All posts by Pastor Richard

We Are Forgiven of Our Sin

Both the Pharisees and Jesus wanted people to live rightly before God in a sin-ruined world. However, their approach was different from each other. Basically, the Pharisees saw sin as a crime to be punished and Jesus saw sin as a sickness that needed healing. You can see this contrasted by how they both saw and treated people.

The Pharisees were always eager to point out other people's sin and make them pay for it. They did it because they felt they had the "God-given" right to carry out judgement and punishment on His behalf. Being God in human flesh (1 John 1:1, 14; 8:58; Colossians 2:9), Jesus knew how sinful and guilty humanity is, however, He did not come to accuse or condemn anyone for their sin. Rather, He came to forgive people and take away their sin.

 

7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of His death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7, New Century Version

 

Forgiveness of sins brings healing and wholeness.

When we appreciate how we are truly forgiven of all our sins, we are set free to enjoy a healthy relationship with God. The Pharisees were right about the problem of sin, but their approach was unhealthy and wrong. They demanded people to earn God's favour, hoping the good they did would outweigh the bad they had done. Jesus, on the other hand, offered rest to those who were laden down with sin. This demonstrated the richness of God's grace.

God's grace is something we can never earn, but something we will always need. Grace changes the way we view God. Instead of seeing Him as an angry Divine Being, we have come to know Him as our Loving Father. This provides the basis for us to build strong and enduring relationships with those who matter most to us. In other words, Christ's forgiveness gives us grace and freedom to love others, in the same manner to how we have first received love from God.

 

What are the spiritual benefits of knowing that I have been forgiven of my sin?

We Are in the Will of God

9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:9-10

 

The gospel reveals the mystery of God's will, that He had chosen us and called us "holy and blameless". This is not by our own works but instead, God incorporated us into Christ's perfect work. The Apostle Paul tells us that God was working patiently, until everything was in place for Christ to bring all things together in unity through His sufferings and victory.

God reveals His grace to all, allowing everyone the possibility of experiencing His grace without the need for them to do anything on their part. Once saved, we are in God's will and under God's blessing because of our union with Christ. This means that right now, we are all in the will of God for salvation and transformation.

Some people, however, make discovering God's will elusive and harder than it really is.

God's will is about embracing our identity in Christ. In Christ, we are continually transformed by the amazing truth of the gospel. When we learn to live out this truth in every situation and circumstance, God works in and through us. The Holy Spirit instructs us to act in conformity to our identity and inheritance in Christ. When we believe that we are God’s children, we choose and act in the same manner of whom we belong to. This is why the early disciples didn't just sit and wait for God to tell them what to do next. Christ's Great Commission was enough for them to go about intentionally living and sharing their faith daily to everyone. Likewise that should also be our attitude and posture in life.

Knowing that we are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ should empower us to take bold steps for God. In Christ, there is no such thing as being out of God's will. This is because a right understanding of the gospel leads us to righteous believing, righteous actions and habits.

It is true that there will be times of doubt and discouragement and even fear because we have "sinned against God". But the truth is that when God puts us in Christ, He has placed us in the safest place possible. It is far away from condemnation and severe judgement. Our position in Christ enables us to experience full recovery and a deep personal healing. We can be assured that God who began a good work in us, is and will be faithful to complete it.

 

Am I living out the truth of who I am and what I have in Christ?

We Are Redeemed in Christ

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Ephesians 1:7-8

 

The phrase, "in Christ" or a variant of it appears some twelve times in the opening verses of Ephesians 1:1-14. The emphasis could not be clearer. Every blessing God wants you to receive is bound up in your relationship with Christ. It is through Jesus, at the cost of His own precious blood, that you have been freely forgiven and fully redeemed from your sin once and for all.

Jesus, the Son of God, cut a covenant with God the Father on our behalf, of which we have become beneficiaries of His death. It is out of the riches of His grace that we enjoy our inheritance of blessings. You are set for life because your Lord can provide for all your needs and wants in accordance to His name. Don't look for blessings somewhere else. You cannot be more blessed or complete than who you already are in Christ. All the blessings in your life are found in Jesus.

There are believers, however, who feel they are not blessed enough. They frequently move from one church to another, one so-called anointed ministry to another, so as to harness more blessings in their life. Sadly they reduce their relationship and friendship with God to a formula or transactional agreement. They are taught to say a certain prayer, thing or behave in a particular way in order for God to bless them even more. In doing so, they are only trying to earn God's blessings instead of receiving them by faith.

God's blessing is not a goal for us to strive towards in our Christian lives. The Christian life is an unfolding of the blessings that belongs to us, given to us as a gift, because we belong to God. We have a good God who does not withhold from us. If we believe otherwise, we will always have an issue trusting God and not rely on Him fully to work all things for our good.

Consider these words of the Apostle Paul:

 

32 For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His Son. And since God freely offered Him up as the sacrifice for us all, He certainly won’t withhold from us anything else He has to give. Romans 8:32 Passion Translation

 

Take time to study the implications of this truth in your life. Live out this truth in your daily life and walk in faith rather than self-performance.

Start by listing the blessings God has wisely and generously bestowed on you, and take a moment to recognise that they are already yours right now. Each blessing is a reality of God's grace — enabling you to live not by your own strength, but by His presence and power working within you.

What impact does Paul's repeated use of "in Christ" have on me?

Accepted in Christ

The world ties personal worth to performance.

Whether you are an athlete or a dancer, a staff or a student, it is important to give your best to what you love doing. But don’t let your success go to your head and lead you to selfish pride.

An unhealthy sense of pride creates a false sense of self worth.

It misleads you to believe that you need to meet certain standards in order to feel good about yourself. Pride can certainly breed a performance-based life. The Pharisees were such prideful people because they were caught up in a performance-oriented game and religion. They measured their own sense of success by their own self-made rules and trusted in their own efforts more than relying on God’s grace.

Pride can rob a person from enjoying the fruits of success due to false feelings of not measuring up and never being good enough. The truth is that it actually limits you. You attempt only things that you are confident of success and avoid things you feel most at risk of failing. It also affects the way you relate to people. You like others who don’t threaten your ego or social standing, and avoid those whose greater measure of success and significance make you feel lesser than how you would like to be perceived and more like a failure.

You are missing the mark if you ever use any standard, even a Christian standard, to obtain a more positive sense of worth. Your sense of worth comes from God, not your performance.

 

6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

 

God shows His acceptance of you by ascribing unsurpassable worth to you. By redeeming you with an unsurpassable price through His Beloved Son, the Apostle Paul says that you are accepted in Christ. He means that God is truly satisfied with you because He saves you by Christ’s performance, and not yours.

The word, “accepted” comes from the Greek charitoō which means “to be highly favoured”. You are highly favoured by God because He loves you the same as He loves His Son. Allow this truth to set you free today, and radically change every aspect of your life.

How does knowing God's favour empowers me to overcome every problem today?

Adopted in Christ

Jesus spent some thirty years in obscurity before He began His public ministry. From the little bits that we know of his childhood, it is clear that Jesus understood from a very young age of His call to do His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). In the ensuing years, He grew in wisdom and stature, always in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52).

Jesus was raised in a culture whereby it was important for a father to publicly “adopt” his son into the family business. This adoption is unlike our modern idea of adoption. It is about a son coming of age, ready to take his place and play his role in what his father is doing. As such, Jesus Himself was publicly adopted by His Father God on the day of His baptism. He was totally committed to carry out His Father’s business with full authority and power.

10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11

 

With the blessing of His Father, Jesus as the Son of God launched into His ministry, knowing that His Father had sent Him (John 8:42). As Jesus was chosen and adopted by the Father as His Son, He also chose us before the foundation of the world to be adopted as His "sons" through Christ.

 

4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. Ephesians 1:4-5

 

In adopting us as “sons” in accordance to the good pleasure of His will, God also made us heirs and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). This is so that we can receive everything that He has obtained for us through His finished work on the cross. As sons, we share in all the benefits and privileges of the Son in this age and also in the age to come.

 

How conscious am I of the importance of my identity in Christ?

Chosen in Christ

4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Ephesians 1:4

 

Have you ever worried about whether God accepts you or whether you are worthy of His love?

We know that God accepts us and loves us because He chose us before the foundation of the world. What does "foundation of the world" mean? The word for "foundation" carries two meanings; one refers to before the creation of the universe and other after the fall of creation. That is to the fall of Adam and the dire consequences resulting from it, and both meanings are applicable. There is no reason why the Apostle Paul should not have both in mind.

Adam's fall didn't deter God's perfect plan for your life.

God called and purposefully planned for you to be one with Christ even from the beginning of creation. Out of His great love and extravagant generosity, God chose or "set you apart" by joining you to Christ. This is so that through Christ, you are made holy and blameless in His presence. In other words, God found you in Christ before you were lost as a result of Adam’s sin and downfall.

The implication is huge.

This means that you were never an accident or a mistake. If you believe this, stop acting like one and stop thinking as if your life doesn't matter. The word "chose" in Greek is ekelgo. It means "honourably elected to fulfil a call or purpose". Ekelgo is a compound word — ek means "out of", and lego means "spoken word". In context, long before you existed or were even born, God had already "spoken out" your identity and destiny in Christ. Your life is a perfect "speech" of God's grace because He compared you to Christ.

Your life is intertwined with God's call and purpose.

You have a significant role to play in God's great plan for humanity. It is time for you to speak out what God has spoken into you. Start to release what He has deposited in you and accomplish what He has already put into you.

 

Am I actively living out my life believing that I have been chosen by God?

The Blessing of Redemption

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7

 

Are you happy being you? Some people struggle with finding happiness in being themselves.

The Blessing of Adoption

5 [God] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:5 New International Version

 

11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. Ephesians 1:11 New International Version

 

Some people believe predestination is about God including some but excluding others from His salvation plan. The truth is that predestination reveals God's character. Out from God's great love and good pleasure, He is and has been working out everything to make everyone His own. In other words, salvation was not God's "Plan B" to fix the fall of creation but rather our spiritual adoption through Jesus Christ. This has always been God’s "Plan A" right even before the foundation of the world.

Blessed in Christ

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

 

Everything our Heavenly Father has for us is “gift-wrapped” in Christ.

Blessed in Christ with Every Spiritual Blessing

3 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. Ephesians 1:3-4 English Standard Version

 

In Christ, God has given us every possible blessing for our growth and benefit.