It seems as if there is a tremendous over-whelming preoccupation with blessings and being blessed in the American church world today! It is reflected in the songs, sermons, sayings, and teachings. Everybody and their Momma want to be blessed! We hear it in sermon topics such as: “Seven Steps to God’s Prosperity.” Songs and sayings such as: “When Praises Go Up; Blessings Come Down!” (You can read my take on that in my post: The Crazy Things We Say in Church!), and it is heard in the prayer requests of countless people seeking “blessings and breakthroughs!” But what does the Bible say about the idea of being blessed and seeking to be blessed?
Well according to the Bible, those who are “in Christ” are already blessed! Paul wrote in Ephesian 1:3: “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.” (ESV) Note that the tense is past tense! Paul did not say that we “would” be blessed; he said we have been blessed! The words “has” and “blessed” are past tense forms in the English and is parsed as an aorist, active participle in the Greek. Note also that Paul said “every” or “all” spiritual blessing. If those in Christ already have “every” or “all” then what is left for them to have? Now, I hear you! You are probably saying at this point: “But Paul was talking about “spiritual” blessings, not material or physical ones!” But is it not true that everything “material or physical” is produced by the spiritual? Let me show you what I’m talking about: The house you live in is a material or physical product of the spiritual. That house first existed in the mind of the architect. When it was in the mind of the architect, it was in “spiritual” form. It was then transferred from the (spiritual) mind of the architect to a blue-print plan. The builders then built the house based on the blueprint which was produced from the mind (spirit) of the architect. So, actually your house is a spiritual blessing because there is nothing that is now physical that did not first exist in the spirit! Everything that is physical or material is a product of the spiritual. It is the spiritual that produces the material or physical and the material or physical cannot be produced except by the spiritual! So when Paul said that we have been blessed with all or every spiritual blessing, he was saying that everything we will need; we already have!
Now, the Bible says that a thing should be established out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. We just heard from Paul, now let’s listen to Peter. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:2-3: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”(ESV) The KJV puts it this way: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” Do you see that? The text says that we have already been given all (every) things that pertain (have to do with) life and godliness through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!
The problem today is not that we need to be blessed: The problem today is, we don’t know how to access the blessings we already have! The Bible says: My people perish for the lack of knowledge! Oh how true! Oh what needless pains we bear; all because we do not know! We don’t know how to access the blessings we already have because we are ignorant of the principles of covenant and the laws of faith. The Anchor Bible Dictionary states: “In the Bible, the focus of blessing was not on the content, but rather the relationship. The primary factor of blessing is the statement of relationship between parties. God blesses with a benefit on the basis of the relationship. The blessing makes known the positive relationship between the parties, whether a single individual (Gen. 12:1-3) or a group (Deut. 7:14-16).” In other words, blessings are the results of a covenant-relationship with God. The Lord has blessed and continues to bless based on his covenant. Therefore, contrary to what many are preaching, teaching, singing and saying today: There is no direct correlation between praises going up and blessings coming down! Aside from the biblical truth that praise is product of blessings and not the other way around (We don’t praise God to be blessed; we praise God because we are blessed!), the fact that we have already been blessed means that God doesn’t need to “send it down!” He doesn’t need to give us what we already have! Jesus said in Mark 11:24 that the key to having what we ask for in prayer is to believe that we have received it when we pray. So even though we already have it, we need faith to manifest it.
Did you know that in the Bible, there is not even one legitimate suggestion that we should even be pursuing blessings? (The prayer of Jabez, in my opinion, has been erroneously interpreted and made into a principle) In fact, the Bible says that blessings should actually be pursuing us! Deut. 28:1-2 says: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” (KJV) The key to being blessed is being obedient! Did you read the text? It said that if we are careful to be obedient that blessings would come on us and overtake us! The picture is that of one being chased and overtaken by blessings! David said in Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (KJV) What many English readers don’t realize is that the Hebrew word that is translated as “follow” in that verse actually means: “to pursue, to follow after, to chase, to run after.” This is not a picture of goodness (blessings and benefits) and mercy (God’s covenant love and kindness) just passively tagging along, following after David; but rather it is a picture of goodness and mercy actively and persistently chasing after David (like a dog chasing a cat) all the days of his life!
And then finally, it would do us well to heed to the words of Jesus: “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Mat 6:30-33 NLT) When we seek God! When we seek the Kingdom of God; God’s rule and righteousness (God’s way of doing things), all the things we need will be manifested in our lives!
I am grieved today because much of what we are hearing in the church today is really just worldly materialism wrapped in a thin Christian veneer! It is actually the same message that Wall St., is preaching! It is the pursuit of money and fame! James gives us the reason for the frustration that many are experiencing in their pursue of blessings today: “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong– you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:2-8 NLT)