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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace,which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
(Ephesians 1:3-6 NIV)
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with praise and worship to the Lord.
Paul reminds us that the ultimate blessing is to be with Jesus in heaven. Paul says that the Lord has blessed us “in the heavenly realms” – that is our true and lasting blessing. Yes, we get a little taste of what heaven will be like during our short stay here on earth, but this is not our ultimate destination.
If you have ever traveled away from home, you may have stayed in a nice hotel, and enjoyed the view out the window, and the hotel’s amenities like the swimming pool or restaurant, but it was temporary. You were there for a short stay, and the hotel is not your home.
This is a good reminder that this world is not our home – and we should not try to make earth our heavenly home. God has something that is so much better waiting for us in our real home in heaven.
Paul also reminds us that God has provided every spiritual blessing in Christ. There are two important reminders out of this: 1) God provides spiritual blessings – we do not need to try to find them or procure them on our own, and 2) God provides every spiritual blessing – God does not run out of resources – there is nothing lacking.
Who are these blessings for? For those who follow Christ as Savior and Lord.
In verse 4, Paul rolls history back to the beginning – to Genesis – to show us that God created mankind in His image – holy and blameless, perfect and sinless before Him, to enjoy fellowship with Him for eternity. Even though we sinned and broke fellowship with God, Paul tells us in verse 5 that God made a way (through Christ) to adopt us back into His family and call us His children again.
Paul goes on to tell us in verses 5 and 6 that God made this way for us to return to Him lovingly, not begrudgingly. There is nothing we can do to earn His favor – it’s a gift of love offered freely to us, but of great cost to Him.
I would be remiss if I did not address the oft-debated subject that has long been associated with this passage – the subject of predestination vs. free will of mankind. Obviously, I don’t have the time or space to go into that debate in this forum, nor do I have the theological training to take on such a heavy subject. Let me just say that from my perspective, I see predestination and free will as two sides of the same coin. God chose all mankind to be reconciled to Him, even though not all will accept His offer. The invitation to accept Christ’s free gift of eternal life is available to all, but not all will receive Him. To focus on the the intricacies of this debate is, in my simple mind, to miss God’s heart of compassion, love, grace, and mercy, and to miss our calling to share God’s Good News with as many as are willing to hear it.
May you carve out some time today to praise the Lord for His blessings, for salvation, and for preparing the perfect home for us in heaven, and for the little tastes that He gives us along the way during this life to remind us of what is to come.