound and imprisoned he would speak of something far greater than the sufferings, the afflictions, the trials and the troubles we face in this particular life. In all reality this is expressed in the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were found in the city of Rome and in the eighth chapter of the epistle. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this particular epistle as the apostle Paul speaks of how the sufferings and afflictions in this life pale in deliverance. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were present in Rome:

 

            “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:12-22).

 

            The words which are found in the eighth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome speak of the suffering in this world, however, they also speak of an inheritance we have in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but the apostle Paul speaks of the sufferings present in this world pale in absolute comparison to the riches which we can and will experience in the next life beyond the realm of time and space and in the realm of eternity. This is precisely what the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle written unto the Ephesian saints for he would write of how the living and eternal God would gather together in one all things in Christ—both those things which are in heaven and those things which are on the earth. Oh we must needs recognize and understand just how incredible the language in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints truly is for within it the apostle Paul speaks of inheritance, of forgiveness, of adoption, of redemption and of our being chosen in Christ by God the Father. We have indeed been called and chosen that we might have an inheritance in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—and an inheritance that is not found here within the earth but that which is reserved for us in heavenly places. This inheritance is such that cannot be touched, tainted nor tarnished by the hands and plans of man for it is reserved for us in Christ in heavenly places. In fact, if we wish to understand this all the more I am convinced we must needs turn and direct our attention to the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews concerning those who died in faith having not received that which was promised unto them on this side of eternity in the realm of time and space:

 

            “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 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 11:8-16).

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it incredibly important to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in this opening chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul. While it is true that we read wonderful and powerful language concerning adoption, redemption, inheritance, forgiveness and the like we must recognize that none of this was based on our own merit. The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will encounter the awesome and powerful truth that everything written and mentioned here is rooted and grounded in the divine counsel of the living God Himself. Upon reading the words of this passage you will find the apostle Paul speaking of “the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glory.” In addition to this you will find the apostle Paul again speaking of “his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” Furthermore we find the apostle Paul speaking of God the Father and how what we have received from Him is “according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory.” Not only this but in the fourteenth verse we again find the apostle Paul speaking of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession “unto the praise of his glory.” Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that everything we find and read in this passage of Scripture has its foundation in the pleasure, the praise, and the glory of God the Father. These spiritual blessings we have in and through Christ have their foundation in the good pleasure and the praise of the glory of the Father, thus eliminating any boast we might think we have in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would truly embrace the words and language which is found in this passage of Scripture and that we would not only recognize the spiritual blessings we have in Christ in heavenly places but also that we would deliver ourselves from the earthly distractions, dangers and bondage of this present world which would seek to persuade us that we can have friendship with the world. Oh that we would recognize and realize that friendship with the world is indeed enmity with God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and that we would deliver ourselves from the cares and chains of this world that we might not only come after and follow the Lord Jesus but might also have treasure in heaven.

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