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Description: Blessings From The Bounty of Heaven
Blessings From the Bounty of Heaven
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I think Ephesians is really the most complex book in the New Testament and probably in the Bible.
I’m not really a Greek scholar though I can read Greek, but even I can see how the Greek is
intensely condensed. It is very, very complex, Greek. And Paul tries to express thoughts that are
really quit infinite, and so it is a very complex book. I would say it is much more difficult Greek
than the book of Romans. It is more complex in a way then Romans though in a sense not as complete
and absolute a presentation of the gospel as Romans. But Ephesians is certainly a much deeper book,
and so it’s a book where you need to spend a lot of time depending on the Holy Spirit, trusting him
to show you at what level you can understand it.
It’s not to bend your mind out of shape trying to understand what maybe I understand, or what
somebody else understands. But you need to ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you need to
understand of it at this time. I think what we’ve done is get to about verse 3, so let’s plunge
into it. Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed
us.” You keep getting that three times in this verse, “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.”
It’s good to see that each of those ‘blessed’ give you the feel of the book — blessed be the God
and Father, who has blessed us, with every spiritual blessing. The Greek is just the same actually,
it’s that word eulogetos. And it keeps repeating. Even those of you that know a little Greek, know
that logetos is speak, and eu is well. So blessing is speaking well of.
But you can see that the whole verse is a positive. It’s all bless, bless, bless be the God and
Father of the Lord Jesus, bless does with every spiritual blessing. So this verse is gospel all the
way. Now what I’d like to draw your attention to is the third part of the verse which we’re dealing
with today, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places — in
heavenly places. The rare expression there is epouraniois. It occurs actually just four times in
the New Testament, and those four times are in Ephesians.
It is a remarkable expression, and has several different meanings. I thought Lloyd Jones had a very
deep insight and then I was looking up my own special computer commentary and there it was right
there so I know what he got it from. But heaven can mean the earth’s atmosphere. And you’ll get
that if you like to look at it in Genesis 2:19. This is one obvious example of that word in Hebrew
(though it’s not translated heaven there in our English).
Genesis 2:19, “So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of
the air.” And “of the air” is actually every bird of the heavens. So you can guess the atmosphere
is a where our friends the birds fly. And so that’s one meaning of heaven. E. Stanley Jones points
out another meaning of heaven — that is the stellar heavens. This is just beyond the earth’s
atmosphere where the stars are. You find that in Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation
of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will
fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Heavens — that’s the place where
the stars are, the stellar heavens, the great areas of space. And the third heaven is of course
And that’s what Paul was talking about that we read in 2 Corinthians 12, “I knew a man who was
called up to the third heaven,” he was speaking of himself and of a very elevated, mystical
experience where he was caught up into heaven and he saw what heaven was like. And so paradise is
the third meaning of heaven.
Now what I’d like to show you and you’ll have to think about this a little more — light, travels at
180,000 miles per second. Light travels 6 trillion miles in a year. So when you’re talking about
light years that’s the kind of distance you’re talking about. Now do you see that if you’re
standing here on the earth, and there’s a star out here, and its light is traveling at 6 trillion
miles a year. In one year its light has got to there. And in another year its light has got to
there. And eventually what do you say? They calculate it now with the radio telescopes, but by the
time it gets to here it’s ten thousand years later.
So Colleen sees this star, but really she doesn’t. She sees the light of the star that has come in
these little bits and it eventually gets to here, and she says, “Look at that star”. But really what
she should say is, “Look at that star that was!” Because many of the stars have died, and all we’re
seeing is their light traveling towards us.
Now if you can hold your mind together let’s just go back to there. We go back to that point many
thousands of years back there. If you could get out into space there, (you see why they talk about
time machines) you’re seeing something out there that has happened eight thousand years ago. I am no
astronomer at all and I don’t know the details of these things, but I can begin to grasp that that’s
where time and space affect each other. I think you can see that by going to a different place in a
vast universe like ours, you actually travel back in time or forward in time. And you can actually
see things that have happened ten thousand years ago, twenty thousand years ago, or as many
thousands of years ago as God has arranged. Can you see what I’m saying?
There seems to be some remarkable place there. I don’t know if that’s at all what Stephen Hawking (a
scientist in the U.K.) hopes to get at, the unique theory of everything, but you can see that
there’s some spot out there at the end of this stellar space and beyond this atmosphere where space
and time fade into paradise. Now that’s what this verse says, the word for blessed in heavenly
places is eulogesas. The aorist tense is a past tense but it’s a past tense with the emphasis on
back there. The perfect tense is a past tense, but it emphasizes what has happened in the past and
what is the present state that is the result of that.
So when you say “He has blessed”, you really are laying the emphasis on the present state that is
the result of the previous blessing. You’re laying emphasis on the actual event in the past. And
what God is saying is that he blessed us in Christ, in the heavenly places back there. Back there he
blessed us in the heavenly places, which are beyond the space and time that we can see and measure,
he blessed us in Christ thousands of years ago. Away at the beginning he blessed us in Christ with
every spiritual blessing.
I think you all are able to get over the obvious question, well how could he have blessed us if we
didn’t yet exist? It’s because we were created in Christ Jesus, and we were created in Christ Jesus
way before the beginning of the world. And it was at that time that God blessed us in Christ in the
heavenly places. In other words, when God resolved to make us part of the Trinity family he knew
that he would have to make us free agents. And at that moment he knew he would have to make us free
agents who could kill God. He had to face the worst possibility that he gave us, and he had to make
us free agents that could kill God. Yet God himself would rise from the dead, and would in turn be
able to destroy the evil in us that killed him. Yet at the same time he would be able to raise us up
so that we would have a chance to choose him or ourselves.
And then God turned around to his son and said, “Son, will you let me create these dear children
inside you, so that you will bare their destruction and in turn raise them up by your own life so
that they will have the opportunity to choose me or themselves?” And God did all that back there,
that’s what Paul is saying.
God blessed us in Christ in the heavenly places — where time is one great eternal moment, where
time has faded into eternity — all that has been done. What’s the importance of it? The
importance of it is that too many of us think, “I can’t get forgiveness, I can’t get sanctified, I
can’t get baptized with the Holy Spirit.” You don’t have to because you already were. God already
did that. And if you say to me, “Well why am I not in it?” Yes, why aren’t you in it? Why aren’t
you? That’s really all you have to say, why aren’t you?
It’s not because you can’t get in so why aren’t you? The only answer is, “I’ll ask the Holy Spirit
why I’m not.” It’s certainly not because God has’t done it. It’s been done. That’s why the verse
says, “God blessed us in Christ in the heavenly places, with every spiritual blessing, (every — the
Greek word is very clear). It’s every spiritual blessing, it’s the same word as you get in
pantasocracy or pantheos. The word is “pas” it’s every spiritual blessing, God blessed us with every
spiritual blessing, in Christ, everything that we needed — what are they?
You see it in Ephesians 2:1. These are the spiritual blessings that he blessed us with at that
moment. “And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you
once walked.” Even when you were dead he made you alive in Jesus. He crucified you in Jesus and made
you alive in Jesus even, “When you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once
walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of
our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like
the rest of mankind.”
Even when that was the case, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead through our trespasses…..even back there, when God saw that we were out to
kill him, and to live with ourselves as God, even when we were dead through our trespasses back
there, God made us alive to together with Christ, and by grace you have been saved. It is all by
grace, because you couldn’t do anything back then at all.
It was by God’s sheer generosity that he foresaw what your attitude was, and he took action. He
wiped it out and raised you up despite your attitude. By grace you have been saved, and raised us up
with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Why? That in the coming
ages, he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, for
by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it’s the gift of God,
not because of works lest any man should boast.
But we say, “Lord, what should we do to get forgiven? What should we do to get sanctified? What
should we do to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?” And he’s saying, “Can’t you read? This was all
done by grace. I did this all to you in my son. I have raised you up and made you alive in him.
That’s all done, and this present world is a world that lifts apart from that to show you what the
alternative is. Now you can see what the alternative is. But I’ve put you in my son and I’ve put my
son in you, and now I want you to live that way.”
That’s it, the whole thing has been done, and that’s what the verse is saying. Bless be the God and
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus in
the heavenly places, and then has let us come and visit earth for a short time. But actually that’s
where we are, sitting with Jesus in the heavenly places at the right hand of God. So you can see
that you actually have to decide and the decision is a very simple one. You have to decide whether
you are going to believe that this passing ‘schema’ (Greek for outer appearance) is passing away.
You have to decide is this outward appearance the real reality? Is this the final truth or in fact
is this the final truth? You have to decide which one.
We can decide it at every moment of our lives. Somebody cuts us dead and at that moment you can
decide, is this reality or have I been raised up with the Lord Jesus? Are the angels, archangels,
St. Patrick and St. Thomas Aquinas are they all here? Which is reality? We can decide that and it
is incredible. I’ll ask you to think about it. I think it’s interesting to see how even from the
little bit of knowledge we have of astronomy we can see how people like Einstein, are breaking into
some of the truth of reality.
Dear Lord, we thank you for your great grace. We thank you Lord that the very powers of heaven are
not only around about us but within us. We thank you Lord that we are not what we seem. We are not
little creeping insects, here on the surface of a planet. We are caught between the moon and
heaven, caught in our dear savior, made to sit with him in the heavenly places, far above all rule
and authority in dominion and power, and above every name that is named not only in this age but
that which is to come. We thank you Father, that this is reality.
So Lord Jesus we look up to you now to praise and thank you. Lord we would breathe freer and fresher
air where we are in you; far above the clouds, far above the smoke, far above the mirrors. In the
clear light of reality we would dwell here with you moment by moment. But for the rest of the short
time here on earth, may we live in the glory and the beauty of your presence and allow that to shine
out through our eyes and our hands to the dears hearts in the café and the offices, and in the
stores, so that your will Father will be done on earth even as it is done in heaven. Now the grace
of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us
now and evermore, Amen.