Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love Has Come, and its Given me Hope to Carry On

Matthew 28:16
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The "Great Commission" as Christians we've all heard this at one point or another. The point in time in which Christ directs us to go out and share his teachings with the world. He tells us here, that if we are teaching the world; making them disciples, he will be with us always. How do we get to this point though? To be ready and willing to go and make disciples for Christ? This is where Ephesians chapter 2 comes into the picture.

Ephesians 2
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Verses 1-4 speak about how we were before Christ, dead, and gratifying our sinful nature. Having nothing to do with Christ. Then even while we were dead in our sins against God, Christ came in and saved us through grace.

Verses 5-7 gives us a picture of what it is like to follow Christ, to truly live for Him we gain incomparable riches. These are given to us not simply because we do good, but because he loves us. Out of kindness Christ gives us heavenly rewards when we grow closer to Him, and promote His word.

Think of it like this, in many retail sales jobs and person has "Commission" and "Base Salary." Salvation is the base salary. When a person works on commission the base salary alone cannot sustain them. Base salary is near the equivalent of like $9 an hour or something like that. So you have to go out and work to sale things in order to build up your commission revenue. Spreading the Word, and living for Christ are the equivalents of commission, when you do these things, the way Christ wants, we will get our commission or rewards in heaven.

This works the same way with waiters and waitresses, they get paid below minimum wage, and have to work for tips, if they don't work, or do a lousy job at it, they aren't going to get their tips or "rewards."

Verses 8-10 tell us how and why we are saved. We can't do good things to get to heaven. I don't know how many times this is said, but here's the verses to back it up, Ephesians 2:8-10. We are saved by grace, it was God's gift to us. We should be thankful! Why is it so often we take for granted our salvation? God gave it to us for free! All we need to do is believe. For us the Gentiles it is an even more big deal. We are supposed to be doing God's works, that he has prepared us to do. Now some people use that as an excuse not to minister. "God prepared me to teach elementary students" If God prepared you to teach, then why are you not also at church teaching? Going out on missions teaching people? You are gifted with an ability, Use it! But also do not forget when using this ability, it is not for your glory, but all for God's. For you are His workmanship, not our own.

Verses 11-13 is speaking specifically to us, the Gentiles. Before Christ we had no acceptance into His presence. For we were not born into the Jewish culture, this kept us from being citizens of Israel, and also meant we did not follow the Jewish traditions and laws, making us unfit to be God followers. But the blood shed by Christ on the cross was for everyone so now we are able to seek God's Kingdom.

Verses 14-18 talk about Christ came to promote peace between the nations. He came to abolish the laws of Old Testament times. With these laws abolished we are able to live in peace. For everyone is able to come to Christ. Through Christ we have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit living in us. Once again another great visual of the Trinity.

Verses 19-22 bring the focus back on the Gentiles. With the shedding of Christ's blood we are now "citizens of God's people." It says we are no longer foreigners and aliens to the household. I find this interesting, because we go from:
Living in the world, and being foreigners to Christ
To Christ living in us, and being foreigners to the world.
These verses also talk about Christ being the head of the church, built on Him and the Apostles. Which continues to say that us as growing Christians are a temple for the Lord, that is constantly at work.

Now we move on to 2 Timothy where it talks about sharing our faith.

2 Timothy 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Alittle bit of history on 2 Timothy, This book is believed to be written by Paul during his last imprisonment in Rome(taken from Holman illustrated pocket Bible handbook). This is why he alludes to suffering for Christ.

Verse 8 encourages us to go out and share the gospel, to never be ashamed. Paul is saying not to be ashamed because Christ followers are being arrested for sharing His Word. To go out and share freely and to join in the suffering for God's Word, for we are all slaves to Christ.

Verse 9-10 We were made for God's purpose, it's always been about Him. His grace has always been there for us. It was not until Christ died on the cross that the grace of salvation became apparent to us. This verse tells us completely that when Christ died on the cross, death was conquered and he brought eternal and everlasting life, this was all shown through the Word.

Verse 11-12; Paul has been commissioned to share the gospel! Have we not all? As a duty to our faith are we not supposed to share it with others? This is why he is suffering. Are we not called to serve Christ, to share Christ, with our entire being? No matter what? We should not fear death, we should not fear anything, because Christ has entrusted His message to us and he will never falter.

Verse 13-14 We can use the verses as a way to pattern our lives. We can use these not just for our lives, but to test other things. Guard the gospel, and stay true to it.

After looking at this passage, is this not how we are supposed to live for Christ?
Now that we know how to be saved, and we know what it means to be a Christian, here is a passage from Titus about how we are to live in the world and show that we are Christians.

Titus 3: 1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Verses 1-2 Be humble and submit to authority. This is something that our generation has a problem with at times. It's really annoying to me too. This is basic manners people. This is something that is taught outside the realm of Christianity. Why can't we grasp this ourselves? I'm not just saying youth either, we're talking about the Mosaics this ranges from twenty five down to 8 years old. But think on that, college students who don't know how to be humble and submit to authority. I see people in my classes who are worse than first graders in the classroom, and then I see them at FUEL. When I see how they act, I feel embarrassed. Is the instructing going on in our churches that bad? Now granted the people in mention, I do not know their faith stance, I just see them in FUEL. But even if you aren't a Christian striving to follow Christ, there is seldom a religion that instructs you to be disrespectful to your authority.

Verses 3-4 talk about how at one time, when we were without Christ we lived like what I mentioned above. But now we have Christ, we are instructed to be something much higher than that! This is a place that really gets to me in management today. Managers and business owners have reduced their standards for hiring and employment. They have employee's who are constantly late, employee's who cannot get the job done. Why is it this way though? It is simply because people are not following Christ, and they have lost their respect for practically everything. People are reverting to how they were before Christ stepped in, and it isn't pretty.

Verses 5-7 Once again reaffirms our salvation. We are saved not because of our good works and righteousness, as I've been saying, we definitely aren't worthy of Christ. We have gained salvation because of His mercy on us. Because Christ wants to share eternal life with us.

Verse 8 Salvation is a gift to us, just like the base salary I mentioned earlier. If it were not for labor laws and unions, we would not have base salary, back before all this, base salary was a gift that boss's gave their employee's. But we must also devote ourselves for living for Christ, this is the only way we get the gift of salvation. If we are not focused on working for commission or heaven, if we just go into
salvation as "fire insurance" we aren't going to be headed to heaven.

Verses 9-11 avoid stupid fights. We were just talking about this, differences in the date of when a certain book of the Bible was written isn't something to fight over. It's something to know the differences, to know why it's thought to be written during that time. But if you both accept it as fact then why fight about it? Don't allow divisive people to divide things. Warn them, then warn them again, and be through with them. There are so many issues with people being divisive within the church. It's not a good thing. It brings a bad light onto Christianity. Don't allow it.

Now Paul is speaking to the Gentiles, and how to live as Christians.

Romans 11:11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Verses 11-12 we are Gentiles were offered salvation, because of our sins! This says that no matter how bad a person is, they can be saved. Salvation was brought to us to make the Jews envious. But also to bring us riches. Once again I bring it back to the commission analogy. This is what it's all about! Living for Christ and storing up our heavenly rewards!

Verses 13-15 though Paul is talking to Gentiles, he hopes that what he is sharing will affect the Jews also, Paul says what can be lost in gaining Christ? nothing! You gain eternal life! I like this verse, verse 14, arouse some of my people to envy and save of them. How great is that? I want to do that, I wish I didn't have to do that. But I want people to look at me and say, "I want to be like you" and I want to be able to say "It's all for the Lord" There's this song by Keith Green, my most favorite of his, called "Because of You." I want that to be the story of my life, here is the first verse.

"People smile at me and ask me what it is,
that makes them want to be just like I am,
and I just point to You, and tell them yes it's true,
I'm no special one, I'm just one man.

It's because of You,
people smile at me, and they say,
what a lucky guy."

Verse 16, I love this, if you tithe what you have, then what you have is holy. Simple as that. Tithe and everything that is yours will be Holy.

Verses 17-21 if you are fruitful in your walk with God, you will be placed with other fruitful people. This is an amazing concept. God will place you with other fruitful people, but you aren't supposed to get a big head, because then you cease to be fruitful. In order to keep bearing fruit you must be humble. Because if you cease to be fruitful you will be cut off.

Verses 22-24 Though someone who stops being fruitful can be cutoff, they can be brought back. If they become fruitful, because God has the power to graft anyone into His family. Once again showing how there are no limits to God's grace for us.

This stanza from the song "Ephesians" by ApologetiX is what brought all this to mind to me, and most of the verse references are listed in the song also, aside from the great commission.

"I've found salvation's a tree
And faith's what you use for seed
But grace is the start of the roots
And good deeds are just fruit"

So we are supposed to be out sharing our faith with the nations. Through this is covered how to be saved, how to share our faith, how to live in the world. These are essential things to our Christian faith. If we don't know how to go about these things, then we don't know how to live for Christ, and that means that we are "lukewarm" which God warns strongly against.

(Lyrics from "Hope to Carry On" by Rich Mullins)


  1. Living in the world, and being foreigners to Christ
    To Christ living in us, and being foreigners to the world.

    With your permission I would like to add the above statement from the blog above to my list of bloggable thoughts.

    How has this teaching changed you? God always reveals Himself with the expectation that we will be transformed through the revelation. How has this revelation brought about change in your life? Do others see the change or do you simply talk about being changed?

    When you open yourself up to be a teacher of others, you should always take heed that you are being watched more closely by the Father above. One to protect you and the other to guide you, but the third would be to correct you.

    My challenge to all young men is to not leave the practical execution of our faith to embrace the zeal of our faith. They must find the balance.

    These writes are very encouraging to me; an inspiration to my soul. I am proud of you and it is obvious that the Lord is working by His Spirit in you and soon you will begin to see the fruit of Christ at work in you.

    Many blessings!

  2. Of course you can use it.
    I am trying to live this way by no longer focusing on the material things of the world, and focusing on furthering His Kingdom. This is becoming evident with my plans for the summer.