Ephesians 1:3-15. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Paul introduces his letter to the Ephesians with this definitive absolute statement: in Christ we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He then proceeds to walk us through these blessings (as we have done in this blog over the past few weeks) landing us on the greatest of all blessings, the glorious presence of God himself in us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
Now in verse 15 the Apostle shifts from telling to praying. He’s been telling us what our spiritual blessings are in Christ. Now he will spend the next several verses giving thanks and petitioning God on our behalf. He’s not listing more blessings, but he is expounding upon the blessings he has already listed. We will find in this prayer the results of our spiritual blessings, including the three-fold grace of faith (v15), love (v15), and hope (v18).
Faith in the Lord Jesus
Paul sees the Ephesian’s faith as the outpouring of their union with Christ. Because they are in Christ and share all of his spiritual blessings, the supernatural result is their notable faith. A faith that he has heard about from far away in Rome’s prison.
in the Lord Jesus
Usually any discussion about faith begins by trying to define or describe the nature of faith itself. But our union with Christ demands that we begin with a discussion about the OBJECT of our faith – the Lord Jesus.
Maybe you tend to think about your faith in terms of amount (I need to have more faith) or effectiveness (if I had more faith God would bless me more). But the result of this thinking is that the object of our faith is now our faith, and not our union with Christ. The object of our faith must be the Lord Jesus. We must trust what he has accomplished on the cross. Forgiveness. Redemption. Adoption. Holiness.
The Lord Jesus is not just the object of our faith, he is also the source of our faith. There is no faith apart from his grace. This is a bit deep, but it is only because Jesus incarnated and united himself to humanity and then lived a life of faithfulness that we as humanity can ever have faith. Our faith was first his faith. How do we know? Because we were chosen, BEFORE TIME, in him.
And not only is the Lord Jesus the source and object of our faith, he is the result of our faith. In his Galatians commentary, Martin Luther said “Christ is present in our faith.” When we live by faith we are making the Lord Jesus present physically in our own bodies. I know this one may be hard to wrap our heads around, but this is the great truth of our union with Christ. By faith we believe that we are IN Christ. But also by our faith Christ IN US is expressed, made visible, manifested to the world around us.
Malcolm’s misguided search for grace leaves him with only faith in himself.
Now that we have begun to understand the connection of our faith to our union with Christ, that our faith can never be devoid of Christ, we can try to discern the nature of this faith. In other words, what does faith look like in everyday life? Is faith just believing or is it doing? Does faith result in something? Is it just correct belief? Or is it also correct living? Obedience?
What might help us is knowing that the Greek word for faith, pistis, can also just as easily be translated as faithfulness. In fact, in Greek thought, and probably in Paul’s thought, the idea of faith and faithfulness are never to be separated. Faith always results in faithfulness. Even Jesus himself expressed his faith in great faithfulness. Imagine if we said that Jesus had faith but then he failed to actually go to the cross. We would have good reason to doubt his faith wouldn’t we?
Faith as a spiritual blessing
In what way is faith a spiritual blessing? A gift?
Faith is only a gift if it actually changes how we live. The indwelling life of Christ has no meaning if we never actually live like Christ. Faith is appropriating (or as Paul calls it in Romans 6, considering) the life of Christ. It’s the ability to take all of these spiritual blessings in Christ that Paul has listed and allow them to take hold of our heart, our mind, our very life, and then let them result in a life that actually looks like the life of Jesus – submission, sacrifice, obedience, forsaking evil, and loving (more on that tomorrow). This ability to appropriate the blessings is itself another great spiritual blessing.
“To live is Christ” is to live a life of faith in the Lord Jesus – the object, source, and result of our faith. It is a living faith just as ours is a living Savior. It is the spiritual blessing that allows us to receive and respond to all other spiritual blessings.
Faith is more of God’s glorious grace.
Just like Ephesians 1 this song is very Trinitarian…a good one to have on repeat.