The Immutability of the Blessing
...a continuation of the story I began in the previous article:
"Ephesians Truth" SERIES - Part 2
Before I could make the message as clear as I wanted to, I grew weak. The strength and anointing in which I had walked for weeks diminished.
I became stricken with malaria, a deadly kind resistant to the prophylaxis we take when going into infested areas. My fellow laborer of years who had just been with me in Kenya, Bill Dunklin, was stricken also.
He had returned to the States two weeks earlier. I didn’t know it at the time, but he passed away from malaria only a few days after returning home.
Days of sickness came upon me, along with the searching in my own heart as to what had happened. I had never had malaria before. Where was the abiding strength and protection I had known? To say the least, it was difficult to figure out what was happening. On the day I was testifying about the strength coming from our union with Christ, I fell prey to disease.
On the second day while I was sick with fever, pain, and nausea, a woman attending the seminar came into my room. She was a Pastor in a Ugandan town where God had begun moving. She said, "Brother Corley, thank God for what you have told us. We know it is so. And, we know that the resurrected Christ is right there in that bed with you!" What encouragement! The Ugandans had heard the Word I was teaching. Now I was hearing it back.
That was my turning point.
Even though I had fallen into illness, it had not altered my position with Christ. Nor did it alter His position with me. I was still in the heavens with Him; He was in that bed with me! That became enough. From that point, I knew I could come through.
The fever and headache and nausea continued, but I received strength to make it back into Kenya where I went alone—except for my gracious Lord. Just as the Kenyans could not go with me into Uganda, so the Ugandans could not enter into Kenya because of the border trouble.
Late that night, I found my way to a little African lodging house, over two bars, one on either side below. I was too sick to find any remedy for the malaria. In that room, with nothing to overcome the fever and pain besides a little water, I wept with sickness. The noise from the bars below increased. It was New Years day and some of the revelry still continued. Every beat of the African music was like a hammer beating my head. Around midnight, I said. "God, you are a God of mercy, and I need your mercy right now. Please help me."
Suddenly, with the noise still blaring below, I went to sleep—merciful sleep. Some hours later I awoke, the sickness gone. Only I was left very weak. I remained there for four days, regaining strength and reading the Scriptures hours on end.
I learned some lessons in those days. I learned that sometimes, even in doing God's will, we might be stricken. I didn't find it necessary to search long for some deep reason as to why it happened. As a fact, it had just happened. I could have been kept from it, but that was not the case. What I did learn was that Christ was with me in my bed, just like that sister had said.
In many ways I saw His tender mercy in those days, like in the Ugandan pastors who stayed continually with me while I was sick in their country. I saw His mercy in the Kenyan women who met me soon after I returned across the border, though no one knew I was coming. They stayed with me for hours on a bus to a town where I could find lodging, sitting next to me and praying all the way. One of them gave me a hundred Kenya shillings when I got off—an unheard of thing. I would need that money in the following days.
I saw God's mercy as He caused a man with a vehicle to pull up beside me in the dark and ask if he could give me a ride. I saw His mercy by allowing the hotel to have one room left for me. I saw His mercy by healing me while I was alone in that hotel. The indwelling Christ never left.
And the marvel of His grace is, I never left Him. All the while I was struggling alone with the fever and pain, I remained with Him in the heavenlies—and He remained with me in the pain of sickness. I needed to learn more about where I was in Christ, but I didn't need a greater position in Him.
I saw His mercy in the following days while I was very weak when Jesse Grey came to me. Miraculously, he helped me get on the already fully booked plane back to Frankfort and Atlanta, weeks before I had planned to return.
Glenda had been in California when she got word of my sickness. We had planned to meet there near the end of January when I was scheduled to return. We were on opposite sides of the globe. Yet with emergency plans and our planes coming from different directions, we landed in Atlanta within five minutes of one another.
I had traveled on planes with no room, yet there was room for me. Glenda had been grounded on her way by the worst ice storm in years in Dallas, but the plane was cleared for take off just in time to meet mine. It was the last plane that left before the airport was closed. We arrived at our home in Lincolnton only hours before the worst ice storm in decades reached there, making travel hazardous for days.
I only briefly questioned the presence and provision of the Lord, but when that Sister came into my room and said, "Brother Corley, the resurrected Christ is right there in that bed with you," I knew everything was all right. I regretted I couldn't remain in Africa longer to make the truth of our position with Christ more clear. But, that didn't seem to matter. They heard anyway.
NOW WE SEE more than ever the need for more intercessors standing in the gap for those who labor in the Gospel under difficult circumstances in the fields of the world. There is such a need now for laborers to go to the suffering people with the Good News of the Kingdom.
It's very easy to become drained over there, especially in areas where suffering is rampant, the weather is hot and the mosquitoes swarm. It's easy to become discouraged, especially when spiritual forces withstanding the Gospel bombard the Christian continually. For the Pastors who live there, it's tiring to live without good water, to have little means of transportation, to live in mud houses, and never have enough to provide well for their families. Continually they face witchcraft, drunkenness, immorality, and the unrest that comes from governments at war.
We continue to work with those same pastors, many under the leadership of Peter Wanjala, where they continue to live out of the heavenlies. Their lives and hearts remain open to the truth because they live it. More than they hunger for food and thirst for water they thirst for all God has to offer.
Generally, we're prone to think of blessings as good things that happen to us. We say to another person, "You've been a great blessing to me." when that one has done a favor. If we asked for testimonies of blessings, we' d probably get good reports like: "I'm blessed with a good job. ....I'm blessed with a good family." ''I'm blessed with good health." I'm blessed with a good car." ''I'm blessed with good friends." "I'm blessed with a good church."
All too frequently, we associate blessings with good things. This would mean that, when some of the above are not true and adversity strike, the blessing leaves. This makes way for sadness, anger and depression and the list could go on and on. The bottom line is that it weakens our walk with the Lord with the feeling that He has let us down.
But we're learning from Ephesians that there is a blessing so settled, so final and so secure that no force of nature or hell can revoke it. It remains upon us through thick and thin, providing the platform from which all of life's demands can continue. For those of us committed to serving the Lord, this is a blessing that enables us to plow on through fields of adversity and see usefulness and meaning in everything that strikes.
We learn of this blessing from Paul. The first verse of this long Ephesians sentence at which we're looking tells of it. When we consider it carefully, we see it is a ground to be settled early between us and God if we are going to have a part in His purposes and move according to His will. Unless we know this blessing and have it settled in our spirits, the enemy will always throw hindrances before us and foul us up in our walk with the Lord. This could be terrifying for the days ahead. But we're learning—growing in understanding of things that establish us and make us able to stand through every trial. Hallelujah!
Let's look at this verse again and then examine what we're learning from it.
Ephesians 1:3—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. This is pregnant with revelation. Every word in it bursts with life and releases a divine energy that is powerful and enabling. It tells us four things about the blessing of God.
1) The blessing is settled. It's settled. God has blessed us Already! Completely! It's done! It's done! It cannot be revoked. We learn this from the very language of the verse. The word blessed is from the Greek eulogésas. This is an Aorist form and conveys clearly that the work is done, with a finality that cannot be revoked. The Aorist Verb form speaks of a completed work. With this, we move away from the idea of a blessing being something good that happens in our natural lives. This Ephesians blessing remains whether there be good things happening around us, or not.
Through years of walking with the Lord, I've learned this blessing remains even through circumstances that are painful and discouraging. It's become a stronghold within that cannot be touched. We've been required to live on the basis of it. Later, I'll tell more of what I've learned, after we look further at the blessing.
2) The blessing is a spiritual one. Indeed, He has blessed us in every spiritual blessing, From God's viewpoint, it is the foundation for the work He desires to do in us.
Now, repentance is the first work to bring us into a relationship with God. We come to Him in our sin, with the reasonings of our carnal mind and the desires of our selfish will, and lay these all before Him. Upon our trusting in the redemption through Christ's blood, grace touches us and His life permeates us. He receives us immediately and He blesses us. At the very moment we believe, we receive this foundation for all He will ever do in us or through us. The blessing goes to the core of our being and from there issues forth into all the affairs of life.
To find what this blessing of God means, we can go back in Scripture and see how He blessed others.
Adam and Eve were the first persons ever blessed. Before God required or expected anything from them, He blessed them. The word is clear. ...male and female created He them. And God blessed them…—Genesis 1:27,28.
Long ago that Primal Blessing claimed my attention. I looked to find what I could in the word blessed itself. It comes form the Hebrew word for "knee," having in it the idea of the bent knee.
In its early meaning, a man blessing the Lord would bend his knees before Him in submission and worship. But with Adam and Eve, God was the One Who did the blessing—the same as in Ephesians 1:3. Could it be with the blessing of the first couple that God bent their knees, spiritually speaking? Did He bring them down before Himself? Did He position them in a place where He could use them for His purposes?
I believe He did. God's blessing upon them was His positioning of them. It was the beginning of His preparation in them.
The sad thing about that first couple is that they got up from their blessing and submitted to the Serpent. They stood upright against God, giving up the boundless resource of Life He was making available to them. They gave up the blessing, the position, and the purpose for which He had designed them.
But there's something about the blessing of Ephesians that's immutable. It's done with an action that's finished. It's unchangeable.
Later, God pronounced a blessing on Noah (Genesis 9:1) and on Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Those were Covenant men for whom God's purposes were distinct and settled. Because of this, their blessing was distinct and settled. It was first in importance as God dealt with them and commissioned them.
In connection with Abraham there are some unusual insights regarding his blessing. In Genesis 12:1-3, we find God calling him to become the beginning of a great nation. In doing this, He separated him from all natural hope of fulfilling that call. He placed a blessing upon him and then separated him from all his hope of natural blessing. He called him from his country, from his kindred, and from his father’s house—and left him with a barren wife. Every resource for natural blessing was cut off. God was calling him to become a spiritual man—to live out of the heavenlies—even though the call upon him required natural strength.
Because Abraham and Sarah were barren, they faced the impossibility of fulfilling God's call. Later, after the miracle of Isaac's birth their calling became a possibility, humanly speaking. God then called them to give up their hope in Isaac (Genesis 22:15-18). Since God's blessing was upon them, both the impossibility of human attainment, as well as the possibility of it, could be removed.
So it is with us who submit to God's spiritual blessing. It goes beyond our ability, as well as our inability, and establishes us in a place where the call and purpose of God are possible without regard for either.
To be without God's spiritual blessing leaves a person to the limited resources of his own strengths, his own wisdom and his own provision. To be with God's spiritual blessing sets a person free to be obedient to the will of God without regard for human resource.
3) It’s a heavenly blessing. He’s blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. The heavenlies are those areas of high government rightly belonging to Christ They are the unseen ...thrones, dominions, principalities and powers created by Him and for Him—Colossians 1:16. Their dominion extends into every realm. In the heavenlies both Christ's triumph over death and His Ascension back to the Father are certain. The blessing coming from this dimension is as secure and real as His resurrection. Once we are blessed from here, no opposing force in heaven or in earth has enough power to overthrow us—neither man, beast, circumstance, nor spirit (See the list that Paul gives in Romans 8:38.)
From the next two passages, we learn that, while Christ is enthroned in the heavenlies, not all the heavenlies are yet in submission to Him. Strangely and wonderfully this is where we come in. It is our place to make known to the opposing forces in the heavenlies the authority of Christ. In Ephesians 3:10 we learn that the time is coming when the wisdom of God will be made known to all powers in the heavenlies, some of which have opposed the government of Christ. From Ephesians 6:12 we learn that we have a warlike contest with powers in the heavenlies opposing Christ.
The blessing we receive from the heavenlies is from Christ's Throne. It gives us access to, and authority over, ...principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked spirits. These usurp Christ's position and seek to hold us in bondage. Ephesians 6:12 instructs us at this point as it tells of our wrestling with these forces.
Even a relatively few persons who know their blessing in the heavenlies, and who submit to it, can change the tide of history—for an individual or for a nation. From this kind of people can come both a restraint on evil and the release of good. Opposition to Christ's Kingdom can be bound and the powerful force of His Kingdom released.
We learn much about these anti-God spiritual forces working from the heavens. They operate under the power and at the direction of Satan. The principalities are the chief spiritual forces exercising control over large areas, like nations, states and cities. They rule with lesser spiritual forces working under them as part of a hierarchy of evil.
Powers is from a word in the Greek (exousía) that means "executive power" or "authority." These rule over corporations, institutions, religious movements and political parties. The rulers of the darkness of this world are the forces holding people in dark bondage. They hold culture groups, families, clans, and sometimes regions. Last are the wicked spirits. These are the myriads of demons sent to harass and destroy the work of the Lord in individuals' lives.
Because we are blessed in the heavenlies, with a spiritual blessing that cannot be revoked, we have authority over these forces. Ephesians Truth is working this in us.
(4) Our blessing is in Christ. This is the one most marked with grace. Christ Jesus is the One Who interceded on our behalf, entered into our hopelessness and made it possible for us to come back into relationship with God. Through Him, we are blessed. So much of God's grace is extended to us in Him, that we can come to the place of knowing that ...as He is, so are we in this world—I John 4:17. In Him we are brought into the heavenlies, to realize the power of His resurrection, to know His Father, to sit with Him in His Throne. And we, with Him, have authority over the spiritual forces ruling the world.
The question might well arise here: How do we get into Christ?
Let me share something simple that has helped me. It relates to John 3:16, the first verse of Scripture I learned.
As I was a boy growing up, I could never remember when quoting the verse, whether I should say, ...whosoever believeth "on Him," or "in Him," hath everlasting life. I learned later, in the Greek, it is neither. It uses the word eís which means “into Him.” God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. This clearly lays out how we get to be in Him. It is by believing into Him!
Believing is the motion, on our part, that brings us INTO Him.
“In Christ” is the theme of Ephesians. I'm learning it can become the theme of my life—and yours—since the way is open to us by grace.
We can never earn our way in, or become holy enough to assume our position. We simply come in as sinners receiving the grace of God revealed in Christ.
It is a position offered us by the loving kindness of God. What a blessing!
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