Lately, we have been doing a great deal of our shopping online. Whether we have opted for delivery or curbside pick up, we deliberately: chose items; determined how we would possess them; and, then paid in advance. This purchase activity at a macro-level represents a process description of what the Almighty God did when He purchased salvation for whosoever will. Now, some might be insulted by this notion because they wouldn’t want to consider themselves as “buyable”. The truth is every human being is a slave to sin until they are set free. People want what they want (even if it opposes the will of God) until they can be free to choose to want what He wants. When we agree with the LORD, we grow in the believer’s identity in Christ and enjoy the blessings that accompany our position because of what He did!
You may already be familiar with some of these concepts, but how can any of us get tired of being told they are flawless in God’s eyes? A person “in Christ” cannot be bought by earthly systems; nor can they be manipulated by fear for long. I hope after considering this message, you will feel the warm embrace of the LORD. I believe the Scriptures that we will review will birth overwhelming and increasing thankfulness to the point of refreshing. Today we are meditating on the first chapter of Ephesians using the following outline:
- Chosen to be Purchased by God
- Blessed to be In Christ
- Illuminated by Divine Power.
The concepts in this short chapter should generate many subjects of study since its breadth spans the entire Church Age. Since this is not exhaustive, I hope you will be encouraged and perhaps motivated to investigate what your matured identity will be in eternity.
Let’s begin in a prayer of acknowledgement using a few verses from the book of Revelation, chapters 4 and 5. Dearest Saviour :
- “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created. You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God…. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.… Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Amen. Let’s begin.
First let’s recognize that believers are
Chosen to be Purchased by God
If you haven’t already done so, please read Ephesians 1 verses 3 to 14; I will be highlighting just a few portions. Using the analogy of a simple purchase transaction, let’s consider what God did.
- just as He chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:4 and 5).
I am thoroughly amazed! Before God created the universe, He chose us. Where? Scripture says that He chose us in Him! We were conceived in His mind; He thought about us. That’s pretty deliberate! It also demonstrates that His choosing had nothing to do with us. Now, I firmly believe this does not apply to just the thought of creating the human race; I maintain that God had thoughts about us individually before He formed the earth. He had complete foreknowledge about each of our days. (This is one of the reasons I love Psalm 139:16 and Psalm 23:6. I hope you can take the time to read those verses).
Even though all human beings error, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), adopting us pleases Him. Adoption is intentional, and everyone who decides to be responsible for a child understands that children will make mistakes as they grow. If we reflect on our current human inabilities and sin, it is mind-boggling to grasp the greatness of God’s grace and love and His extreme patience. Regardless of how loving, cute and charming kids can be, they can be demanding, erroring children who accidentally (and sometimes willfully) disobey parents or other adults. Imagine having billions of them. Yet, He forgives, loves, and disciplines individually based on personal development. Scripture explicitly articulates that we were enemies with God before He adopted us:
- And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, YET now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1:21 and 22).
- For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10).
- Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7 to 9).
Why does anyone adopt a child? Is it to perhaps to spread love, to give hope to others, to provide a better existence, to teach them, to enjoy them? Our heavenly Father does all of this. He purchased human beings so that His presence can be made manifest, and His presence is the sum of all goodness. He takes pleasure in engaging in conversation with us and guiding us to achieve holiness.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1st Peter 1:3 to 5).
Scripture states that God (the Son) willingly agreed with God (the Father) to lay down His life to pay for the sins of humanity before our triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created the world. His Highness, the King of Kings, was willing to wear a crown of thorns for us. Let me prove this using His Word.
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1 to 5).
- Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….” (Genesis 1:26).
- Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15 to 17).
- “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16 to 21).
- But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (James 1:14).
- .knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1st Peter 1:18 to 21).
Jesus Christ stated that every person needed to repent, and so He preached the message of the kingdom of heaven and God’s grace. Here are a few references: Matthew 4:17; Matthew 11:20; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, 5; Luke 16:30; Luke 17:4; Revelation 2:5, 16, 21 and 22; Revelation 3:3 and 19.
The word Jesus used for “repentance” was metanoia which is Greek for having a “change of mind“. Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15. Christ also combined the word “metanoia” with “pisteúō” which means “to be committed to trusting“, or “to entrust one’s fate“. The verb we often use is “believe”.
Our loving God must put an end to sin, and it is His grace that allows humanity to repent from the unbelief of His Word and His character. He exercises self-restraint while He waits for those who will come (2nd Peter 3:9). True meekness is absolute strength under absolute self-control. Our LORD has all the power and authority to obliterate us, yet He restrains Himself from exercising complete righteous judgment while those who will believe in Him learn. The LORD has already foreseen all of our sins and has paid the price for all of it. There is an appointed day when He will judge it because He is holy and does not condone sin (Revelation 22:12; Luke 13:3; Romans 2:5), nor should we. Even after the judgement, He does not eliminate existence; He rewards what is due. Only the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
Now, the first point in this messages’ outline is “chosen to be purchased by God”. Some say that John 3:16 states “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” and that is entirely correct as confirmed in 1st John 2:2! Ephesians 1 verses 7 and 8 explains it. Can someone believe what they do not believe? We believe because God gave us illumination of His grace.
- In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence (Ephesians 1:7 to 8).
Because God loved humanity at large, He gave Jesus Christ as the payment price for the entirety of humanity’s sin. Romans 5 articulates it this way:
- For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17 to 19).
The point here is that while Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice was a gift to all of humanity, only those who receive the gift of righteousness are freed from slavery to sin by imputed righteousness.
Let’s look at the definition of the word “redemption” used in Ephesians 1:7. The original Greek word used was “apolytrōsis” which Strong’s Number G629 defines as “the act of paying ransom in full”. The effect is freedom or deliverance obtained by the payment of a ransom price.
Ephesians 1:7 says that in Jesus Christ we have freedom from slavery to sin because of the value of Christ’s shed blood which is sufficient payment for the ransom price of the sum of the world’s sin. But that’s just part of the verse; there is more!
The word “forgiveness” in the second part of Ephesians 1:7 is the Greek word “áphesis” which Strong’s Number G859 defines as “the act of pardoning” or “remission of penalty“. When something is pardoned, prior penalties are removed; it is as though the offence never happened. What an amazing gift!
This gift of Jesus Christ’s perfect shed blood for the payment of sin is a consequence of God’s goodness and grace. God bestows Divine influence upon our hearts; the very presence of all that He is. His offering was dependant solely on the unity and love of the Godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
- In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. … We love Him because He first loved us. (1st John 4 verse 10 and 19).
Our Saviour said:
- “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you“. (John 15:16).
Although we accepted God’s invitation to believe in Jesus Christ for personal salvation, our decision to do so was not independent of His predestination, and active “wooing”. Our choice to accept Christ was a direct result of His election and intervention. According to Ephesians 1 verses 4 and 5, in eternity God chose (or elected) to adopt people to be His sons. In addition, He had a plan to transform us, and give us our respective roles and work. It is written:
- For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).
As believers, we readily accept that God created the universe. Why then do we (in our estimation of things) diminish His wisdom and power, making Him subject to the physical properties of space and time? Are these not just dimensions He used in creating the universe?
Romans 8:28 to 30 says:
- And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Why did He do it? Romans 9:23 and 24 says:
- … that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called…
- …you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. (1st Peter 2:9).
Did you notice Romans 8:28? It says, “those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Those who love God are the ones who are called according to His purpose”; and, in 1st John 4 verse 19, we read we can only love God because He first loved us.
When we receive His love, His call, His forgiveness, His grace and mercy that He intentionally presents individually, and when we realize His thoughts for each person are so precious, we can love Him. When we love Him, we long to know Him more; we crave our connection with Him to deepen; we seek relationships with His family. As we grow deeper in the knowledge of our Saviour, we begin to understand His character and realize how HOLY He is (how He is set apart or other than anyone else).
There is no other being that is self-existent, all-mighty, everlasting, righteous, merciful, loving, full of grace and entirely good! He is the great I AM. We cannot begin to grasp His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, eminence, and transcendence.
When we start to see Him for who He is, and not just for His marvellous gift, we learn to respect Him. This respect birthed out of love is the fear of the LORD that ushers’ in His presence, His goodness. Since we could not love Him or choose Him without His influence on us, I am so humbly grateful.
If our Father did not allow humanity to choose between obedience and disobedience, loving Him would not be from volition. And because He understood we would sin, He determined to pay the penalty of humanity’s sin. Because He chose to purchase us, we are destined to be perfected and enjoy His goodness forever. Wow!
Having established God chose His redeemed ones to be holy in Christ, let’s take a look at what the Ephesian letter has to say about being
Blessed to be in Christ
We will be reading verses 3, 10, 12, and 20; and we will also include verses 17-19 for needed context.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, … that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him. … that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. … that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
To preface my next observation, I’d like to reference Scripture about regeneration to make a necessary distinction. There may be church attenders who are not yet part of the body of Christ; they may be still seeking, and we do not know about anyone’s divine appointment. When I refer to being in Christ, I am referring to regenerated persons. Titus 3 verses 4 to 7 states:
- But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Furthermore, in Ephesians 1:13 and 14 it is written:
- In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
It is not our job to know a person’s heart; that is the LORD’s business. That said, Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35). There will be a supernatural bond, an innate tenderness to another believer (regardless of personalities, age, nationality, gifts, and circumstances).
Every regenerated person is ‘organically’ united to Christ. Once in Christ, a believer is connected with all other believers in heaven and on earth. When a person becomes regenerated, union with Christ is automatic; as should relationships with the other members of the body (1st Corinthians 12 verses 12 to 27). The fact that we are joined to believers in heaven is supernatural and also automatic. Everything we are is now in Christ. Our position and identity in Christ include:
- our new nature (2nd Peter 1:4);
- all the affairs of life (Colossians 3:4);
- redefined relationships (John 20:17; Hebrews 2:11);
- service to Christ (Matthew 28:20; John 17:18);
- suffering for Christ (Philippians 1:29; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24);
- our inheritance (Romans 8:16, 17); and,
- our future glory (Romans 8:18-21; 1st Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).
So, if everything we are and experience is in Christ (or the Messiah), what should we be experiencing right now? And if we are in Him, that means we share in His inheritance under His preeminence.
- And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it PLEASED THE FATHER that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:18 to 20).
Before the Son of God incarnated (the Word made flesh), He was in perfect unity with all members of the Godhead. When He condescended into a human body, He was named “Jesus” because the name means “Jehovah is salvation” (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:35; Isaiah 12:2); and it is this Jesus who is the first glorified Human filled with the fullness of God. He is the God-Man. Not only that, Jesus is the first in rank and authority under God; He is in the first place. He is, has been and forever will be this. He is the First and the Last. Jesus was the only immaculate conception. Yet, God intends to bring His fulness to each of us who are in Christ Jesus. (1st Corinthians 15:28). We are born again spiritually through faith in Jesus by God’s grace and the influence of His Spirit in us. We are not saved by anything we do. What amazing grace!
Child of God, can we say He is first in our lives? You see, if Jesus is preeminent, then God expects us to surrender our desires to Him; to cast down any idea that exalts itself above the knowledge, power, and authority of Jesus Christ. Anything that comes between you and God is an idol.
- And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” (2nd Corinthians 6:16 to 18).
These days, many people want to hear only messages that let them off the hook from dealing with their responsibility to grow. They want people to lie to them because it feels good. Our only hope for being saturated by God stems from heeding the conviction of the Holy Spirit that leads to the needed change of mind.
The good news is that while we are on this earth, we have every spiritual blessing in Christ who is growing the body of Christ into a suitable dwelling of God (Ephesians 2:19 to 22). This transformation process alienates us from all wickedness which is reason to rejoice. We should not be saddened when evil hates us. It is a sign that we are becoming more like the One with whom we will share eternity. If we are to be sad at all, it should be for those who have not accepted the grace of God; for those who are content to enjoy sin.
Family of God, aren’t you so grateful that His seal or His mark of ownership is upon you?
- … your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you… you are not your own… you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1st Corinthians 6:19 to 20).
Because of His mark, the enemy cannot touch you without God’s permission (Refer to Jobe 1:10 to 12); and, if God gives limited and specific permission, you know something great will be at the end of it!
Remember Jesus said:
- … “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.“ (Luke 10:18 to 20)
I love our LORD! Even when He assures us of the authority of His mark or seal, He understands that we can focus on the gift rather than the purpose for the gift. He reminds us to rejoice because of our union with the Godhead. The good news is that while we are not perfect yet, we have access to every spiritual blessing. This means that in Christ, we are already:
- perfect (Hebrews 10:14);
- dead to sin (Romans 6:2 and 10); and,
- a holy nation (1st Peter 2:9).
Considering we are in Christ, we are already in eternity and blameless in God’s sight. When He looks at the body of Christ, God sees all of Christ’s sanctified siblings across all-time at the same time. He sees us as matured offspring whose obedience to our Father is out of devotion and respect; this is in contrast to slaves who have no endowment or infants who are not permitted to use their inheritance. (Refer to Hebrews 12:23 and to Galatians 4:1 to 7).
Our job is to take hold of what is in Christ and bring it into this life’s existence. We are to make it manifest now. Therefore as we practice our faith we should:
- become perfect (Matthew 5:48);
- consider ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11); and,
- become holy (1st Peter 1:15).
The goal is to enter our inheritance here; to live victorious as a Christ-follower now until He takes us home.
How do we inherit before translation? Jesus gave us His last will (and testament) which makes it possible to acquire His riches. He died so to put it into effect. Then God raised Jesus from the dead to be the executor of His will after defeating death. He became our advocate to represent us to His Father. He prayed so that we would receive the Spirit who is our indwelling trustee of every privilege and advantage in Christ:
- ... no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. … it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: … But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (Portions of Scripture from 1st Corinthians 12 starting at verse 3 through to 11).
In 1st John 3:2, we read that we are already children of God but that the full manifestation of His likeness will only occur when we shall see Christ face to face in glory. This is at the translation and redemption of our bodies.
While we look forward to that great day in glory, have you considered what a blessing it is to be born into this era or this point in time? In reading Ephesians 1:10, we see that God has purposely created segments of time for His purposes. Let’s take a closer look at this verse:
- …having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, in Him. (Ephesians 1:9 to 10).
Let’s take a look at some definitions.
- The term “dispensation” is “oikonomía” in the original Greek and means “administration of a household or estate“; it refers to an “economy of stewardship“. Please refer to Strong’s G3622. This term is used only 8 times in the New Testament as follows: Luke 16:2 to 4; 1st Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25; and 1st Timothy 1:4.
- The term “times” is “kairós” in Greek (refer to Stong’s G2540) and means “an occasion, set or proper time, season”. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states it this way: it is a measure of time; universally, a fixed and definite time.
- The term “inheritance” was used in two distinctive ways in the original Greek manuscripts for Ephesians 1:
- The first word is “klēróō” which means is “to assign on to another as a possession“. This comes from the word klēros which means “what is obtained by allotment” which is used in Acts 26:18 among the sanctified; and, in Colossians 1:1 of eternal salvation itself which God has assigned to the saints. Refer to Strong’s G2819. This is the term used in Ephesians 1 verse 11.
- The second word is “klēronomía” which means “an inherited possession”. This word is used in the following 14 verses: Matthew 21:38; Mark 12:7; Luke 12:13; Luke 20:14; Acts 7:5; Acts 20:32; Galatians 3:18; Ephesians 1:14, and 18; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 11:8; and 1st Peter 1:4. Refer to Strong’s G2817. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) this term is given as a reward as in Joshua 13:23 and 28.
So including these terms and concepts, we see that God was pleased to grant stewardship over His estate for a fixed and definite time so that He would gather all that are in Christ (who are in heaven and on earth) to Himself. This means God intentionally arranged you and I (and our circumstances) exactly in this time to: (1) save us by His grace; and, (2) justly reward us with our share of eternal blessedness now and for eternity.
He purposely placed us in the Church Age. (God has purposed each era such as the dispensation of the innocence, human conscience, law, the church, and the coming new millennium when Christ will reign on earth. These dispensations are placed in time, almost like a parenthesis in eternity for God’s purposes and pleasure.) In other eras, God’s elect had partial disclosure of who the Messiah was because (while He visited them in various ways) He was not made manifest through incarnation. These Old Testament saints had glimpses only and yet believed and trusted God. With the revelation of Jesus Christ, we have been privileged and have a responsibility because of it.
He has given us the opportunity, method, knowledge, abilities, and time (right now) to earn eternal rewards in heaven. You see, while He predestined us to be with Him (allotted to Him as His inheritance), He allows us the right to qualify and disqualify ourselves from eternal prizes (or possessions) in heaven (1st Peter 1:4 and 1st Peter 5:4) while ensuring our security. We are assigned eternal life; we inherit rewards in Christ starting at the point of regeneration.
What do you want your eternity to look like? I ask this because we should evaluate our motives for our behaviour. Yes, God will reward us for our works because He is just and He has promised us spiritual possessions in heaven. There are a few mentions of receiving spiritual crowns in 1st Corinthians 9:25; Philippians 4:1; 1st Thessalonians 2:19; 2nd Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; and 1st Peter 5:4.
When thinking about Christ’s letter to the church in Philadelphia, I had to ponder the LORD’s promise to keep them from the hour of trial that was coming upon the entire world in conjunction with the warning He gave them. Jesus said to this church:
- “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown“. (Revelation 3:11).
This faithful church was promised security, and they warned to remain faithful so that they did not loose a possession. The word “crown” used here is “stéphanos” in Greek which is “a reward”, “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honour generally”. This indicates that while we can be saved eternally, we can miss out on what He would love to give us. How we act and what we do matters!
That said, if we work for the kingdom of God for selfish reasons, our motivation needs to be purified.
- For we are God’s fellow workers… But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1st Corinthians 3:9 to 15).
You see while we will enjoy so many wondrous things in eternity, there is no greater prize than to be filled with God! If our motivation about Jesus Christ, it will stand the test! Jesus said:
- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34).
He arranged all circumstances in time to do away with evil while still allowing human beings to willingly love Him.
- …the GOSPEL of GOD which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Romans 1:1 to 6).
The gospel of God is the story of redemption that was foretold in the beginning; the story of a virgin birth of the Child who would defeat the enemy of our souls. Scripture states:
- So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:14 and 15).
The gospel of God is the gift of His Son to redeem fallen man and He repeatedly revealed this throughout Scripture. Please note just a few examples of these prophecies:
- Abraham prophecied saying, “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Genesis 22:8). In Psalm 132:11, the LORD promised to David, “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body”.
- Isaiah prophesied concerning Jesus’ birth and death saying, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel'” (Isaiah 7:14). Furthermore, it is written, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. … Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:4 and 12).
- Daniel prophecied to the timing (weeks being weeks of years) of the Jesus Christ’s first coming and death saying, “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined”. (Daniel 9:25 to 26).
The Angel appeared to the virgin Mary and told her:
- “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God“. (Luke 1:31 to 35).
As the God-Man, Jesus had to overcome that old serpent who deceived mankind, and He had to trust Himself entirely to His Father, God. A good example of this is in the temptation of Christ.
- Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.‘ ” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” (Matthew 4:3 to 10).
Jesus told us that nothing of the enemy has a part of Him.
- “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” (John 14:30 to 31).
The Word of God helps us understand what God accomplished in His method of redemption.
- Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, AND release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14 and 15).
- For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).
- though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8 and 9).
So we understand that: (1) salvation is personal since we are individually justified by faith alone in Christ Jesus; (2) that Christ’s righteousness is accredited to us; and, (3) that because of this imputed righteousness we have been adopted as God’s sons. As God’s sons, we are blessed to share in Christ’s inheritance. This alone is remarkable. And there is still more. At the appointed time, God will fill everyone and thing that is in Christ (in His body), and He will eliminate the presence of sin eternally from all who believe.
- “… For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1st John 3:8);
- “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10).
I think about Moses frequently. His election and burning bush calling were incredible. The grace afforded Him was bountiful since God had protected Moses from infancy throughout adulthood, and He forgave the murder he committed. God was with him during his entire ambassadorship as he led the children of Israel through all of the wilderness wanderings; God even talked with Moses face to face and entrusted him with the law. In Deuteronomy 34, Scripture informs us that after Moses had walked with the LORD for 80 years, he did not obtain his reward. Moses did not possess the inheritance. The LORD showed him the land, confirmed Abraham’s descendants would inherit it, and informed him that he would not cross over to obtain it. Here is the reason why. Numbers 20:11 and 12 state:
- Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Moses allowed anger and impatience to drive his behaviour which interfered with following the instructions God gave him. Unbeknownst to Moses, God was establishing a “type” of the shadow of Christ. In this one very important instance, He did not believe God’s instructions were that important to follow them with precision and care. When His emotions got the best of him, he lacked the reverence to obey; instead, he did what came naturally to him.
Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realize how important our behaviour is?
Moses was blessed to have a long life; he had strength up to 120 years of age, and he was honoured by all of Israel. Yet, he failed to possess the inheritance. Later, when Jesus transfigured in Matthew 17, Moses and Elijah appeared in front of the disciples and spoke with Christ. So we see that God’s promise is sure! He kept the spirit of Moses safe from the evil one, and Moses is in heaven today with the LORD since Jesus took those who were in paradise (before His crucifixion) with Him to heaven during His resurrection.
I want everything the LORD has for me; nothing more and nothing less because He knows me and what I can be faithful with.
If we are in Christ, our motivation and our perception of what counts need to become aligned with our Saviour’s who laid down His life out of love for His Father and God, and for us.
- For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10).
- “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24).
Isn’t it astonishing? The love that the Godhead has for each other and us compels them to bring us into their unity and to experience Christ’s glory. Currently, we perceive dimly (1st Corinthians 13:12) and already we are overwhelmed by His love and grace. Can you imagine what it will be like in eternity? This is our inheritance.
Ephesians 1:11 and 12 says,
- In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
You see, for the body of Christ, it is all about Jesus. Even the inheritance we receive is about Christ, and this gratifies our heavenly Father. If we love the LORD, we love His purposes and work for that reason. God desires that Jesus is preeminent.
- Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9 to 11).
The final point is that believers are
Illuminated by Divine Power
In Ephesians 1, we learn that everything a believer has is an outcome of God’s:
- good pleasure;
- wealth of His grace;
- eternal self-originating purpose;
- working of all things; and,
- functioning of His mighty power towards those us who believe.
When examining verses 5, 7, 9, 11, and 19, we learn that as a result of His nature and purpose, we have been:
- forgiven; and
- adopted as offspring.
We are also awarded the ability to perceive:
- the wealth of His inheritance; and,
- the exceeding greatness of His power toward us.
Because of who He is, we get everything. And, the fact that He paid the purchase price of our redemption with His perfect Treasure is evidence of our worth to Him.
If you have thoughts of worthlessness or that you’ll never measure up, hear me now! That is NOT the SPIRIT OF GOD! That is either the prior nature trying to resurrect itself or the enemy’s forces. The enemy can use others’ words and actions to attack you (Ephesians 6:12 ).
The GOD that loved you enough to endure so much would never insult His Son to diminish the value of the price He paid for you!
Jesus said about the devil:
- … When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44).
Earlier, I mentioned the temptation of Christ. This was when Satan challenged the identity of Jesus. Was Jesus really who God said He was? Certainly Jesus was to rule the world through overcoming the serpent God’s way; not giving into him. That serpent tries to attack our identity today so that we will be less victorious. Jesus overcame him by the Word of God. That’s how powerful the spoken Word of God is in our mouths!
- Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:7 and 8a).
The enemy wants you to be ashamed and hide from your Father. No! Let’s run unabashedly into His care and allow Him to soothe the bite of the lies.
- Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16).
Let me ask you something. Have you ever suffered humiliation and been disgusted at something you have seen in (or on) a loved one while you were helping them? Perhaps the person you loved didn’t recognize what it cost you spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially? At the time of helping them, they were even hostile, selfish, negligent and depraved. But, you decided (in advance) to help them (because of love) despite all the negative you would experience as a result of doing so. If you have ever done this, you regarded the loved one and yourself as surpassing the personal cost of the experience.
Our Triune God so valued Himself and us that they endured the repulsiveness of our sin, the separation from each other, and the physical affliction to purchase us from the evil slave master and bring us back to Himself. He counted the cost in advance, and He worked in every situation across the dimension of time to ensure that He was victorious in bringing home those He had selected before the world began.
What love! What knowledge and wisdom! What determination!
You see, before He saved me, I was unthinking. I followed every carnal inclination of my heart. I did not think about what God wanted. After He opened my eyes, I was joyful; my heart had changed. But God loved me too much to leave me as an infant. He wanted me to obtain all He desired for me. The effect of His love meant that I had to mature in my knowledge of Him and who He made me in Him.
I had to start thinking. The more I meditated in His Word and learned about my Saviour, the more I grew in love with Him. He is still teaching me. I am more devoted to Him with each new treasure I learn. With increased devotion, I reap more spiritual wealth; I cannot measure its worth!
You see, you can only inherit wealth in Him based on faith in Him alone. That’s God’s will. Scripture is clear:
- But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11).
In addition, you can invest (grow) your wealth in Him through service motivated by love. That is also God’s desire for you.
He has determined that we actively engage in demonstrating our devotion to Him and the body of Christ.
- Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12 to 17).
Because we love Him, it becomes a joy to do so. It is a relationship thing, and well, He initiated all of it!
In Ephesians 1:18, we read God can give us Divine illumination which is outlined as having three things:
- the enlightenment of our hearts or eyes of our understanding (more on this in 1st Corinthians 2:9 to 13);
- the knowledge of the hope of His Calling (see Matthew 13:44 to 46); and,
- the understanding of riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (We are the holy saints: His body in Ephesians 1:22 and 23; His building in Ephesians 2:19-22; and His bride in Ephesians 5:22 and 23)
What a mysterious union described in Scripture! And praise God for His goodness in that Godhead jointly wills that Our LORD and His church be equally blessed! You see, it is all for His glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14, and 18); and, He doesn’t receive all of His inheritance until He brings His bride home to be with Him.
It is God’s responsibility to keep us; and, Christ’s responsibility to elope us when His God and our Father indicates that the appointed time has come to physically enter humanity’s dimension of time, and catch us away! Then the Judgement Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, followed by the millennial reign of Christ on the Earth in the next era. As His bride, we will rule and reign with Him until the end when God fills all in all! (Ephesians 1:22 to 23, 1st Corinthians 15:23 to 28).
I can’t wait to meditate on Ephesians 2!
This is a word to those who have not received God’s gift of Jesus Christ for salvation. If you feel the Holy Spirit encouraging you to believe, you should evaluate the Scripture for yourself. Please visit DESIRINGFRUITFULNESS.CA/CHOICES. There you can find 4 SIMPLE STEPS or concepts to help you ask the LORD to bring you into right standing with Him. The steps are designed to help you know why a prayer of repentance is necessary. It is as simple as acknowledging you are a sinner and believing that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God. Then, in your daily life you need to obey His Word. There are no “specific words” to pray, but there is a process to coming to faith.
All Scripture used in this blog is from the New King James Version, unless otherwise specified.
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