Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Have you ever noticed how much about us is packed into the opening verses of Ephesians? Just look at what we are and have in Christ:
Can you even begin to fathom such a great love or such great mercy? We don’t deserve it but it is offered to all freely. So let’s break these verses down. Paul exalts in praising God at the beginning of Ephesians because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. First, how are we “in” Christ Jesus? When we accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us, we are blessed to receive His precious Holy Spirit who lives within us. 1 John 4:13 says, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” How do we abide in Him? We abide in God by reading His Word and applying it to our lives. How do we know this is how we abide in Him? Because Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-14)!
How are we blessed in heavenly places? What does that mean? We know that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and also our hope (Colossians 1:5) and inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). We are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20, 21) and our affections (Colossians 3:1, 2) are to be “in heaven.” So what does this mean for us on a practical level? If our citizenship is in heaven, and our hope and inheritance are there as well, we could say that the Christian’s spiritual blessings are retained for us in heaven (reserved there since the foundation of the world) and they are progressively dispersed to us in the form of spiritual gifts in accord with our need and Christian growth as we abide in Christ. Those blessings are waiting in heaven for everyone, on hold until we make that decision to follow Jesus and when we do, live our lives by abiding in Him. Everyone has these blessings waiting to be bestowed on them.
What does it mean to be "chosen" before the foundation of the world? Many have mistakenly believed that God chose certain people before the world began to be saved. Signifying that they were indeed "chosen". Unfortunately, this belief contradicts John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Jesus didn't die for a select few. He died for the whole world. Which means He was thinking about everyone, everywhere, before the foundation of the world, to be united with Him and saved. Why? So that we would be holy and without blame before Him. Jesus paved the way for everyone to be saved. We were all "predestined" to receive His grace. But there would be one stumbling block - you simply had to repent of your sins and believe in Him (John 3:18; Luke 5:31-32).
What happens when we repent and believe? We are adopted by Jesus as His sons and daughters and we are accepted into His presence and loved. Why? Because of the good pleasure of His will and for the praise of the glory of His grace. So, in simple terms, we receive all these wonderful blessings because it makes God happy. Imagine that! And all you have do to is repent of your sins and believe.