On Father's Day we celebrate the blessings and challenges of fatherhood. We examine scriptures dealing with the "how to's" of being a good Dad. We search out biblical examples of fatherhood and seek to emulate their best attributes. But we have possibly overlooked the best example of fatherhood in the Bible. And that is the Heavenly Father Himself.
The book of Ephesians is the book of 'family secrets." We have listed within this book many of the greatest truths of the new testament. And in chapter 1 we have a great "paragraph of praise" featuring the blessings of God's children. We are blessed by God the Father in verses 3-6, God the Son in verses 7-12, and God the Spirit in verses 13-14. We focus our attention on our blessings from God the Father.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
In verse three, we see Paul praising the Father. "Blessed be the... father." We are to praise Him for His greatness and goodness. If we should honor our earthly fathers for their faithfulness and love, how much more should we bless our Heavenly Father? The Father is our Maker, Originator, Leader, Teacher, Owner, Guardian, and Protector.
Notice also that our blessings are spiritual blessings. The nation of Israel enjoyed physical blessings such as fruitful crops, safety, victory in battle, and children. God blesses us materially as well, but it is a biblical principle that our blessings are of the spiritual variety. Even the blessings we perceive as material are given to us to build us spiritually. There are many material things that our Father could give us if we were spiritually able to handle it.
Next notice in verse three that are blessings are in heavenly places. In other words, the blessings that our Father bestows on us come from His very abode. They are personal from our Father to us. There are at least two kinds of gifts. Would you rather receive a store-bought garment that merely fulfills a need, or one that is made personally for you by a tailor and given to you because of his love and respect for you. God's gifts are special and personal because they come from the storehouse of Heaven itself.
Our blessings are found "in Christ Jesus." What a phrase! The preposition "in" denotes a 'fixed position, a fixed relationship, a rest," A good Bible study would be to mark and meditate on all the passages that include the phrase "in Christ Jesus."
II. The Purpose of Our Blessings
As a child we rested in the power and position of our father. It seemed as if he always knew and understood everything even before it happened. His wisdom and know- ledge at times seemed supernatural. Our earthly fathers are finite and imperfect, but our Heavenly Father has a purpose in His dealings with us.
He does not give us blessings to indulge us or spoil us. He blesses us because He chooses to. Election is a misunderstood and misapplied doctrine, but it is a Bible doctrine. We are chosen based on the foreknowledge of God. God does not choose some to Heaven and some to Hell. God chooses those who come to Him in salvation. Election does not cancel out man's part in coming to Christ. God is not willing that any should perish; He wants all to come to Him. The fact that all do not come in no way indicts God for this.
Election focuses on the "WHAT" not the "WHO." Election focuses on the PURPOSE not the PEOPLE. Our Father has a purpose for His children. And He will see that purpose to it's conclusion. His blessings to us further that purpose.
What is His purpose? Our Father will see to it that we arrive in Heaven as holy and blameless. The Father did not choose us because we ARE holy, but He chose us when we were unholy to MAKE us holy. His purpose for us is that we should be separated, clean, and set apart for His glory. This life is a continual march toward that goal, and it will be accomplished fully when we are glorified.
Notice too, that the Father's purpose is that we love one another. No father enjoys seeing his children fight and argue continually. Love is the Father's activator for our Christian life. Love is mandatory if we are to accomplish God's purpose. Now we love with an imperfect love. But our Father has purposed that we will have a perfect love. He has chosen us to be holy and without blame in love.
III. The Plan of Our Blessings
Predestination is another misunderstood doctrine that religionists have corrupted for their own ends. Again, this does not mean that God has foreordained and decreed who will be saved and who will be lost. It does mean, however, that God has a plan to carry out His purpose.
He formulated this plan before the foundation of the world. His plan is to make the church a special and unique entity. The church is God's heavenly evidence of His grace and goodness. We are destined to be put "on display" by our Father to show all creation his mercy and grace.
The same structure can be seen in God's dealings with the nation Israel. His purpose for Israel is to display God's grace and mercy on the earth materially. He has a plan to make this happen. He has "predestinated" Israel to be the greatest and mightiest nation on the earth in the future. Just as Israel's earthly future is secure, so is the church's in heaven.
What is God's plan for the church? Notice in verse five, "the adoption of children." Adoption is a legal term which assures "son rights." There are two aspects of adoption, present and future. Romans 8:23 shows us the future aspect of adoption. ...ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. While we have the firstfruits of the Father's blessings, we have not fully received all that He has for us.
In Romans 8:15 we see the present aspect. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. We have rights as God's children. We can approach Him as a son would a father-- with respect, but also with confidence that He knows us and hears us.
IV. The Providence of Our Blessings
God's plan will be carried out "according to the good pleasure of his will." We need not worry and wonder what the future holds for us, for our Heavenly Father holds our future. "Good pleasure" here means God's choice, His benevolence, His delight and satisfaction, His desire and longing. God's providence and sovereignty has been misconstrued by the fatalists and denied outright by the Armenians. But it is a biblical truth that should both bless and embolden us.
The great Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was a believer in God's providence which played a part in his everyday life and ultimately determined his greatness. He was known as being fearless in battle, so much so that even other great soldiers were shocked at his disregard of danger. He said: "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that. But to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
V. The Preciousness of Our Blessings
Many Christians go through this life continually unhappy at their lot in life. What disrespect to God such a life brings. Our Heavenly Father has a purpose for our lives, a plan to carry it out, and power to embolden us to do His will. How can we respond to such blessings with careless and despondent lives?
How unworthy we are to be in this position, yet how worthy is our Father for choosing us according to His will. He has the right to do as He wishes, and he wishes to bless us. Why? "To the praise of the glory of his grace." Every thing that the Father does for us, every blessing that He gives to us, is for the praise of the glory of His grace. What right do we have to complain? What reason do we have to be unhappy?
Our Father has blessed us with all these blessings, yet the greatest remains to be mentioned. Look at verse six. "He hath made us accepted in the beloved." People go through their entire lives seeking to feel accepted. Yet our Father has accepted us on the basis of His Son's death.
The new testament greek word for grace is "charis." The word used here for accepted is "charitoo." It literally means "be-graced, to be immersed in grace." Our Father has compassed us with favor. He has honored us with blessings. We could never be accepted on our own, but we are accepted in Him. An amateur historian once wanted access to an old, restored house to see it's beauty and splendor. But he had no way to get in, and no one to help him gain access. As he stood outside gazing at the beauty of the old home, the owner, an older lady, came outside to see what he was doing. He explained to her his situation, and the old lady gave him full access to her home at any time.
Brethren, that is what our Father has done for us. He has given us "full access" to His riches and blessings. He has "be-graced" us with His spiritual gifts. The verse says that we are accepted "in the beloved." This means that we are welcomed into the fellowship. Literally, it is to be "loved dearly."
What more would we ask? What a Father we have!!! We focus on the blessings of the Son of God, and that is good. But never forget that God the Father has a great purpose for His children, and will see that purpose to it's conclusion. In the meantime, He has opened the storehouse of Heaven for our blessing and enjoyment. As verse three says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
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