Tonight, during our weekly Bible Study, our Pastor, very wisely, I might add, read several verses in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus:
Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what he has done — before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ—that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.
It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in him.
It was indeed a great way to open a time of prayer! It focused our attention on the amazing relationship we have with the God of Creation, our Beloved Father. After the prayer, I explained that I love to take verses like these, and actually turn them to prayers; prayers from my heart.
Let me show you how this would look:
Oh Father, I praise you for giving me, through Christ, every possible spiritual benefit as a citizen of Heaven! I stand amazed at what you have done — since before the foundation of the world — you chose me to become, in Christ, His Holy and Blameless child, his child who is living within His constant care! I am absolutely dumbfounded, but you planned, because of your love, that I should be adopted as your own children through Jesus Christ — Why? So that I could learn to praise that glorious generosity of yours which has made me welcome in the everlasting love you bear towards your Son.
I recognize very well that it is through your Son, at the cost of his own blood, that I was redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into my life and opened my eyes to the truth. Amazingly, you have allowed me to know the secret of your plan: You purposed in your sovereign will that all human history would be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth will find its perfection and fulfillment in him. And Father, that includes me! I rejoice that I am finding my perfection and fulfillment in Christ my Savior and King! Thank you, Father.
See how life-giving these Scriptures can be? But, as I look around, my biggest frustration is how so many believers are missing out on what our Lord has purchased for us! Oh, we love to read passages like these, but then walk away unmoved and unchanged. Far too many of us have passive, nonchalant, unconcerned, indifferent, unexcited, casual faith that might get us to church on Sundays (or at least on Holidays), but what Paul was presenting is a revolutionary new event that, when we agree and set our hearts and faith to, allows us to escape the drudgery or complacent faith, and enter into an exciting world where we know and experience the very life and presence of our God and Lord!
We need to be like Young Christian in Bunyan’s tale who was “weighed down by a great burden — the knowledge of his sin — which he believed came from his reading ‘the book in his hand.’ Then he, “put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying ‘Life! Life! Eternal Life!‘”
Jesus described this when he said:
This is eternal life: to know, to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand the only true and real God, and to know Jesus as the Christ (John 17:3)
My friends, this is what we are to experience! This is what we were brought into!
You are babies, new-born in God’s family, and you should be crying out for unadulterated spiritual milk to make you grow up to salvation! And so you will, if you have already tasted the goodness of the Lord.
To change the metaphor, you come to him, as living stones to the immensely valuable living stone (which men rejected but God chose), to be built up into a spiritual House of God, in which you, like holy priests, can offer those spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. There is a passage to this effect in scripture, and it runs like this: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame’.
It is to you who believe in him that he is “precious”, but to those who disobey God, it is true that: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’. And he is, to them, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’. [As Michael Card sings, “A stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes them fall. Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed and lose their own soul].
Yes, they stumble at the Word of God for in their hearts they are unwilling to obey it — which makes stumbling a foregone conclusion. But you are God’s “chosen generation”, his “royal priesthood”, his “holy nation”, his “peculiar people” [some more than others] — all the old titles of God’s people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. In the past you were not “a people” at all: now you are the people of God. In the past you had no experience of his mercy, but now it is intimately yours! (I Peter 2:3-10)
Go back and read these verses carefully. Don’t simply skim over them and say, “Amen, that is nice.” NO!! Let them soak into your hearts and minds; allow them to shake you to your core and do NOT close out this message without it purging out all of the “religious” junk you have stored up in your spirit! Allow these words to transform you, so you will never again be found lacking and casual in your faith!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.