HE DID IT FOR HIMSELF
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He freely gives us in the One He loves (Eph. 1: 3-6).
Today I have the pleasure of directing your attention to something Paul wrote that the church has either largely ignored or forgotten. In a popular Christian magazine published in my country, the editor wrote in her editorial, three reasons for needing Jesus: We need forgiveness, we need a friend and we need a future.
This is a typical symptom of the humanistic Jesus and the humanistic gospel that is prevalent in the church today. God the Father and Jesus the Son have been downgraded to those who are here to meet our needs. Although it is true that God does meet our needs, is that the reason He had such a daring plan in sending His Son into the world?
Church groups and denominational and independent evangelists often visit my town, and prepare their arrival by putting up large, brightly coloured posters announcing their campaigns with words such as “Come and get your miracle”! This may be a “seeker-friendly” way to attract people, but is this the message of the gospel?
By the way, I have also noticed how much of Christian “prayer” treats God like a celestial “slot machine”. Drop your prayer into the slot, push the button and out comes the answer – a practice disguised by the words, “I’m believing God for . . .” What happened to the trust, submission and obedience that are the hallmarks of a son or daughter? Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done,” not, “My will be done . . . and I have told you what I want!”
Strangely enough, Paul mentions none of these motives for believing in Jesus in his letter to the Ephesian church. He paints a very different picture for believing in Jesus from the one presented by much of our modern-day evangelism. His outburst of praise flowed from his understanding of God’s heart. Why did God send Jesus? So that we can escape hell and go to heaven? So that God can take away all our problems and give us health and wealth to enjoy this life?
Paul repeatedly incorporated a six-word phrase into his expression of praise, which says it all! God did everything through Christ “to the praise of His glory.” Before Paul’s arrival, Ephesus was a city of paganism, idolatry and witchcraft and the evil practices accompanying these false beliefs. The people worshipped Diana, a many-breasted goddess, through cult prostitution with the priestesses at Diana’s temple.
Paul’s letter to a church in this city is proof enough of the power of the gospel of Jesus to rescue people from the “gates of hell”. Through His power, He changed their lives from idol-worshippers to sons and daughters of the Most High God, whom He had called to be “holy and blameless in His sight.” Wow!
But what did Paul preach? Come to Jesus to have your sins forgiven. He will be your friend and you will have a future in heaven? A thousand times, no! Paul and Peter preached the same message. Paul wrote:
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4: 5-6).
And on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared:
Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2: 36).
It was God’s plan from the beginning, not just to take us to heaven when we die, but to transform us from rebel sinners into sons and daughters, recreated in the image of our Creator and refashioned into the image of His Son. His plan was that we should reflect His glory by being replicas of His Son on earth.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed (Rom. 8: 19).
Paul stated with great vehemence to the Galatian church:
But even if we or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be under God’s curse (Gal. 1: 8).
Dear reader, beware! Do not fall for a gospel that dethrones Jesus. Jesus died in obedience to the Father so that the Father’s mercy (the glory) could forever be put on display. Anything less than that is not the gospel. It is a lie!
Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His paths beyond tracing out . . . for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11: 33; 36).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, ebook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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