Tag Archives: Spiritual blessings

The Boundless Gift of Grace

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

Ephesians 1:7- 8 (NKJ)

Grace was a song we often heard as children at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church.  I can still hear in my mind the Senior Choir, led by Mrs. Olivia Gentry, bellowing out the chorus which highlighted the richness and indescribable power of God’s grace.

Grace, Grace, God’s grace

His grace is sufficient for me.

Grace, Grace, God’s grace

His grace will give you

The victory.

As we continue our series on victorious living, we would be remiss if we did not take time to examine the source of our salvation and “crown jewel” of God’s blessings—God’s grace—without which, victorious living would be impossible.  For it was the grace of God that would finally resolve man’s issue with sin—his personal sin that thwarted his relationship with His Heavenly Father.  It would take extraordinary, boundless grace to reverse the downward spiral of fallen man.

In the Old Testament, grace (hen) generally referred to one finding favor and acceptance with God (Gen. 6:8; Exo. 34:9; Ps. 84:11).  In the New Testament, while grace still infers the favor of God, grace (charis) is extended to include God’s good will and loving-kindness.  This boundless gift of grace was and is extended to us through Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11, 14).

Jesus Christ made it possible for God to complete His plan of salvation, created before the foundations of the world (1 John 3:5, 8; 4:9).  This “glorious grace” (Ep. 1:6), which actually characterizes the nature of God  has resulted in God’s choosing us, adopting us as sons, and making us ”acceptable in the Beloved” or one with Christ (Ep. 1:3-6).

In Christ, man finds redemption and forgiveness of sin.  Jesus satisfies the holy and “legal” requirements of God by paying the price for sin with “the shedding of blood” (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).  When God’s people chose to continue in their sin, unable to keep His laws, God made actual the eternal blessing uttered in eternity.  God sent His Son (John 3:16).

In Ephesians 1:8, Paul states that the riches of God’s grace abound toward us.  The RSV translation builds on that thought, using instead, “lavished upon us.”  Such extraordinary covering by God’s grace flows from the depth of His love (1 John 4:9-10) and includes with it the recipient’s understanding (wisdom and prudence) of “Christ’s purpose, to feel His heart of mercy, to approve and to concur with His redeeming plans, as men ‘made wise unto salvation’” [1]

One thing all men (and women) have in common regardless of time, space, or geography is sin.  We see sin’s effects everyday—crime, civil strife, social injustice—all these find their root in sin.  And there are “subtle sins” that are hidden from the visible eye yet still affect the behavior of individuals, churches, and society, in general—greed, jealousy, envy and hate.   But “in Christ”, the believer’s identity with Christ and his position before God the Father, men now have access to the only thing that can reverse sin’s grip on hearts.

The issues of the 21st century are in actuality “heart issues”.  Hearts hardened and determined to live self-centered and disobedient lives.  Neither money nor power can resolve humanity’s woes.  Narcissistic or charismatic leaders cannot end political impasse.  Better schools or larger jails won’t end generations of economic inequality.  There is only one thing that can reverse the cycle of death set forth by sin in the Garden of Eden—it’s God’s boundless gift of grace.

Alec Motyer in this classic book, Look to the Rock, gives insight into the impact of God’s boundless gift of grace:  “When God’s people could not rise to the height of His standard, God didn’t lower His standard to match their abilities, He transformed them.”  This transformation is possible only through acceptance of God’s boundless gift of grace.

Grace, Grace, God’s grace

His grace will give you

The victory.

SELAH:  Write down your thoughts on how the boundless gift of God’s grace has changed, is changing, or can change your life.

[1]  Ephesians Studies, H.C.G. Moule

To the Praise of God’s Glorious Grace

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  Ephesians 1:4-6 (NKJ)

Last week we explored the meaning of “in Christ”.   In Christ is the believer’s identity with Christ and his position before God the Father.  The believer’s identity incorporates the personality of Christ by the   present experience of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer’s heart.  Being in Christ makes available to the believer everything that Christ has—His righteousness, privilege, resources, position and power.    This week we’ll continue our discussion of spiritual blessings by focusing on its primary source—God.

The source of spiritual blessings is God—The Faithful Creator and Sustainer of Life.  These blessings are available through God’s plan of salvation for those who by faith are in Christ.  God’s plan of salvation was not “Plan B” or an afterthought as a result of man’s fall in The Garden (Genesis 3:15) but was created in eternity before the foundations of the world.  “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet. 1:19-20).

The Old Testament prophets declared the plan of God to redeem and restore His people—for their sake and for His glory (Isaiah 43:21).  The Lord proclaimed through Jeremiah:  “I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.” (Jeremiah 33:8, 9)

God chose man from Creation to be the recipient of His great love, desiring to be in continual relationship with His most beloved creature.  However, the nature of God, His holiness, specifically, demanded that believers be “holy and without blame” before Him (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  God declared, therefore, the means by which man would be able to meet His requirement for holiness—His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through God’s predetermined plan, He adopted those in Christ to become His sons (and daughters) (Rom. 8:15-16).  By God’s act of grace (being chosen and adopted) and mercy (Christ’s substitutional death for sins), believers are now clothed in Christ’s righteousness (imputed), making the pursuit of holiness (blamelessness) possible.   With the addition of the Holy Spirit’s presence, believers are able “to both will and do God’s good will” (Phil. 2:13).

God’s affection for man speaks to the true heart and nature of God.  It expresses God’s goodness.  While God’s goodness includes, His love and His mercy, Paul speaks of the “glory of God’s grace” (charis) expressed in the free gift of His Son.  God’s grace, resulting in the believer’s salvation and justification (rendered righteous) before God (Rom. 5:1), deserves our highest praise.   Hallelujah, we are now acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!

A closing note:  Throughout Paul’s writing and especially in Ephesians, we are reminded that God as Sovereign of both heaven and earth does all things “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5) and “according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).    God sovereignly rules over all things—present and future.  He rules with all wisdom, justice, and mercy, therefore, we can trust our present and our future in His hands (Rom. 8:28) regardless of what is happening in our external circumstances (2 Cor. 4: 18).

Chosen by God.  Holy and blameless in Him.  Adopted as sons.  Accepted by God.  These are the beginnings of the spiritual blessings God has lavishly given to those who are in Christ.  Taken individually, we can begin to understand and appreciate the privilege, power, and promise that flow from each (2 Pet. 1:3-4).  With each action of God, believers are invited to respond by participating in the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and in witnessing to others about the Good News of Jesus Christ.   Let everything that has breathe praise the Lord for all He has done and continues to do for those who are in Christ!

SELAH:   God has richly given to us “priceless” spiritual blessings.  Although, we can never repay God for all His blessings, how will you respond to His love and glorious grace?

In Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 (NKJ)

What does the believer need to “live victoriously”?  Some people think it begins with identifying their “spiritual gifts” so they can serve in the church (Eph. 4:12).  Others search out the “benefits of Christian living” claiming the promises of God as their own (2 Cor. 1:20).   But I contend that the most important understanding that leads to victorious living (for new and sage believers) is in understanding our spiritual blessings in Christ.  Spiritual blessings in Christ are the means by which believers gain access to, acceptance from, and authority of God.  As we celebrate Advent 2017, let’s explore what it means to be in Christ and the spiritual blessings associated with it.  These are the things that Christ came to give us in His first Advent and will be fully realized at His return.

When I began my Christian walk, the meaning of “in Christ” was a mystery to me.  I tried to understand it based on those things I was familiar with.  For example, I established membership in the local church, and I was in fellowship with its members to serve and glorify God in my life.  But “in Christ”, what did it mean?

“In Christ” is the present experience of the risen Christ indwelling the believer’s heart by the Spirit thereby incorporating the personality of Christ.  It is more than an imitation of the life and teaching of Jesus.  It describes the believer’s union with Christ as a result of the divine action of grace by God.  The result of that action is the believer is transformed into a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).

“In Christ” isn’t the result of keeping the Law or by good works—it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:10).  How is this accomplished?  By taking part of weak flesh and blood, Christ was able to satisfy the righteous requirement of God, to destroy the devil, and to deliver us from the penalty of sin (Heb. 2:14-15).   In exchange, we have moved from being “dead in our trespasses” (Eph. 2:1) to our new position of being “in Christ.”   It is here that believers are put in a vital union and communion with Him so that we are identified with Him.

“In Christ” describes the believer’s identity with Christ and his position before God the Father.  The believer (in position) can now begin the process of being conformed (in practice) to the image of Christ—righteous and holy (Rom. 12:2).  In Christ God makes His superabundant blessing available to His children by faith in Christ so that what Christ has is theirs—including His righteousness, privilege, resources, position and power.  Believers are able to draw upon the wealth of Christ to accomplish God’s purpose and His will.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms.  It is the unique string of characteristics that make us who we are—physically and mentally.  In Christ, we have been given a new spiritual DNA that equips us for the purpose and plan God has created for our lives.  In Christ we have been given everything we need to live godly and productive lives (2 Pet. 1:3-4).  Join with us next week as we continue to explore, “Spiritual Blessings for Victoriously Living.”

 SELAH:  “Christ became like us so that we can become like Him”.  How does being in Christ affect your daily life and routine?