The Glorious Gospel Brings Us Together

Ephesians, at least the first several chapters, highlights the glories of the gospel.

The Glorious Gospel

Paul desires the Ephesians and, in turn, God desires we see the greatness of the gospel as well. Indeed the good news that we are saved by God Himself through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf is amazing. It is unfathomable. God experiences a condemnation He doesn’t deserve so that we might escape the condemnation we do deserve.

The gospel didn’t just happen. It wasn’t an afterthought. We are told it was God’s plan from before time began (Eph 1:3-14). How amazing it is thatGod thought of us before the world even began and purposed to provide us with salvation!

Breaks Down Hostility Bringing us Together

While the gospel redeems us from God’s wrath, which is no light activity, it does more, much more. It redeems all of life, including our relationships with one another. In Ephesians 2 beginning in verse 14 we read,

[14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15] by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Ephesians 2:14-16

In these verses, Paul is referring to the Jew / Gentile relationship. He reveals that Jesus makes peace between the two people’s. He does what nothing else in the world could, he breaks down walls of hostility that spans millennia.

Not only does Christ break down walls of hostility, but He brings the two together so that they no longer exist as two separate people but as one. In Christ, their is no longer a Jew / Gentile divide. In Christ, there is one new man. A singular people of God who are able to live together with one another in love and care.

The gospel does what no political message or law could. The gospel breaks down hostility between people of different races and nationalities. It is the gospel that creates unity. It is the gospel that brings us all together.

Several points of application:

(1) The gospel is what will heal our country, which means we need to preach Christ to our communities.

(2) The gospel is what will heal our churches, which means we need to focus on preaching the gospel to one another in the body of Christ.

(3) The gospel is what brings us together in community with one another.

Not that affinities aren’t important. They are important. But it is ultimately the saving grace of God and our desire to understand, apply, and share it that brings us together as a people. Yes, we want all want to be a part of community with which we connect. But are affinity connects the end all be all?

While we might not have everything in common with those in the local church to which we belong, we do have the one thing in common that matters and that brings us together — we have the gospel in common. We have the hope of Christ in common. We should have the desire to understand and apply God’s Word in common. The gospel is what brings us together.

When you are looking for a church with which to join, find one that preaches the gospel, that seeks to apply the gospel, and share the gospel with the community. Find one that is faithful to God’s Word and wants to see you grow in the understanding and application of God’s grace. Don’t look for the one that can meet all your needs or checks all your affinity boxes.

Are you a real man?

““…Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1 Ki 2:2b–3)

King David gives final instruction to his son, Solomon, before he passes. What David says in these verses is applicable for all men everywhere, not just David’s son.

He tells Solomon a real man follows the Lord. He keeps his ways and statutes, his commandments and rules, his testimonies. Real men don’t blaze their own path. They don’t intimidate others so as to get their own way. They aren’t closed off to the things of God. They don’t stay home while their family attends church. They don’t let mom act as the spiritual leader of the family. Real men follow the Lord.

Culture, even recent modern culture with its focus on changing the way men act, portrays men in a wholly unbiblical way. Either you are a macho masculine man who blazes a path based on strength or you are emasculated so much so that you don’t speak out of turn and celebrate everything the culture says is right and good. But these two paths are not the biblical path.

The biblical path of manhood is meekness (controlled strength) not weakness. It is humility not pride. It is submission to the Lord not ruling in His place. It is love for family not domination. It is justice, equity, mercy and grace. It is care for others. It is self-sacrifice rather than selfishness.

Men, it is no wonder we craft and live by our own rules. Following the Lord is not easy, it is difficult. Nay, it is impossible without Him working in your heart, drawing you to Himself, and constantly changing you through the work of the Spirit.

Men, we show ourselves to be thus by following the Lord. Be a man this week!

Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

In this morning’s reading, Moses has an encounter with God. He finds a bush burning in the wilderness but is not being burned up. Like many of us, he turns aside to see how a bush on fire could remain whole, unburned by the fire that should consume it. Upon approaching the bush, a voice, the voice of God, emanates from the bush warning Moses that he has entered a holy space.

Afterwards, God proceeds to tell Moses He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt who are being brutally afflicted by the Egyptians. Not only has He heard their cries but He has seen their affliction. He has come to provide them with relief. But God is not going to smite the Egyptians right away. Instead, His plan is to send Moses to bring the people out of Egypt. Moses is tasked with approaching Pharaoh and asking him to let God’s people go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God (Exodus 3:18).

What is interesting about God’s plan for Moses is that He already knows the outcome. He tells Moses that He knows the King of Egypt will not let them go unless compelled by a mighty hand. He doesn’t tell Moses the mighty wonders He will do just that He will do them. Not only will He do mighty wonders that will result in the Israelites escape, but He will also provide the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. Favor that will result in them plundering the Egyptians of their silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing. The Israelites will not leave Egypt empty handed.

Again, we see the providential nature of God. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It is a part of God’s plan. We see the Lord provides, He protects His people. Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present. He is present. He has not abandoned you. He remains faithful. Watch and see what the Lord will do in your life!

The Lord is just in all He does

And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” 

(Rev 16:7)

Judgement is coming. It is unavoidable. God has providentially purposed to judge all those who do not submit to His reign and rule. In this section of Revelation, we see God pouring out judgment on those who have taken the mark of the beast — those who have chosen to follow the satanic world order, rejecting the Lord and His right to rule over them. Judgment is poured out in a number of ways in this section. 

What is interesting is that as judgment is poured out the people do not repent and turn to the Lord, pleading for Him to exercise grace and mercy on them. No, they curse the name of the Lord (Rev 16:9). They gnaw at their tongues for the pain and curse the God of heaven (Rev 16:10-11). Even as hailstones a hundred pounds each fell on them, they continued to curse God for the plague (Rev 16:21). 

Man, apart from God’s intervention will continue to run from the Lord even as great and powerful plagues are being poured out on them. Man hates the Lord because He is a threat to their reign and rule. Ever since the garden we have desired to reign and rule in God’s place. Instead of submit to God, we rage against Him (Ps 2). We desire to call the shots, to be the big “K” king. 

While these plagues are horrendous, the Lord is just in His judgment. He does not act unfairly. He is absolutely justified in pouring out His wrath on mankind for their continue and unceasing rebellion against Him. 

We must recognize our proper place in this world. It is not to reign and rule. Rather it is to bring the Lord glory as we submit to His reign and rule, recognizing His wisdom is greater than our own. 

Christian, you can, must, and will endure!

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” 

(Rev 13:10)

No one is promised an easy life. Especially those who live contrary to the world system. 

In the middle section of the book of the Revelation John sees a vision of two beasts. The first beast was allowed by God to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev 13:7). Not only is the beast able to conquer the saints but all who dwell on the earth end up worshipping the beast. Everyone except the saints “whose names [have] been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Reve 13:8). 

True Christians cannot and will not be conquered. 

Their allegiance to King Jesus cannot be changed. They have and will continue to follow Him, even as two beast are terrorizing the world. 

A Christians assurance of eternal life with King Jesus is guaranteed but a comfortable life and escaping death in Jesus’ name is not. Those who have been destined for captivity and death will face captivity and death (Rev. 13:10)

Where is the comfort? 

The comfort comes in knowing our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. The comfort comes in knowing God is not only a sovereign God but a providential God. In other words, His sovereignty is purposeful and His purposes are not and cannot be hindered. Though we might be taken captive or slain, we continue to trust in the providence of God. In His purposes and will along with His ability to bring His purpose to pass. 

Knowing who our God is, what He capable of doing, and what we could possibly face, we are called to endure (Rev 13:10b). To remain steadfast in the face of whatever may come our way in the future. That is not an easy proposition because the future is unknown to us. But it is what we are called to do by the Lord God. 

We can endure! We must endure! We will endure!

Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.