We are just weeks from Easter 2012 and people are starting to think about Jesus again. Why is that? Why do people think about Jesus around Easter and again at Christmas? Why do they think about Him at those times, but not think about Him in the months between? There is something special about Jesus, even to those who don’t think much about Him during most of the year (including a remarkably large number of people who call themselves Christians). God prepared a special “body” for His Son so that He would become like us and die for us (Luke 1:26-38; Hebrews 10:1-10; Philippians 2:1-11). What does that mean for us?
We have “everything” in Jesus! The Apostle Paul wrote a powerful letter to the Christians in the ancient city of Asia Minor known as Ephesus. He began his letter by telling them what they already had in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14
Paul made a bold statement to the Christians of Ephesus and every other city in the world of that generation and century until this day: we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” That’s a declaration that could come only from a direct Apostle of God’s Christ. Who else could make such a claim with absolute knowledge and impunity? Who else could know for sure unless they had heard it straight from the Mouth of God? Leaders of other ancient religions and philosophies made claims that were mostly preposterous, but none could be so bold to claim that their deity or philosophy had the ability to grant “all spiritual blessings.”
Most religions and belief systems hold back somewhat in their claims in case they’re wrong about some spiritual or physical aspect of life, every religion “except” Christianity. Getting to heaven or “paradise” always depends on the works of the individual in other belief systems, thus letting the “dieties” off the hook if the promises don’t work (which they don’t). Christianity is the only religion where God does it all stating clearly that the human race is unable to do anything for itself. Jesus Christ says He is the only Way to God in Heaven. There is no other way. No one could come close to the Throne of Almighty God unless they go according to the Way, the Truth and the Life: Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
The people of Israel immediately recognized the difference between the message of Christ and the messages of other religious leaders because Jesus spoke as one who had authority from heaven (“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus has the Authority to save lost humanity and He gave His Authority to His apostles to carry out the work of preaching the Gospel of the world. Those apostles gave their authority to their disciples who gave it to their disciples… until that authority reached you and me.
Paul was given specific instructions along with heavenly authority to preach the Gospel of Christ to Jews and Gentiles and to promise them about the spiritual blessings they would have as they placed their faith in Christ for salvation. He explained that to King Agrippa of Judea.
“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:12-23
Jesus told Paul he was to tell believers (those who were sanctified by faith in Christ) about their spiritual “inheritance.” That’s what Paul did for decades as an Apostle of Christ. That’s what Paul wrote believers in his many letters to the churches and individuals. That’s what Paul addressed first in his letter to the Ephesians.
In the next part of our study, we’ll look more deeply into the riches of “what we have in Jesus.”
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”