Ephesians 1:1-2 ESV
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Who are the saints? We are those who are set apart by God to be holy. And to be holy means to be different from (unlike) the world because we are now being conformed to the likeness of Christ Jesus. And who are the faithful? They are those who are full of faith and trustworthy. And what is faith? The word means to be persuaded. And who persuades us?
Well, since faith is authored and perfected by Jesus Christ, and it is gifted to us by God, and it is not of our own doing, then God is the one persuading us. For we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ. And so he does this first by persuading us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow him in obedience (Luke 9:23-26).
[Hebrews 12:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 6:44]
And I was thinking about this today how I grew up hearing the phrase “invite Jesus into your heart.” But actually, we are not the ones doing the inviting. God is. When I was doing my video talk this morning, I think it was, I almost slipped and said, “invite Jesus into your heart,” but I caught myself and changed it to receiving the Lord’s invitation. It is something I have had to unlearn and relearn.
But I think, because so many are repeating words after someone else inviting Jesus into their hearts, that they have this idea that this notion came from them, and not from God. And I am not saying that no genuine salvations ever came from such a prayer. I am certain they did. But if we have this idea that this was our idea, then we can also decide what that faith should look like, and this is where people get into trouble.
They end up coming up with their own concept of faith, largely because few people are actually defining faith for them, and so they think because they “prayed the prayer” that they are now good to go and nothing else is required of them. They did the deed, and now they have been promised full forgiveness of their sins and they have been guaranteed heaven as their eternal destiny. But not many are being taught what genuine salvation is.
Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV
“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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
Okay, so we don’t get saved just so all our sins are forgiven and so when we die we get to go to heaven. There is way much more to our salvation than that. For one, God chose us (see, he did the choosing) in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him. Well, we already talked about what it means to be holy. So what about blameless? It means to be unblemished from the marring effects of sin.
Now we know that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. But will we still sin? We might. For it says in 1 John 2:1: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But then in verses 3-4 it says this: “And by this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Okay, so what is that saying? Well if you read a lot of Scriptures on this subject you will learn that we either walk by the Spirit or by the flesh. We are either walking in obedience to our Lord or we are still walking in sin. It all comes down to what we practice. So, yes, we might still sin from time to time, but sin should never be our habit, our practice, our addiction. We should not be deliberately and habitually sinning against God as a matter of practice. But now righteousness should be our practice (1 John 3:4-10).
And another thing here is that God predestined those of us who would believe in Jesus for adoption to himself as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. And what is the purpose of his will? That we should live holy lives in all our conduct, and that we should be unstained by willful sin, and that we should walk in obedience to his commands. And all of this is to the praise of his glorious grace (see Titus 2:11-14).
Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
And what is redemption? Well, when Jesus Christ shed his blood for us on that cross it was to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now be God’s possession and so that we might honor him with our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So, what is he buying us back from? He is buying us back from the control of sin and Satan over our lives and he is redeeming us so that we will now live holy lives pleasing to him in obedience to his ways. He rescued us from enslavement to sin, and he gave us new lives in him to now be lived for his glory and purposes (Romans 6:1-23; Romans 8:1-14).
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.