The God of all Blessing
November 4th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
THE GOD OF ALL BLESSING
Dr. W.A. Criswell
11-4-56 7:30 p.m.
Now turn to the Book of Ephesians and we will read together the first twelve verses, and the sermon tonight is the third verse. This morning it was the first one, tonight it is the third one. We will read through the first twelve verses. Ephesians, the Book of Ephesians, just about two‑thirds of the way through your New Testament. We all have it? The Book of Ephesians, the first twelve verses, now let us read it together:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus;
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath 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;
Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:
In whom also we have obtained that inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:
That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Can you imagine a man putting that much in two sentences? But oh, each phrase and each word and each clause is weighted down with great spiritual revelations, eternal truths and verities.
Tonight we take the third verse, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."
Look how Paul begins this letter and ends it, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now look how he ends it, "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen."
He begins with God the Father and God the Son. "Aw, but I don’t believe in God. You don’t have to have faith in God. You don’t have to have any persuasion of Christ. The Golden Rule is enough." I’ve been told that. I’ve been told that by preachers. "The Golden Rule is enough. The Sermon on the Mount is sufficient." What I can’t get through my mind, though, is how does a man follow the Golden Rule without a motive? And what sense does the Sermon on the Mount make without God?
"Aw," says that same skeptic, "you are gullible. The great, wide-open world is before you, and you must choose between two. If you believe in God, you’re superstitious! You are gullible. But if you are sound in your judgments and reasonable in all of your thinking and persuasions, why, then you will live in a world of pure science." Yes, but I have that the same finger that wrote the Book, wrote His name in the sky and in the earth. And there’s no conflict, and there’s no choice between them, they’re altogether one.
When I read out there in the world that God made, and what I read here in the Book that God wrote, "Yes," says that professor, "Yes," says that skeptic, "You think there’s any reality in God? Apparently not. He cannot be sensed by the five senses, and besides," he says, "if there is a God, then He’s not like your God in the Bible you talk about. He’s not all good, and He’s not all powerful. If that God you talk about that nobody can find and nobody can sense, if that God were all-powerful, why, then, He’s not God. He’s wicked or else He’d change the injustice in this world. And if this God is all good, then He’s not all-powerful. He’s weak because He’s not able and He doesn’t change the villainy, and the wickedness, and the murder, and the war, and all of the things that blacken and darken this world. Why doesn’t God do that if He’s all good and all powerful; if He’s able and willing in His heart, why doesn’t God change it?"
Well, the reason why is the same thing that you find in your own life. God doesn’t do those things because of His purposes for good for us. God could, but He doesn’t. There are things, there are conditions under which we are to achieve those results, and God cannot do them for us. For example, I’ve seen mothers and I’ve seen fathers take their little babies and lean them up against a little chair or against a crib and get down there on the floor and try to entice the little child to walk to Mother or walk to Daddy. Why, it’s not over three feet. Why doesn’t the father pick up the child and put him over there three feet? That’s not the point!
I’d gone out here to this – I’ll tell you what I did one time. Did you know I ran a hundred yards for a touchdown in Yale Stadium one time? Did you know I did that? Well, I did. I ran a hundred yards for a touchdown in Yale Stadium. Back yonder when I was a youngster, that’s when I did that. The only thing about my touchdown was, there wasn’t a soul there in the stadium but I. I was the only one. I was the only one there.
Well, you go out here to the Cotton Bowl, and they’ll rock that thing one side and the other, and they’ll sweat and groan and yell inside. They’ll bust their jawbones. They’ll break in their ribs. They’ll bust up their clavicles. They’ll butt their heads. They’ll groan. Oh, you never saw such goings on trying to get that ball from there over to there. Well, why doesn’t somebody just pick it up and place it over there? Because that’s not the point!
The same way about a surgeon. Go into the hospital and there will be somebody wringing their hands and pacing up and down the floor, and that surgeon is up there with his knife, and he’s sharpening it, and he’s getting out his scissors and all of his instruments. And aw! that poor, poor victim there, going to cut his throat or cut off lots of things. Oh, the terrible things up there in that hospital! Well, why doesn’t somebody do something about it? Well, that’s not the point!
Same way about God; these things have to be done. They have to be achieved under certain conditions. And it is those conditions that God has placed in the world in which we live in an un-ideal circumstance, and we live in a world of tension and trial. God is preparing us for some better thing. And because I see wickedness, and villainy, and bloodshed, and murder, and war, and sin, that’s not annihilation of the presence and the reality of God!
"Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who purposed it for us, spiritual blessings and heavenly places in Christ" [Ephesians 1:3]. Now, "Blessed be God:" that’s a strange thing, for no way is it possible for the less to bless the greater. It’s impossible. And God is so great, the majesty of God is inexpressible, indescribable.
Isaiah said He holds the waters in the hollow of His hand. Isaiah said our earth itself is just a dust in His scales, in His balances [Isaiah 40:12]. He is enthroned above the heavens, above the sky. Paul said His wisdom is unfathomable, and His ways are past finding out.
How does a man who is of dust and a worm and a creature, how does a man bless God? When God blesses us, it always means He gives us some benefit. The greater is always the one who blesses. Not the less the greater; the greater the less; God the creature, not the creature God. When God blesses us – I say – He gives us a benefit. But we could never give anything to God. It is impossible for us to add to the blessedness or the infinite perfection of God.
God said, "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the earth is Mine, and the fullness thereof" [Psalm 50:12]. How can we bless God? This is the way we can bless God. We bless God by the feeling, by the spirit of gratitude in our hearts. "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name" [Psalm 103:1]. We bless God by that feeling of gratitude in our hearts. And we bless God by phileō, love in our hearts.
The Earl of Asquith was a great and famous man with so many honors and recognitions. One day one of the servants in the house took time out to show and to explain to the Earl of Asquith’s little daughter all of the recognitions and tokens of honor that had been bestowed upon her famous father. And the little girl replied, saying, "But is he still my father?" So great and so wonderful and so honored, "Is he still my father?"
That’s God. With all of His glory, and all of His majesty, and all of His greatness and wonder and might and power, we are still His children and He is still our Father. We could add nothing to Him. We cannot bless Him by any benefit we could bestow upon Him. But it pleases God for us to love Him and for us to express gratitude for Him and His multiplied gifts, His blessings in heavenly places.
"Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." That’s the revelation of God. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. No man in his mind could ever enter into the infinitude of the great God. It is beyond us. We cannot encompass it. "Our God is a consuming fire" [Hebrews 12:29]. Moses said, "And I do exceedingly quake and tremble" [Hebrews 12:21].
No man could ever enter into any wise, any understanding of the infinitude, the greatness of God. But we can know Jesus. We can understand our Savior. He blended human sympathy and divine glory. He is the God‑Man. But there we come into one of the great and inexplicable mysteries of the Book. "Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This Lord Jesus Christ who reveals to us God, this is God speaking. This is God talking. This is God teaching. This is God walking. This is God living. This is God dying. This is God raised again. This is God enthroned. And yet the Father, God of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you try to look into the mystery of the two Persons of the Trinity, the Father and the Son, you go blinded as though a man tried to gaze into the sun. He cannot enter into it. He cannot bear. He cannot – he cannot understand. His mind is not able to gaze upon that impenetrable and unfathomable and inexplicable mystery.
The two are one, yet the one are two. The two are one. When Jesus prayed, He prayed to God. When Jesus leaned on the promises, He trusted God to deliver Him. When Jesus sang at the Passover, He sang the hallel, the praises to God. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He prayed to God. When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, He said, "Tell My brethren, I ascend to My Father, and your Father; I ascend to My God, and your God" [John 20:17].
When Jesus was raised from the dead, that body was raised by the Spirit God! And when Jesus was born incarnate, He was born of God! God was His Father. The body was the creation of God. Jesus taught us to pray to God our Father in the name of Jesus. They were two, God and Jesus, yet the two are one.
Jesus said in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, "I and My Father are one" [John 10:30]. And He said in the fourteenth chapter of John, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" [John 14:9]. They’re both one. And this Man, Jesus, this God, Jesus is both. He is both God and Man, both of them.
He is a man. "It behooved Him" – [second] chapter of Hebrews – "to be made in all things like unto His brethren" [Hebrews 2:17]. And the Word was made flesh. He was a man. He was hungry. He was weary. He was thirsty. He was tired. He was human. He would become angry. All of the temptations that we know in this life beat upon Him. He suffered. He bled. He died. He was buried. He was in all things as we are and tasted death for every one of us. He was a man.
Those old Christological controversies back there in the long ago were like this, everybody believed in His deity, but those Christological controversies concerned His humanity. They didn’t believe He was human! He was God! Things turned around today. The great Christological controversy today concerns His deity. Most of your theologians who are skeptical and rationalistic and materialistic, liberal and modern, most of them believe Jesus a man, but they stumble at Jesus God. Yet He is presented here in the Bible as our God and our Savior.
Thomas said, "My Lord and my God." John wrote it, saying, "That you might believe that He is the Son of God." And Paul called Him in Titus, "Our great God and Savior Christ Jesus." He is our God! He is abreast of every time. He is the Ancient of Days. You couldn’t imagine Jesus being dead.
The hills may dissolve, the rivers may exhaust themselves, heaven and earth may pass away, but He and His Word abiding forever, abreast of every age, of every century, of you now, modern as we are. Last century is old and last year is obsolete, but not Christ. He is the great eternal One, our God! "Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, who hath blessed us in Christ with all these spiritual blessings" [Ephesians 1:3-4].
Look at that: "He hath blessed us." Paul didn’t write, possibly, maybe, we trust that He has blessed us. No. "He hath blessed us with all those spiritual blessings in Christ." He hath done it! God hath done it! There’s victory in it. There’s assurance in it. There’s full persuasion in it. God hath blessed us. We’re not to cry, or to groan, or to fret. God hath blessed us! If those early disciples could see us today, discouraged, and defeated, and groaning, and fretting, they would have said to us, "Why are you discouraged? And why do you feel defeated? And why do you groan and fret? Jesus hath won for us a great victory!"
You think He hasn’t? You just look at that cross. That’s not defeat. That’s victory! And in that sign is our conquest! That’s the way they looked upon it.
A little child came into a certain kind of a church and looked up there at the front and said to her father, "Who put that great big plus sign up there?" That’s right. God hath added to us, plussed for us, won for us all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. That’s what it says. He hath blessed us. It is just for us to seize them, and to realize them, and to take them, and to live upon it! "He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ."
"But preacher, I want these temporal blessings. I want a million dollars. And I want all of these things." That’s the less – that’s the least. God says that’s nothing. That’s dust that’s left behind. The great blessings, God says, are spiritual blessings.
God would say this, "It’s better to have a new heart than a new coat." God would say it is better to feast on Christ and the manna of heaven than it is to banquet at the tables of the world. God would say it’s better to be an heir of the King of heaven than it is to be an heir of the greatest nobleman that ever lived. If our portion is God, all things are ours. Better than the broad acres of the fertile fields. If we have Christ, we have everything and the answer to all of our questions.
Now we see through a glass darkly. Now I know in part and prophesy in part, but I see Jesus. But we see Jesus and in Him, all things consist, subsist, and finally work out to an ultimate, glorious, incomparable consummation. If we have Him, we have everything. In Christ, these spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, with Him we have everything; apart from Him we have nothing.
God justifies us in Christ. God forgives us in Christ. God saves us in Christ. God redeems us in Christ. God sanctifies us in Christ. God will protect us in Christ. God will bring us to glory in Christ, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
One of those old fathers named Clement of Alexandria lived so long ago. One time Clement said, "Jesus has turned all of our sunsets into sunrise." And he was reflecting one of the great explanations of those early Christians who would shout, "Glory to God. The sun has risen in the West." That’s the spirit of the Christian. In Christ, have the world and heaven to come. In Christ, everything that God has is ours: an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ."
While we sing our song, somebody you to give his heart in trust to Jesus; somebody you to put his life in the fellowship of the church; however the Lord would open the door and make the way, would you come? Would you come? Of the Lord, not of us; of the Spirit, not of man, confessing Him, giving your heart in trust to Him; opening your life to the leadership of His will, would you come? Putting your life in the church, while we sing this song, while we make appeal, would you come? On the first stanza, into the aisle, down here to the front, give me your hand, "Pastor, my heart have I given to God." Would you tonight? Would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing
THE GOD OF ALL BLESSING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Notice how Paul begins his letter (Ephesians 1:1-3)
B. Notice how Paul closes his letter (Ephesians 6:23-24)
C. He begins and ends with God the Father and God the Son
II. The world of materialism and skepticism so different
A. Don’t need faith, just the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount
1. How does a man follow Golden Rule without a motive?
2. What sense does Sermon on the Mount make without God?
B. Must choose between faith and science
C. If God is good and all-powerful, why the wickedness in the world?
1. God limits Himself for purposes of good for us
2. Certain things have to be achieved under certain conditions
III. Blessed be God
A. How great is our God (Isaiah 40:12, Romans 11:33)
B. How does a man bless God?(Hebrews 7:7, Psalm 50:10, 12)
1. By praises, prayers and gratitude(Psalm 103:1-4)
2. By love(Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37-39)
IV. Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
A. No man could enter into the infinitude of the great God(Hebrews 12:21, 29)
B. We can know Jesus
C. Great mystery – Christ is one with God, yet they are two(Matthew 27:46, Luke 23:46, John 20:16-17, John 10:30, 14:9)
V. Blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies
A. If you are in Christ, you are in the heavenlies
B. All answers are in Christ (1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12)