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The Lord Jesus led me to read Ephesians 1 (Select vv. 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. Vv. 1-2

Notice with me here to whom these words are being addressed. These things are written here to the saints of God who are faithful in Christ Jesus. This means we who are full of faith, having been persuaded by God as to his righteousness and holiness, and as to his death and resurrection, in order that we, who believe on him, might die to sin and live to righteousness.

And, who are the saints? They are those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, who have been persuaded by God in these matters, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and have been raised with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We are the set apart by God and for God (holy) who are unlike, different from the world, because we are like the Lord, being made in his likeness.

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. Vv. 3-6

We are also those whom God chose to be his even before he created the world. And, what did he choose us for? He chose us to be holy, set apart (different) from the world, created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness, being conformed to his likeness. He also chose us to be blameless before him. And, the only way we can be blameless before God is through the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on a cross for our sins, and by faith in him.

By faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord’s righteousness is credited to our accounts, our debt is cancelled, we are forgiven our sins, and we now have the hope of eternal life with God in glory.

But, this isn’t just so we can escape hell and just so we can go to heaven when we die. This also is not a one-time deal, we are in, and heaven is guaranteed us no matter what we do from this moment forward. The scriptures are very clear that this faith must be genuine faith, dead to sin, but alive to God, that it must be enduring faith, and that it must result in us walking according to the Spirit and no longer us living our lives to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh (See: Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).

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. Vv. 7-10

In Christ Jesus we have redemption through his blood. This means that Jesus bought us back for God with the price of his blood shed on our cross for our sins. And, what did he buy us back for? That we might be his possession. Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

This means that our lives are no longer our own, for we were bought with a price, therefore we are to honor God with our lives. Jesus paid the price so that we could be set free from our slavery to sin, and so that we could now become slaves (bond-servants) of his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23).

He redeemed us from our sinful lifestyles so that we might now live for him and for his righteousness. Through this redemption he is making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose. So, what is his will and purpose for us? It is that we might say “No” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts) and that we might live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, pleasing to him, while we await his return (Tit. 2:11-14).

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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Vv. 11-14

If we are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, having been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and having been raised with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, we have obtained an inheritance in God, but it is not just the hope of heaven when we die. It is the hope of changed lives, which are purified, made holy, cleansed of sin, and walking by the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. We are no longer under the control of Satan and sin, for Jesus Christ set us free! Now we, who are being led by the Spirit of God, are the children of God.

Our lives are no longer to be lived for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. We who believe in him are to be to the praise of his glory. And, what is his glory? It is God’s worth, his honor, his substance, his essence, and his divine character and will. In other words, our lives should reflect God’s character, his righteousness, his holiness, his morals, his values, and his virtues, such as integrity, honesty and uprightness.

This is not to say that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is to say that we should no longer be under the control of sin, and that we must now be walking (in lifestyle; in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh; no longer living to satisfy our sinful cravings. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will DIE in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity. But, IF by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live with Christ for eternity (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25).

So, if you have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and you are counting on heaven when you leave this earth, but you have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and you have, thus, not been raised with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, then I pray you will give your hearts to Christ today while you still have today. For, heaven is not guaranteed those who only make a profession of faith in Christ. If we want to have the hope of heaven, we must die with Christ to sin and live with Christ to righteousness, empowered by the Holy Spirit now living within us. This is the essence of the gospel.

I Love to Tell the Story
Katherine Hankey / William G. Fischer

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story;
'tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it,
more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story,
for some have never heard
the message of salvation
from God's own holy Word.

I love to tell the story,
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
'twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long.

I love to tell the story,
'twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

Sunday, January 21, 2018, 6:36 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for us on that cross in dying for our sins, and in being raised from the dead, so that we might, by faith in you, die to sin and live to righteousness. Amen!