God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Once we are in Christ, we are already blessed. But how does he bless us? He chose us before the foundation of the world (v.4), he predestined us to be adopted as his children, he redeemed us with his blood so we have forgiveness of sins, he lavished upon us with all wisdom and insight, he gave us an inheritance, and he sealed us with the Holy Spirit. So Paul says in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Amazing grace! We deserve hell and judgment, but in Christ, we receive “all things”!
But before we get ego-centric and think the universe now revolves around me, I would like to emphasize the truth of this little phrase “according to” which is repeated five times in these 12 verses: verses 5, 7, 9, 11. This phrase, “according to,” explains why God has blessed us so abundantly in Christ. It isn’t just about us, but it’s all about God and Christ. We are beneficiaries of the greater purpose and plan of God to exalt both Christ and God:
- “according to the purpose of his will” (v.5): It is really about showing forth the blessedness of God’s will, so that creation may know that his will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Right from the beginning, God’s will has always been good, acceptable and perfect. God’s will have never been to hurt or harm his creation.
- “according to the riches of his grace” (v.7): It is also to show forth God’s rich grace which was unknown before sin entered the world. Where there is no sin, grace is unnecessary. So, in allowing sin, God also allows his grace to be displayed so that the angels and all creation may marvel at the “riches of his grace” toward sinners.
- “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” (v.9): It is also to reveal God’s ultimate plan in Christ, which is “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (v.10). Christ is the Alpha and also the Omega: He is the beginning and He will be the End—everything in heaven and on earth will be united in Him. Whatever is not united in Christ will be thrown out of the new Creation into the lake of fires (hell) to be burned.
- “according to the purpose of him who works all things” (v.11): It is to let us know that God is the One who is working out all things, both in heaven and on earth. In other words, nothing happens on earth (history) that is outside his working. God works all things to accomplish His purpose: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:28-29). God is not just “hands-on” when good things happen, but he is involved in bad things that happen to good people. The goal is not to make us happy but to cause us to be conformed to the image of his Son. If Jesus has to learn obedience through what he suffered, so we may expect suffering to be part of God’s purpose.
- “according to the counsel of his will” (v.11): Finally, everything that happens to us is a blessing (prosperity or adversity) because it is in according to the “counsel of his will”. That means, it is no random chance occurrence, but a consequence of a perfectly thought-out plan of God. Blessings in God’s economy is not things that make us happy but things that make us holy: “that we should be holy and blameless before him” (v.4).
So, we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing to reveal the glory of God's grace in Christ, not just to make us happy.