“Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ; even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jews Christ unto himself according to the good pleasure of his will…” Ephesians 1:3–5
We are here given the keynote of this epistle and particularly of the grand doxology that begins with verse 3 and extends through vs. 14. The doxology is based on the truth of the Trinity. The three Persons. Father. Son and Holy Spirit, are praised as the Fountain of our salvation. Redemption is here presented as so comprehensive a work that the energies and grace of the Triune God are required to accomplish it.
“Thy grace alone, O God, to me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.
No other work save Thine, no other blood will do;
No strength save that which is divine
Can bear me safely through.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To bless literally means “to speak well.” When God blesses us. be speaks well of us and to us. When we bless God, we speak well of him and to him. However, this is not a reciprocal action. It is not an exchange of favors. We can never confer a benefit on God! The creature never remunerates the Creator. Man can never obligate God. It is well to keep that in mind when we talk: about doing something for the Lord. Always God is the Giver, and we the receivers.
God blesses. We bless. But when be speaks well to us, he speaks with power—creative power, transforming power. When we speak well of him and to him, we declare that he is good and gracious. He blesses in word and deed, and thereby enables us to proclaim his Name and to acknowledge that he is what he reveals himself to be. We taste that he is good, but he was good before we tasted. Thirsty, we drink of the Fountain. Never does the Fountain drink of us.
“I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee”
In this great doxology the apostle recognizes that the most desirable of all blessings are such as are in their nature spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. He speaks of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” It is not the fashion of our age to evaluate benefits that way. The modern man is taught to find his supreme god in things that are physical, earthly, and for this life alone. Much of modem education is geared to that principle. The thing that counts in most class rooms is getting ahead and doing well in this life. The here and not the hereafter receives the attention. That is all wrong according to the apostle Paul. The Christian’s chief good is his spiritual bounty in Christ.
That is where his happiness lies.
The Christian has been chosen in Christ. The choice was God’s, and he made it with the view of conferring benefits such as sinful man does not naturally care for, namely, “that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love.” Holy means separated, consecrated. devoted to God. For this end we were elected. Our selection by God was unto our sanctification before God. We are to be his in the fullest sense of the word—his husbandry. his building. his temple, his living sacrifice, bis fruit-bearing vine. This was not our choice. It was his!
The choice was made “before the foundation of the world.” It was made before time. No love was more ancient than God’s love for his people. It was placed upon his people before time began; and in all the ages and dispensations, through successive dynasties and kingdoms, in all the events of providence as well as in the repeated promises, we see the gradual unfolding of that ancient love, until, in the person of the incarnate Redeemer. the love of God is fully manifest and final provision is made that the Father almighty and his prodigal son might meet.
And what a meeting that was! The Father who cannot sin receiving the son who exclaimed: “I have sinned and am not worthy.” A meeting for which arrangements had been made in eternity! He chose us before the foundation of the world.
Why did he choose us? Was his election a selection of the best? Emphatically not! There is no “best…among unworthy sinners. Paul’s answer is that God chose us “according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Here, as in all Holy Scripture, God is all and in all.
Father in heaven, we can never give to thee unless thou first: givest to us. Help us ever to acknowledge this with deepest sincerity and with unfeigned faith. Amen.