Monday, May 24, 2010

In Him – Redemption
Ephesians 1:7-10

“In Him” is a wonderful thought. God brought many things into this world “in Him”. In us – that is “in mankind” – is the nature of Adam and Eve. Sin came into the world through Adam and death through sin and death passed to all men. Yet “in Him” we have so much more given to us. Much more than we can imagine, Today we will look at the redemption we have “in Him”. First, why do we need to be redeemed? Second, How were we redeemed? And, Third, what does redemption do for us?

Why do we need to be redeemed?
First of all, we were born in sin. Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought
forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This does not have anything to do with David’s mother or with the act of conception being sin. When King David wrote these words he was overwhelmed with the consciousness of his own sin. As he looked back on his life he realized that he had a sin nature from the beginning. In the same way, we too are born with a sin nature that separates us from salvation.

Very early in life we chose to sin. In Romans 5, Paul explains that even though sin came into the world through one man, causing death to spread to all men, death ruled even over those who did not sin as Adam did. No matter who we are we are subject to the facts: Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and Romans 6:23a, “the wages of sin is death,”

Before coming to Christ a person is dead in sin. Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body‍ and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

We are obviously in need of redemption. Praise God, in him we have redemption.

How were we redeemed?
Theologians speak of a covenant of redemption. This covenant within the Godhead among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit whereby each member of the Godhead participated in our salvation.

We were redeemed by God the Father sending Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-5, “But‍ God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—“.

We were redeemed by Jesus’ obedience even to death. Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,‍ 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,‍ being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The Son agreed to this covenant and submitted himself to take our sins in his own body and die our death for us.

We were redeemed by Holy Spirit’s calling and converting. 1 Corinthians 12:13a, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body”. Jesus said he would send the comforter who would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. This convicting is essential to a person coming to faith. Holy Spirit works in us before salvation to convince us of our sin and draw us to the goodness of God causing us to want salvation. Then he brings us into the body in salvation. Praise God – we needed redemption and God planned before the world was created to bring his people to salvation.

What does this redemption do for us?
Redemption frees us from bondage. Romans 6:17-23, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
“20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We were slaves to sin but are made free to become bond servants of Jesus Christ bound to him by his love and our love for him.

Redemption gives us a new allegiance. Colossians 1:11-14, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks‍ to the Father, who has qualified you‍ to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” When a believer comes to faith in Christ the kingdom of darkness is no longer home. The believer is transferred to the kingdom of the beloved Son of God.

Redemption makes us children of God. John 1:12-13, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” He has caused the believer to be born again – becoming a part of the family of God.

Paul wrote the Corinthians, “He (God) is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” We should praise God that we do not have to earn wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption because it is impossible for us to do so. We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God. And that redemption is not by our works done in righteousness but by his own mercy. Praise God!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blessed in the Beloved
Ephesians 1:1-6 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful‍ in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us‍ for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. *

Most Christians never stop to consider how we are blessed and what God has done for us. In this article we will consider this blessed condition and come to better understand why we should bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. What a wonderful thought that we have been blessed by the Creator of the universe. We should “bless” him in return. He has given us joy we should seek to be a joy to him as well. In his book, Desiring God, John Piper coined a phrase, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Ephesians gives us lots of reasons to be satisfied in God and we should rejoice in them.

First, only in Ephesians we see the phrase: “. . . in heavenly places”.
He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3b Note that Paul tells us we are blessed – not we will be blessed – in Christ. In fact Paul goes on the say that God has seated us with him heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6 Most Christians believe that we will be seated with him in heaven but this passage is very clear that we are already seated with him – not we will be!

The church becomes his object lesson in heavenly places. Ephesians 3:8-13 “To me, (Paul speakingn) though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in‍ God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” God uses the church to teach the rulers and authorities in heavenly places the many-faceted wisdom of God. I once thought the angels (and demons) must be mystified at the treatment of man in salvation. Now I see that one of our purposes is to serve as an object lesson of the wisdom of God. Our salvation is part of God’s eternal purpose.

Heavenly places are the place of our warfare. Ephesians 6:10-12 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
As much as it may seem that people are our enemies. Or, as Pogo put, “We have met the enemy . . . and he is us.” Our true enemy is the thief that comes only to steal kill and destroy. It is our adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. With the armor of God in place and the sword of the Spirit in hand we can “stand firm” no matter how evil the day may be.

Remember, he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
Like Israel we are now the “Israel of God” Galatians 3:7 “. . . it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” Those who have come to Christ in faith are the true people of God. If you are a believer you are blessed in the Beloved. In Christ we are blessed. Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.‍ 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you‍ free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” “No Condemnation” what a blessed thought! Our accuser comes around reminding us of all we have done wrong and our Advocate says we are not under condemnation because he has taken our sin in his own body on the tree. He nailed it to the cross. He buried it in the grave and left it there. As Corrie ten Boom said, (and I paraphrase) “God cast our sins in the deepest part of the sea and put a “no fishing” sign over it.” We have been delivered.

We are blessed! 1 Corinthians 1:30 “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” We are not just saved and seated in heaven we are gifted with everything we need – wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Why do we still turn to our own meager resources when the resources of the Creator of the universe are available to us?

We are eternally blessed. 2 Timothy 1:9 (God) “saved us and called us to‍ a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,”. What an amazing thought “before the ages began” he gave us his grace. In fact, John tells us in Revelation 13:8 that our names were written “before the foundation of the world in the book of life.” You see God is not bound by time in any way. He knows the end from the beginning. Praise his holy name – we have been blessed!

He adopted us in love to the praise of his glory.
He brought us to adoption – not slavery to fear. Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” We are adopted into the family of God by the power of God and we can never be disinherited. He gave us his word! He adopted us in love. 1 John 4:16-19 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” We can come to our father and receive blessing after blessing because of his love for us.

He guarantees our inheritance. Ephesians 1:11-14 “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, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee‍ of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,‍ to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit seals us guaranteeing our spiritual life. It is in Him! We are blessed – in the Beloved!
It is so easy to fall into complicated discussions about predestination and election and miss the great blessing of God. He blesses his people with a secure blessing. We need to call on all people to come to the blessed God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can save and the lost world should be pointed to him alone. He has blessed us in the Beloved!

*All quotes are from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.