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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)
As I was doing my research on Ephesians 1:3 I came across some interesting commentary that didn’t quite fit into yesterday’s blog entry. So we’re going to spend another day looking at this verse.
Yesterday we learned that at the moment a person becomes an adopted son or daughter of God through faith in Jesus Christ, God blesses them with certain eternal benefits. We learned that the Greek word for the verb “blessed” is ευλογεο (pronounced: yoo-log-eh’-o) which means “to benefit; to prosper”. God bestows benefits on His children. He does this of His own volition because it is in His nature to do so.
It is interesting to note that nowhere in Greek literature is this word used to describe the actions of any of the many Greek gods. Zeus, for example, never took the initiative to bless anyone. Paul is seemingly contrasting the true God of the Bible with the gods that man has invented.
When man invents a god he creates one who must be served or appeased in exchange for a reward. This is the way man’s mind works: if we do something we get something in return.
This is the teaching of Islam and even the Catholic church which, despite having its origins in the Bible, has distorted the true nature of God in order to reconcile Him with this type of thinking by teaching that we can “earn” heaven based on how we live on earth. Even Buddhism and Hinduism have similar teachings: man is rewarded if he does the right things.
So many people claim that the Bible is just the regurgitation of other religions. When I was an atheist I used to believe this too. But this claim cannot be supported. The Bible is so unique it is impossible to think that it was invented as it is completely inconsistent with the religions that man has invented over time. And this verse is one of many places we see this uniqueness.
The Greek word used in the New Testament to describe God’s love is αγαπε (pronounced: ag-ah’-pay). It is one of 5 ways to say “love” in Greek and it refers to a love that is absolutely unconditional. God does not parse out His love based on our performance. He gives it unconditionally, without any action on our part. In fact, God not only loves unconditionally, He is unconditional love [1 John 4:8].
God is not like any other god that the world believes in. For this reason we can also conclude that the god of Islam is not the god of the Bible repackaged in a different way. Some claim that everyone worships the same god, but in their own way. This cannot be true. The God of the Bible is unique. The god of Islam (and the gods of other religions) are incompatible with the God of the Bible. They cannot be the same god.
God loves and gives by His very nature [John 3:16]. He does not need to be appeased. We do not need to earn His approval, or His acceptance, or His love. He loves us simply because it is His nature to do so. This makes Him unique among gods.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.