The Opening Salvo of Revelation that Creates the Context of the Whole Letter

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.”  (Ephesians 1:3)

Radically Wild Revelation

This verse of scripture singlehandedly, even as a standalone statement, lifts Christianity where millions cannot see and where some ministers do not want to go. This opens the door to the glorious freedom we have in Christ. This is a statement that lifts the Christian’s hopes and expectations beyond what the vast majority of believers even dream about. This verse is a phenomenal revelation of a truth declared from heaven that is invisible and unheard of to most bible readers.  Its content is so radical and unmentioned by so many ministers and preachers that when it is discussed and considered in its naked raw power many cannot swallow its truth. The truth of it is too much for some to even accept.  It is a revelation that paradoxically answers a thousand questions towards understanding New Testament truth, yet raises a thousand more questions concerning the spiritual life in Christ. This is revelation on issues that are invisible and non measurable to us, at the same time that it is tangible and powerful to many.

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Ephesus

The Paradox of having to get hold of what we already posses

In order to throw out a few skeletal brush strokes to explain what I mean about questions and answers, let me say further that Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we have  been given everything in Christ that we would ever need in life, from things visible and tangible like prosperity, provision of whatever we need in life, healing, health, deliverance, and guidance, right through to assurance, peace, grace, faith and every non- measurable Christ-like characteristic that comes to us as fruit of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We have been flatly and graciously given everything we need. That is a glorious biblically sound statement.  But then comes all the ominous questions, queries and quandaries as to why so many Christians live in lack, bondage, confusion and anger with frustration. That is where the problems start in trying to understand why some facts of life seem to contradict the truth of scripture. I write these pages with the absolute conviction that the issues a paradoxical and not contradictory.

The Revelation that God has given all He has to give

My own paraphrase of what we read here in Ephesians 1:3 is, “We bless God and praise Him; He who is both the Father and the God of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us, and has openly given to us every spiritual blessing that He has to give, and it is all inclusive and part of the parcel of what we inherit by faith in the person of Jesus Christ. It is all and sundry of what Christ carried in His life, gained in His death and burial and forcibly took hold of in His resurrection and ascension. God has done it all already. It isn’t  that He is doing it, nor is it a promise that He is going to do it, but it is a plain and straight forward statement that He has done the act and finished the giving of all He has to give. “We have it all!”” I know that my paraphrase is much longer than and much more expansive than the original language but that is the exact contents of the original in Lannon’s Expanded Bible Paraphrase.

“Christ has done it all!” Yes! But the “all” of scripture is more than the “all” of man

It is a statement that takes the normal English evangelical preacher’s plank of truth that, “Christ has done it all,” further than we normally see and perceive it. This is a remarkable statement that should catapult our faith and expectation sky high. This is revelation of the most challenging nature. This is apostolic defining of a Christian’s position in Christ, the understanding of which sorts the spiritual pioneers from the withdrawing settlers – the Christian warriors from the “I’m a Christian!  There’s nothing else to know?” brigade. This separates the SAS soldiers from the Boys Brigade beginners and the Lamborghini speedsters from the old buckboard travellers. Ephesians 1:3 is a veritable mountain of a revelation concerning the vital substance of authentic Christianity.

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Ephesus

The Christian Status Quo is this: There is no Status Quo

This verse virtually makes illegal the very concept of any kind of status quo for Christians.  It reveals that the normal godly status quo for all Christians is nothing short of a perpetual state of transformation. Just in the same way that scientists believe that the universe is continually expanding, this verse puts the human expectations of what is ours through Christ in an ever expanding world of faith, prayer and re-examination as to what Christ has purchased for us in His Passion. Whatever you lack, Christ has conquered hell to get it and brought it under His masterful control, only to be violently apprehended by us through faith and an aggressive understanding that defies the rationalisers of this world. We have all of heaven’s potential as well as its assets simply dumped on us with a note from heaven stating, “It’s all yours. Take it and enjoy!”  If it’s good, God has given it to us.

Christ did not defeat the devil by the “skin of His teeth

Jesus Christ is the very darling of heaven.  His holiness, purity and  obedience to God through an intense thirty three years of life, where every conceivable temptation and evil was unsuccessfully thrown at Him, is what Christians sing, dance and preach about. His life and death was the complete overthrow of evil.  For this purpose was the Son of God manifest, that He might destroy the works of the evil one (1 John 3:8). Christ did not overcome the devil by “the skin of His teeth.” It wasn’t like some football match or athletics race where it was a close thing until the very last minute. It was never two equals in combat and … oops! In the last minute the devil tripped and Jesus just fortunately managed to win by some stroke of good fortune, or as we say “by the seat of his pants.” A pox on that idea!  It’s just a total lie. When we look at Christ we see the Mighty Conqueror in plain view. Satan was not narrowly beaten by a hundredth of a second like some Olympic sprinter. The devil was utterly crushed.

All His blessings are spiritual blessings

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Walking alone through the present day streets of Ephesus

The blessings of God, i.e. every blessing that heaven can afford,  belongs to the believer. It is the Father’s will to give us the kingdom and all the blessings of the kingdom. Every blessing you have received is a spiritual one. The spirituality of any blessing is determined by the one who is doing the blessing and not on the constituency of the blessing itself. Who can say that the idea given to Noah was not a spiritual blessing? There is “nothing” spiritual about a wooden boat – is there? Yes indeed! The Ark was a spiritual blessing to all those  whose lives were saved by it. Who can say that the discovery of water in the desert was not a spiritual blessing to Hagar in Genesis?

When you or I can pay our bills, buy our food and sleep under a roof – who can say that it is not a spiritual blessing that we have received and are enjoying.  To those that have their faith grounded in Christ, every blessing that heaven affords is theirs.

It is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom

Because of Jesus Christ, every single Christian that has ever lived was and is blessed with every spiritual blessing that exists in the infinite creative mind of our Heavenly Father.  He has withheld absolutely nothing. These blessings come to us by faith. They are ours and all contained in the package of salvation, because they are all “in Christ.” Those blessings are our possessions and we need to grab them by faith in order to see them manifested.  These blessings, as offered, are presently invisible and unseen, and to millions of people utterly unperceived.  What is required is personal revelation to see what is promised and waiting for us, as well as the faith that acts on that revelation and takes the blessing from the future into the present, from the invisible to the visible, from the possible to the actual. There is a fight of faith and we need to get stuck into each battle for each blessing as whole heartedly as we can. God Himself wants us to experience His blessings in an ever increasing deluge of His love.

In issues of faith the Christian is the aggressor. The devil is on the defence.

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Christians become Christians by faith in Christ. There is no other manner of becoming such a one. Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians have been blessed and have access to every single blessing that heaven holds by the proper offensive use of the same faith that saved us. That’s the plain truth. God could not give us anymore if we wanted it. It is heavenly blessings received by faith.” We have it all, and yet millions are not even sure they “have” anything. Our faith is a weapon to use on the offensive against all things evil and Godless. The gates of hell shall not prevail against us. Nobody attacks by their gates, they defend behind their gates.

In a nutshell millions of Christians have been satanically tricked into being defensive with their faith. We are called to attack.

Ephesians 1:3 is the wallpaper to the entire epistle

When one reads this line of scripture (Ephesians 1:3) one just has to stop and mull it over. It is so positive, so heavenly, so serene and so overwhelmingly clear about God, life and our circumstances that without any other background or qualifying context we could make a very wrong conclusion about the man who wrote it and what he is attempting to present to his readers. Ephesians 1:3 doesn’t need a context to be understood, it is the context in which the rest of Ephesians needs to be understood. We have everything there is in life, in Christ according to the third verse of Ephesians 1.

The Light that shines from the bleakest darkness

For any person to write so assertively, utilising such absolute terminology most people would think that it could only have been created by a man who has been born in luxury and ease, living on the resources of untold wealth and comfort, a person who is loved and treasured by his family and friends.  “It must have been written by a person who has nothing in his past to feel bad about, and is just the recipient of gifts, vast amounts of money, comfort and ease in every single aspect of his existence.  In fact, surely he lives in an ivory palace in a secure room where nobody can get to him or touch him. The man is living in a cocoon of dreams and naiveté. I have never seen anybody that is so totally and overwhelmingly blessed.  Is he serious about what he writes?”

However, just in case there are any readers who are unaware of the man who famously wrote these words originally, allow me to disabuse you and explain that he who wrote the third verse of Ephesians one had been an accomplice to multiple murders and imprisonments prior to him seeing this revelation, a man who had grounds to have more regrets than most for that reason, a man who had his erstwhile friends chasing him wherever he went  in order to trash his beliefs and his work based on this revelation, stone him to death, punish him, persecute him and kill him. This man had wrongly been sentenced to floggings and beatings, had been shipwrecked three times and was seriously “up against it” in the process of living.

To the limits of endurance because of Ephesians 1:3

On top of all that, these words were written whilst he was in a prison. Not a modern “all mod cons” prison but a filthy, dank Roman prison without glass in the windows (if there were windows at all, that is), without toilet, running water, electricity or – worst of all – toilet paper. This man was in prison for seriously helping masses of people and seeing thousands of lives radically benefitted by what he brought them, namely:  the revelation of Ephesians 1:3. By external judgement, millions of people today would say that the man who wrote these words had experienced the worst traumatic encounters and injustices that any man could go through and still live. Such a man was the apostle Paul. He spent the early part of his adult life persecuting and murdering Christians and getting praised for it by mankind, and then spent the rest of his life persecuting the devil and doing all he could to bring people to faith in Christ. Those that previously loved him because of his hatred now hated him because of his love.

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Paul’s exultation in his torture, on the basis if the revelation of Ephesians 1:3

The Apostle Paul wrote this most glorious aspect of his understanding of life in a letter by which he intended to explain and deepen the faith he had brought to the readers in Ephesus and throughout other cities of Asia to whom copies of the letter were sent. This statement in Ephesians 1 verse 3 is key to the entire belief system and message that the document delivers overall.  That is why it is the opening statement after his greeting!  He will not leave his readers wondering why or how he could say things like this after he had followed Christ and finished up scarred, maimed and tortured. In fact those very scars were part and parcel of what he exulted in and blessed God for.

So what on earth, or in heaven, did Paul mean by such definitive phraseology? We need to define this declaration, for faith’s sake.

The Cosmic impact of the truth of Ephesians 1:3 becoming  actual

This verse tells us of the weight of Christ’s life, His suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ’s death was so comprehensive in its ramifications that the whole of creation felt the impact. Nature was impacted (It went dark at midday and rocks were broken asunder).  Hell lost the right to keep imprisoned the righteous dead who were led captive by the Saviour to the presence of the Father. The dead were impacted (some of the righteous dead even followed Christ in the wake of his triumphant resurrection and walked about Jerusalem immediately after his rising) and the devil and his demons were impacted. The destiny of the world and indeed the entire cosmos was impacted. The universe was never to be the same again.

The resurrection of Christ means all authority and power to bless is His.

The most significant thing that was impacted was heaven itself and the manifestation of the will of the Father in Heaven. Everything that heaven has or had influence over was brought into subjection to Christ who now lives in the power of an indestructible life. Invisible to our physical eyes it may be, but solidly concrete reality is what it is. Every promise that God ever made is said “Yes” to by those in heaven. Every great and precious promise that can be found in the Bible, God Himself says, “Amen” to. Read 2 Corinthians 1:20.  Some of these biblical statements brings to the surface our confidence in the scriptures – or otherwise disbelief in the face of God’s profound generosity.

Every promise that God ever made is “Yes” in Christ and “Amen” in Him.

The final teaching point for us all with Ephesians 1:3, is that if you can find a promise uttered by God in the Bible, it can be prayed over and brought to manifestation. This is God’s encouragement toward us to enter into all He has to give humanity. He has blessed us with all He has. He has given us the very unfathomable riches of Christ, and then says to us, “Take it by faith!”

Christ’s own outlook was utterly outward as He died on the cross. It is the depth and purity of His selflessness that impacted the universe in such a comprehensive manner. It is faith that takes hold of all He has given us.

The truth of Ephesians 1:3 is revealed in the Old Testament.

We can only say these things because the New Testament tells us the substance of these remarks. Paul and Peter had only the Old Testament to imbibe. Today we have concordances and cross reference Bibles that link thought, doctrines and concepts together, and that’s wonderful.  But in the days of Paul all they had was the meticulously hand written Old Testament. So when the apostle came to town, did people just say, “I don’t know where Paul has got these incredible statements from. Perhaps we just have to believe that God told him, and leave it at that?” The answer is obviously a rather emphatic, “No!”

The people at Berea are praised in the text of Acts for checking from the Hebrew Scriptures whether what Paul said was true. In other words, just as it is with twenty first century preachers, so it was in Paul’s day, he had to preach the bible (such as it was in the days of Acts) and justify everything he said from it.

The big question for us therefore is this: Where was Paul’s biblical justification for writing Ephesians 1 verse 3? What verses or series of verses brought him to this marvellous revelation?  What meditation transported him to this, one of the most sweeping mind openers of the New Testament?

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Paul had the same access to revelation that we have.

This was a Jewish preacher who had visions of heaven and was taught his faith from the mouth of God Himself.  Paul’s leadership, even amongst all the apostles was sublimely authoritative. The real leaders of faith in this world have always been people who harnessed, and put into practical use, the intangible, unseen power of God, together with the bald statements of scripture, and then applied their hands and feet to their findings, making their very revelations the seminal conception point of a hitherto unborn opportunity.  They have then converted their invisible yet tangible endowment of power into forces and impulses of thought that created life and faith in the hearts of those people with whom they worked.  They turned prostitutes into towering women of grace, bitter and twisted legalists into trophies of God’s love and empathy, violent mobs into soundly converted loving churches. Sick and dying people were claimed from the cusp of the dark abyss of death by Paul’s preaching. This is what happened after Paul had seen outrageously glorious things in Christ and then put his discovered findings to the test to find out how true they really were. It was a glorious discovery that facilitated Paul to see how the spiritual impacts the physical.  All that is physical came out of the spiritual.

Ever expanding revelation aids ever increasing faith.

Those Christians who are afraid of new ideas, clinging tightly to those things they heard at the point of their conversion and will not listen to anything more are doomed before they start. Never has there been a time more favourable for ground breaking pioneers than the present. True, there is no wild and woolly world of heathenism and witchcraft to be conquered, as in first century, but there is a vast world of dead benign Christianity that needs overhauling, like psoriasis on the skin of the church that needs severely scraping off and new healthy cells to be engrafted in its place. Spiritualism and spiritual aberrations in people’s life caused through drug abuse are getting more and more common.  Atheistic churches are on the increase, though are clearly not growing anything like as fast as their adherents would like us all to believe they are – nevertheless,  they are the extreme fringe of a world that needs to see some Holy Spirit manifestations  in their midst, ministered by characters similar to Paul. There are seeds of biblical truths both practical and heavenly, both motivational and devotional that needs to be rediscovered, replanted, and nurtured till they blossom in this present world.

The dreams of breakthrough are invisible, yet concrete seeds of reality.

The greatest achievements have always been, at first, and for a season, nothing but a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams and the ideas that gestate in those dreams are the seedlings of concrete reality. The whole course of things in our lives, when correctly observed go to teach us faith in Christ. We need only obey the dream He plants within us, and believe the words He speaks to us. There is guidance for each of us, and by humbly listening, we shall hear the right word.

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Ephesus

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