The authority of the believer is part of Christ’s blessing given to each follower and to the Church. The Church is an extension of the beauty, majesty, and victory of Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells the Church in the Great Commission account in Matthew’s Gospel,

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)

There is a “go” in the gospel! We are to go to the ends of the Earth with the good news of what Jesus has done for us, proclaiming the gospel, liberating the oppressed, healing the sick, and making disciples in every nation and among every people group.

Jesus’ commission to disciple the nations carries His delegated authority—derived from His resurrection victory—to minister to humanity. He expects us to proclaim the gospel AND to pray for the sick, thus demonstrating the power of the gospel of God’s Kingdom.

Last Saturday, our church joined with other churches and ministries to do an outreach at Reid Park in Tucson. The event was held at the Reid Park Bandshell where various worship teams and speakers shared throughout the afternoon. Booths from various churches and ministries were set up to minister to the people of our city with food, clothing, and prayer as needed. Many were touched, some committed their lives to Jesus, and some were healed after receiving prayer.

I had the opportunity to share a brief message; I encouraged people who needed prayer for healing to raise their hands, and I asked others to gather around them to pray as I prayed from the platform. God impressed upon me a couple of conditions He wanted to heal—we call that a word of knowledge (see 1 Cor. 12).

One of the words I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me was “cirrhosis of the liver.” I called out the word and kept praying. I noticed my wife praying for a lady on the front row about the time I called that word out. We kept praying for a few minutes, and then I came off the stage for the next speaker to come up.

When I went down to my wife, she was still talking with the lady she had been praying for. It turns out, she had the cirrhosis of the liver condition, and asked God that day for healing and a miracle! My wife and I prayed with her again, and she said, “By faith, I’m receiving God’s healing of my liver!”

We may never see her again, but we agree with this woman, by faith, Jesus healed her. We believe in modern medical practice, but there are times when only a miracle will do! Jesus commissioned us to go, to proclaim, and to heal the sick; this is the gospel of the Kingdom and part of the believer’s authority and blessing in Christ. I write more about this in my book, Receive Your Miracle Now! A Case for Healing Today.

Paul reveals God’s plan for us individually and for the Church corporately in Ephesians

Paul wrote Ephesians while imprisoned in Rome (AD 60-61). He also wrote Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during this time, as well—also known as the Prison Letters. The letter to the Ephesians was most likely written as an encyclical letter—one to be read by several congregations.

The letter is divided into two main sections: first, the Believer’s Position (chapters 1-3) and secondly, the Believer’s Practice (chapters 4-6).

Paul begins the book with the understanding of our being chosen by God in eternity.

Romans 1, for example, speaks first of sin—how we sinned and then how we are saved. Ephesians 1 starts from eternity and how we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The issue of sin isn’t mentioned until Ephesians 2.

The book of Ephesians reveals two important themes: one is from eternity to eternity and the other is from man’s fall to his redemption.

Twentieth-century, Chinese church leader, Watchman Nee, writes in his book The Glorious Church,

The church isn’t an afterthought with God; rather, the church was God’s plan before time began. In Ephesians, something transcendent is revealed to us. We see how the church comes out from Christ, how it was chosen before the foundation of the world, and how it will forever manifest the glory of Christ in eternity.” [1]

At the same time, it shows us that man’s fall is a fact, that man’s potential to sin is a fact, and that the existence of our natural life is also a fact. Therefore, Ephesians 5 says that Christ will cleanse us by the washing of water in the word until we are completely sanctified. *God wants to restore us to the point that we match his eternal will—be the eternal church.” [2]

In the book of Ephesians, Paul reveals God’s plan for us individually and for the Church corporately.

Paul reveals what Jesus did for us, our identification with Him and His ascension ministry. Ephesians represents God’s highest revelation and potential of the Church.

God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:22-23 CEB)

Christ is the fullness of God and we—the Church—are the fullness of Christ. In other words, all that pertains to life and godliness are found in Christ; Christ is in us, and He is the fullness of every spiritual blessing. This means the eternal Church, as imperfect as she is at times, is realized by God as the very fullness of Himself expressed through Jesus!

Paul’s theme in this letter is both individual and corporate identity. The believer and the Church are to live from our understanding of our identification and inheritance in Christ (I’ll develop more about our inheritance in Christ next week). When we agree with God’s identity given to us, we can embrace His destiny for us.

Our potential to live in the fullness of Christ is related to our understanding of our identity in Christ—both individually and corporately. Individual identity leads to corporate identity realized.

To understand Paul’s perspective on the church, we need to understand his revelation of the gospel.

His revelation of the gospel revolves around our identification with Christ, Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for us, and His ministry at the right hand of the Father.

These are all aspects of the mystery of Christ about which Paul writes. Paul was given a deeper understanding of us in Christ—Christ in us, or the finished work of Christ. The other apostles who walked with Christ had more of an understanding of Christ’s work for us, which is the basic gospel.

Our union with Christ is foundational for understanding our justification and sonship. It’s foundational for the Church, as well. Both the believer and the Church are already perfected, yet progressively becoming more like Christ.

The Church is the very fullness of Christ and is dearly loved by Jesus. He gave His life for you and me so that we might become part of God’s eternal Church—God’s eternal family.

Paul uses the metaphor of a human body to illustrate how united we are to Christ and to one other. When we believe this and walk in this truth, we walk confidently as the light of the world and radiate God’s love and glory to those without Christ.

Therefore, Jesus in the Gospels and Paul and other New Testament writers stress the importance of unity in our church relationships. We are His body! Unity is related to the very glory of Christ shining through the Church.

The Believer’s Blessing in Christ

In Ephesians chapter one, verses 3-14 are really a prayer of thanks to God. It is the first of two prayers that Paul prays for the believers at Ephesus (the second is found in chapter three).

This prayer of thanksgiving reveals God’s plan and hope we have in Christ. It reveals our blessing and inheritance in Christ.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So, we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time, he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Eph. 1:3-14 NLT)

Mark Holmes, pastor and author, writes of these verses,

In this passage, the same type of thing can occur; we can overlook the larger picture and focus on that which we are accustomed—predestination and election for example. This passage was written as an expression of praise to God, the challenge then in this section is to keep a broad perspective of the whole, not fixated on subtopics. [3]

I’m reminded of a story of teacher taking 5th graders to a farm. The teacher desired to show and teach the students about the aspects of a farm, or the “themes” of a farm. However, she ran into a problem when her class became fixated on a cat! She had a difficult time getting them to focus on the bigger picture because they were obsessed with the cat.

We can do the same with this passage in Ephesians if we are not careful. Paul, in his prayer, reveals the redemption of Christ, our union with Him, our adoption into God’s family, our blessings in Christ, and our inheritance in Christ. Yes, predestination is mentioned, but it is not the focus of the passage.

Spiritual Blessing

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. (Eph. 1:3 NLT)

We worship God in response to His blessings upon us.

In verse three, Paul is giving a Christianized form of a Hebrew blessing berakah. Most berakoth begin with the words Barukh Attah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha-Olam (“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe”).

For Paul and the believer in Christ, God isn’t just another god or some vague influence or energy; no, He is the creator of all, our redeemer. By the way, any picture of God without Jesus is distorted! Jesus is the creator of all that is seen and unseen.

But what does Paul mean when he says we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we have been united with Christ”?

Simply stated, these are blessings that pertain to the Spirit and from the Spirit. He mentions how:

God loved us and chose us in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:4) “…he purchased our freedom (we have redemption)…” (Ephesians 1:7), and “…we have received an inheritance from God…”  (Ephesians 1:11).

Holmes states, “This plan of salvation is a provision pre-planned by the Father, made possible by the Son, and bestowed upon and sealed for the believer by the Holy Spirit.” [4]

Theologian Gordon Fee states of this passage, “Paul is essentially stating that the “Spirit is the present means whereby God appropriates to the believing community the ‘blessings’ that flow from the redemptive work of Christ.” [5]

How much blessing is “every spiritual blessing”? Christ is the fullness of God in bodily form (Col. 1:19), and we—the Church—are the fullness of Christ. In other words, all that pertains to life and godliness are found in Christ, and Christ is in us, and He is the fullness of every spiritual blessing.

The truth of this revelation is that, by the Holy Spirit, we should expect to function from our union with Christ and His fullness—from His victory!

The Church is to live from her place of inheritance in Christ; she freely gives knowing the fullness of heaven’s blessings are already hers.

Notice “in the heavenly realms.” Typical of Paul, he is contrasting the powers affecting us.

The Ephesians and others were given over to various forms of pagan idol worship. In Acts 19, we read of the riot that came after Paul was ministering for three years in Ephesus. Why? The idol makers were upset because so many were turning to Christ! The powers in the heavens were being shaken!

Paul mentions this at the beginning of chapter two:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” (Eph 2:1-2 NLT)

Paul also wrote to the Corinthians about the demonic powers behind idol worship (see 1 Cor. 10:19-21).

Fee writes of this passage in Ephesians 1,

Powers in the heavenly realm who had enslaved them versus Christ who is now “in the heavenlies” as “head over” all the spiritual powers for the sake of the Church (1:20-23). So, these spiritual blessings take place in the heavenly realms “right in the presence, as it were, of the powers themselves.” [6]

Paul was referencing Psalm 23:5, “you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies…” The shepherd would go through the pasture and remove all poisonous weeds placing them on a rock too high to reach.

Jesus has gone before us, preparing our way, and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Col. 2:15). Christ has triumphed over all principalities and powers and has broken the power of the enemy over our lives.

God cares for my needs amid the evil forces attempting to destroy my life and soul. Here is the good news for the believer: “the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church” (Matt. 16:18)! We can walk in victory in the conflicts because Jesus has gone before us, defeating these powers!

Fee writes, “By seating us in the heavenly realm as redeemed, adopted, and forgiven, God by His Spirit has made us the recipients of his lavish grace manifested in Christ, as well as the certain victors in our ‘warfare’ against the powers.” [7]

The Spirit is the agent to release the blessings—they are appropriated by our faith. Faith is the currency of heaven. Many want God’s blessings, but they haven’t responded in faith to appropriate what God has freely given us through Christ.

Salvation, healing, deliverance, provision, breakthrough, etc. are available to the believer who knows their position, authority, and promise in Christ. We must live from heaven toward earth, from our standing in Christ.

Faith to move mountains begins with believing God hears your prayers!

I’ll resume next week by taking a closer look at this passage and our adoption into God’s family and the inheritance we have in Christ.

For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “The  Glory of Christ and His Church: The Believer’s Blessing in Christ”:


[1] Watchman Nee, The Glorious Church, (Anaheim, CA: Living Stream Ministry, 1993), 50.

[2] Ibid., 50-51.

[3] Mark A. Holmes, Ephesians: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 1997), 34.

[4] Ibid., 35.

[5] Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1994), 667.

[6] Ibid, 668.

[7] Ibid.

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