Lists can be effective tools for getting things done. Items must be prioritized. What would be on your list of things to do before you die? Think about your key priorities.
In Ephesians 1:3-4, Paul gets to the center of what the Gospel is about. Keep your list in the back of your mind as we go through these verses:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
1. Praise God for the many great blessings of the Gospel.
There are many blessings for us in the Gospel, but the primary call here is to praise God for what He has done and who He is in Christ. The rest falls from this one main thought.
These blessings are in the heavenly realms and are spiritual blessings (v. 3). These blessings come to the Christian by the Holy Spirit and are tied up with the age to come.
How are you doing with these blessings? Do you realize how valuable they are, and do you cherish them? Or are you more concerned with soccer, basketball, health, work, family, or your followers on social media? These aren’t unimportant but they shouldn’t crowd out Gospel blessings.
How do we focus on the spiritual blessings? Make sure you regularly attend church, especially the Lord’s Supper. Meditate on the richness of Scripture, and commit it to memory.
Reflecting on these Gospel blessings will get you through this life and its problems. The storms of life will sink your vessel unless you hold onto the Gospel. Paul was in prison when he wrote these verses. Through his trial, though, he was able to focus on spiritual blessings.
2. Praise God for the hope of heaven.
Verse 4 addresses the fact that God is about undoing the effects of the Fall and gathering a people to be holy and blameless in His sight. God created Adam and Eve perfect, but they sinned and broke this communion with God.
But God is gracious and made a way to restore communion. He has ensured that sinners can one day stand blameless before Him.
This is remarkable! It is fearful to fall into the hands of an angry God (Heb. 10:31), but Paul says that we will be delighted to be with Him. Unlike Moses, who only saw God’s back, those who are in Christ will one day stand face to face with the living God.
Non-Christian, we are all in sin. We are made in His image but in rebellion to Him.
Christian, this hope of heaven should excite you!
In the day you stand before God, it won’t matter how much money you have, your education, friends, or family. What will matter is whether you stand holy and blameless before the God of heaven. Everything pales in comparison to getting this one thing right. Heaven and hell are very grave matters.
Christian, rethink what it means to be a friend. Encourage other Christians to protect and cherish this hope in heaven.
3. Praise God for His grace in election.
God chose us in His Son, Jesus Christ, before the creation of the world. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Your salvation didn’t begin when you first heard the Gospel or when you first realized how empty the world is or when your family and friends prayed for you. No, it began long before you were born, before the first light on this earth. It began before the foundation of the world, when God chose you.
It is God, and God alone, who is behind all the causes of your salvation. If you stand before Him holy and blameless, it will be ultimately because God chose you, not because of your possessions or education or anything else. This should bring us to our knees in humble thanks and wonder that He would choose us!
God didn’t look down the hallway of time and see who would respond to the Gospel and elect them—that is not what the Bible says. In reality, He would see no one. Election is done so we would accept His Gospel. This gift is an incredible privilege and an undeserved gift.
Non-Christian, perhaps you’re taken aback by this doctrine. In the Bible, you are given the privilege to track the thinking of God. So don’t measure the Bible by whether or not you agree with it. No doctrine was set up so that you would be barred from heaven. No, but God is not only sovereign but gracious. Call out to this God who is infinitely good and gracious.
Christian, if you are struggling with assurance of salvation, consider that the question of “am I elect?” should be framed within “do I believe the Gospel?” We should examine our lives to see if they mirror a life that has been changed by the Gospel. This is one reason why fellowship with other believers is so important.
4. Praise God for Christ.
God is described in this text as God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who saved you by His death and resurrection. It’s only because of Christ’s resurrection that we can enjoy these spiritual blessings. It is only because Christ lived from eternity and died on the cross that you can stand holy and blameless before Him. This is the good news Christians get excited about. While we fell with Adam and God owes us nothing, He has been gracious to send us Christ to die in our place.
What should you put on that master list for life? Only one thing is necessary: to praise God for who He is and for what he has done for us in Christ.