Blessed be God
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3)
Bible Reading: Ephesians1:3
Unlike most of his letters, Paul begins the body of this one with a doxology – with words of praise to God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, he writes (Ephesians 1:3).
While there is much in these words to interest us, our main concern is to understand what underlies this outburst of praise. What caused the Apostle Paul to overflow with praise to God?
This is a question of great relevance to us. We know that sincere, heartfelt praise to God is something he requires of us, yet it is not something that comes to us easily. The pure, heartfelt worship of God is something that may be very rare in our experience. It is one thing to attend worship and join in praise songs. It is another to have our hearts deeply engaged in doing so, sincerely meaning everything we express and overwhelmed by what we cannot express.
So, what is it that underlies Paul’s exclamation of praise here? He praises God as he thinks of the spiritual blessings he has blessed us with in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He is thinking of all that God has given us in Christ in raising us to glory with him. These are “spiritual” blessings, not material ones as was so often how he blessed his people in the Old Testament. In Christ, God has given us so much more, blessings that belong to the eternal, spiritual realm. What some of these are we will consider in future studies.
What is important for us to see is that heartfelt praise to God is always connected with some distinct revelation of God. Worship is our response to God’s self-revelation. The so-called “Praise Psalms” of the Old Testament (Psalms 95, 96, 98, 100, and 103, for example) begin with a summons to praise God followed by reasons for doing so. It is always on account of his goodness and mercy, his might and power, or his shepherdly care of his people. Praise arises out of a revelation of God’s glory.
While we can see abundant reasons for praising God in what he has made, in how he has saved us, and in how he controls history, it needs more than just knowing these things to stir our hearts to worship. There has to be, in a sense, a fresh revelation of them to our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Paul will later tell his readers how he prays that God would give them “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…” to comprehend his glory (1:17, 18).
That is our great need – to have “the eyes of our hearts” opened by the Holy Spirit to see God as he is. When that happens, we will not find praising God sincerely something difficult. It will be spontaneous.
- Do you find yourself spontaneously bursting out in praise to God?
- Are you praying that God would “open the eyes of your heart” to know him better and the blessings he has given us in Christ?
– Andrew Young