What Does It Mean to Be Blessed?
By Cody T. McCain
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. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:3-10
The term “blessed” (or “blessings”) is one that is used quite loosely among believers and non-believers alike. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I find it interesting to note that many Christians do not have a Biblical understanding of what it means to be blessed. In our Western Christian congregations, being “blessed” has more to do with physical and material prosperity. Many messages (whether it be sermons, lessons, or prophecies) are now geared towards “advancement,” “achievement,” and “destiny,” all in the name of “being blessed by God!” I recall an instance when I overheard a sister in Christ say to another sister: “You see, that’s why we serve the Lord…so we can be blessed.” This statement grieved me to the absolute core! Many believers, like this dear sister, are of the same persuasion that we serve God “to be blessed” or to “walk in blessings,” when in fact this is far from the essence of what scripture teaches concerning this subject! It is my hope and prayer that this article will shed some light on what it means to be blessed from a Biblical perspective.
Before I begin to discuss the above verses, it is critically important that we understand the background of this text. A rule of thumb when studying scripture is this: always get an understanding of the text’s occasion (the reason it was written) and audience (who it was written to). This better helps us to understand the principles and message that each verse conveys. When looking at the book of Ephesians, it is important to note that historically, this letter was known as a “cyclical” letter or one that was circulated among several churches around Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). A cyclical letter’s purpose was to emphasize teachings and points of doctrine about the ENTIRE Body of Christ (not just one specific audience). The apostle Paul – who is traditionally attributed to be the author of Ephesians – purposed to emphasize this overarching theme to the Body: that the Church of Jesus Christ is to recognize Christ first and foremost as Lord and to also recognize their exalted status as a spirit-filled community whose purpose is to bring the power and presence of God to the world. This is awesome in and of itself, that as a believer in Jesus Christ, we belong to a power-packed community of people with various attributes and gifts that are purposed to demonstrate Christ in the Earth’s environment! The way Paul began to unpack this theme of reminding the Church of this principle was by giving an understanding of what it means to be blessed! Let’s look at verse three.
“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.”
Verse three acts as an introduction to this section of Paul’s letter in which he begins with praise to God, who “has blessed us.” This is a very powerful and profound statement made by the apostle Paul. Many times, we make statements such as “stay blessed” or “be blessed” not realizing these are un-biblical and religious clichés! Why? According to this verse of scripture, if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are ALREADY blessed! The tense of the verb “blessed” is what is known as the Greek aorist tense, which is a type of action that cannot be repeated (the word “blessed” literally means: “to speak well of”). God has spoken well over our individual lives when He declared us as His children (first and foremost) and when He affirmed our glorious purpose in the Earth! This is an action that God cannot “un-do” or “re-do,” He has spoken and settled it in Heaven once and for all! Being blessed has all to do with our POSITION in Christ (being that He has spoken well of us as His children) and not our current CONDITION or CIRCUMSTANCES! Being blessed is not something we can work for but rather something to embrace and receive, since God has already declared it! The verse goes on to say that we are blessed “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” When the scripture mentions “heavenly realms” it is referring to the realm where God is seated in majesty upon His throne. This is a realm of perfection and absolute unity, absent of the residue and effects of sin. Here we can observe a powerful fact: our condition of being “blessed” originated in the realm of Heaven in the mind of God. Once God conceived this in His mind, He spoke it out of His mouth. We see this very clearly in the beginning when God made man in Genesis 1:27-28 which states, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them…” The very first instance in scripture of God blessing mankind involved a declaration over their lives! What makes God’s “speaking well” of us a “spiritual blessing”? It is spiritual given the fact that what God has spoken over our lives is realized and enacted by HOLY SPIRIT! As believers, we have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we confessed Christ as Lord and Savior; and it is Holy Spirit that has taken what God has spoken concerning our lives and placed it within us (which is why Paul said at the end of this verse “in Christ”). It is ONLY through a relationship with Jesus Christ that Holy Spirit indwells us and causes us to understand and walk in God’s decree over our lives! So now that brings us to the question: What do these spiritual blessings look like? Verses 4-14 provide descriptions and characteristics that answer this question (we’ll take a brief look at each of these).
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight in love…”
The essence of what Paul was saying here is this: We were chosen to be a distinct people out of His love for us! This is the first aspect of what it looks like when we say God has blessed or “spoken well” of us. God in his infinite wisdom handcrafted and handpicked us to be two things: holy and blameless. In today’s Western Church, teachings on holiness have either been absent or overly legalistic. The word “holy” literally means distinct or set apart, which starts within the heart of a person! Walking holy before God as a believer is something He has given us the ability to do by Holy Spirit’s power and ability, not our own strength! When we acknowledge God as holy in our hearts and have exalted Him as Lord, our lifestyles will begin to align according to the Word of God. Holiness defines us as distinct and different from the world, not so we can be puffed up, but so we can demonstrate Christ. Holiness is not a denomination or a style of dress! Tying into the theme of holiness is the word “blameless” which literally means “without blemish.” In the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, the burnt offering – which was for the worship of God – had to be an unblemished animal from the flock. An unblemished animal was considered the best of the flock, therefore a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. When God has decreed that we be unblemished He is saying that we should offer to Him the very best of what flows out of our lives as a pleasing sacrifice. And what should our motivation be for being holy and blameless? The answer is one word: love! The concluding portion of this verse says “in love” which is God’s agape or unconditional love. Our desire to walk holy and blameless before God should flow out of love (not fear or obligation). To illustrate this let’s use marriage as an example. For those who are married, because you love your spouse, you do not mind giving of yourself to please and serve them. Not because you fear them or out of duty, but because of love! The same principle applies to God! Religious obligation or denominational rules/standards do not equate holiness and blamelessness according to the Word.
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Another aspect of what these spiritual blessings look like appears in verses 5 and 6. When Paul refers to “predestination,” he is not referring to the idea of God choosing some for eternal life and others for eternal damnation! The idea here is not one’s eternal destination but the believer’s destined POSITION of sonship through Jesus Christ. Yes, even if you are a female, you have sonship in Jesus Christ! Paul is drawing from the concept of inheritance that was common during Biblical times, in which the oldest male child received the inheritance of the father. It was God’s will that we be made “sons of God” through Christ so that his “glorious grace” which He has freely given to us through Jesus might be made known to others! In other words, as sons of God, we have inherited the grace that belongs to Jesus, and it is this grace that has saved us so that we would show others this wonderful salvation in Christ.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.”
Verses 7 and 8 build from the concept of God’s grace in verses 5 and 6. Here we see the term “redemption” used to describe what Jesus’ blood did for us. Redemption refers to “buying back” something that originally belonged to him or her. Jesus’ blood purchased our salvation, bringing us back into a relationship and fellowship with God and free from the curse of sin. In addition to our redemption, we have been given “all wisdom and understanding” through Holy Spirit in us. This is especially important to understand as a characteristic of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ in those moments in our lives when we feel lost, confused, and as if we’re all alone, far from feeling “blessed.” We see even more here that being blessed does not revolve around “feeling blessed.”
“…he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
The final portion of our discussion revolves around verses 9 and 10 which have several important factors. The first factor is found in the clause “he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” The “mystery” here refers to what was previously hidden in God’s plan. The entire Old Testament is a shadow and an arrow that pointed to Jesus Christ. During Old Testament times, God’s plan of redemption and restoration was made known in various prophetic books such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, but the question always remained: WHO will be God’s promised messiah? That promise was fulfilled and purposed in Christ, which we have the privilege of knowing in a personal relationship! This is a tremendous thing to know that part of why God calls us blessed is because what men and women of old looked forward to, we now know! The final clause stating, “to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” emphasizes the fact that God’s plan of redemption in Christ will have a culmination at the end of this age (sounds like eternal life to me!). We are blessed because God’s plan for our lives does not end when we close our eyes but goes on into eternity! Ultimately, Christ will bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under His authority and rule. If it is the mind of Christ to bring about ultimate unity, then we’re also blessed because He has put within us the ability to PROMOTE UNITY! If there is going to be an eventual unification of all believers regardless of racial and ethnic backgrounds, why shouldn’t we seek to promote and practice that now?!
Father in Jesus’ name, thank you that you have called us blessed. You have spoken well over us when you declared your word over our lives! Lord help us to hold fast to what your word says concerning being blessed and what it truly looks like to be blessed. Forgive us for adhering to false ideologies and teachings concerning blessings and help us to understand even more the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray……. amen and SO BE IT!
Cody T. McCain Sr. is the owner, funeral director, and embalmer of McCain Funeral Home & Cremations, LLC located in Morganton. He, along with his wife Shaunda, have a passion to serve their community with the love, integrity, and excellence of Christ.
Read more great Christian News HERE.