Monday, November 29, 2010
Ephesians Chapter 2
- We are all born into sin. We are all sinful creatures. When in our sin, we are dead. Spiritually dead. Men condemned to die. Death Row.
- Why? Because of our disobedience and sin. You obeyed the devil whether you knew it or not.
- Satan is in control of the world. He is god of this world, given reign when Adam, in effect, gave up his control to Satan. His spirit is always at work in the hearts of those who are in rebellion against God and who refuse to obey God.
- Footnote- “Paul describes Satan, the devil, as “the commander of the powers in the unseen world.” Paul's readers believed that Satan and the evil spiritual forces inhabited the region between earth and sky. Satan is thus pictured as ruling an evil spiritual kingdom—the demons and those who are against Christ. In the resurrection, Christ was victorious over the devil and his power. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the permanent ruler of the whole world; the devil is only the temporary ruler of the part of the world that chooses to follow him.”
- All of us who disobey God are following the passions and desires of our sinful nature and thereby are allowing Satan control over our lives.
- You cannot say that you have never done anything wrong. Or that you have never done anything to make God angry with you. Our very nature that is inborn in us, angers God. Sin of any kind angers God, and we are born... in sin. (Because of the fall of Adam... God did not create us with evil intentions for us... that was part of the fall... because He allowed us to have free will... and thereby, gave us the ability to choose to sin... as well as to love...)
- Regardless of how well you live your life or how “good” you think you are, you're still a sinner and you're still hell-bound (without the provision of the blood of Christ).
- Ah! So what can be done to stave off God's anger?
- The blood covering of the Lamb.
- Romans 5:12-21
- Colossians 3:1-17
- God. So Loved. Had so much Mercy.
- Webster's says Mercy is: Kindness, especially to a wrongdoer or enemy, that is greater than might be expected.
- Footnote- We were dead in our sins, BUT GOD... we were rebels against Him, BUT GOD... We were enslaved by the devil and our sinful natures, BUT GOD... These may be the two most welcome words in all of Scripture: “but God.” God could have left us spiritually dead, in rebellion against Him and in bondage to our sins. BUT HE DIDN'T. He did not save us because of , but rather in spite of, what He saw in us. In addition to thanking Him for what He has done for us, we should also show humble patience and tolerance for others who seem unworthy or undeserving of our love and compassion. They may be spiritually dull, rebellious, and even antagonistic toward God. So were we; BUT GOD LOVED US ANYWAY. Can we do less for fellow sinners?”
- God, showed us, the wrongdoers, the murderers of His Son, the breakers of His heart. Those that hated Him, spit on Him, rebelled against Him, lied to His face, kicked Him, beat Him, cursed Him. To us... He chose to show unfathomable mercy.
- “What? I never did any of those things! I've never cursed at God!”
- You were born into sin. Christ had to come to save you from yourself. Without His sacrifice, you have no hope.
- So when Christ died, in effect, YOU drove the nails into Him. YOU spit on Him every time you turned away. Every time YOU sinned. Every time YOU didn't follow through. Every time YOU said “God I can't do that. Have someone else do it.”
- BUT! God. So Loved. Even while we were dead to Him. Even while we broke His heart. He chose to, in turn, give us life, for His death.
- And that is why it is ONLY by Grace YOU are saved.
- Footnote- “Immediately after his prayer (end of chapter 1), Paul reminds the Ephesians of the reality of personal sin. Like them, we must never forget our past, the condition from which Jesus saved us. Those memories are the best fuel for our gratitude to Christ for all He has done on our behalf.”
- Footnote- “In the previous versus Paul wrote about our old sinful nature (2:1-3). Here Paul emphasizes that we do not need to live any longer under sin's power. The penalty of sin and its power over us were miraculously destroyed by Christ on the cross. Through faith in Christ we stand acquitted, or not guilty, before God (Romans 3:21-22). God does not take us out of the world or make us robots—we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes, we will sin. The difference is that before we became Christians, we were dead in sin and were slaves to our sinful nature. But now we are alive with Christ (Galatians 2:20).”
- Remember the story of the 10th plague in Egypt? The death angel came to kill all the firstborn sons. If there was blood on the door posts of the house, he passed over the house and didn't harm anyone. But if there was no blood, then the firstborn son(s) in the household would die.
- When we die, our souls are judged. And not just on how we've lived necessarily. We can be the perfect example of kindness and giving, but if there's no blood on the door post... death still reigns over our hearts.
- Romans 5:6-11
- Titus 3:3-8
- II Timothy 1:8-10
- When God raised Christ from the dead, He also raised us from our spiritual death. (Baptism is symbolic of this spiritual resurrection.)
- We are united with Christ. Seated with Him in the heavenly realms.
- Why? So God can show us, point us out to future believers (and non-believers) to show physical examples of his grace and mercy to us.
- Sometimes (well... most of the time...) we have to see it to believe it. It's just how we're wired. So God uses past believers to show that, yes, indeed, He does forgive sins, He does extend mercy, He is as loving as people say He is.
- All this, and more, He will do for you as well... if you but accept the gift and also become united with Christ.
- God saved you by His Grace when you believed.
- Notice the course of events. God offers His Grace. Free gift. Bought and paid for. You believe in all He has offered you, believe in His sacrifice. And what do you know? You're saved. It's that simple. It doesn't sound hard does it? But we tend to try and make it harder than it is...
- You can't take the credit for a gift you receive. Gifts are usually given on days of special events. Weddings, birthdays, Christmas, etc.
- When someone gives you a birthday gift, you didn't earn it. You didn't do anything extra special for them to want to give you a gift. What's the big deal with a birthday? You were born. You had no control over this event. You did nothing special. (your mom did all the work... ha ha). So why give you a gift? All you did was scream and cry and eat and poop for a year or 2 or 20...
- Someone though, loves you enough, to remember the day you entered the world. Cares enough put the date on their calendar. Cares enough to get you something... even if it's just a card. Is it deserved? Not really...
- Footnote- “When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That's very nice—now how much do I owe you?” No, the appropriate response to a gift is “thank you”. Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God. Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy.”
- Salvation is not a reward. You can't say you earned it. You can't boast in this. It has practically nothing to do with you.
- Colossians 2:6-23
- Romans 6:1-23
- Titus 2:11-15
- II Corinthians 5:10-21
- vs. 10
- We are God's masterpiece. Wow. The artist of all artists calls us, human, fallible creatures, masterpieces....
- Can you see yourself as a masterpiece of the almighty creator?
- How can we be called a masterpiece? The work the artist sees as His most precious, most expensive, most creative, the work that defines who He is as an artist?
- Because we have been created anew with Christ. God doesn't see us as the broken down, sinful, corrupt beings we are. He sees us purified through the blood of Christ.
- Through the blood, we are washed clean. When we are saved, all the bad stuff we've done, all the sin we've committed, disappears.
- And THEN, through the blood, we are seen as God meant us to be. As we were meant to be seen.
- We were created for communion with God. Created in the image of God and all His attributes. That is how God sees you. He doesn't see the sin and the pain you've caused Him. He sees you through eyes completely clouded with Love. Perfect Love. And in His eyes... He sees the masterpiece. Wow...
- II Corinthians 5:17
- The blood of Christ is the uniting factor. Before the blood, there was a separation between Jew and Gentile.
- Circumcision was the outward mark of separation between them. The Jews were proud of this separation. Paul says “even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts”.
- Side note- We are called to be separate... but we cannot be separate in body only. We have to be separate in heart. Our actions can be perfect... but our heart's condition is what matters most. (Isaiah 58)
- Before Christ's sacrifice, the Gentiles were living apart from Christ. We were excluded from citizenship. We didn't know the covenant promises made to the Israelites. We were ignorant of the things of God. We were living without hope. Without life.
- But now! Oh now... we are united with Christ himself. We have been brought into the family through the blood of Jesus.
- (This is a great illustration of before and after salvation as well... Before we come to know Christ, we know little to nothing about Him or the church. We are living without hope, without life, without purpose... but after we come to Christ? After we are washed in the blood of the Lamb... Oh THEN! We become heirs of promise. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God.)
- We come to this unity through Christ. He Himself brought peace between the Jews and Gentiles. Melded them into one people when He allowed his own body to be broken in order to break down the walls of hostility and prejudice that existed between the two groups.
- Footnote- “Pious Jews considered all non-Jews (Gentiles) ceremoniously unclean. They thought of themselves as pure and clean because of their national heritage and religious ceremonies. Paul pointed out that Jews and Gentiles alike were unclean before God and needed to be cleansed by Christ. In order to realize how great a gift salvation is, we need to remember our former natural, unclean condition. Have you ever felt separate, excluded, hopeless? These verses are for you. No one is alienated from Christ's love or from the body of believers.
- Footnote- “Jews and Gentiles alike could be guilty of spiritual pride—Jews for thinking their faith and traditions elevated them above everyone else, Gentiles for trusting in their achievements, power, or position. Spiritual pride blinds us to our own faults and magnifies the faults of others. Be careful not to become proud of your salvation. Instead, humbly thank God for what He has done and encourage others who might be struggling in their faith.”
- We are all one in Christ. It's like a marriage. When you get married the minister always says something about binding to two to become one. Now this doesn't mean that they suddenly become this two-headed creature walking around... It means that they are one in their decisions, in their actions, in the life they choose to lead. It means they work together, walk together, talk together. One in mind.
- The church is the same way. We are combined into one body with Christ as our head. We should work as such. One body with One mind fixed on One purpose. To do the Will of the Father.
- Footnote- “Christ has destroyed the barriers people build between themselves. Because these walls have been removed, we can have real unity with people who are not like us. This is true reconciliation. Because of Christ's death we are all one.... There are many barriers that can divide us from other Christians: age, appearance, intelligence, political persuasion, economic status, race theological perspective. One of the best ways to stifle Christ's love is to be friendly with only those people that we like. Fortunately, Christ has knocked down the barriers and has unified all believers in one family. His cross should be the focus of our unity. The Holy Spirit helps us look beyond the barriers to the unity we are called to enjoy.”
- Romans 3:21-31, 9:1-33
- Colossians 1:11-23
- So Christ brought the gospel to the Gentiles... who were far away from Him. And to the Jews, who were near to Him.
- What does this mean for us? We now can all FREELY come to the Father through the Holy Spirit because of Christ's sacrifice.
- So now, the Gentiles are no longer strangers or foreigners. God has claimed all men as members of His family. His Holy people.
- He has made us a house (a kingdom) build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Himself.
- So if we look at the prophets as giving us a blueprint... Then Christ was laid as the cornerstone.... And the apostles started to build the house itself. (My dad used to work construction. So he says that the cornerstone is what you refer back to in building a house. It's the first thing laid and you use it as a point of reference in the whole building. The length, width, height, etc.)
- And speaking of... Regardless of anything else... we should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS refer back to Christ. In any question of anything, He and He alone should be our reference point.
- We are joined together in one Holy temple for the Lord. Jew and Gentile alike... all men who have confessed the name of Christ and been washed in the blood... are joined as one. Brick upon brick, building one Kingdom.
- Footnote- “What does it mean to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets? It means that the church is not build on modern ideas but rather on the spiritual heritage given to us by the early apostles and prophets of the Christian church.”
- I Corinthians 12:12-27, 3:5-23
- Isaiah 28:5-29, 29:13-16
- Psalms 118:22-23
- I Peter 2:4-10
This week I kind of lumped all the questions down here at the end... Because there's not really a good stopping point for questions... And they all kind of flow into each other... so... eh... : )
- Do you know you're saved? Really deep down... no doubts have ever crossed your mind? You know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is living in you, working through you, leading, guiding...? Have you accepted the free gift yet?
- If so, do you realize how much God loves you? Do you know that He considers you not only friend, but brother/sister? Family?
- Do you know He sees you as His masterpiece? Sees you as perfect? Sees you as precious? Sees you as something worth enough to give up His very life for? Do you feel loved by the Almighty?
- Do you feel unified within the body of Christ? Do you feel God's love in the people around you? Do you SHOW God's love to those around you? Any and everybody? Not just the people it's easy to get along with? Are you letting Christ destroy your boundaries and walls?
- Are you building a Kingdom? Or a Shack. Are you building on the foundation? Or on the sand. Are you referring to the cornerstone? Or are you free-handing.
There's an old hymn that I love... And it doesn't fit maybe as well as I thought it did when I first thought about including it... but it is a very poetic way of stating a very heartfelt prayer set in determination and Grace beyond our imagination.
Come Thou Fount
Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I come.
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wand'ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(And then after I thought about including that last verse... the sermon this morning was on this very hymn... ha ha isn't God just funny... : )