HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
In Order to Live in Praise,
Believers Must Focus on Their Spiritual Blessings
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. (Ephesians 1:3)
Interpretation Questions: What does the phrase “every spiritual blessing” refer to? And what is the practical application for believers?
The next aspect of Paul’s praise to God (while in prison) focuses on every spiritual blessing of believers in the heavenly realms. What does Paul mean by “every spiritual blessing”? “In the New Testament pneumatikos (spiritual) is always used in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit.” In fact, it can be translated “all the blessings of the Spirit”—referring to the Holy Spirit of God.
While in prison, Paul was probably not only hungry, but also lacking in basic comfort, freedom, and other physical blessings. But that did not stop him from praising God for his blessings! Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from pain and suffering in this world. In fact, many times it increases pain and suffering. However, God does promise innumerable blessings from the Spirit.
What do these blessings from the Spirit include? We will consider many of them as we go through Ephesians 1:4-13:
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: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 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: 11 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: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
However, this list is not exhaustive. There is much, much more. Spiritual blessings include the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Paul worshipped in prison because the Holy Spirit gave him joy, regardless of his circumstances. The Spirit gave him a love for the churches. The Spirit gave him the patience to faithfully endure his trials and deal with difficult people. The blessings of the Spirit are legion, and we should rejoice in them daily. Christ describes those who believe in him as having rivers of living water flowing “from within them” (John 7:38-39). He describes them as those who will never thirst again (John 4:14). That sounds like people who should be rejoicing!
Interpretation Questions: What about physical blessings? Does God promise to give us physical blessings as well?
In light of the above, does this mean God will not supply our physical needs as well? Contrary to the tenets of the prosperity gospel, God does not promise us earthly wealth and health. But, he does promise to meet our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). Christ declares that we have a Father who knows our needs and that we shouldn’t worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear (Matthew 6:25-34). Paul says that since God has already given us his best—his Son—surely he will give us all things (Romans 8:32). Yes, we can be sure God will meet all our needs on this earth.
He that gives us heaven will surely give us all that is needful on the road thither. And, We shall have enough spending money on the road to glory; for he who has guaranteed to bring us, there will not starve us along the way. With that said, how do we receive these spiritual blessings in the heavenly places? How can we access the wealth that the Spirit of God supplies to the believers?
This is the Application Question: How can we access the blessings of the Spirit in our lives?
1. We access the blessings of the Spirit by abiding in Christ.
Paul said all these blessings are “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). This means we have them positionally because of our union with him, but the Spirit applies them as we abide in this relationship. Christ says, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We must abide in Christ through being in his Word, prayer, and the gathering of the saints in order to receive joy, peace, love, and patience. Are you remaining in Christ? Or are you simply visiting him on occasion?
2. We access the blessings of the Spirit by persevering in prayer for them.
Certainly, asking God for them in prayer is part of abiding, but it will benefit us to consider this aspect of abiding separately. Christ says this about the Holy Spirit to his disciples in Luke 11:11-13:
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
When Christ says God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him, he is talking to the disciples, who are believers. They already had the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what is he talking about? He is talking about God blessing the disciples with the ministries of the Holy Spirit. One commentator says this about verse 13:
In the original Greek, verse 13 does not say that God will give the Holy Spirit, but rather He will “give Holy Spirit” (without the article). Professor H. B. Swete pointed out that when the article is present, it refers to the Person Himself, but when the article is absent, it refers to His gifts or operations on our behalf. So in this passage, it is not so much a prayer for the Person of the Holy Spirit, but rather for His ministries in our lives. Do you lack peace in the midst of your storm? Ask. Do you lack joy in your trial? Ask. Do you lack love for someone whose behaviour is unlovable? Ask. Luke 11:9-10 says,
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
This literally means to ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. We must not only ask, but we must persevere in asking.
Some don’t receive because they don’t ask. James 4:2 says, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” Some don’t have because they give up asking. They don’t persevere like the widow who approached the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8).
Don’t stop asking God! Don’t stop praying! And God will give you the blessings of the Spirit that are already yours in Christ.
This is the reason worship can arise from within prison walls. Every spiritual blessing was Paul’s, and they’re ours as well.
This is the Application Questions: How should the reality of this wealth of spiritual blessings encourage you daily, especially during trials? What spiritual blessing is God currently calling you to persevere in seeking?
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …..