Who Are You? Who Am I? Who Are We? Who is Anyone Apart from God?
Are you and I having trouble discovering who we really are? Have we all been searching for our identity, but can’t seem to find it? The reason you’ve been having trouble is because your true identity can only be found in Jesus Christ. Have we discovered how amazing our life in Christ is truly meant to be? Our ID’s reveal the truth about who God created us all to be and how He wants us to live!
Ephesians 1:1-14 English Standard Version
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful[a] in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
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. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] 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.
11 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, 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[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [e] to the praise of his glory.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Too often we get our self-esteem and self-value from other people. We get the picture of “who we are supposed to be” from society and from the media. Then we compare ourselves with others to see if we have “made it”. We’re told that if we don’t do this, wear that, go there, drink this (etc.) then we are a wimp, ugly, weak, unfulfilled (etc.) And for some unknown rationale, we believe this stuff!!
No wonder it’s so hard for people to be Christians these days – they’re bombarded with so much TRASH. It’s tough too, because this ‘trash’ is so appealing. Each one of us are targets. “If you don’t own a brick and tile house in a nice part of town and still have enough time to take out the four wheel drive at the weekend then you haven’t made it”.
In other words, our personal value can only be expressed in the things we have or do. And as Christians, we are not immune to that way of thinking and acting.
And so, our devotional reading today is from Paul’s letters to the Ephesians is a direct and decisive counter to that false way of thinking. It is intended to give us some understanding of the value that we have in our relationship with God. Our new relationship with God arising from the redeeming work and Jesus Christ.
Who Am I? Who Are You? Who are we? We are Adopted
First of all, we see that in our relationship with God we are Adopted. In verse 5 we see that in love, God destined us to be his sons. And, of course, today, in this politically correct age, his daughters as well. In ancient Roman law, the act of adoption had much greater significance than we might imagine or to consider.
This was no legal convenience or formality arranging guardianship.
An adopted child or indeed adult was subjected to a legal process which had far reaching effects.
There were four main consequences of this process of adoption.
First, the adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of the legitimate son in his new family. And so, in the most binding legal way, they got a new father.
Secondly, it followed that they became heirs to their new father’s estate. Sometimes, a young man might be adopted if his adoptive father had no children or heirs. However even if other children were afterwards born, it did not affect the adopted child rights. He was inalienably a co-heir with them.
Thirdly, in law the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out. For instance, all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with which the past had nothing to do.
Fourthly in the eyes of the law, the adopted child was considered absolutely the son of his new father. So, for example the adopted child could not marry a daughter of his adopted father except by special legislation.
You will see quite clearly what Paul is trying to say. As Christians we are adopted into God’s family. This is no comforting phrase or mere analogy. But we really do gain a new father, we really do become co-heirs with Christ, we really do have our old life and our old debts cancelled and we really are absolutely the children of God. We are truly adopted as God’s children in a total and real way.
Who Am I? Who Are You? Who Are We? We are blessed!
Secondly, we read and observe that in our new relationship with God we are blessed. In verse 3 we see that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. Just ponder and meditate about that for a while! Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is a blessing for me, you and us.
Now the word blessing can have several strands of meaning.
So, it can mean to make something Blessed, and so that in the course of and as a result of the blessing the person becomes consecrated to God.
It can also mean to cause to prosper. It can also mean to make happy. But this happiness is a special kind of happiness.
The English word happiness is to some extent a creature of chance. The word hap means a chance and so in English the word happiness has an essence of something dependent on the vagaries of life which may come and may go.
It’s a bit like good luck. But the Christian blessing and blessedness is not subject to any of those kinds of vicissitudes. It is that joy unspeakable. It is that joy, which is deep, serene, which is untouchable, which is self-contained, which is completely independent of the changes and chances of life.
The Beatitudes speak of that joy, that blessedness which seeks us and carries us through pain and sorrow and loss. …. And all those circumstances of life are unable to come close to touching or influencing that joy, that blessedness, which is constant which is unchanging.
And so, the Christian has a blessing from God which is not here today and gone tomorrow but it is consistent it is permanent, and it comes from God himself.
Who Am I? Who Are You? Who Are We? We are chosen!
Thirdly we see that in our relationship with God we are chosen by God.
In verse 4 we read that ’God chose us in him (that is in Christ) before the foundation of the world’.
Now you and I may be relieved to know that I do not intend to get involved in a major Theologian discussion about the balance between God’s choosing us and our choosing him. In theological terms, the balance between election and predestination, free will. That is the subject of an entire message on its own.
However, You and I do need to try and get our heads around what it means to be chosen. Our God, if he is to be God, must be all-knowing, all powerful, and must have a divine purpose.
John Calvin, the great theologian of predestination puts it in this following way. ’Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined in himself, what he would have to become of every individual of mankind.’
For us, as we consider what it means to be in God, this speaks of the amazing facts of God’s timeless involvement in our lives. It speaks of the sovereignty of God in our lives and the sovereignty of God in a world that would try to deny it.
If you and I read around this topic, look at other references to Gods choosing, we see for example in Corinthians 1:27-30 that God chose particular kinds of people to be in the church. He did not just choose the church and leave its composition to man. He chose foolish individuals and called them into Christ.
He chose some weak individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some low and truly despised individuals and called them into Christ. So that no one might boast in anyone but the Lord.
Then to make this crystal clear he said in verse 30 NIV: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, it is just as though Paul knew someone would come along some day and say that God does not choose who is in Christ, but only chooses Christ and any who put themselves in Christ.
So, he writes and teaches, in verses 27-29 that God chose the individuals who would make up the church in Christ. And he says in verse 30 that it is by God’s design and doing and thoroughly ordered plan that they are all put in Christ.
The glorious, unshakable, objective foundation of you and we being a Christian is that God chose you and me to be one. God put you and me in Christ. So, I say with Paul (in verse 26) “Consider your calling!” Consider how you came to be in Christ! Think about it. It will take all boasting off of man and put it all on God.
So, verse 31 ends the section: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” This is the boast of assurance. – seeing that it’s all of God and feeling a tremendous peace and confidence and courage and strength and love well up inside to keep us going in the face any opposition. Because “who can bring any charge against God’s elect!” (Romans. 8:33).
James (2:5) teaches the very same thing from a slightly different angle: God chose the poor to come to faith and be in the church, so be careful that you not discriminate against him.
Here again God has chosen not an undefined mass of people, but particular poor individuals to be deeply rich in their faith and to be treated in a certain way. The personal, individual nature of election has very practical consequences. If God has chosen to bring the poor into Christ, we ought not dishonor any of them!
So, I come back to Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Before the creation of the universe God thought of me. He fixed his gaze on me and you and chose me and you for himself. He did not choose me, and you because we were already in Christ of our own doing, but that you and I might be in Christ.
He did not choose you and me because he saw you and me as a believer, but so that you and I might become a believer. He did not choose you and me because I and you chose him, but so that you and I might choose him. He did not choose you and me because we were holy or good but so we might become holy, good. Everything you and I are and all you and I ever hope to be is rooted in God’s freely choosing me. My faith, our hope, our work is not the ground of electing grace but only its effect. And so, there is no ground for boasting except in God.
Our existence in God is Eternal
Finally, we see that our being, our existence, in God is Eternal. It is not here today and gone tomorrow. For we see in v 4 that God chose us ‘before the foundation of the world’. Before the beginning of time. And we see in v 10 this relationship with God is part of ‘a plan for the fullness of time’.
This phrase, the fullness of time, is talking about the completion of Gods plans. And that completion is made when all things in heaven and on earth are united in Christ. This speaks in shorthand of the blessed time when Savior Jesus Christ returns again in glory and his eternal kingdom is 100% established for all time.
In God, we are blessed beyond our ability to comprehend.
In God, we have been chosen in love.
In God, we have a purpose to our lives.
In God, we are part of his eternal plan.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Merciful God, we come before You with praise and thanksgiving! Through Jesus Christ our Savior, you have freely lavished on us every spiritual blessing we could possibly imagine! Before the world was created, you already knew us and loved us. You adopted us as your own children and redeemed us through the blood of Christ. Even more, you have made us your heirs, and given us your own Spirit as a sign and guarantee. How we praise you! Open our hearts and minds to your presence among us here. May our humble acts of worship this day bring you honor and glory, for you alone are worthy of our praise. Alleluia! Amen.