(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
We’ve all heard someone say, “I’ve been blessed by God,” usually in relation to success, health, family, wealth, or a job. We’ve even heard athletes say this after winning a big game. We all want to be under God’s blessing.
The common understanding of what it means to be blessed by God is that He gives us good things. In this respect, we can say that God’s blessing is on everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. Matthew 5:45 says that the Father who is in the heavens causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.
But does God’s blessing pertain only to material things? Though these are included, thinking of God’s blessing as mainly material things severely limits our understanding of what is in God’s heart for us as believers. So what is the fuller meaning of being blessed by God?
The blessing of Abraham
Let’s begin with the blessing of Abraham by God in Genesis 12:3: “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” We might think being blessed here means something outward, like having a good life. But in Galatians 3:13 and 14, the apostle Paul specifically explained what blessed in Genesis 12:3 means:
“Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse on our behalf; because it is written, ‘Cursed is every one hanging on a tree’; in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
These verses explain both how we can be blessed and what the blessing of God is.
How can we be blessed?
As fallen sinners, we deserve nothing but judgment and curse, certainly not blessing. And our good works or behaviour can never make us “blessable.” But Jesus became a curse on our behalf. On the cross, He bore the curse that was upon all humanity and died in our place. Because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross for us, we cursed sinners can now receive the blessing of God through faith in Christ.
What is the blessing of God?
Galatians 3:14 makes clear that the blessing in Christ Jesus that God wants us to receive isn’t material things, but something far greater—the promise of the Spirit.
Note 2 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version helps us understand what this blessing is:
“In the gospel we have received not only the blessing of forgiveness, washing, and cleansing; even more, we have received the greatest blessing, which is the Triune God—the Father, Son, and Spirit—as the processed, all-inclusive life-giving Spirit dwelling in us in a most subjective way for our enjoyment. Oh, what a blessing that we can enjoy such an all-inclusive One as our daily portion!”
But in this verse what, or who, is “the Spirit” that we receive? The next note on verse 14 says this:
“This verse indicates that the Spirit is the blessing that God promised to Abraham for all the nations and that has been received by the believers through faith in Christ. The Spirit is the compound Spirit, as mentioned in note 52, and actually is God Himself processed in His Trinity through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and descension that we may receive Him as our life and our everything. This is the focus of the gospel of God.
The physical aspect of the blessing that God promised to Abraham was the good land (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; 26:3-4), which was a type of the all-inclusive Christ (see Col. 1:12 and note 2). Since Christ is eventually realized as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17), the blessing of the promised Spirit corresponds with the blessing of the land promised to Abraham. Actually, the Spirit as the realization of Christ in our experience is the good land as the source of God’s bountiful supply for us to enjoy.”
Experiencing God’s blessing
Christ dwells in us as the all-inclusive Spirit, so we can experience Him in a personal, subjective way by contacting Him with our spirit. We can pray, call on His name, and read His Word. By simply turning to Christ in our spirit, talking to Him throughout the day, we can enjoy Him as our rich portion.
Suppose you pray for a better job and get a higher paying position. Happily, you thank the Lord for it. But what happens when the new work environment presents some difficulties? If you realise that God didn’t just bless you with a new job but with much more, with the all-inclusive Christ who lives in you, you’ll contact the Lord as the life-giving Spirit dwelling in your spirit. So instead of asking the Lord to take away the problems or bless you with another job, you’ll open your heart to Him and asked Him to be your wisdom, strength, whatever you need, to face the troubles at work. You’ll begin to experience Christ as the bountiful supply in that difficult situation. You’ll enjoy Him—the top blessing.
Pursuing Christ, the real blessing
If we think God’s blessing is mainly of things in the material realm, we’ll pursue these things, spend our prayer time asking God for them, and when we don’t get them, wonder whether we’re blessed by God. Meanwhile, we’ll miss enjoying the broader, fuller, and more real blessing of God—Christ for our experience and enjoyment. By focusing on and pursuing Christ, we can enjoy the all-inclusive Spirit as the top blessing of God!
Surely we should be thankful for the material things the Lord gives us. But we’re truly blessed when we experience Christ as our love, our peace, our patience, our satisfaction, our joy, and so many other aspects of Himself.
We have this wonderful Person now within us, the greatest blessing in the universe!