Blessed with Every Blessing

Ephesians 1:1-14

January 6, 2024 | Brian Bill

Last week, we were blessed to be with our entire family in Virginia.  It was a blast to be with our four daughters and their husbands, along with our seven grandchildren.  

Each morning, I got up early and went for a run (OK, it was more like a trot) in a vain attempt to counteract all the Christmas cookies I ate.  One morning, I ran past a mailbox that was so full, that a number of bills and letters had fallen to the ground.  I didn’t pay much attention the first time I ran past, but when I circled back a short time later, I stopped and looked more closely at some of the correspondence strewn on the ground.  One said, “Open immediately.” Another was marked, “Personal and confidential.”  I decided to gather up all the rogue mail and carefully placed everything back in the mailbox.

As we begin the New Year, God has addressed a letter for us to open and comprehend.  Please turn in the New Testament to Ephesians.  This letter is inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by Paul, addressed to the Ephesian believers.  This correspondence is so powerful and personal that you will not want to let any part of it fall to the ground.

Let’s begin by reading the first part of chapter one together.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 

Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to a church he had taught and discipled for three years.  Ephesus is located in what we know as Turkey today.  One reason I was drawn to this letter for our church is because of the emphasis upon Christ, the church, and the Christian.  

Charles Spurgeon said this about Ephesians: “Whosoever would see Christianity in one treatise, let him read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Epistle to the Ephesians.”  Kent Hughes adds, “Ephesians – carefully, reverently, prayerfully considered – will change our lives.  It is not so much a question of what we will do with the epistle, but what it will do with us.”  Here’s an assignment right at the beginning: read through the entire Book of Ephesians at least once a week between now and Easter

In many of Paul’s letters, he addressed a specific sin issue or a problem that was affecting a church’s unity and mission.  This meme captures it well, “If Paul saw the church in America today, we’d be getting a letter.”  I came across this creative slide from a pastor which summarizes Paul’s common greeting to a church: “Grace.  I thank God for you.  Hold fast to the gospel.  For the love of everything holy, stop being stupid.  Timothy says hi.”

In Ephesians, we see how passionate Paul is about the gospel and the glory of God.  He is so enthralled that He heaps blessings upon blessing, forgetting all about rules of grammar and proper sentence length because verses 3-14 is one long sentence in Greek.  

He aches for believers to know their position in Christ (1-3) before they put it into practice (4-6).  The first three chapters contain rich doctrine, while the second half deals with our duty.  I find Watchman Nee’s outline helpful: sit (1-3), walk (4-5), and stand (6).  Our position in Christ is one of sitting, our life in the world is one of walking, and our attitude toward Satan must involve standing against him.  Another commentor suggests this outline: wealth (1-3), walk (4-5), and warfare (6).  All this should lead us to wonder and worship.

Verse 1 begins with the briefest of all Paul’s salutations.  He identifies himself as “Paul,” which means “small.”  He was actually named for King Saul, who was tall, but he now goes by Paul.  Kent Hughes suggests, “Paul’s smallness became the medium for God’s bigness, his weakness a channel for God’s power.”  He refers to himself as an “apostle,” which means, “a sent one.”  He knew he had no authority in himself because he was saved and sent by “Christ Jesus by the will of God.”  

Believers are irrevocably united in Christ at conversion

Paul addresses his recipients as “saints,” which refers to all believers, not those who are super spiritual or canonized by the pope.  Literally, a saint is one who “is set apart as holy.”  As J. Vernon McGee used to say, there are only two types of people – Saints and Ain’ts.  Notice these saints are “in Ephesus” and “in Christ Jesus.”  Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” nine times in the first 14 verses and 27 times in the letter.  Believers are irrevocably united in Christ at conversion.

If you’re a believer, you are always in two places at the same time.  You are in the Lord, and you are in your location.  You are in Christ, and you are at home.  You are in Christ and you’re here.  When you go to work, you are in Christ, and you are in the workplace.  When you go to school, you are in Christ, and you are on your campus or in homeschool.  Write this down: Your purpose is tied to your place.

We can’t let this letter fall to the ground because it is for the saints in the Quad Cities who are in Christ Jesus.  In verse 2, Paul gives a greeting of “grace and peace.”  Grace always comes before peace because we must first be reconciled to God by His unmerited favor, which results in peace with God and with others.

With all that as introduction, we come now to an exuberant exposition of praise in verses 3-14.  Kent Hughes writes, “Clause tumbles after clause in this grand poem of praise.”  

Here’s our main idea: God blesses us so we will bless Him with our lives.

Paul is following the model of the Hebrew Berakhah, or blessing song, as he writes with buoyant joy in verse 3: “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.”  The word “blessed” means, “to speak well of, to praise.”  We get our word “eulogy” from this Greek word.  One commentator says the idea is to “praise with worshipping love.”  Doctrine must always lead to doxology because our position before Him should catapult us into praise.

Notice how God has blessed us.

  • God “has blessed” us in the past.  We can have certainty and assurance that He has already blessed us.  
  • The word “us” shows these blessings are for all believers, including Jews and Gentiles.  This is the same word used by Elizabeth when she exclaimed with a loud cry to Mary in Luke 1:42: “Blessed are you among women…”  Every believer is just as blessed as Mary was.  There are not categories of blessing.  If you’re a believer, you’ve already been blessed.  There are no second-class Christians.
  • These blessings come only to those “in Christ.”  Lewis Sperry Chafer writes, “To be in Christ is to partake of all that Christ has done, all He is, and all that He will ever be.”
  • We have “every” blessing we need.  We’re not lacking anything.  We don’t need a “word from the Lord” or a prophetic utterance.  Everything we need to know is found in the Bible and every blessing we need has already been given to us.  We don’t need a so-called “second blessing” because we’ve already been given thousands of blessings.  When we receive Christ, we receive everything God has for us.  We are COMPLETE IN CHRIST.
  • These blessings are primarily “spiritual,” not material.
  • We often can’t see these blessings because they are “in the heavenly places.”  They are higher, better, and more secure than earthly blessings.  To say it another way, you’re seated in the heavenlies with Christ even when you’re down in the dumps (see Ephesians 2:6).

This passage can be outlined according to specific blessings from the individual members of the Trinity: 

  • The selection of God the Father (4-6).
  • The sacrifice of God the Son (7-12). 
  • The seal of God the Holy Spirit (13-14).  

After celebrating the role of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Paul can’t help but respond with amplified praise.  

  • 1:6: “To the praise of his glorious grace.”
  • 1:12: “To the praise of his glory.”
  • 1:14: “To the praise of his glory.”

God blesses us so we will bless Him with our lives.

1. The selection of God the Father (4-6). 

According to verse 4, our possession of every spiritual blessing is as certain as being chosen by Him: “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  The word “chose” means, “to select.”  We were selected before the beginning of the world, and we were chosen before we did anything or have been anything for God.  I’m reminded of what Jesus said in John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”  The bottom line is that we would never have chosen Him if He had not first chosen us.

Notice how God’s choosing of us not only leads to our salvation, but also to our sanctification.  To be “holy” means, “to be set apart” and “blameless” has the idea of “spotless.”

My guess is some of you struggle with the idea of God choosing people.  If so, you may have even more difficulty with verse 5: “In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.”  Before you push back on predestination, let’s agree this is a biblical word, found both in verse 5 and again in verse 11.  It also appears in Acts 4:28, 1 Corinthians 2:7, and Romans 8:28-30.  At its core, the word means, “to decree or determine beforehand.”  

I turn to Spurgeon again: “Some will be ready to say, ‘Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?’  I answer, because it is in God’s Word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached.”

Four years ago, I preached a sermon called, “Election and Free Will.”  Here’s part of what I shared: 

I’m not sure why Christians go to war over this, but I’ve seen it first-hand…and you probably have as well.  This subject has caused friendships to fracture, churches to split and divided Christians into doctrinal tribes.  Too often, the debate between those who celebrate election and those who celebrate free will has failed to glorify God, promote evangelism, or build up believers.

Instead of creating more controversy, let’s commit to act Christianly toward those with a different view.  Instead of dividing, let’s become more devoted to each other.  Instead of whacking others, let’s be filled with wonder and worship.  Instead of fighting, let’s ask God to grow our faith.  Instead of battling each other, let’s bind together to reach people with the gospel.  Let’s grow in awe of God and in grace toward each other.

Here’s what I believe the Scriptures teach: God is supremely sovereign, and we are responsible for our response to Him.  

Then I listed 10 passages that celebrate election and 10 passages that establish the necessity of faith.  I ended with 10 Scriptures that contain both election and our responsibility to respond in the same passage.  We’ll see that in our passage in just a few minutes.

Notice we are predestined “in love” and it leads to “adoption,” which literally means, “to place.”  Mark this.  God does all this in love because He loves us.  I’m reminded of something one of our grandchildren recently wrote on a piece of paper: “I like to be loved.”  Don’t we all?

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Under Roman law, when the adoption was complete, the one adopted had all the rights of the new family and according to Barclay, “all debts and obligations from the previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.”

It hit me this week that those who are adopted have an advantage because they know they were chosen and placed into a family who loves them.  This is all done “according to the purpose of His will.”  The New Living Translation renders it like this: “This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”  Our son-in-law Lucas posted this helpful statement on Friday: “God has a unique plan and purpose for your life which He will unfold according to His timetable.”

While some get worked up about election and predestination, it should actually lead us to worship as we see in verse 6: “To the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.”  To “praise” means to “applaud” God for His “glorious grace.”  

We certainly don’t understand how He works everything out, but we choose to trust Him because we’ve been “blessed in the Beloved.”

As we learned in our Christmas Eve services, the word “glory” refers to, “Heavy in weight, important, significant, having a great reputation and splendor, brightness and beauty, worthiness and honor.”  God’s glory is the sum total of the weightiness of all His attributes.  It has to do with the fame of His name and represents His presence and power.  We certainly don’t understand how He works everything out, but we choose to trust Him because we’ve been “blessed in the Beloved.”

God blesses us so we will bless Him with our lives.

2. The sacrifice of God the Son (7-12). 

We turn now to the role of the second member of the Trinity as we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.  Let’s savor verse 7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”  Redemption always involves a price being paid for the freedom that is purchased.

The concept of “redemption” reminds us that we were slaves to sin who have been purchased at the cost of His “blood,” resulting in our forgiveness.  Hebrews 9:22 says, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 1:19 adds that we have been ransomed by the “precious blood of Christ.

I love how descriptive the language is here.  We’ve been forgiven “according to the riches of His grace.”  Verse 8 says this forgiveness was “lavished upon us,” which means to, “superabound, to have an excess.”  God goes over and above to forgive us according to Micah 7:19: “He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

According to verse 9, this results in “making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ.”  Believers get the blessing of learning about the mysteries of God and living out His purpose for our lives as we see in Colossians 1:26: “The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints.”  

Verse 10 helps us see that this plan will “unite all things in Him.”  Verse 11 adds that we will obtain “an inheritance.”  All of this, according to verse 12 is to the “praise of His glory.”  Once again, the goal of God’s plan culminates in the praise of His glory!

God blesses us so we will bless Him with our lives.

God the Father selects us, and God the Son sacrifices His life for us.  That leads to the sealing work of the Holy Spirit.

3. The seal of God the Holy Spirit (13-14). 

Rejoice in the absolute assurance and eternal security found in verse 13: “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”  Notice the importance of hearing the gospel and believing in Jesus.  Here’s where the mystery of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility come together.  No one is saved without hearing and heeding the gospel message as we see in Romans 10:14: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Once you hear the gospel, believe Jesus died in your place and rose again, and receive Him into your life, you will be saved, forgiven of your sins and “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”  In Bible times, a seal was imprinted by a signet ring which conveyed authenticity and ownership.  It was used for security and safekeeping.  We see this in 2 Timothy 2:19: “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His…’” 

The Holy Spirit serves as our assurance that we are God’s possession and will always be under His protection.  Michael Rydelnik said it like this on Open Line on Moody Radio: “If you can’t earn your way to salvation by being good, how can you lose your salvation by being bad?”

Verse 14 adds that in addition to sealing us, the Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it…”  The word “guarantee” was a down payment, a first installment, much like earnest money in our culture.  Romans 8:23 says the Holy Spirit serves as “firstfruits” of much more to come.  2 Corinthians 5:5 says, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”  2 Corinthians 1:22 brings the sealing and guaranteeing work of the Spirit together: “And who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Once again, we see that all these blessings should lead us “to the praise of His glory.”  

God blesses us so we will bless Him with our lives.


Let’s bless God and praise Him for His glorious grace as I list the 10 bursts of blessings listed in our passage.

  1. Blessed with every spiritual blessing (3).
  2. Chosen to be holy and blameless (4).
  3. Predestined for adoption (5).
  4. Redeemed through the blood of Jesus (7).
  5. Forgiven of all trespasses (7).
  6. Lavished with His grace (8).
  7. Granted understanding of His will (9).
  8. Obtained an inheritance (11).
  9. Sealed with the Holy Spirit (13).
  10. Guaranteed future blessings (14).

This leads us to a question: Since He has blessed you in the Beloved, how will you bless Him with your life this year?

Action Steps

Here are three applications which have the potential to change how you live and how you give of your time, treasures, and talents.  Seriously.  They’re that profound.  Are you ready?  

  • Instead of always asking God to bless you, start living in light of the blessings He has already given you.  2 Peter 1:3 says we’ve been given “everything we need for life and godliness.”  I’m reminded what God said in Joshua 1:3: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…”  God’s people were told to take what had already been granted to them by walking out the blessing bestowed upon them.
  • Instead of asking God to bless what you’re doing, figure out what God is already blessing, and join Him there.  Henry Blackaby says it profoundly: So many Christians try to come up with ways they can serve God and then ask Him to bless their efforts.  But the more biblical approach is to observe what God is already doing around us and join Him in that work.”
  • Instead of focusing on your material blessings, celebrate the spiritual blessings God has given you.  One pastor warns, “A modern heresy teaches that it is God’s will for all of His children to be healthy and wealthy in this life.  The false prophets of this cult live in huge mansions, drive expensive cars, and indulge themselves in every flagrant luxury that they can, luring their gullible followers with promises of the same.”  Thankfully, Pastor Paul has listed a number of spiritual blessings in this extended sentence of exaltation.

Even though we’ve been blessed in so many ways, we still trip up and fall down, don’t we?  I experienced this last week when I ran to Walmart to buy some eggs and on my way back, my toe hit a piece of metal and I fell to the ground and rolled a few times.  Thankfully, the only thing that broke was one of the eggs!  It took me awhile to get up because I was disoriented.

We all fall, and we all fail.  And when we do, God forgives us and restores us when we repent and return to Him.  If you have not yet trusted Christ for salvation, do so right now.  If you’ve been drifting or you’ve fallen hard, it’s time to return to Christ.  Or perhaps your love has grown cold for the Lord.  Interestingly, Jesus also wrote a letter to the Ephesians which we can’t allow to fall to the ground.  

Listen to His loving appeal to them and us in Revelation 2:4-5 as we prepare our hearts for communion: “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first…”  We’re to remember, repent, and repeat.


In light of how we’ve been lavished with God’s blessings, let’s bless Him now as we prepare ourselves for communion from 1 Corinthians 11.

1. We recalibrate by looking upward (23). 

Paul received these directions from the Lord Himself, who is host of this memorial meal: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…”  The words “received” and “delivered” are technical terms describing the accurate conveying of the exact words of our exalted Lord.  Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, and we are to submit and surrender to Him, lining up under His Lordship.

2. We remember by looking backward (23-25). 

We’re to remember what Jesus said at the last supper: “…that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread,and when he had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”  Twice in this passage we’re told to remember what Jesus did for us when He shed His blood on our behalf.  The celebration of communion helps us remember what we tend to forget. 

3. We repent by looking inward (27-28). 

Examine your heart and repent from any sin the Spirit brings to mind: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”  

4. We reconcile by looking outward (28-29, 33-34). 

“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself…so then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another – if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.”

Communion is a time to make sure we’re living in union with those we’re in community with.  Jesus has made us one, so we need to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  

5. We rejoice by looking forward (26).

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”   We’re to look back and remember the cross as we look forward to our guaranteed inheritance when Jesus returns.  To “proclaim” means, “to announce publicly, to declare, publish, and perpetuate.”  The bread and the cup tell the story of redemption and look ahead to the culmination of history.  We eat and drink now in anticipation of a glorious banquet to come.  Communion is like a spiritual appetizer for a future feast.  

Prayer of Preparation

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?