Presented at Trinity Fellowhip on 07/14/1997
"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."
I hope already in our studies of Ephesians you have begun to be astounded by the privilege of being a Christian, in terms of the dynamic truths revealed here. We have seen that the theme of this book is the systematic treatment of salvation, the Church, and the Christian life from the standpoint of God's eternal purpose to glorify Himself through his Son; that its aim is to encourage us to acheive that purpose by rebuking our small thoughts of God and his salvation; that its effect is to bring us out of the dark, tangled thickets of defeated Christianity into the full light of God's glory shining in the majestic sweep of his plan for the ages, the wonder of our place in it, the marvel of who we are according to it, and the power of the infallible means already put into effect to bring us to it. We saw last time the way in which the message of the book begins to unfold like a blossoming flower from the bud of 1:2: grace and peace.
Now, I say that I hope you are stirred already by our glimpses of these truths, for if Grace and Peace cannot move you, you are destined to be eternally bored. Paul himself cannot get three verses into the discussion of them before he is constrained to break out into doxology: "Blessed be the God and Father." And if God has given us the slightest understanding of these matters, we must be constrained to follow him. There is no theology worthy of the name that does not lead to doxology. So our purpose for studying this book--for being gathered together today--for our creation and our redemption--is simply the praise of the glory of His Grace. That we might enter the more fully into that praise, let us give our attention to verse three together.
1:3 is the beginning of "The Great Blessing," a single sentence in the original Greek which runs al the way through v. 14. It is the next step in the unfolding of the argument of the book. If 1:2 is the doorway, then 1:3-14 is the vestibule, the main hall, off of which all the rooms of the mansion of heavenly blessing branch. And if "The Great Blessing" is the key to the book, v. 3 is the key to the Blessing. It focuses on Grace, the fact that God has blessed us in Jesus Christ. The rest of the section then unfolds the facets, the means, and the results of that Blessing. It begins where each section ends: with the praise of God's glorious Grace. Therefore we will spend two weeks on it: Today we look at the God of Blessing; next week at the Blessing of God.
The phrase "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" tells us something about God and something about Jesus which is essential to our comprehending both the blessing we receive from Him and the one we give to Him.
Who is this God who blesses us and purposes such great things for us? In the OT he was "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." And this is a wonderful thing; it means He is not some abstract and mystical idea but a concrete reality which we encounter in History. For to be the God of Abraham means He is the God who reveals Himself to men and establishes his gracious Covenant with them. It means He is the God who keeps his promises. And it means that He is the God who redeems and blesses, all seen in the Exodus and the establishment of Israel in the Land.
But in the NT it gets even better: Now He is not some abstract religious concept but the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because He has been revealed in his Son, who lived in History--our History, we can know Him even better. Would you understand the goodness of God? Look at the life of Jesus Christ. Would you know the will of God? Look at the teachings of Jesus Christ. Would you know the character of God? Look at the actions of Jesus Christ. Would you know the love of God? Look at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Would you know the power of God? Look at the Empty Tomb of Jesus Christ. And because we know God better in Christ, we also experience his blessings more fully. That's why Paul says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!" The God who blesses us, on whom we are totally dependent not only for life but for all that makes it worth living, is not some unknown impersonal force, He is not some remote and unapproachable figure, He is not some abstruse and abstract concept in the mind of some philosopher; He is the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in the heavenly places in Christ!
This phrase also tells us something most precious and practical about the Lord Jesus Christ himself. First, it is an affirmation of his Deity. Now, it might not seem to be, for it says that God is Jesus' God as well as his Father, a rather strange thing to say if we are trying to safeguard the doctrine of Jesus' deity. But that is precisely the point. The Church at his stage was not concerned to safeguard that doctrine, which seemed so self-evident to them that their concern was rather to insist on his full Humanity--that he had "come in the flesh." So this phrase understood in its historical context actually testifies to their confidence in Christ's godhood: they were not the least bit threatened or insecure about it. These were people who kept asking, "What manner of man IS this?" And the only answer they ever got was "Surely this man is the Son of God." To the early Christian with Jewish backgrounds, "Son of" meant "having the essential nature of." So assured were they of Jesus' deity that they could afford not only to call God his Father but also to call the Father his God.
So the phrase speaks most eloquently also of Jesus' Humanity. God had been his Father for all of eternity in the mystery of the Trinity. But God became his God on Christmas day. In that He was a man one could also say that the Father was his God. In other words, Jesus, who was God as Man, became not only our Savior but also our perfect Example of how to relate to God as God. John gives us perhaps the clearest portrait of this side of Jesus' ministry--Jn. 5:19, 5:30, 7:16, 8:29, 12:49-50, 17:1, and also Luke 22:42. And what do we see in these verses? Total dependence, total trust, total submission, total devotion to his Father's glory.
Now, here is the wonder. Jesus was not only our Example, He was our Redeemer, our Savior, and, through his personal Agent and Representative the Holy Spirit, our Enabler. In other words, He lived this life of perfectly relating to God not only for Himself but also on or behalf. That life was the perfect Sacrifice He offered up for our sins. And that life is the one He now lives in us through the Holy Spirit. So if we have truly put our faith in Him and are learning to yield to Him, then these things are already beginning to be a reality in us! And the day is coming when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Oh, Christian brother, do you not begin to be ashamed of your small thoughts of what a wonderful Savior we have? Oh, Christian sister, do you not feel humbled by these great truths? They are the wonder of His Grace. And Oh, Christian friend, do you not wish more than anything to see more of these things until they fill you to overflowing with love for God and praise of his Name? And oh, unbelieving friend, do you not desire Him to be your Savior? To be able to say with us, "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!" Amen.
Here endeth the lesson.
Dr. Donald T. Williams