Monday, July 25, 2016


Reading: Ephesians 1-2:10

Have you ever just meditated on all that the Bible says we have and are "in Christ?"  This morning as I do that I find it's more than this fleshly body can even contain!  The joy, the life, the love that we have in Him is unfathomable to our minds. Yes, we find it "immeasurable."  We cannot even contain it.  We find it a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Oh how much we need to lift ourselves, our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to those things, because they are every bit as tangible as the darkness, the depression, the sicknesses, the problems and trials that we face here in this world.  In fact they are more real, more lasting, and more certain than anything, IF we are in Christ Jesus.  Are you "in Christ?"  Can you say you have an assurance that you are, that He is in you?  If not, I have good news for you.  You can be sure. His Word gives us that assurance. We don't have to hope for it not knowing.  We don't have to look to ourselves and our goodness hoping it somehow outweighs our sins on that day.  We don't have to try to overlook or excuse our sins away as though if we hide them from ourselves or others, God will not see them either.  No, we can face our sins, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings head on, with humility, admitting them to this holy God, Who we know judges those sins.  In fear we face them, we come humbly before His cross.  We see them in contrast to His pure holiness and love, and righteous demands, and see that in no way we can measure up. In no way can we save ourselves.  Our own works are as filthy rags.  Then we look up to His cross.  We see that He took all our sin, it's ugliness and its penalty, on Himself (He Who knew no sin became sin for us), and then He imputed to us, all His perfect righteousness and goodness and holiness (that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ), 2 Corinthians 5:21. Yes, it is "too good to be true" except it IS TRUE!  All that is required is that we humble ourselves before Him when we see our sin, confess (agree with God) it to Him, taking His side, turning from sin and self to Him, in faith receiving in our hearts what He has done for us, through His blood, forgiving our sins, and trust Him to give us His Spirit to make us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  It is His work.  When we once become His child, as soon as we believe on Him, we have entered into a whole new realm.

Ephesians 1 and 2 tells us of this new realm, this new creation, what we have in Christ, as His own child now.  It tells us of the assurance we have of that salvation.  It tells us the power and completeness of it, in such detail that it cannot be denied.  It tells us the eternality of it.  It is a hope that is so wonderful that it "blows the mind."  It cannot be fully grasped, I don't think, by our finite minds, yet it can be believed and received and as we walk this life below, He makes it more and more real and manifested in us and to us, as we abide in Him in faith.  He created it, and He works it in us, and He finishes it.  We find relief in knowing it is not up to us to save ourselves, and we find all our power for living is in this hope that is a sure hope, this certainty that He will fulfill all.  Our hearts are filled with love and joy in Him then which gives us the power to walk through anything He calls us to.

Oh how the enemy tries to rob us of this power and take away our hope, filling us with doubts and fears, getting our eyes on ourselves and away from Him and all He is to us and in us.  He tries to get us ever doubting our salvation and looking inward striving harder and only producing a self-righteousness, rather than living in and rejoicing in the perfect completed salvation He has given us with assurance.

If you are in Christ, a child of God, through faith in Him, take a look at Ephesians 1 and 2 and ponder all that He has given you.  Jamieson, Faucett, and Brown commentary does a wonderful job of summarizing this...
Ephesians 1:3

The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers (1 Peter 1:3). Ephesians 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the FATHER’S work of love, Ephesians 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Ephesians 1:4  to sonship, Ephesians 1:5 to acceptance, Ephesians 1:6): the SON’S, Ephesians 1:7 (redemption, Ephesians 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Ephesians 1:9 an inheritance, Ephesians 1:11 the HOLY SPIRIT’S, Ephesians 1:13 (sealing, Ephesians 1:13 giving an earnest of the inheritance, Ephesians 1:14).

He goes on after describing what we have in Christ, our blessings, our inheritance, our guarantee, to pray that we would be made to truly see, by revelation, and grasp the power of this life in us, as though he were at a loss for words to really describe it fully, knowing only God can truly give that revelation in the heart of those who love Him, in verses 17-23.  That same power, that resurrection power, that raised Christ from the dead now permanently lives in us, and raises us up also with Christ to actually be seated with Him in the Heavenlies (Eph. 2: 4-6).  Yes, it is past tense... not future, although it is assured to be our future, it is also present... we are even now "seated with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  He has placed us there already.  It is our position in Him.  It is a done deal, once He has made us His child and given us His Spirit.  He, Who is outside of all time, sees us there in Christ, and will never again see us outside of Christ.  He sees the imputed righteousness of His Son in us, and us in His Son, and all is accomplished.  We only now wait for our final redemption, the redemption of our bodies, when this "corruption shall put on incorruption" (1 Corinthian 15:50-54), and our bodies will be made like His, and we will be with Him forever, freed from sin and evil forever more. 

This blessed assurance and guarantee is the power of our Christian life.  It is the joy that we rejoice in always, even as we go through trials beyond what we think we can endure.  It is our endurance, our strength, our life, our joy, and our hope that never fails.  No wonder in Ephesians 6:10-18, he tells us to "be strong in the strength of His might," and to "put on the whole armor of God," which truly is a visual of all Ephesians 1-2 tells us... the assurance and hope of all we are and have in Christ.  In this alone can we stand, and walk, and overcome the enemy.  In this alone can we quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  In this alone can we pray and intercede for others.  In Him we live, and in Him we stand.

What an immeasurably great salvation He has given to us! What immeasurable power!  It is His power of resurrection!  There is nothing in this world or in ourselves that can hold it down!  Our humble thanks is not even enough dear Heavenly Father!  May our lives each day be pleasing to You as we look on this great love and salvation, yielding ourselves to You that Your glory may be manifested in us.




Friday, July 1, 2016


For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:19-21)

 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

Our works - what are they? What do we see as works acceptable to God?  What works are in vain? What works were "prepared beforehand for us to do?" (Eph. 2:10).  We can heartily "serve the Lord" full of zeal, but all be works of flesh that count for nothing, and perhaps even be harmful to truly reaching people for Christ.  Many organizations have been started in the name of Jesus that are nothing but men's organizations and contrary to God's true Word.  None of us as Christians who love the Lord want that!  None of us wants to be an offense to the Gospel, even while we think we are sharing the Gospel.  Yet it happens.  While well-meaning, we can even drive someone further away from Christ.  We can misrepresent Him, as Peter did in the Garden of Gethsemane, acting of his own accord, when he struck a soldier with the sword, cutting off his ear, thinking to defend His Lord and thinking to serve Him.  We can be used by the devil, thinking we are speaking for God, as Peter did when he rebuked Jesus for saying He must die.  Shortly before, the Lord commended Him by saying the Father had revealed truth to him, when He proclaimed Jesus was the Son of God.  Now Jesus said, "Get behind me satan!" and stated that Peter did not have in mind the things of God but the things of man. 

Until we learn the meaning of what it is to be "in Christ" and "Christ in me" we also will not learn the works that are acceptable to God in our daily lives.  In fact what we perceive as works are not always the "works" He is looking for.  What we miss and don't necessarily call works, is His working in and through us in our normal daily lives, sometimes without us being aware.  How we respond to someone, how we reach out to someone, how we go about our chores in what frame of mind, faith, acceptance, disposition, these all are works that we don't think of as important, or even as "works."  Until He has worked in us the nature of Christ in the little things, how can we truly please Him in the big things?  If we grumble over the small tasks and the irritations of a normal day, forgetting to "put on Christ" how can we in Christ walk out as His representatives a true witness to those around us.  If we are not loving our families and the body of Christ how can we represent Christ?  We can zealously serve others all the while neglecting our relationships. All we do then, is wood, hay, and stubble, and lost.

To be in Christ is the theme of all of the apostle Paul's teaching.  All begins there.  We were crucified with Christ, to law, to sin, to ourselves and our self-pursuits, to this world, and to the devil's reach.  We were risen with Christ to Heavenly places where He is, where our true life is hidden.  It is past tense.  It is not something future, it is now as we were placed "in Christ."  If we don't walk and work in faith in this life, in the reality of it, and the power of it, and the life of Christ Himself in us, our works are dead works.  They are only flesh trying to please God.  Religious flesh cannot please God anymore than non-religious flesh. 

Only the works of Christ are acceptable to God.  Only HIS works are "good" works.  Only HIS righteousness is acceptable to God.  So only as it is His life working in us and through us to do His good will, can we be pleasing to God.  Only what is of faith can be pleasing to Him.  Our faith in Him through difficulties, learning to stand dressed in His full armor, learning to overcome by believing and embracing His promises, these are works empowered by the Holy Spirit in us.  When these are happening in us as a result of our abiding in Him, then true outward works are the natural fruit that will please Him and glorify Him to others.  Only He glorifies Himself, we cannot glorify Him with OUR works, but His through us.

Every day we are to be a "living sacrifice unto Him" - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

We present ourselves to God in faith, knowing He alone is the power in us, as we go about our day, that we would see ourselves as His vessel, that He is able to work through in every part of our daily life, not just when we are doing some "Christian service."  As I clean my house, I present myself to Him, to do it for His glory.  As I have conversations with those I encounter, I present myself to Him, that He can use as He will in those conversations, keeping me from saying anything that would not glorify Him or benefit another.  As I have free time, I present myself to Him, and make myself available to what He wants me to do with it.  I present my mind, my eyes, my ears, etc. to what is pleasing to Him.  Our works is everything that flows from us in thought, word, and deed, unto Christ out of our faith in Him.  Only as it is "Christ Who lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in Him" can I be pleasing to Him. 

We cannot work to sanctify ourselves.  By faith, rather, we work out in our daily lives that which He has worked in us.  "Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul." - Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on 1 Peter 1:4.  Our sanctification is His life in us, and through us, and our working it out even as He works in us to "will and to do,"  by faith. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

We cannot work to keep ourselves, it is His power that keeps us through faith in His finished work alone, which is given by the presence of His Spirit in us through regeneration.  It is not a faith in our faith to keep us, but in His work in us and His power…a rest in the eternal life He has given to us and the power of His life in us. We walk in that faith in which His works flow, and respond to the Spirit He has given us as He works in us.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

We cannot work to justify ourselves before God.  Nor can we be perfected by or works.  O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3)

It is Christ alone and His work, embraced through faith (a complete reliance in Him, all He is, and all He has done), that we are saved, that we are kept, that we are perfected.  His works were completed and accepted in Heaven.  We have been raised up with Him, in Him, and His work of righteousness becomes imputed to us, as we embrace and rely on all He is and has done, abiding in Him.   Only the fruit of His Spirit in us then is acceptable in Heaven.  Abiding in Him, is what enables us to bear fruit unto Him.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:4-8)

Father, enable us to see and grasp the life of Christ in us, the reality of our being "seated in Heavenly places with Christ" and abide in You daily, that our works will not be burned up but well pleasing to You, on that day when we stand before You, and You are glorified in us! In Jesus name may it be so.  Amen.