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Ephesians 1:3 - Homilies By T. Croskery

The blessings of redemption.

Full minds overflow in long sentences. The sentence which begins with the third verse runs on continuously to the fourteenth, marked all the way by many rich and happy turns of expression. The apostle pours forth his thoughts with a splendid exuberance, which dazzles common readers, but is kindling to congenial minds. The whole passage is "a magnificent anthem," in which the ideas "suggest each other by a law of powerful association." It takes up the spirit of the psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy Name" ( Psalms 103:1-22 .).

I. THE BLESSINGS ARE TRACED UP TO THE FATHER AS THEIR SOURCE . It is he who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. It is a mistake to represent the Father as a harsh creditor, who has no point of contact with his debtor except at the moment when the bond is being discharged; or to represent the Son as the tender and compassionate Redeemer, who prevails with his Father to grant a salvation he is unwilling to bestow. The true source of salvation is in the Father's heart, and the mission of the Son was to execute the loving will of the Father who is in heaven. The atonement was the effect, not the cause, of Divine love. Jesus did not die on the cross that God might be induced to love us, but because he did love us. The cross could not originate Divine love, which is an eternal perfection of the Divine nature, seeking an object on which to exhaust its riches. But the cross was the mode in which, for reasons known to himself and partially discernible to us, it was expedient and necessary that his love should be expressed. But then the same God who exacted the atonement has also provided it; and therefore we may glorify the love of the Father; for "herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the Propitiation for our sins."

II. BUT IF THE FOUNTAIN OF ALL OUR BLESSINGS IS IN THE FATHER 'S HEART , THEY FLOW DOWNWARD TO US IN THE CHANNEL OF CHRIST 'S MEDIATION . The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our covenant God. God, being his Father, becomes our Father; for "we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" ( Galatians 3:26 ). The blessings flow first from the Father to Christ, and then from Christ to us. Jesus said to Mary, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God" ( John 20:17 ); not, says Augustine, "I ascend to our Father and our God," but first mine , then yours , as if to indicate the distinction between his own essential sonship and their derivative sonship by adoption. But it is a distinguished part of the Christian's privilege that not only "he is Christ's," but "Christ is God's" ( 1 Corinthians 3:23 ), according to the prayer of Jesus himself, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine;" for it was an idea near to the apostle's heart that Christ and the Church are one—one Head and one body—and that Christ in the Church and the Church in Christ are God's possession. Therefore we can understand the grandeur of the conception that all God's blessings descend to us in Jesus Christ.

III. THEY ARE SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS . There is no allusion to earthly blessings—riches, honors, beauty, pleasures—as if New Testament believers had ascended to a higher platform than that held by Old Testament saints. God "has provided some better thing for us." The spiritual blessings include all that is involved in the Father's electing love, the Son's satisfaction for sin, and the Holy Spirit's application of redemption. We thus see the relation of believers to the three Persons of the blessed Trinity. It is "all spiritual blessings," but they are so linked together in the Divine order that if you have one you have all: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Christ's ministry began with words of blessing, in the eight beatitudes of his first sermon; his gospel brings with it fullness of blessing ( Romans 15:29 ); and the final glorification of the saints is accentuated in the glorious words of the Judge, "Come, ye blessed of my Father."

IV. THESE BLESSINGS CONNECT US WITH HEAVES . They are spiritual blessings in heavenly places. The reason is that Jesus Christ, as our Forerunner, has gone within the veil, with the anchor of our hope in his hands, to fasten it upon the "two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie"—the promise and the oath of God, so that we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to the hope set before us ( Hebrews 6:18-20 ). His forerunnership is identified with his representative position as the Head of all true believers; and his presence in heaven is not only a sublime guarantee of spiritual blessings accruing to us while on earth, but a pledge that "where he is we shall be also." Thus we can understand why our hope should be laid up "in heaven" with its "many mansions" ( Colossians 1:5 ); why our hearts ought to be there in supreme aspiration ( Colossians 3:2 ); why our citizenship should be on high ( Philippians 3:20 ); and why we should identify the scene of our future blessedness with all that is spiritually aspiring on earth.

V. THE RECIPIENTS OF THESE BLESSINGS , "Us" emphatically—Jewish and Gentile believers, with special reference to those who loved Christ, and maintained their integrity in the great focus or center of Grecian vice and Eastern fanaticism, to which the Epistle was addressed. There is no depth of iniquity to which God's mercy and grace cannot descend.—T.C.

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