Gratitude for Christian Privileges
William Nicholson, 1862
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!" Ephesians 1:3.
The mercy of God to man is replete with interest to the Christian. He sees that sovereign mercy is displayed . . .
and in grace.
It is always full of wonder — it is the source of rich spiritual enjoyment to the man who has been arrested, reclaimed, and saved by it! God's mercy . . .
invests him with the most glorious privileges and blessings;
sustains him in every trial;
secures him in temptation;
supports him when cast down;
irradiates his life and his death with the hope of immortality,
and at length gives him "a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" 2 Peter 1:11
The more we view this gracious love and care, and consider the Divine regard, as bestowed on creatures so worthless and vile — the more we shall be disposed to glorify God, and say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!"
I. A Grateful Acknowledgment:"Blessed be God."
He is worthy to be praised from the rising of the sun, to its setting! His love to his people is infinite. His salvation is great, rich, and free. All his works praise him, and show forth his eternal power and Godhead — but it is peculiar to his saints to bless him. They are a royal priesthood, whose office it is to collect the offerings of the whole creation, and present them before the Lord. Blessing is an expression of the heart, and includes in it the exercise of love. Blessing God implies
1. Blessing God implies a knowledge of God in his gracious character. This must be known and understood, in order to praise him.
2. Blessing God implies an experimental acquaintance with his mercy and goodness — a partaker of spiritual blessings in heavenly places. When this is the case, there will be praise. 1 Peter 1:3.
3. Blessing God implies mental and vocal praise to God. In private, and also in the house of God. He who praises God . . .
feels his unworthiness to receive God's mercy,
his soul expands with delight at being the recipient of such grace,
he is sincerely thankful and grateful,
he is devoted to his service and honor,
he consecrates himself with all his talents, time, wealth, to the glory of God, 1 Peter 2:9.
II. The Title under Which the Apostle Blesses God:"The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
A similar phrase occurs, 1 Corinthians 1:3. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — the gift of his endless love to sinful man, John 3:16; see also John 1:18. These expressions denote that Christ was of the same nature with God, or that God is his real and proper Father, John 5:18; Romans 8:32.
Hence the title in the text implies:
1. Divinity. God is his Father, he is the Son of God, and is therefore possessed of the divine nature. Believers are sons of God by adoption; men and angels are sons of God by creation, but Christ is "the only-beqotten Son of God." "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power!" Hebrews 1:2-4.
2. Pre-existence, and intimate converse with the Father. "He was in the bosom of the Father," John 1:18; he must therefore he acquainted with the secrets of the divine counsels. This is important; for he came to declare the gracious will of God. Having been, in his pre-existent state, intimately and ineffably conversant with the Father, he was admirably qualified to reveal salvation to a guilty world.
3. Covenant. God the Father, and God the Son, covenanted together for the salvation of man, as the Scriptures amply declare, Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; Acts 3:25, 26; Galatians 3:17; Hebrews 8:6, etc.; 12:,24.
4. Humanity — in consequence of this covenant. Jesus was the only begotten Son in a human form.
He appears as the model of Jehovah. We can "learn of him," for the most sublime and necessary truths drop from his lips. He teaches like a God; and yet with the meekness of a lamb. How gloriously was he constituted — to reveal the will of God! Then to die! Then to fulfill every iota of the Divine covenant.
III. The Reason Assigned for Blessing God:"Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!"
1. Christians are blessed. The curse is repealed; they are no longer under the law, but under grace. Some think themselves happy — when they are really miserable. Many cry peace, peace — when there is no peace. But Christians are blessed people. "Blessed is the man," etc. Psalm 32:1-2; 34:8; 65:4; Matthew 5:1, etc.
2. They are blessed with all spiritual blessings. Temporal blessings are valuable — but these spiritual blessings are in valuable. Worldly good is prized, coveted, and idolized by thousands; but what are the treasures of earth compared with the riches of divine grace! Spiritual blessings, that is, the pure doctrines of Christ, and the abundant gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, justifying, sanctifying, and building us up on our most holy faith.
These blessings are numerous — "ALL spiritual blessings!" Even on earth they are so — so what must they be in Heaven — in eternity. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32
Their numerical and intrinsic value will be unveiling as the ages of eternity roll.
These blessings are specified in the context:
chosen in Christ, verse 4.
acceptance through Christ, verse 6
forgiveness of sins through redeeming blood, verse 7 sanctification, "holy," verse 4
adoption into God's spiritual family verse 5
revelation of his will by his Spirit, verse 9
present and everlasting union with Christ, verse 10
sealed with the spirit of promise, verse 14
impressing the heart with the divine image, verse 14
creating holy desires, verse 14
leading the soul to God, verse 14
giving foretastes of Heaven, and verse 14
then the inheritance itself, verse 14.
IV. Where and How Has He Blessed Them?"In heavenly places."
The word heavenly may mean . . .
blessings of the most exalted, or excellent kind;
spiritual — in opposition to those that are earthly;
eternal — in opposition to those that are temporal.
"Spiritual blessings, yes heavenly."
The Church of God, which is of heavenly origin, has heavenly privileges and distinctions. It is composed of heaven-born people — and destined for a heavenly home.
He has blessed us in and by Christ Jesus. He is the Author — the procurer of these blessings.
Believers are united to him, as the branches to the vine, etc. and thus they are blessed in him.
How rich the inheritance of the saints, who are so blessed!
How wretched the inheritance of lost sinners, who eternally cursed!