By Roland W. Keith
According to the Oxford dictionary a blessing is “God’s favor and protection.” For those of us well-versed in the Bible that understanding probably seems rather narrow and inadequate. In the Old Testament the Lord told Abram: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3). Blessings from the Lord go far beyond mere favor and protection. God’s blessing of Abraham encompassed not only one man’s life, but ultimately all of mankind throughout history. Those blessings rest upon me even as I sit here and write. So, the first thing to note about God’s blessings is how great they are. The second thing to note is that they are often accompanied with a curse or down-side.
When we read of God’s promised blessings in the Bible we learn of the conditional nature of God’s promises. Abram had to leave his country and kindred and travel to an unknown land to receive his blessing. Later God would tell Abraham’s descendants: "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28; see also 28:1-2). For the nation of Israel God’s blessings required obedience to His commands; failure to obey resulted in forfeiture of the blessings and a curse.
In his gospel account John wrote, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). No blessing that God bestows is greater than this. The Holy Father sent His Son to earth to live in the squalor of life that man had created in order to lead him out of that life into one holy and everlasting. However, with the blessing came a curse: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16; see also John 3:18). As Paul explained this reconciliation to the Ephesians:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:14-19).
Through the blood of Jesus all men, both Jew and Gentile, have been brought together in one body, out from under the burdensome “law of commandments expressed by ordinances” and placed within the law of grace. Yet, as with those bound by the old covenant those under the new testament are still under a requirement to obey God’s commands. We have come out from under the Law of Moses to live under the law of the Spirit of life to our everlasting advantage, nonetheless, we must still act in obedience to our Lord (I John 2: 3-4; 5:2-3). To submit our will to God’s is no more than God is due, and the benefits of His grace and our obedience are beyond measure. As Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,” and “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will”
(Ephesians 1:7, 11).
God has opened the gates of heaven to all who will come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, but for those who refuse that offer there is a cost to pay, as Jesus proclaimed, “So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). How do we compare the blessings God is offering to the curse of denying Him? As someone once said, “when we put our faith in God we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, but if we deny God we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.” Each of us is being offered a priceless and eternal gift, but it is a blessing we cannot receive unless we come to Jesus, as Luke wrote, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). As Ananias asked Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Won’t you accept God’s blessings?
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.