Posted by: pastortomvabeach | October 13, 2009

Thought for the Week October 18, 2009

Last week I shared some fundamental truths about how a Christian receives acceptance and righteousness so that we might get a grip on the feelings that keep telling us that we are not making the grade and surely can’t be successful as a Christian if I am so unpleasing to God. I tried to convey that feelings will lead us far off the path if we are not grounded in the truth as God presents it in His Word. He is and must be the final authority in a person’s relationship with Him.

I would like to add a bit to that teaching by taking a look at just who and what a Christian is according to God’s Word. It is interesting that if you read the book of Ephesians, the entire first three chapters are dedicated completely to describing what it means to be “in Christ”. In other words, Paul begins by defining everything that God gives the person who believes in Jesus. Not once in those opening chapters does he say, “You did,” or “You accomplished,” or “Do this.”

Listen to the illuminating words Paul uses to describe his readers. “To the saints who are in Ephesus…” (1:1); “accepted in the Beloved.” (1:6); “You He made alive,” (2:1); “You have been saved…” (2:5); “We are His workmanship…” (2:10); “brought near by the blood of Christ.” (2:13); “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (2:19) “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (2:22); “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise…” (3:6). These words describe every person who has believed that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for them, and having trusted Him, have turned their lives over to Him.

In addition to these descriptions, Paul defines the spiritual situation or “position” of a believer in Jesus, and what that person receives as a result. Because you are a believer you have been or are – “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (1:3); “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (1:7); “you were sealed with the Holy Spirit…” (1:13); “made us alive together with Christ…” (2:5); “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (2:6); “created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (2:10); “we have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (2:18): “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…” (2:20); “partakers of His promise in Christ…” (3:6); “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” (3:12). These are said of all those “in Christ.”

Lest we mistakenly conclude that we had something to do with all these good things God says about us, notice who it is that Paul says does all of the work. “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us…” (1:3); “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…” (1:4); “according to the good pleasure of His will.” (1:5); “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” (1:6); “predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to…His will.” (1:11); “but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…made us alive…” (2:4-5); “by grace you have been saved….not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (2:8); “He Himself is our peace…having abolished in His flesh the enmity…that He might reconcile them both to God…” (2:14-16); “to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (3:20); “to Him be glory…” (3:21). I hope you get the idea.

All of these things set up what I want to share. Paul is writing this letter to His friends in Ephesus, Greeks who needed to teaching and direction about how to live as Christians. Did you notice that in three chapters, the first half of the letter, he doesn’t say anything about how to live? This is significant! Apparently Paul thought the “how to live” stuff was only doable if one first understand the “who I am” stuff. So he laid that groundwork, first.

Beloved Christian friend, it is vitally important that we understand, first, that everything about being a Christian comes from and is centered in, Jesus Christ. It is because of His will, according to His grace, flowing from His love, activated by His power that anyone believes and is saved. Why Paul says, even the faith that we use to believe is a gift from God!

All we must do is answer His call and receive everything He has already done. When we do, He lifts us, He makes us “right”, He sits us beside Himself in the heavenly places, He opens the door to His throne, He gives us life, He forgives our sins (all of them), He gives us an inheritance beyond a king’s ransom. Saints of God (that’s what He makes you), do you see that everything we have is from Him to give Him glory? This is crucial!

The amazing thing is that it is not until Paul has established our status as saints, children of God, members of His household, His workmanship, His dwelling place, etc., that he says, “Walk”, which means “do this”. Look at chapter 4:1, “I, therefore…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Do you see how powerful this is? If I know who I am, the power that has been given to me, the significance of my standing before God, the authority which He has imparted to me as a “son of God,” this empowers me to live out the life of such a person.

Think about it. If I view myself as a “sinner saved by grace,” how does that affect the way I will do things? First off, I’m a “sinner”. What does a sinner do? He or she sins! As long as I see myself as a “sinner”, I will struggle with right and wrong. My tendency will be to do wrong even though I may know that I should do right.

On the other hand, if I view myself as a “saint” who is “holy and without blame before Him in love.” (1:4), that has a completely different affect on the way I do things. If I am a “saint” my tendency will be to want to act like a “saint” acts. I will still be tempted, because that is the nature of our enemy, but instead of thinking, “Oh, here it is again, how am I going to keep from this? I’m such a sinner.”; I think, “What is that doing here? Who does the enemy think he is trying to get me, a saint, to do something like that?” Can you see the difference? We tend to act according to how we perceive ourselves to be. And if I do mess up and sin, I know that is something abnormal for saints, and, rather than get discouraged, I confess it, get up and start living like a saint again.

Friends, this thinking can revolutionize your Christian walk. Like last week, I want to encourage you to get into Ephesians 1-3. Read and reread it until you get a firm grip on who you are in Christ and all that God has given you. When you really have it, then read chapter four. I believe that you’ll see the walking part is a piece of cake when we really believe that we are “in Christ”. So let’s get with it, then take a walk! Just a thought.

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