Charles Spurgeon once referred to R. C. Chapman, the British evangelist, as “the saintliest man I ever knew.”
One morning Chapman was asked how he was feeling. “I’m burdened this morning!” was his reply.
However, his happy countenance contradicted his words. So the questioner exclaimed in surprise, “Are you really burdened, Mr. Chapman?”
“Yes, but it’s a wonderful burden–it’s an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude!”
Seeing the puzzled look on the face of his friend, Chapman added with a smile, “I am referring to Psalm 68:19, which fully describes my condition. In that verse the Father in heaven reminds us that He ‘daily loads us with benefits.’”
Chapman’s “burden” is identified by Paul in one of the great verses of the New Testament–Ephesians 1:3. “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.”
This passage reminds us of three very important points about this “spiritual burden” for which we can be thankful.
(1) The basis of our blessings.
God is the source of all blessings. He is the giver of good gifts. He knows our needs before we ask. He’s the great provider. All blessings originate with Him. He is the fountain from which all blessings flow.
But the text is even more specific. God’s blessings spoken of in this text are “in Christ.” This expression is found 5 times in this chapter, and 12 times in this short treatise. It was written to “the faithful in Christ.” Those who “first trusted in Christ.” And who are “one in Christ.” To be “in Christ” is to enjoy a relationship with Him. And have access to the Father’s blessings.
(2) The breadth of our blessings.
Chapman is right. The blessings in Christ are an “overabundance.” Paul says that we enjoy “every spiritual blessing.” How many? ALL! Later in Ephesians 3:20 the apostle says that God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” The greatest of God’s blessings are showered upon us in a “superabundance.” God blesses us in a measure that is beyond our comprehension or imagination.
God’s ability is immense. His power is infinite. The riches of His grace are immeasurable. And His desire to bless us is incompressible.
(3) The boundary of our blessings.
The sphere of these blessings is specific. They are spiritual. They are in the heavenly realm. There are many blessings that God graciously gives to all people. Jesus said He shines the sun on the just as well as the unjust. And provides the nourishing rain for righteous and unrighteous folks alike. But spiritual blessings are reserved for those “in Christ.”
The Christian lives in two worlds and operates in two different realms. The physical and the spiritual. The earthly and the heavenly. While we live in the world, we are not “of the world.” We have been elevated to sit with Christ in the heavenly realm (Eph 2:6).
This chapter reminds us that we are blessed that God chose us in Christ, adopted us as his children, accepted us and has provided “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin.” As a result, we enjoy spiritual insight into the “mystery of his will.” We have an eternal inheritance reserved for us in heaven. And it is guaranteed by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What incredible blessings! Plus the privilege of prayer, freedom from the guilt of sin, a purpose for living, a guidebook to direct us, fellowship with like-minded believers, and a sustaining hope that overcomes the hardships of this life.
While we ought to be thankful for the many physical and material blessings we enjoy in life, let us overflow with gratitude for God’s gracious spiritual gifts.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman