June 10, 2024

Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ

Sinclair Ferguson
Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ

We cannot separate the blessings of salvation from the One in whom they are found and experienced, Jesus Christ. Today, Sinclair Ferguson describes the interconnected way we should think about the person and work of Christ.


Last week on Things Unseen, we were thinking about one of the most wonderful and yet one of the most intellectually challenging topics we could ever discuss: the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You’ll remember how Paul puts it: “Great . . . is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). Thinking about the person of Christ brings us again and again to the point where we say: “Lord, You are too great and high for me, and You stooped so low in taking my humanity. I want to confess the mystery of Your person. I want to know You and trust You and love You better.” So, I thought this week it would be good for us to go on thinking about Jesus, but this week to talk about His work rather than His person.

But I think exactly here we need to avoid a misstep. We often talk about the person and the work of Jesus Christ, and our theology textbooks tend to do the same thing. It’s a very natural division. His divine person, in two natures, is a huge topic to study. And then what He came to accomplish, His work, that’s another huge topic to reflect on. But we mustn’t over-separate Christ’s work from Christ’s person. His work took place in space and time in our history, but it didn’t take place outside of Christ. We speak about His person and His work, but we can’t abstract His work from Him, as though it was something separate from Christ, something outside of Him. No, all His work for us, He Himself did in Himself. In a sense, His work is embodied in Him. That’s why He took a body. Remember the words of Psalm 40 that are referred to in Hebrews 10:7:

Sacrifices and burnt offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me . . .
Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.

All of Christ’s work for us took place in and through the body, which He, the Son of God, assumed and possessed—and perhaps just as amazingly, still possesses in the presence of His Father.

I think if you reflect on this, you’ll see its importance, because sometimes the gospel has been sincerely and even earnestly preached as though when we come to believe in Christ, there are specific things, almost like commodities, that He transfers to you. It’s as though He has something you don’t have, and He then gives it to you so that you now have it and He no longer has it. So, sometimes people think this way, I suspect, when a preacher says, “Come to Christ for justification or for reconciliation or for adoption.”

I wonder if you see the potential danger in that way of thinking. It’s sometimes led people to think that they can have these blessings apart from Jesus Christ Himself, or they can have Christ’s salvation without Christ’s lordship. But the New Testament makes clear that you can’t do that; you can only have Jesus Christ. And when you have Him, you have everything in Him. When that dawns on us, I think it’s a great protection against seeking blessings instead of seeking and trusting the Lord Jesus Himself, in whom these blessings are to be found, and in whom they are to be experienced.

That’s one of the big points, isn’t it, of one of Paul’s most lyrical passages in Ephesians 1:3–14. Every spiritual blessing, and He enumerates quite a number of them—redemption, pardon, adoption, sanctification—they’re all to be found in Jesus Christ and only in Jesus Christ. As Paul puts it very succinctly to the Corinthians: Christ Jesus became to us wisdom from God—righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Well, the rest of the week we’re going to look at some of these specific blessings, but I thought it was worthwhile at the beginning of the week to make sure we’re clear about this and avoiding the mistake of seeking or wanting blessings but not looking to the Lord Jesus Himself. That was one of the mistakes that led people into the muddle-headedness of thinking that you can trust Christ as Savior without having Him as Lord, as though you can have salvation but not sanctification, forgiveness but not holiness. No, you can only have Jesus Christ Himself, and He’s both Savior and Lord. And gloriously, when you have Him, then all these blessings are yours in Him as well, and we’ll think more of this tomorrow.