Monthly Archives: January 2019
”In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” And so begins the Universe and the creation of our world and even, of course, the creation of us, mankind. However, before “the beginning” what had God done?
God did what any good builder does. God planned it out:
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (29) Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, (30) saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
How many times as you have read Genesis, have you imagined God, thinking, “oh no, Man ate of that tree….what are we going to do now?” Yet, as you read the Genesis 3 account of sin entering into the world, it doesn’t feel like God has been caught off guard. Immediately, even before sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden, He speaks prophetically to Satan.
Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This is commonly understood to be a prophecy about the coming Messiah and even the virgin birth since it was the seed of Eve mentioned not the seed of Adam.
When we fast forward to the NT however, it is more clearly understood that God did indeed have this all planned out. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that God had a plan. Here is a rather long but significant part of what Paul wrote.
Ephesians 1:3-14 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, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption to himself 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. (7) 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. (11) 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. (13) 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.
Notice first, and I dare say, foremost, that all that God planned, he planned IN Christ. Everything was brought to completion by Christ and through Christ and so when he describes us as IN CHRIST, it only seem natural that we would need to be.
This passage, one long sentence in the Greek text, is very rich in meaning and I don’t plan an in depth explanation of it but it is worth noting some things from this passage.
Those of us who are IN CHRIST:
- Are Blessed with every spiritual blessing
- Are chosen as sons by adoption
- Are sealed with the Holy Spirit
That is a LOT. Just the first one alone blows my mind. EVERY spiritual blessing is IN Christ. In my way of thinking, it is a good thing that I am IN Christ.
Also worth nothing is that those of us who IN CHRIST:
- Have redemption through His blood (redemption is to buy back. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Revelation 5:9)
- Have the forgiveness of our trespasses (Colossians 2:13)
- Have an inheritance (And a great one at that: 1 Peter 1:3-4)
- Have knowledge about His will. (A great blessing that even the Jews had…if they had only listened. Romans 3:1-2)
These, of course, could simply be a list of some of the “every spiritual blessings” Paul say we have in Christ and I would count them as blessings. Which of those 4 items is most important to you?
And yet, as the saying goes, with great privilege comes great responsibility and so it is true that IN CHRIST:
- we are to be Holy and Blameless
- to the praise of His glory (i.e. bring praise to him. Mt 5:16)
So many times, people want the blessings but not the responsibility. As John Maxwell said “They have uphill dreams but downhill habits.”
We all want to enjoy the blessings of God that we have IN CHRIST, however, it is truly a very serious thing to consider that the same God who chose us in Christ, chose us to BE holy and without blemish. Therefore, if you choose to be IN CHRIST, you need to also choose to be holy and without blemish.
Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?
We KNOW what God wants for our life. Holy and Blameless. Do you agree? If you agree with that then you can walk with God. If you disagree and want to have all spiritual blessing and yet not be holy and blameless, then you cannot walk with God. However, the choice is yours.
Are you IN Christ? How did you get there?
As we begin the new year of 2019, just like with any year’s beginning, it is common to focus on making improvements in our lives. Whether it is increasing our financial stability, our health (and shape), or simply being a ‘nicer’ person, the resolutions we make as Christians need to be well founded on Biblical principles.
For example, weight loss and getting in shape are two very common resolutions we make. Without a doubt exercise is good for us but so often we focus on the physical and forget about the spiritual.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; (8) for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Now, don’t use this as an excuse to NOT exercise; you will note that “bodily training is of SOME value” but it is very clear that the emphasis and better focus is on the Spiritual. The reason for this is easily understood by the spiritually minded. When we see with spiritual eyes we will always keep in mind three things.
First, life is short and unpredictable. We do not know how much time we have left so…
James 4:13-15 ESV Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— (14) yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (15) Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Second, we are one year closer to our death. No one wants to think about this but how ever much time we do have—if you finished last year, you are one year closer to death than you were last year. But for the Christian that means “salvation is nearer than when we first believed” Romans 13:11 So we should use our time building spiritual 401k rather than ONLY building the earthly ones. (Luke 12:33; Matt 6:19-21)
Third, We will all stand in judgement before God. (2 Corinthians 5:10) On our own we will fail but IN CHRIST, we will succeed. So making sure we are IN Christ and STABLE in Christ is important.
So here are 3 good resolutions for a Christian to adopt this year (and even on a permanent basis) because these three will have a positive affect all the other resolutions you wish you make.
Resolution #1 Improve your relationship with God.
In the last year, has your relationship with God improved or declined? James 4:8 ESV Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. One should expect a better spiritual maturity from the Christian who is 5 years in Christ over a babe in Christ. But we should continue to draw nearer to God and further from the world. To this end, we should:
Read our Bibles every day! Now I know that things come up that may prevent this but far fewer excuses can be given for not not reading/listening to the Scriptures than 20 years ago. With all the Bible apps and audio versions, hearing God’s word is easier than ever. Here is a link to a post that will give you 7 reasons to read the Bible daily.
But, Read our Bibles for understanding! Do NOT just read to check off a box in your annual daily reading list, read so that you can learn and remember and understand. What was written was written for our understanding and learning, (Romans 15:4) so let’s learn something not just read something.
Also, we need to be diligent in prayer to improve our relationship with God. Jesus, as our High Priest, is ready and willing to help us be we do need to ask. Additionally, we need to be thankful in our prayers not just asking in our prayers. There is so much to thank God for. (1 Chronicles 29:14, Phil 4:6)
Resolution #2 Become closer to the brethren.
Unfortunately, the things of this life and sometimes the resolutions of this life can keep us from such important relationships. Mark 4:19 ESV but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. What prevents us from being fruitful are the everyday things of this life when we focus on them.
Perhaps we need to resolve to invite over or have dinner with 6 people/couples this year. You may be surprised how that will help bind you together.
Resolution #3 Become closer to NON-Christians.
While we are to do good to the household of faith in particular, we also get to, and should, do good to those not in the household of faith as well. (Galatians 6:9-10). Again, eating together can be a good way to encourage and build a relationship. We do this in order to influence them not to be influenced by them. We shine as lights in the dark. (Philippians 2:14-15) so if we do not shine in their lives, how will they see the way to go?
A follow up to this blog should center around self control. The stick-to-it-ness that we need to carry these and other resolutions to accomplishment. Until that blog post happens, keep in mind what God said of Man in Genesis 11:6
And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
We can accomplish great things when we set our mind to it, so let us set our mind to these three resolutions!
What resolutions have you made for this year?