Category Archives: Theology

Sealed

Ephesians 1:13-14    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.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, there was some point at which you heard God’s Word, felt His prompting, and responded.  This might not be an exact moment that you can pinpoint on a calendar, but the fact that there was a period of time over which this process was occurring is certain.  God was working in you and you responded to His call.  You became part of His family.  And He sealed you.

Much like the seal of royalty in times of old, a wax emblem placed on a document so it could only be opened by the rightful recipient, God has placed His seal on us with His Holy Spirit until the right time for our inheritance.  No one can snatch us from the Father’s hand (John 10:29).  He has guaranteed our inheritance as His sons and daughters.

Likewise, in the same way the seal of royalty showed the king’s approval of the document (his endorsement), God has stamped His endorsement on us from the time that we believed on Christ for our salvation.  Rest assured.  If you are a believer, you belong to the Lord and He belongs to You.

Our inheritance, and His

Ephesians 1:11-12 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.

We have obtained an inheritance through Christ.  We have “been chosen as an inheritance” for Him.  In Christ, we receive God as our inheritance and we become His.  Our relationship with Him is reconciled in full.  Everything that is His, becomes ours, for the glory of God.

 

What are the implications here?  We’re in Christ, God is our inheritance and we are His.  What does that mean?  We get some help with this question from Moses and from Paul.  In Deuteronomy 32:9, we learn that God’s portion is His people.  This passage is speaking of His chosen people, Israel, of the Old Testament. But in Christ even the Gentiles have become God’s people[1]. We’re in God’s family now.  We belong to Him as His people.

 

Romans 8:14-17 explains that we have been given the Holy Spirit and become heirs with Christ.  All that is His will be ours as well.  The purpose of this, of course, is to bring glory to God.  He works all things – our circumstances, our talents, our relationships, our choices – to the purpose of His will.  This is what it is to be His and have Him as ours.

We are called to be the praise to God’s glory with our lives.



[1]   (Romans 11:11)

Redemption in Christ

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

If someone asked you what it means that we have redemption in Christ through His blood, how would you answer?  Dating back to the Old Testament, the understanding of a redeemer was one who ransomed someone else, freed them from slavery or captivity.  God was the Redeemer of Israel when He led them out of captivity in Egypt.

You and  I have been redeemed too.  When we accepted Christ we were freed from the slavery and bondage of sin.  We’re no longer guilty.  Christ’s finished work of atonement on the cross through His shed blood ransomed us from sin and we are no longer under its control.

Sometimes we still sin, but it’s not because we’re under the bondage of sin.  We’ve been redeemed, we’re bought and paid for with a price.  We belong to Christ.  His blood paid our ransom.

Chosen for God’s family

Ephesians 1:5-6  In love he predestined us for adoption 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.

God predestined us for adoption. He chose, before the world even began, to make us sons and daughters.  So often we see family terminology used in the Bible to describe our relationship with God.  He is our Father, we are heirs, adopted sons. We can’t choose our own family members, but God can and did choose His.  If you’re in Christ, God chose you.  You are His and He is yours.  And He chose you with a purpose.

God’s will is that we would bring Him glory.  His main purpose is not merely our redemption but that His holy name would be praised through our redemption.  He wants to pour out His goodness and grace on us in Jesus Christ for His glory.

There is nothing quite like the knowledge that you’ve been chosen by God Almighty to be part of His family to carry out His purpose.  But what are you going to do with that knowledge?  What will you do with that feeling you get from it?  He’s equipped you, so what are you doing to act on this fact?

Chosen for holiness

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

What am I here for?  What is this life all about?  The longer we live, the more we seek meaning in life, the more we may be caught asking these questions.  So did God create us with some intent?  Did He make each of us with our own purpose?  Yes and yes.

Even before time began, when all that existed was God, He thought of you.  The Creator chose you in Christ (that is, He chose you to belong to Him as His child) before He even made the earth where you would reside.  He made you to be uniquely you, with special talents and abilities – and purpose.

Our purpose on this earth is not to succeed financially and become rich, nor is it to make a name for ourselves and become famous (James 2:5).  God made us to be holy and blameless before Him (1 Thessalonians 4:7).  But how can we achieve this holiness?  We can’t be good enough to meet God’s standards.

The Lord planned all along that those He chose would be made holy “in Christ” (Colossians 1:22).  We are sanctified and redeemed by the Son of God, and He always intended it this way.  Those who are chosen in the Son of God become sons and heirs of God (Galatians 4:7).

To God be the glory

1 Corinthians 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is the meaning of life?  It’s a question that’s been asked throughout the ages.  What am I here for?  Why did God make me?  These questions will be asked for many ages to come, yet the answers are right before us.  They aren’t hidden from us.  Within God’s Word is the meaning of life.

Many attempts have been made, many guesses at the meaning of life.  From the simple yet naïve “Happiness” to the more discerning “helping others”, we’ve tried to figure it all out.  But we need not guess.  God did not leave this question open-ended.  He spoke and we should listen.

We’re told repeatedly in the Bible that all things were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36).  This includes us.  You and I were made by God for God’s glory.  We’re made in His image! (Genesis 1:27)  I love how Psalm 8 describes God’s creation and our relationship to it. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone.  Not one of us is worthy of one bit of the glory. We are the created but He is the Creator, the Sanctifier, the Redeemer, the Savior.

None of this is by accident, none of it coincidence.  We’re all created with a purpose and that purpose is God’s.  We’re here for Him.  So what do we do?  Live like it!  Whatever we do: when we work, when we play, when we create, when we marry…when we die…  We can do it all for the glory of our God.

 

In Christ alone

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.


Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).

The truth of Scripture

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Bible, God’s Holy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  It’s breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word is from God to man; His will, His plan, His love, all contained between those two covers.  It is not merely words on pages.

The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers (Romans 1:16).  It is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit (Hebrews 4:12).  Within the Scriptures are the words of life.  Apart from God and His Word, there is no life.

Jesus said if we abide in His Word we are truly His disciples.  By it we will know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32).  Apart from God there is no truth, for He is truth. There is no greater way to know the will of God than to know His Word.

God’s Word stands alone.  It is divinely inspired, containing no error.  All of the self-help books in the world could never compare to the Book that tells us we can’t help ourselves and offers hope to all mankind.

 

By the grace of God

Romans 3:23-24  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Some ask how a loving God could allow anyone to go to hell.  Could this be the wrong question though?  A better question is how a just God could allow any of us to go to heaven.  Even at our best, we still fail to live up to God’s standard for “good”.  Our very best attempts at righteousness are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This is true of every one of us.  The question then is not how God can send some of us to hell but how He can allow even one of us to enter into fellowship with Him.

Two words come to mind: love and grace.  God is all-knowing.  It was not a surprise to Him that man would fall short of the plan.  But even in spite of this, God created a way.  Through His Son we can know Him.  By His grace we have been delivered.  Only someone who is full of love could even conceive of forgiving His enemies and allowing them a place that only friends deserve.

God does not send people to hell, we’re all headed there on our own from birth.  Our loving God provides a way out, a way to Him.  We can never earn this.  It’s by grace alone.

 

Faith alone

Romans 3:28  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own.  Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian.  Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.

There is no biblical support for this view.  To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10).  To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross.  James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.

The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God.  The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor.  Justification is found through faith in Christ alone.  This is a wondrous, glorious truth.  God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him.  What an awesome God we serve!