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ephesians-identity

Ephesians 2: A New Life In Christ

To understand our new identity, we’ve got to uncover our old identity. We’ve got to dig deeper into who we were, beyond our ancestry and family of origin, to see the ugly truth. Paul is going to show us an unfiltered picture of who we really are.

– Tony Merida

Before we can understand just how much God has done for us, we must understand where we have come from or better yet, where we were without Christ.

Chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians begins with four very strong words … “And you were dead…”. Every human being that is a son or daughter of Adam (which is pretty much everyone!) entered the world spiritually dead. We have no inclination toward God and no ability to please Him (Romans 8:8). As Merida puts it, “Apart from Christ, we are spiritually dead”.

ephesians-2

We all know the first line of Amazing Grace:  “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. That is who we are – dead wretches!

Just as verse 1 starts with four strong words, verse 4 starts with two of the sweetest words found in the bible – BUT GOD!

Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!” – ESV Study Notes

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

It is said that grace is “God’s unmerited favor to us”! Praise the Lord for His grace! This “grace” has been given to each of us who have transgressed His law and have sinned against Him. Again, this is everyone!

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Tony Merida goes on in his teaching of Ephesians to say:

Works matter to the Christian, but we’re not working for salvation; we’re working from salvation. The words for and from are subtle but incredibly important.

It is vital to understand that what God has to offer us is a gift and not a prize! A gift is something that we are given – no strings attached; no “if you do this, then I’ll do that”. Whereas a prize is something that can be obtained or worked for. A prize is given to those people who have accomplished a set of guidelines or list of things to do. If we could do something to work for our salvation then the gospel would be in vain.

christianity-is-not-a-do-gospel-it-is-a-done-gospelMerida points out that the difference in Christianity and a lot of other so-called religions is that their’s is a “do” religion whereas Christianity is a “done” religion. Jesus has done everything for us and it is only through Him. He went to the cross. He shed His blood for me. He died for the sin of mankind. When Jesus uttered the words “It Is Finished” on the cross of Calvary, there was nothing else that needed to be done.

Remember in Ephesians: Your Identity In Christ – Part 1 where we talked about the phrase “In Him”. This is the only place that salvation can be found. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. John tells us in John 14: 6 that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Because Jesus has become our substitute, we now have life in Him. Ephesians should compel us to hope and to understand that no one is beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. – Tony Merida

Let me leave you with these thoughts on our new identity in Christ. Tony refers to these as the “formerly … but now” expressions:

  • We were dead in sin, but now we “are alive together with Christ” (2:4)
  • We were separated from Christ, but now in Christ Jesus, we ” have been brought near by the blood” (2:13)
  • We were foreigners, “but now we are fellow citizens” (2:19)

Who are you in Christ? You are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works!

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love – Amazing Grace!

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david-plattJust recently, my church went through David Platt’s Bible study entitled “Counter Culture”. It is an excellent study that shows how Christians should be countering our culture when faced with things like poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, immigration, abortion, pornography, and orphans.

A description of the book is as follows:

Everywhere we turn, battle lines are being drawn – traditional marriage vs. gay marriage, pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal freedom vs. governmental protection. Seemingly overnight, culture has shifted to the point where right and wrong are no longer measured by universal truth but by popular opinion. And as difficult conversations about homosexuality, abortion and religious freedom continue to inject themselves into our workplace, our churches,, our schools and our homes, Christians everywhere are asking the same question: How are we suppose to respond to all this?

David Platt (current president of the International Mission Board & former pastor at The Church at Brook Hills) tackles these subjects head-on and takes us to God’s Word for the answers. Each subject is looked at through the lens of what God says in His Word vs. what the world is saying.

Each chapter is excellent and brings out some great points but I want to focus on several quotes from the last chapter entitled “The Most Urgent Need: The Gospel & The Unreached”.

David opens the book with asking three questions that each of us must answer for ourselves.

  1. Are we going to choose comfort for the cross?
  2. Are we going to settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission?
  3. Will our lives be marked by indecisive minds or undivided hearts?

Platt is urging the church and Christians to answer these questions. He makes the following statement:

Are we going to follow Jesus? Not, are we going to bow our heads, say a prayer, read the Bible, go to church, and give a tithe while we get on with the rest of our lives? But, are we going to follow Jesus with all our lives, no matter where He leads us to go, how countercultural the task is, or what the cost may be for us, our families, and our churches?

He goes on to talk about choosing comfort over the cross:

When we observe our churches today, do they look like groups of people who gather with one another as they give their lives to spread the gospel among unreached people, impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, dying babies, sex slaves, and suffering brother and sisters around the world? Sadly, I don’t believe that’s the picture we portray. Instead, we spend the majority of our time sitting as spectators in services that cater to our comforts. Even in our giving to the church, we spend the majority of our money on places for us to meet, professionals to do the ministry, and programs designed around us and our kids.

I can’t help but wonder what might happen if we put aside our personal preferences, let go or our extra biblical (and in some cases unbiblical) traditions, lay down our cultural comforts, and organize ourselves solely and sacrificially around God’s Word and gospel mission.

David Platt then talks about are we settling for maintenance or are we willing to sacrifice for the mission:

Over the course of the book, we have considered massive physical needs in the world. Yet as we contemplate these needs, if we are not careful, we run the risk of ignoring people’s most pressing need. That need is not for water, food, family, freedom, safety, or equality. As urgent as all of these things are for men, women, and children around the world, they are surpassed in urgency by a much greater need. That need – the most urgent need – is for the gospel.

The central message of the church in the world, then, is proclaiming the gospel to the world.

Jesus Christ gave us marching orders, and they are clear. Proclaim the gospel – the good news of God’s great love for us in Christ – to every people group on the planet.

Platt concludes the chapter by explaining that too many people are marked by indecisive minds. He pleads with each of us to have undivided hearts toward the work of spending the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Following Jesus doesn’t just entail sacrificial abandonment of our lives: it requires supreme affection from our hearts.

What must be consistent for all of us, however, is that we pray, give and go as He leads, and as we do, that we proclaim the gospel with conviction, compassion, and courage.

My favorite quote from this chapter and one that I hope and pray that I live out is the following:

For if the gospel is true, and if our God is worthy of the praise of all people, then we must spend our lives and mobilize our churches for the spread of Christ’s love to unreached people groups all around the world. Jesus has not given us a commission to consider; He has given us a command to obey.

When was the last time you actually stood in AWE of Jesus?

Today?

Yesterday?

Last week?

Last year?

The dictionary defines AWE as the following:

an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful

Have you felt that toward Jesus?

The old hymn says, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene”. A newer chorus says, “I stand, I stand in awe of You”.

But are we really doing that? Do we truly grasp who HE is and what HE has done for us? If we did, I am positive that we would stand in AWE of Him each and every day. Listening for Him to speak and then doing what HE has told us to do.

I am excited to introduce a song to my church entitled “At The Cross (Love Ran Red)”. This song was written by Chris Tomlin in 2014 and used several times at Passion Conferences. Here are the words to the first verse and chorus:

Verse 1:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies. There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide; where all the love I’ve ever found comes like a flood, comes flowing down.

Chorus:

At the cross, at the cross, I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You; I’m in awe of You. Where Your love ran red, and my sin washed white; I owe all to You, I owe all to You, Jesus.

Are you standing in AWE of Jesus today?

My prayer is that I would have this type of “AWE” toward Jesus Christ! An awe that compels me to give Him everything I have. 

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So what is TRUE greatness?

You can ask 10 people this questions and receive 10 different answers back in return.

I just got finished reading a book entitled Raising Kids for TRUE Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Dr. Kimmel is the founder of Family Matters Ministries and is a Bryan College graduate. He is an award-winning author of Grace Based Parenting, Why Christian Kids Rebel & Little House on the Freeway. 

Kimmel begins the book by say,

A person can be successful without coming close to being truly great. And wouldn’t we all rather aim our children toward true greatness?

I believe that every parent would want their children to be truly great! The problem is that people have looked to the world to gain their definition of success instead of looking into God’s Word. The world defines success by the following:

  • Fame
  • Power
  • Health & Beauty
  • Wealth

By the world’s standards, if you have these things, then you are successful. It does not matter the cost or what it takes to get there. But this is so contrary to what God’s Word teaches us. Dr. Kimmel explains that “according to Jesus, if we want our kids to be truly great, we must first teach them to be servants.”

Matthew 20:25-28 says, “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

God’s goals for our children often run counter to the default mode of the human heart.

Dr. Kimmel’s definition of TRUE greatness is this:

TRUE greatness is a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others.

Sounds a whole lot like the two greatest commandments – doesn’t it!?!

Why do we dream such small dreams & expect so little from our children? Why do we assume that we have such limited capabilities as parents? Why do we assume that great people have to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to our efforts as parents? Why don’t we think that our children can ever take rank among the truly great? Worse, why do we sell God’s bigger plan for our lives so short?

It makes so much more sense to raise your kids to live faithful and effective lives on earth and then leave the breadth of their success up to God.


Be watching for more blog post about Raising Kids for TRUE Greatness!

I would like to invite you to join Mickey Rector & myself for Parenting Essentials on Facebook LIVE every Wednesday at 12 noon. Parenting Essentials is a broadcast filled with practical advice to help parents train and disciple their children. Visit the Mile Straight Baptist Facebook page to watch!