Category Archives: Identity

May we grow to maturity

Ephesians 4:13-14 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 

It should be obvious to every Christ follower that we are to aim to grow spiritually. Just as we would notice something was terribly wrong with a person who has not physically matured past infancy, we should see it as a problem when a Christian has not grown past spiritual infancy. The thing is, though, we don’t.

It’s far too common for those of us who profess to follow Jesus to be content with spiritual youth, never even trying to get past the first stages of Christian life. We overlook it in our own lives and we often overlook it in the lives of others. We get stuck in a place where surface level understanding is accepted and we miss out on a whole lot of blessings that only come with maturity.

To return to the physical to spiritual comparison, think about this: If a child never matures past infancy, he or she can never enjoy certain benefits like driving, marriage, living independently, or even just keeping friends. Likewise, in the spiritual life, there are many things that can only be enjoyed by those who move past the elementary things of the faith. Living in communion with other believers, weathering the storms of life with unshakable faith, finding answers to life’s questions within God’s Word on your own, genuinely worshipping, and praying as one who is close to God are really all much deeper if we have grown and matured.

Paul seems to be warning the church in Ephesus that they will believe anything if they don’t mature spiritually. His image of being tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine is a good picture of many Christians today. Let us all decide that we’re going to pursue spiritual growth and a better knowledge of God so that we can really experience Him in a greater way. Let’s vow also to help others towards this goal.

How low are you willing to go?

Ephesians 4:9-10 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

How low are you willing to go for someone else? For those you love, you’re likely willing to sacrifice your time, your money, and maybe for some even your life. But would you go even further than that for someone else? What about someone who doesn’t even know you?

What Jesus did on your behalf is unfathomable from a human standpoint. He went beyond dying for your sin. He took on all of your sin, even though He had none of His own. He was in the Kingdom, high above the earth and everything else, but He chose to lower himself and come all the way down here to be with us, to show us who God is, to pay the ransom that we owed.

No matter who you are, the truth is this – you would never descend so far as Jesus Christ did for you – not for anyone. It’s not even possible. He left the heavenly realm and became a person like you and me. He emptied himself of His prerogatives as God (Philippians 2:7). He went from King of Kings to servant of all, just because He loves us. That same love is what led Him to the cross and it remained after He rose from the dead and ascended back into His rightful place in heaven.

Grace is a great gift

Ephesians 4:7-8 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

Of all the gifts given to us as children of God, there’s nothing more incredible than the gift of God himself. He extended to us, in the form of Jesus Christ, a relationship with Him. Nothing we could ask for could be as great as this.

Grace has been offered, though not all will reach out and receive it. But for those who do, the experience of reconciliation with God, of His mercy by not pouring out His wrath on us (which we deserved), and His grace that led Jesus to the cross in our place, cannot be matched by any other thing in this world.

If you’re the recipient of God’s grace, you know peace. You know what love really is, you have felt the release from bondage that once held you. You know how it feels to live under no condemnation and no more slavery to sin. If you’ve known God’s grace, you know eternal life and you know you’ll never die.

This wonderful gift came with a price. Jesus Christ willingly laid down His own life on that cross in your place and mine so that we might know the grace of God. According to His gift of His own life was God’s grace measured out. The abundance of grace shows the abundance of love that led Jesus to the cross. What an amazing gift.

One hope

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

The Apostle Paul makes it a point to speak an awful lot about unity within the Church throughout his letter to the Ephesians. His efforts should not be overlooked. It’s obvious that unity is very important.

Many Christians think that they can live out the life of a Christ-follower apart from belonging to a church family, but in reality things were never designed to work that way. There is one body – and a body can’t fully function without all of its members. It was designed that way. There is one Spirit. We’re each indwelled by the Holy Spirit, but it’s not just for the purpose of solo living.

John Calvin once stated boldly that “those who separate themselves from their fellow believers estrange themselves from the kingdom of God.” He also said, “if we are not one body and one spirit, we are not fit for that inheritance.” This is strong wording, but it truly captures the nature of Paul’s letter and why he’s so adamant about talking to these people about unity. There is not Christianity, no Church, apart from that unity. Embrace your fellow Christians, flaws and all, because they’re your spiritual siblings and you need them as much as they need you.

In the bond of peace

Ephesians 4:3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

A reading of the New Testament will lead anyone to conclude that God is very concerned with unity among His people. Unity was even one of the main things that Jesus prayed for in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed for you and me. That being the case, we should also be concerned with unity within the church.

This unity doesn’t mean that we all agree on all things. Christians are going to end up with different interpretations of Scripture, with different doctrines and practices, and different conclusions about the non-essential elements of the faith. But if we maintain the unity of the Spirit, we maintain a bond as brothers and sisters.

What does it take to achieve this unity? First and foremost, it requires us to extend the same grace to others that we have received from the Father. That’s difficult on human terms, but only with humility, gentleness,  patience and forgiveness can true peace be present. We can disagree on things, but we must do it as a family, not as enemies.

Walk worthy of your calling

Ephesians 4:1-2 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

When you are one of God’s children, called to be part of His own family, you have a special opportunity. If you walk in a manner worthy of the calling you’re received, it can be a great testimony to others. This means living as someone who belongs to God’s family, as someone who is no longer bound by the Law, as someone who is free from condemnation.

It ought to be obvious when someone is a child of God. It should be reflected in the way you pray, the way you trust the Lord without worry, the way you treat others, the way you obey not as one who is trying to earn position but as one who already has it. A person who lives free from the bondage of the flesh is a unique thing indeed. It should be noticeable to people who still remain lost.

Jesus himself even said that the world would know His disciples by the love that we show one another (John 13:35). It’s important that we live with humility, gentleness, and patience as we continue in love with one another. To fulfill the two greatest commandments, loving God and loving people, is to walk in a manner worthy of your calling. So, can you do it? Can you walk that walk?

He can do more than you can ask for

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

How do your prayers sound? If they’re anything like the prayers of the average person, they’re pretty mundane and lacking any real power. Why is that? Could it be that many followers of Christ simply don’t believe that the Father is capable of answering big, bold prayers?

But He is. He’s got everything at His disposal. He lacks nothing. He’s able to do abundantly more than we can ever ask for or even think to ask for. There’s nothing He can’t do, and He works according to the power at work within  those of who who are His.

This isn’t some “name it and claim it” bit. Every material possession you’ve ever wanted isn’t promised to you if you would just ask for it. But the real deal is that anything you need in order to accomplish the will of God is available to you. Anything you can think to ask for and much, much more. Approach the Father as though He actually has the goods and the intention to give them. He does and He does.

With all the fullness of God

Ephesians 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

We’re blessed, as children of God, with knowledge of the love that Jesus Christ embodied in His self-sacrificial work on the cross. It’s unlike any other love that we can know here on this earth, in this life where everything is so limited. The love of a parent, a spouse, or a child can never even compare to the love of God

His love is beyond our knowledge, yet the desire Paul had for the Ephesians was that they could appreciate this love that surpasses human understanding. He wanted this that they might be filled with all the fullness of God. The same can be said for us today. Were we to fully know the love of Jesus Christ, we would be filled with all of the fullness of God.

Many attributes are discussed when it comes to God. He is mighty, He is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present. The list goes on and on. But to really know God is to know His love. To know Him is to be known (and loved) by Him.

Can you even comprehend?

Ephesians 3:17-18 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

What gives us the ability to really connect with God in a deep way? No matter how hard we try to build a tower up to heaven or how many good deeds we try to accomplish, we’ll never get close to Him on our own. It’s only through the work of Christ that we get reconciliation and relationship.

But you know that; don’t you?  You know that only through faith in Jesus Christ can you have fellowship with God. You know that your own good works don’t get you any position with the Father, but only through the completed work of the Son do you have any standing.

You know that, but do you really understand just how broad, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is for you? Can you even begin to comprehend just how vast that love is? The only way we can even begin to understand is to have Christ dwelling in us. That’s the key to unlock spiritual understanding. But to imagine how far the Father’s love stretches…that will take until we’re with Him, beyond this life, to even grasp it.

His gifts are given according to His riches

Ephesians 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

What comes to your mind when you think of gifts from God? Is it health? Wealth? Something else entirely? Sometimes we really limit God by not realizing just how much He has to give. This isn’t about money or possessions, this is about riches beyond compare.

There are two very important things to remember about God: First, He is a Father who loves His children and wants to give to them. Second, He has ALL things to give. There is nothing that you could need that God does not possess. Everything is His to give.

What’s more, He doesn’t give from His riches (that would mean He would be depleting His stash). He gives according to His riches. He’ll never run out, He doesn’t give to each of His children in percentages, He isn’t stingy. He has all things to give and He freely gives.

But most of the Lord’s blessings are not material, but rather spiritual blessings.  His greatest blessing of all is himself. He has given, according to the riches of His glory, His own Spirit to dwell in those whom He calls His children. With that gift comes all the power that is included with having God dwelling inside you. Now, how thankful does this make you for the Father’s blessings?