Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2)
In Bible times and now, God’s people sometimes feel hard-pressed on all sides—squeezed, crushed, puzzled, depressed, depleted, anxious, persecuted, abandoned, abused, struck down, and about to be destroyed. But Jesus promises that He gives us eternal life (life in fellowship with God), and we shall never perish. No one will ever snatch us out of His or His Father’s strong hands.1
We live in between Christ’s First Coming and His guaranteed Second Coming. We affirm: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Martin Luther taught us to live as if Jesus died for us yesterday, rose for us this morning, and is coming back for us tomorrow. At the end of the New Testament the Savior promised: “Yes, I am coming soon.” And we say by faith: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”2
Our Benefit Package in Jesus
What benefits do Christ’s followers receive? God takes the whole Bible to explain that. 31,173 verses! The Lord wants us to grow in adoring and loving Him because of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do for us in the future. That honors Him and stabilizes us. God doesn’t want spectators. He wants spirit and truth worshipers. Here’s a starter list of some Christian benefits from Ephesians chapter 1. If you are Jesus’ followers, use these realities as reasons to praise God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and help others praise Him when they are discouraged and their faith is weak.
We Praise God Because We Are His Holy People (Saints) (Ephesians 1:1)
Peter expands on this and says: All Christians are God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.3
All Christians have these titles, positions, and standing because of Christ’s obedience, atoning death, and bodily resurrection, not because of anything that we have done. After we come to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit enables us to practice holiness more and more because the God who saved us is holy.4 The Lord enables us to imitate Him who saved us. That’s part of being in God’s family.
C. H. Spurgeon said: I believe in the final preservation and perseverance of every saint as an individual. And I believe in the final preservation perseverance of the saints as the Body of Christ (all believers together). Jesus promised: I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.5 Those who oppose Christ and His people will not ultimately win. That’s great news!
We Praise God Because We Receive His Grace and Peace (Ephesians 1:2)
Sometimes Paul also mentions mercy in his greetings.6 Jude, the Lord’s half brother, opens his New Testament letter saying: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance, multiplied to you, in ever increasing measure.7 See how eager God is to encourage us? Every page of the Bible shows how He cares for us!
Grace is the Lord’s unmerited favor, completely free of charge, to those who repent and believe on Christ as the one and only Mediator between God and humankind. Salvation is free to us, but costly to God. It comes to us only as the result of Christ’s cross-work for us: peace with God, peace with others, peace in our own hearts, and no fear of the past, present, or future.
The Bible’s concept of peace (shalom in Hebrew) is deep, rich, and sweet. It is not just the absence of conflict or war, but God’s all-embracing completeness and wholeness. Christ give us overflowing fullness of joy and strength for our mind, emotions, body, and soul. He gives us safety, security, health, healing, and calmness even in stormy times. Jesus gives us contentment in Him and calls us to be peacemakers, not warmongers. What a Savior!
Pastor David Dickson said: I have taken my good deeds and bad deeds and thrown them together in a heap, and run from them both to Christ. And in Jesus I have the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.
We Praise God Because We Receive Every Heavenly and Spiritual Blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
Ephesians 1:3–14 is all one long sentence in Greek. It is called a “doxology” because it recounts God’s work and we worship Him for it. Paul enumerates the blessings we have through God the Father (3–6),; then those that come through God the Son (7–12); and those which come through God the Holy Spirit (13–14). He gives us the most comprehensive benefits package.
Robert Robinson’s hymn says:
Come, now Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing your grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise,
Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of God’s unchanging love.
Thomas Ken’s doxology says:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Spirit). Amen.
Riches, fame, health, and comfort on earth vanish easily. All of history shows that and we have seen that painfully in the past year. So God calls us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. What is seen is only temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.8 Jesus asks: What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?9
It would be easier to list all the benefits the world receives from the sunshine than to list all the blessings we receive in Christ. We should spend as much time thanking the Lord for His benefits as we do in asking Him to bless us!
To be continued.
Notes (various translations): 1 John 10:28-29. 2 Rev 22:20. 3 1 Peter 2:9-10. 4 1 Peter 1:16. 5 Matt 16:18. 6 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2. 7 Jude 2. 8 2 Cor 4:18. 9 Mark 8:36-37.