An Introduction You Don’t Want To Miss!

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May Grace and Peace be multiplied to you. 

1 Peter 1:1-2

 

1:2 “May Grace and Peace be multiplied to you.” Multiplied! Peter is talking to the “elect.” They are “elect…according to the foreknowledge of God.” This is a position brought upon them by grace alone for sure. He is talking to the “elect.” They are “elect…in the sanctification of the Spirit.” The Spirit is actually working in them and for them for their sanctification! This is a position of peace they are in for sure! He is talking to the “elect.” They are “elect…for obedience to Jesus Christ.” Is there a more peaceful state to be in than a soul satisfying, willingly obedient, peaceful posture toward your master?  They are “elect…for sprinkling with Jesus’ blood.” Is not the shedding of blood all grace toward the believer? Peter has filled his first sentence to the “elect” with reminders of the grace and peace they already have, and then he tops it off by saying: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Yes, multiplied. He has done so much for us already and there are rivers of grace and peace still waiting to run over us. What an awesome introduction to a letter to believers! 

 

Donald 

What Am I?

What am I? This is another crucial question for which everyone needs the biblical answer. The truth is we all answer this question whether we realize it or not. Some of us play golf; so we say, “We are golfers.” Some of us fish; so we say, “We are fishermen.” Some of us work in the construction industry; so we say, “We are construction workers.” The examples go on and on; and of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with hobbies and occupations. In fact, as we understand, occupations are necessary and good because God designed man to work and enjoy the creation (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15). The concern is this: many of us only identify ourselves by what we do rather than understand how God identifies us. If we do not grow in our understanding of how God identifies His people and the implications of that, then we will struggle with living joyfully in fellowship with the Lord.

If a Christian bases his identity on something like an occupation, hobby, or a relationship, then once that occupation, hobby or relationship loses its luster, the Christian will move on to the next thing on which to base his identity. It is an endless cycle, without the work of the Lord in the person’s heart. At the heart of all of this is the issue of worship. People are worshipers. People naturally worship things and base their identity on these things rather than worship God and base their identity on what He says about His people. It is a depressing and disappointing way of life. No created thing will satisfy our souls. Only the Creator of all things will satisfy our souls. The great news is that God answers the question about our identity, “What am I?”

In Ephesians 1:1-14, the Apostle Paul used the phrases “in Christ Jesus,” “in Christ,” “in Him,” and “in the Beloved.” These phrases identify the Christian. What are you? What is the Christian? The Christian is one that God the Father has placed in Christ, one whose life is summed up as being in Christ; everything about the Christian has to do with the fact that he is in Christ. In fact, Christ is your life. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Galatia about himself in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. That is why Paul reminded the Christians at Colossae in Colossians 3:3-4 that Christ is their life. They had no other life but Christ: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. In fact, Paul wrote this verse in the context of writing to help the Colossian Christians to turn from sinfulness and walk in joyful fellowship with God. Yes, Christians then, and now, need to understand their identity in Christ in order to live in joyful fellowship with God.

There are several aspects of your identity in Christ to briefly mention that Paul noted in Ephesians 1:3-14: Paul made one overarching statement about being in Christ. Then Paul listed aspects of that. The overarching statement is basically this: If you are in Christ, then you are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). The following are the aspects of what it means to be blessed with every spiritual blessing: (1) If you are in Christ, then God chose you to be in Christ (Eph. 1:4-6). (2) If you are in Christ, then God redeemed you through the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7-10). (3) If you are in Christ, then God sealed you by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your salvation (Eph. 1:11-14). There is truly nothing else that you need if you are in Christ.

All a person needs is to be in Christ. Again, if we do not understand this, then we will believe that there is something about an occupation, hobby, or relationship that we need in an ultimate sense; and of course, those things will leave us disappointed every time. We will have to keep moving on to the next thing to try and find happiness. The great news about the gospel and how in Christ God gives you a new identity is that you get what your soul truly longs for: The Lord. You do not need a created thing upon which to base your identity; you need the Creator of all things in whom to have your identity. Though your flesh and Satan will lead you to think that there is something else that you need in this world to feel complete, it is not true. Though Satan and the world will influence you to think that you must do something to win acceptance with God, it is not true. Christ did the work for you, and God has placed you in Christ! If you are a Christian, then you are in Christ; there is nothing more! What could be better than knowing that God chose you to bless you by redeeming you from the bondage of sin and to guarantee your eternity with Him as His child? That is the best news ever! If you are not a Christian, then what you just heard is the best news ever. You need a new identity. You need the Savior. Your responsibility now is to agree with what God says about Himself and you. You must confess to Him that you are a sinner and that your only hope for salvation from your sins is in Jesus. You must trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to save you from your sin and empower you to follow Him (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10).

 

What do we mean by, “God will never leave or forsake us”?

The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

1 Kings 8:57-58

We all know the promise. You have probably encouraged someone with this promise, and you probably have been encouraged by this promise–”God will never leave or forsake us.” What an excellent  promise to stand on in the midst of trial, suffering, and simply every day life.

As encouraging of a truth that it is…I think it could be even more encouraging! Most of the time, this truth is comforting simply because of the thought that the Creator of all things is with us. Have you ever ridden on a plane and looked out the window over a city at night? Little dots. That’s what you see. When I experience this, the thought always amazes me that the transcendent God cares about things that are so little, and that he promises to never leave or forsake me! That alone is encouraging! But like I wrote, I think it could be even more encouraging.

In the passage above, it says, “May he never leave or forsake us, that he may…” So now, not only is God never leaving you or forsaking you, but he is also actively doing something while continually being with you! And the action he is performing is amazing.

What is he doing while never leaving or forsaking us? He is inclining our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

So now, when we lose a love one to a seemingly early death–he is not going to forsake you because he is inclining your heart to trust him in the pain.

When tempted with sin–he is not going to leave you because he is inclining your heart to  keep his commandments.

And during the mundane areas of every day life–he is not going to forsake you because he is inclining your heart to cherish him above all things.

God will never leave or forsake you….because he is presently doing a work in your heart that you may not even be able to see at the moment. Trust in him!

Quotes to Ponder

The following is from Reformation Theology blog–Quotes to think about…

 

“No one who has ever truly understood their own heart, their own guilt, and the holiness of God, could ever trade the finished work of Christ for the never-perfecting charade of the Romanist mass, the medieval myth of purgatory and indulgences, and the legion of alter Christi who daily attempt to sew up the rent veil.” – James White

“The demands of following Christ will cost you everything. But you gain far more than you give up. You give up dirt for diamonds.” – Steve Lawson

“Ever heard of anyone executed for distributing copies of Grimm’s fairy tales? Imagine people trying to smuggle copies of Hans Christian Andersen’s works into China? The Bible, which has been called a mere collection of myths has suffered all of these fates: even today, copies of the Bible are banned and burned. There’s something about this ancient book that threatens and frightens those in power.” – Eric Metaxas

“Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. Its a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!” – John Samson

“The holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“How dare you say ‘Oh, so you are just a homemaker’ to the hero of my children.” – Sinclair Ferguson

“There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.” – Frederick Faber

“There is mercy for a sinner, but there is no mercy for the man who will not own himself a sinner.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives and friends. But it is impossible to deceive Christ.” – J. C. Ryle

Why am I here?

Why am I here? This is the main question for which all Christians need the biblical answer. Many Christians are depressed because they have not answered this question biblically. Many Christians pursue things of this world (many good things) as the ultimate goal of their lives and reason for their existence because they have not answered this question biblically. Many Christians live in fear and anxiety of the future because they have not answered this question biblically. Ultimately, a Christian will fail to worship the Lord with his life if he does not answer this question biblically; the Christian will miss the purpose for which God created him. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Saints at Ephesus answers the question, “Why am I here?”

There are two key phrases that the Lord had Paul to write in Ephesians 1:6, 12, and 14 that answer the question, “Why am I here?” The beginning of verse 6 says, “to the praise of his glorious grace.” The end of verse 12 says, “to the praise of his glory,” and the end of verse 14 also says, “to the praise of his glory.” These phrases are part of the whole section, from verse 3 to verse 14. The point is this: the reason that you are here is for the praise of His glorious grace and glory! God is bringing praise to himself through what He has done for His people, people that are guilty of engaging in war against their Holy Creator (Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:1-3).

So what has God done for Christians? First, verse 3 tells us that God the Father “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Second, verses 4-6 tell us that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 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.”  Third, verses 7-10 tell us that “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 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.” Last, verses 11-14 tell us that in Christ “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.” These verses tell us about God and His eternal plan to redeem sinful people, people that are undeserving of receiving such goodness from the Lord. However, the main point is that it is through God working out His plan of redemption for His people that He brings praise to his glorious grace and glory.

If you wonder why you are here in this world, if you are depressed and feel that you have no purpose for living, if you are pursuing things of this world as your ultimate goal, understand that you are here by God’s grace for the praise of His glorious grace and glory. God is bringing praise to His glorious grace and glory by having chosen sinful people to be in Christ before the foundation of the world, by redeeming those sinful people from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ, and by sealing those sinful people with the Holy Spirit as His possession to receive His kindness for eternity. That is much better than anyone deserves.

As we battle to continually remind ourselves and believe the reality of what God says Ephesians 1:3-14, the Holy Spirit focuses our perspective on who He is, who we are, and what He has done. When that happens, then we grow in our desire to joyfully walk in the good works that the Lord prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). That will lead to us to live lives of worship to Him in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will then have our focus on what the Lord is focused on: praise to Him for His glorious grace and glory displayed in and through His Church. It all goes back to having a biblical answer to the question, “Why am I here?” You are here to the praise of His glorious grace and glory.