The One that can and has brought our souls thrilling joy and unspeakable satisfaction will forever be ours. The One that has been promised to us will be fully received. The One we behold now by faith, we will behold then in sight. The One has been the fountain and source of all partial blessing and joy we will savor in his fullest magnitude. God, in all his glory, with all his splendor, with all his grace, with all his love, will be our inheritance to enjoy forevermore without end.
What awaits us as our inheritance is the very thing our souls most desire, perfect fellowship with God. The description of Revelation 21 is the dramatic climax to this unfolding truth woven in the story of God’s redemptive history. From the very beginning God has desired to dwell in covenant relationship with his people. The early chapters of Genesis reveal God’s desire in building that relationship. God creates a garden and puts his people (Adam and Eve) in to this garden to dwell with them there. When Adam and Eve fall, God makes a way to maintain covenant relationship through the promise of a redeemer (Gen 3:15).
Later, as God’s covenant family grows into a nation, God provides a means of maintaining covenant fellowship through the use of a tabernacle. Through this mobile, holy dwelling place, God can dwell in the midst of his people. Once the wandering is over and Israel takes possession of their promised land, God comes to dwell with his people in a temple. There sacrifice is made for sin and the foreshadow of Christ’s atoning sacrifice is established by the blood of lambs.
In the new covenant, God comes to dwell in the midst of his people in human form in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in whom “the fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). Jesus, the Son of God, took on human flesh and “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). Christ was the place where God dwelt and the place where atonement for sin would take place. Today, God dwells with his people in his people in the form of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). He lives in us, guiding us and leading us (Rom 8). He is our comforter helping us in our weakness.
All of these are only temporary, earthly expressions of the eternal, heavenly reality. One day, we will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And we will live forever in his presence. We will dwell forever with him in the new heavens and new earth. All the things that stand to separate us and remove us from walking in perfect communion with God will be eradicated and all there will be is perfect, holy fellowship between God and his people. Never again will we suffer pain, for our great Comforter is the very air we breathe. Never again will we weep, for our good Father is there to dry our tears. Never again will we suffer, for our living and true Provider is all that we need. Never again will we taste death, for our mighty King is our everlasting life. Never again will we be separated from God by sin, but God and man will live and dwell forevermore in perfect community.
In addition to the immediateness of God’s blessing, there is a sense in which his blessing for us has been stored up for a later date. Paul says that God has blessed those in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Our inheritance awaits us in the divine realm. Many have argued that what awaits believers in heaven are mansions or crowns. But is that really all there is to our inheritance? Did the Son of God take on human flesh and suffer and endure a horrible death so that one day we might obtain and inheritance that only consists of living in a ginormous house with a crown on our heads? The apostle Peter, concurring with Paul, states:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
Here too, Peter sees our inheritance as awaiting us in heaven. But what could be better than a mansion? What is more glorious than a crown? What could be saved for us that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”? The Bible indicates that there is much more to what awaits us than just a heavenly status and stuff; the Giver of all things. The description of John’s vision in Revelation 21:1-4,7 provides us with the further insight:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. . . The one who conquers will have this inheritance, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’”
The imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance kept in heaven for us is God himself. The eternal fellowship of, and inexpressible joy of forever basking in, the glory of God awaits us in heaven. The joy and satisfaction that our hearts long for and pursue are and will be satisfied in God. Though we experience that joy and satisfaction in part now, when this world passes away what will remain is the fullness of an eternal, inseparable, indescribably joyous, intimate fellowship with God.
No spiritual blessing has been withheld from us, but every spiritual blessing has been given to us and comes in the form of grace, as the result of the cross of Christ, for the purpose of equipping of believers for a life of godliness. We have been given all the grace that we need to plunge by faith deeper our into the Son that we might more intimately know the Father.
Because of our inability to keep the commands of God and live an obedient life, Christ lived a perfect life of obedience for us. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor, it had to be merited for us through Christ. God acts favorably toward us, not because of anything we’ve done, can do, or will do, but on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross. The blessing that flows from Christ’s reconciling work was not withheld from us and could not be earned, it puts us in an immediate and future relationship with God. This deep and soul satisfying relationship can never be severed or destroyed but will last forever.
In order to understand what this “blessing” is we need to look at the word “spiritual” that qualifies it. This word “spiritual” in Greek is the word πνευματικῇ (pneumatikē), which simply means “divine.” In other words, every blessing that we have, which comes to us through Christ, is from God. Or to say it another way, God has given those in Christ “every divine blessing.” The apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:2-4 has this to say:
“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, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
The form of every divine blessing that has been given to us comes to us in the form of grace; God’s favor toward us. The function this blessing (in the form of grace) is the equipping of ourselves for a life of godliness through a deeper and closer knowledge of God’s glory. Paul picks up this theme in 2 Corinthians 4:5-6:
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Divine blessing is seeing the glory of God as reflected in person and word of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father (John 14:9). The “every blessing” that is ours in Christ is simply all the grace that we need to plunge deeper into the Son that we might more intimately know the Father.
In Exodus 33 when Moses asked to see God, God refused to let Moses see his face because sinful men cannot look upon a holy God and live. Instead, God hid Moses in a rock and caused his glory to pass by the rock that Moses was safely “tucked” in so that Moses might see the glory of God and live. This story is a foreshadow of New Covenant believers in Christ. Sinners cannot look upon the face of God and live. To do so would be instantaneous execution of justice. They must be, by faith, “tucked” into the Rock of ages (Jesus Christ) in order to see the glory of God. For everyone who is “tucked” into Christ by faith will see God’s glory, living and active among God’s people. This is indeed great favor toward us from God; this is grace. Every bit of this grace has been given to us who are in Christ that we might be equipped to live a life of godliness for the glory of God.
The immediateness of God’s blessing is an all-sufficient supply. When my wife and I were serving overseas, one song we loved to sing during our Sunday gatherings was called “Complete in Thee.” One of the stanzas of that song reads, “Complete in Thee each want supplied, And no good thing to me denied; Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be, I ask no more, complete in Thee.”
As Christ died on the cross, his final words were “It is finished.” The cross accomplished and provided everything we need in this life to be in right relationship with God. In God, through Christ, we are complete. No good thing to us has been denied. No blessing is withheld. All the riches of Christ that were his have been given to us in an incorruptible inheritance. As Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 1:
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
As children of God, we have a great inheritance. It is an inheritance that no man can steal and no time destroy. It is an inheritance that we could not purchase, but has been purchased for and given to us freely as a gift. The beauty of the cross lies in this: as Christ took on our curse, so we took on his blessing.
Most people tend to exaggerate their use of the words “never” and “always.” Husbands will say to their wives, “You always spend too much money.” Wives will say to their husbands, “You never listen to me.” We know that these are not totally accurate statements, but we say them to make a point. What we really mean is that the other person is doing something with such frequency that it makes it seem like it “always” happens. Or fails to do something with such frequency that it makes it seem like it “never” happens. Fortunately, Paul does not have such hyperbole in mind when he says that God has blessed us in Christ with “every” spiritual blessing. This is not an overstatement on Paul’s part; he is not exaggerating for effect. When Paul says that “every” blessing is ours in Christ, he means every blessing.
But these “blessings” are not mere physical blessings. When we hear the term “blessing” it is easy for us to think of a lot of money, a big house, a fancy car, a good job and healthy kids. But Paul has something specific in mind when he says God has blessed us with every spiritual “blessing.” It is important for us not to underestimate “every” or minimize God’s “blessing.” Through Christ, every spiritual blessing has been given to us who are in Christ. These blessings are available to us immediately, and stored up for us in heavenly places.
God’s cursing is a terrible thing. It is an utter and complete cursing penetrating every area of our life. Contrastingly, God’s blessing is an extravagant blessing that is overly abundant. The promise of God’s terrible curse remains on those who are not, by faith, in Christ. His covenant blessing, however, remains forever with those who trust in Christ’s atoning work. By faith, we can be redeemed by Christ from the curse of the law and one day fully inherit all the promises of blessing that is our hope.
We will one day truly stand before God, our Father, and he will lift up his countenance on us and make his face to shine upon us.
While the work of Christ becoming a curse is certainly sufficient for all mankind, it is by no mean effective for all mankind. Not everyone who is born into the human race experiences God’s blessing. In fact, because we are all born with a nature so sinful and corrupt, we are all under the wrath and condemnation of God until we come to faith in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 Paul writes:
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
When we first had faith in Christ is when the Holy Spirit first opened our eyes and we saw the glory of God in the face of Christ and said, “YES! I want you, Jesus!” Christ carried on him the full weight of our sin. When God looked on Christ as he hung on the cross he saw our sin, and in all righteousness, God condemned our sin in Christ. As Paul says in Romans 8:3-4:
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Christ became a curse for us by taking on our sin. But this is not all that happened. Christ did not only take our sin, at the cross, we also take Christ’s righteousness. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
At the cross, two transactions took place. Christ took on our sin and we took on Christ’s righteousness. Because of this, Christ has already given us everything we need to be fully accepted by God. In Christ is the only place God may look upon sinful men with benevolent kindness. In Christ is the only place that God may make his face to shine upon us and we, in turn, experience the benefits of those blessings.
As New Covenant believers, the promises of blessing and cursing find their fulfillment for us in Christ. In Galatians chapter three, Paul applies Deuteronomy twenty-eight to the Galatian church:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree,’ so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
As disobedient sinners, the righteous judgment and cursing of God is what we rightly deserve. It is what justice demands of our sin. But because Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, Christ became cursed for us, the full wrath and judgment of God was poured out on Christ instead of on us, the demand of justice was satisfied in Christ. He became cursed of God in our place, so that we might enjoy the blessing of God.
Tomorrow, we will look at the blessings of God that we enjoy, but for now, we know that at the very least, through his work on the cross, Christ has secured God’s kindness and graciousness toward those who have faith in him. Now, because of Christ, God can look toward us; he does not have to hide his holy face from our sin. God can look toward us, and when he does, he can smile upon us. God can look on us with a pleasing satisfaction and joyful contentedness because, by faith, Christ became our curse and the source of our blessing.