“BLESSED be the God and Father of our Lord Jeans 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.” – Eph. i. 3-7.
Beloved In Christ: – The words of Scripture are right and true and wonderful, and none more wonderful in their all comprehensive fullness than this text, addressed to the saints at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ. In this one sentence almost every part of the doctrine of Christ and the fullness of salvation is included. Blessed with this wonderful revelation to his faith, Paul blessed God for what he is in himself, and for his unspeakable gift and blessing to his chosen people, and mentions the chief of the infinite blessings. Let us follow the inspired apostle. Our blessed God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is as well our God and Father, in the sacred relationship that the Lord Jesus is ours, and ours in all that he is to God and in all that he does. At the conquered grave he said to Mary: “Go unto my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” The night before the holy Son of God died on the cross, he prayed to God for his people, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” In the text Paul testifies how all this shall be accomplished. It is a blessed and sacred truth, then, that the God of his covenant people is as well their everlasting Father. Both these ever-enduring relations exist in our Lord Jesus Christ; for in him only are we the blessed people of God, and his beloved children. Every sacred and holy tie that binds and endears us to God is in his well beloved Son. We cannot too well understand this fact, nor too humbly and gratefully cherish it, lest we forget and think of ourselves more highly than we ought. The holy child Jesus is the only begotten Son of God; therefore our sonship to God and his Fatherhood to us is in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in his life manifested in us that we are the children of God, and in his obedience only shall we be made righteous.
Let us observe that a right spirit and a true conception of God ever leads us to bless, adore and extol his holy name, and banishes the thought that would say, “Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” The child-like, meek and true spirit will ever say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The spirit of sonship is to thank the Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, for all that he is, and for all that he does, though he is sovereignly discriminating in hiding himself and the things of his kingdom from the wise and prudent, and revealing them unto babes. But the spirit of the flesh and of worldly wisdom is to cavil, object to and find fault with God, because he is the Lord God Almighty, and does not conform to the will and ways and works of men.
“Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” What God doeth is forever. He changes not; but from eternity to eternity he is the same. “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” That is, he does not turn from them or recall them. “For all the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea, and amen, to the glory of God by us.” The blessing of God is done, is eternal and unchangeable. “Hath blessed us.” This is in the perfect tense. The people whom he hath thus blessed did nothing to move him thereunto, nothing to obtain his blessing; neither can they do anything to turn this blessing of God into a curse, or to cause him to change and revoke the blessing. It is positively unconditionial on their part, and it is forever. The full measure of the divine blessing of our blessed God is, “all spiritual blessings.” This is infinite fullness, and riches of blessing. Nothing can be taken from it, nor anything added to it. It is unsearchable, incomprehensible, and as enduring as eternity. It is impossible to conceive of the smallest heavenly blessing outside of or more than “all spiritual blessing.” No enlightened mind will presume to say that our God has conditionally blessed us with any of the all spiritual blessings. For all the boundless fullness of this everlasting blessing of the Almighty Father is “in heavenly places in Christ.” Therefore, they are as sovereignly unfailing and free as is our Lord Jesus Christ himself. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Paul thus shows, for the assurance of our faith and hope in God, that as we had done, nothing to move him to deliver up his holy Son for us all, as his unspeakable gift to his people, so with him he will likewise freely give us all other blessings of his love and grace. It is written of Jesus, “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” And he says, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Words could not more clearly and fully express the entire freeness of all spiritual blessings, the inexhaustible treasury of heavenly grace. All, all as freely and surely given to us as the blessed Son of the holy Father’s love. The infinite gift of his Son secured to us all things else, “all spiritual blessings.” They are all in Christ. The Father is in Christ. “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” So the blessed Christ is the fullness of heaven. We are in Christ. The innumerable brotherhood of saints is in Christ. In Christ his God and Father hath blessed us. Christ is oar wisdom and righteousness, our sanctification and redemption, our resurrection and our life. We have salvation only in Christ. “He shall save his people from their sins.” They have received of the Lord’s hand double for all their sins. The double is eternal redemption, and “all spiritual blessings in Christ.” The redeemed of the Lord shall go up into immortality and eternal glory, and find their Father and God, their heaven and blessed all in Christ. Blessed Christ! “Do not I love thee, O my Lord? Behold my heart and see, and turn each cursed idol out, that dares to rival thee.” If I make my salvation, either for time or eternity, depend upon myself, my obedience or works of righteousness which I have done, and expect any of the spiritual blessings of God for what I have done in his service, is not this an idol and a rival of Christ! For it is attributing some of the blessings and gifts of salvation to myself and my works, instead of to Christ and for his sake. Even when we have served the best we are enabled to do, our Lord teaches his disciples to say, “We are unprofitable servants.”
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” Paul said this of all the faithful in Christ, with the saints at Ephesus. They are all in Christ, and in him they are faithful, or have full faith in him, not in themselves; for in themselves they are not faithful. By the choice of God they are in Christ. God looked upon them or viewed them in Christ even then, when he chose them in him, and vouchsafed to them all spiritual blessings, both for time and eternity. To the brotherhood in Christ Paul therefore says, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” For we and all our blessings of salvation are in the Lord. We are blessed with them all, not only in Christ, but also according as God hath chosen us in him. So then, all the blessed of God and saved in Christ were in him by the choice of God before the foundation of the world. Not in him in their persons, but in him in their life, with all their spiritual blessings. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” This life God gave us when he gave us his Son. Therefore, Christ is our life. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” And he hath not any spiritual blessing. Our identity and being is in our life. This is true of all animal and human beings, as the creatures of the Creator; it is also true of us as the brethren of Christ and the children of God. The life and head of the church is Christ, and the life and head of Christ is God. Paul says, “All are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
All who live and believe in Christ, as their righteousness and salvation, have faith to understand that they are now the children of God in Christ Jesus, and only because Christ lives in them, their hope of glory, and they live in him. Without Christ, they would yet be dead in their sins, and without God in the world. Thus it is true that our sonship unto God was not in the life of Adam, nor is it now in our fleshly being as born of the flesh, but it was in the life of Christ, and is manifested in us as born of the Spirit of God. So as truly as Adam was and is our natural head and life, as the creatures of God, our Lord Jesus Christ was and is our spiritual head and life as the children of God. So it’ is only because we are Christ’s, his people and brethren, and Christ is ours, that we receive eternal life and all spiritual blessings, now in time and unto blissful eternity. God hath now revealed these blessed things unto us by his Spirit, and they are true in us who are full of faith in Christ Jesus, our head, our life, our salvation, our all in all. But all this that is true in us and blessed to us now in time, causing us to rejoice in Christ, was just as true with God before time was born, when he chose us and blessed us in Christ. Every believer in Christ in all lime was both chosen in Christ and given all spiritual blessings in him before the foundation of the world. Christ and all spiritual blessings, to help them on earth and to crown them in heaven, are the gifts of God’s eternal love to them. And every one of the countless millions of redeemed and saved sinners are the people and children of God’s love. So all spiritual blessings are the gifts of his love. They were unconditionally given us in Christ Jesus. Faith and hope and love in Christ, in whom we believe and rejoice, are to us now the Spirit’s witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. These three now abide in us to whom they are given, and they are a precious foretaste of “all spiritual blessings,” a three-fold chord that cannot be broken, and a sure promise of the full possession of the heavenly inheritance unto God in Christ, when time shall be no longer.
“That we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” This is the blessed and holy purpose and end of God in his chosen people. They are a peculiar people, both to themselves and the world, a spectacle to men and to angels; for every one of them is a Shulamite, in whom is seen the company of two armies. For the children of God are partakers of flesh and blood, as well as partakers of the divine nature, and are those who are twice born or born again. The first birth is of the flesh, the last is of the Spirit. In the flesh they were unholy and condemned under the just and holy law of God, so that their salvation is according to the rich mercy and abounding grace of God in Christ Jesus alone. But as born again, born of God, they are freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and are the beloved children of God, his heirs and the joint-heirs with Christ to the heavenly inheritance and all spiritual blessings. The eternal purpose of God regarded them as sinners, unholy, guilty and righteously condemned under the law of God; for he chose and blessed them in Jesus Christ the righteous unto the end that they should be cleansed from all unrighteousness, washed from all their sins, made spotless and holy, and perfected in the love of God and conformed to the image of his beloved and altogether lovely Son. The omnipotent power of the Father’s everlasting love, graciously and sovereignly bestowed upon his chosen people in Christ, their Mediator and immortal Head, and shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us, will thus purify all the sons of God and wholly sanctify them, until their whole spirit and soul and body shall be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall bring all his saints with him in glory and present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.
Chosen of God before time that they should be blessedly and divinely lovely as perfected in holiness, a choice supremely worthy of and glorifying to God in the highest, in due time he calls them with a holy calling, and they run after him, love him, because he first loved them, show forth his praise and find their supreme bliss in his loving service and praise. As new born babes, they desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby, having tasted that the Lord is gracious. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Behold, all the fullness of blessings in Christ Jesus are spiritual, all the chosen people of the Father’s love are “a spiritual house,” and all their offerings and devotions to the God of their salvation and worship, as “a holy priesthood,” are “spiritual sacrifices,” and all this spiritual house, and all their spiritual sacrifices offered up to God, are acceptable to him by our Lord Jesus Christ, our ever-living and glorious High Priest. All this glorious power of God in the salvation of his chosen people “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 fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
How infinitely wonderful, glorious and blessed is all this! “My soul stands trembling, while she sings the honors of her God.” O the precious name of Jesus! Aged, afflicted, reproached, persecuted, poor, weak and helpless, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Yea, I rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”
And now, my dearly beloved kindred in Christ, my earnest desire to God the loving and holy Father for you all is, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
In the faith and hope and love of Christ I am your brother companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,
(Concluded next number.)
Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 3, 1902.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 7.
APRIL 1, 1902.