Thursday, December 31, 2009

103) Stone cold dead

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.

Are human beings born basically good? Paul answers that question in this passage and the answer is an emphatic no. Human beings are born dead in trespasses and sin with a heart that follows the course of this world. The passions of the flesh and desires of the mind and body control the actions of all mankind. This is not a condition that man can correct with his own will because his nature is enslaved by sin and death. Man is born spiritually dead and apart from action by God, man will remain spiritually dead as surely as people that are physically dead will remain physically dead.

Focus on Christ #103

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

102) A personal counselor

Ephesians 1:13-14 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.

At the moment of faith, believers are sealed with the promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is a guarantee of the inheritance as adopted sons of the living God. The indwelling of God the Holy Spirit produces a changed human being that is a new creation in Christ. Believers are enabled to follow the lead of the Spirit due to the fulfillment of the new covenant promise of a new heart. This is new covenant grace and is the reason that the new covenant is much superior to the old covenant that it replaced.

Focus on Christ #102

Sunday, December 27, 2009

101) Divine intervention in salvation

Ephesians 1:11-12 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.

Those who are in Christ have an inheritance because God predestined them to believe and place their hope in Christ. This is due to the will of God and is to the praise of his glory. Apart from God’s intervention, no one would come to Christ in faith. That is why Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” [John 6:65] Paul states that believers who were alive at the time of his writing this epistle were the first to hope in Christ for their spiritual salvation. This points to the very beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Focus on Christ #101

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

100) In Christ we have redemption through his blood

Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ (10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Through the blood of Christ forgiveness of sins and redemption is given to those who are in Christ by faith. At the Lord’s Supper Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Jesus Christ is the new covenant and the fulfillment of all that was lost in Adam. It is Christ that crushed the head of the serpent. This is the riches of God’s grace that was foretold in the Garden of Eden [Gen. 3:15] long before Abraham or the nation of Israel. The story of spiritual redemption is about Jesus Christ and grace. It is about the fulfillment of the new covenant promise of giving a new heart to sinners on a one on one basis. It is not about spiritually redeeming chosen nations or even physical covenant families. Spiritual salvation depends on God’s will and purpose, which he lavished on those He redeemed in all wisdom and insight. It was His plan set forth in Christ and is being perfectly executed to unite all things in him. While man is allowed to sin against God’s will, man cannot thwart God’s sovereign purpose for spiritual salvation as outlined by Paul here in Ephesians 1. Those in Christ are eternally secure.

Focus on Christ #100

Sunday, December 20, 2009

99) Praise his glorious grace

Ephesians 1:4B-6 In love (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons 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.

God predestined his adopted sons in love because of his sovereign will. This is accomplished through the ministry of Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace. Those who are blessed with this grace are blessed beyond measure. They are in Christ through faith because of God’s sovereign will and not by human effort or desire. Spiritual salvation is not about a chosen race or being included in a covenant because one’s parents are believers. Salvation is about the glory and grace of Jesus Christ and His New Covenant redemption of his adopted brothers.

Focus on Christ #99

Saturday, December 19, 2009

98) Chosen by God to be in Christ

Ephesians 1:3-4A 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.

Believers are blessed with spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Before the foundation of the world God chose a people to be holy and blameless before him through being in Christ by faith. Even the best of Saints are not holy or blameless apart from being found in Christ. Salvation is all about Christ successfully regaining for his bride [the elect] what Adam lost in the Garden of Eden. This was all accomplished before the earth was even formed. God from eternity past had one and only one plan of salvation for one and only one people of God. Salvation has been fulfilled in the New Covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Focus on Christ #98

Thursday, December 17, 2009

97) Grace defined

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Paul, in this short verse, closes the door on the false teaching that a people can be saved and yet not experience Spirit led change in their lives. If the Spirit is leading a person, this means he is following that lead. If a person is not following the Spirit, then he is not being led. Such a person is not saved even if he claims to have faith [James 2:14-25] or he is pursuing righteousness through the self-effort of legalistic law keeping [Romans 7:13-25]. Saved people are new creations in Christ through the new covenant gift of a new heart. This new heart empowers and motivates a person to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and this happens to varying degrees in regenerated believers. Adopted sons of God are followers of Christ because they are led by the Spirit, and this verse does not offer any other possibility. This is grace.

Focus on Christ #97

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

96) There is a distinction between the flesh and the Spirit

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Paul makes it clear that those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the flesh, and to set the mind on the flesh is death. In addition, they are hostile to God, do not submit to God’s law, and indeed cannot please God. Here, in verse 13, this principle is repeated yet again. Paul has made it very clear that if you live according to the flesh you are not in Christ and you are under the condemnation of God. There is no wiggle room to claim Christ but live according to the flesh. However, if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. A redeemed person is enabled and encouraged by the Holy Spirit to respond to this divine grace and willingly participates in his own sanctification. This does not mean anything close to perfection, but it does mean a direction toward being conformed to Christ.

Focus on Christ #96

Sunday, December 13, 2009

95) Those in Christ reject the ways of the world

Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

Those that believe you should go for the gusto because you only go around once are debtors to the flesh. Unbelievers, by nature, present themselves as slaves to sin and live according to this nature. They are in the flesh, and their desires are on the things of the flesh. Paul, in this verse, is stating that believers who are in Christ are different. Believers are new creations in Christ and no longer slaves to the worldly desires of the flesh. They reject the fleshly ways of the world, and the world hates them for it.

Focus on Christ #95

Friday, December 11, 2009

94) The Spirit is Life Eternal

Romans 8:10-11 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

All human beings are dead men walking due to sin. Although physically alive, all human beings are born spiritually dead because of sin and will also die a physical death because of sin. However, IF the Spirit of God dwells in a person, that person has been given spiritual life. He is a new creation in Christ and although his physical body will suffer death, he has been raised to new life now and will be raised to life at the last day just as Jesus was raised to life. The New Covenant through the blood of Christ gives believers grace, the indwelling Spirit, and life.

Focus on Christ #94

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

93) All believers have the Spirit

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

In this verse the distinction is between the flesh and the Spirit. Those in the Spirit have the Spirit of God dwelling in them and are redeemed saved children of God. Those in the flesh are not redeemed, not saved, and not children of God. Those in the flesh were just described in verses 7 and 8. In these verses Paul gives the characteristics of believers in contrast with the characteristics of non-believers.

Focus on Christ #93

Sunday, December 6, 2009

92) Hostility toward God

Romans 8:7-8 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The unbeliever’s mind is set on the flesh and is hostile to God and the things of the Spirit. The unregenerate mind does not submit to God’s law and does not have the ability to do so. Flesh, sin, and the Law produce only physical and spiritual death. In Romans 7:13-25 Paul explained how the Old Covenant Law is a ministry of death. It was never intended to be a means of pleasing God and Paul once again drives that point home in this passage.

Focus on Christ #92

Friday, December 4, 2009

91) Christians are under the Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses

1 Corinthians 9:20-21 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. (21) To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

Paul states clearly that he is not under old covenant Law but is under the law of Christ. He does not distinguish between three different categories of the law, and he does not do that anywhere in his epistles. In fact, the Bible as a whole makes no such distinctions. Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands.” That means the law of Christ, and it is found in the New Testament.

Focus on Christ #91

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

90) Abraham’s true heirs

Galatians 3:27-29 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

There is only one category of spiritual people. It does not matter whether one is Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Being Jewish or the children of believers has nothing to do with spiritual redemption. The only thing that matters is being in Christ Jesus by faith. If a person is in Christ by faith, then he is Abraham’s offspring and heirs according to the promise. It does not depend on human will, exertion, or baptizing infants. It depends only on God’s grace and mercy and Paul makes this very clear in Romans 9. Unless a person is in Christ Jesus through faith he is not in any kind of spiritual covenant relationship with God.

Focus on Christ #90