My 3 1/2-year-old grandson's
favorite word is WHY? He is intelligent enough to know that if he really
doesn't want to do something all he has to do is ask, "WHY?" Explaining
"WHY?" to a three 3 1/2 year old is not the easiest thing that I have ever
done? Nevertheless the question "Why?" is a very important question. The
question "Why?" seeks the motivating purpose behind whatever it is we are
Purpose is important
because it is the driving force behind everything we do. As I read
a particular chapter of the Bible, if at all possible, I like to pick out
the thesis verse. This verse is one in which the subject matter of the
entire chapter will revolve around. The thesis of the chapter will be the
driving force behind everything that was written by the author. I believe
that in Ephesians chapter 2 the thesis verse is verse 10. Notice what is
written. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto
good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
In Ephesians chapters 1 & 2 Paul tells of our position and power in
Christ. In Ephesians 2:10 he instructs us as to our purpose as we occupy
our position live in God's power. Everything after Ephesians 2:10 points
back to chapter 2:10 while explaining what it means to become God's new
creation in Christ. In a very real sense you might say that this is the
thesis for the entire Bible. (Ephesians 1:9-12)
Paul says that
becoming God's new creation in Christ is our purpose as a church.
No higher purpose exists.
The weightiest prayers that you will ever read in the Bible are found in
Ephesians chapter 1 and 3. These prayers are to the end that we might become
enlightened and filled with God's power to become his new creation in Christ.
What Is the Purpose
of God's New Creation?
Before we came to Christ
we were dead in sin. We followed the selfish ways of the world, the ruler
of this world, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of
us were gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its
sinful desires and thoughts. With no regard for others. But now God has
raised us up to sit in heavenly places with Christ that we might become
his new creation. (Ephesians 2:1-6) In verses 6 & 7 Paul states that
God has done this is to manifest his grace to the world.
We are God's creative
work in Christ Jesus, which God upholds to the world as example of his
compassionate labor of love.
And God raised us up
with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches
of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
God has made the church
a spectacle in the world and in the heavenly realms. It is through each
of us that he has chosen to make his grace know to the world. God has chosen
to make known his manifold wisdom to the world through the church.
And to make all men
see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of
the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places
might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According
to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (KJV)
We along with the apostles
have been made a spectacle to the world.
1 Corinthians 4:7-10
For who maketh thee
to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?
now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not
received it? Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings
without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with
you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as
it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world,
and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but
ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable,
but we are despised. (KJV)
2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Ye are our epistle
written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as
ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us,
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables
of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
be ridiculed by the world, misunderstood by the ignorant and abused by
Christians, but when rightly perceived and practiced it is the greatest
spectacle to the world that there is a gracious God over all creation.
Imagine uniting the
world into one place with each person having such an intense love for one
another that each person would be willing to die for every other person.
I'm not talking about a fanaticism like followers of the Heavens Gate cult
. . . I'm talking about something far more radical. Imagine everyone in
the world treating everyone else like they would like to be treated. (Matthew
7:12) Laying down all our selfish attitudes to make sure that others got
what they needed. It would certainly have to be called a new creation.
A new commandment I
give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also
love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another. (KJV)
I heard a radio announcer
asking his audience to make our area a nicer place to drive. He was encouraging
everyone to give the other guy a break in heavy traffic. If someone is
in the wrong lane and needs over in your lane give the other driver a break.
We do that a lot here in our large metropolitan area. It does make getting
in and out of traffic much easier. (I must admit that it is harder to do
when the snow birds fly south for the winter. They are not accustomed to
our way of doing things. After all they are not in a hurry they are on
vacation. They don't understand that we are not on vacation, we work here.)
But supposing we could get the entire world in every area of life to give
the other person a break.
What a radical revolution
this would bring about in the world if everyone were converted to this
kind of thinking. What would this approach do for marriage? What would
this approach do for racial divides? What would this approach to life do
for Washington D.C.? What would this approach do for the work place? What
would this approach do for our schools? What would this approach to life
do for business worldwide? What would this approach do to our prisons?
What would this approach do on the streets? What would this approach do
for the autocratic power struggles in many local congregations?
If we could fulfill
that one purpose the end product would be HEAVEN on earth! I know this
is asking too much because the simplicity is too profound to grasp! Yet,
this is what makes the sacrifice of Christ so profound. Jesus said,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends." (John 15:13)
How Do We Manifest
God's Grace to The World?
To become a spectacle
to the world of God's glorious grace we must demonstrate our ability to
be united in peace. Paul wrote I therefore, the prisoner of the
Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are
called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing
one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
There must be a prior
decision of determination to maintain peace. When your wife or husband
promised to love with you "until death do us part" many of you were too
young to know what you were getting into. But you have endeavored to live
up to your vows. You have stuck to that decision. Neither of you ever dreamed
what you would have to go through to honor that decision. You probably
didn't know anything about lowliness, meekness, loooooooooongsuffering
and foooooorbearance until you made those vows. Yet in spite of all of
that you honor the sacred bond by striving to live in peace. And for that
I am sure that both of you are eternally grateful. Through working to keep
that commitment both of you have matured. As we live to honor a commitment
we mature and grow as individuals.
The proprietor of a
dry-cleaning and dyeing business hung this quaint sign in his shop window:
"We dye to live, and live to dye; the more we dye, the more we live; and
the more we live, the more we dye." For the child of God, it is also true
that the more he dies, the more he lives!
Someone asked George
Mueller the secret of his marvelous fruitfulness as a Christian. He replied,
"There came a day when George Mueller died, utterly died! No longer did
his own desire, preferences, and tastes come first. He knew that from then
on Christ must be all in all!"
I am thankful that this
congregation has peace. But do you realize that for us to have peace there
are those who have to be lowly, meek, longsuffering and forbearing. Unity
takes people who are determined to become mature as they work together
in Christ. The first step to maturity in Christ requires you to make your
first mature decision. That decision is a determination that you are going
to do what Christ is calling you to do until death do you part. Many are
thinking that when they become mature then they will make that decision.
The paradox is that we will never become mature until we make that commitment.
Maturity comes as a result of the difficult things encountered as you seek
to keep your word.
The maturity developed
from this type of mindset enables us to speak the truth in love so others
may grow up in Christ.
That we henceforth
be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind
of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they
lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into
him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole
body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
It is really a test
of our spiritual maturity when we must live among those who are determined
to continue living according to the futility of their own thinking. (Ephesians
4:17-22) Even in these situations we must be so determined to manifest
God's grace to that we continue to speak the truth in love. In such situations
our commitment to Christ demands that we live up to our high calling.
Churches that fight
spiritual battles with carnal weapons always have problems. Once when a
preacher was working for a very troubled church he encountered a woman
so angry that it seemed as though she could bite nails into. She was shaking,
talking with a very strained voice. She was mad about something that was
going on in the congregation. The preacher was naive. He ask the lady if
she thought that was the way Christians should act? Her eyes got real fiery,
she clinched her fist and her voice became even more strained as she asked
"Don't you know that this is the way spiritual battles are fought?" The
naive preacher indicated to her that he didn't understand that spiritual
battles were supposed to be fought in that manner. Very true story! The
preacher learned a valuable lesson through that experience. How to keep
his mouth shut!
It is at times like
these that we must determine to follow God more closely as we look to Christ's
example and ask God to strengthen our inner being.
Be ye therefore followers
of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,
and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
sweet smelling savour.
1 Pet 2:21-25
For even hereunto were
ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found
in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered,
he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being
dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were
healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the
Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (KJV)
With God's help we must
pray "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
To become a spectacle
of God's glorious grace we must demonstrate to the world a new way of thinking.
"And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on
the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Paul teaches us that
in order to put on the new man we must put off the old man. We must stop
lying, learn to control our anger, stop stealing and avoid corrupt speech.
These things are to be displaced with hard work so that we might contribute
to the needs of others. We must not let the sun go down on our wrath and
God's grace must be seen in how we talk to others.
We must put away our
hatred. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil
speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to
another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's
sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)
It is not easy but those
who strive for peace will of necessity adapt a new way of thinking as they
are enabled by the power of God.
There was a man who
decided that he would enter the monastery. There was a vow of silence on
the monks. They were only allowed to speak two words each year. These words
were to be spoken when the bishops evaluated them at the end of each year.
The first year's evaluation came. The man was asked what he thought of
the place? He replied "food cold." The second year evaluation rolled around
and he was asked the same question. What is your evaluation of the monastery?
The man said, "Bed hard." The third evaluation rolled around and he was
asked his evaluation of the monastery? The man said, "I quit." The Bishop
said, "That comes as no surprise to us, the whole time you have been here
you have done nothing but complain."
Becoming a spectacle
to the world of God's glorious grace involves demonstrating a new way of
living to the world.
Therefore do not be
foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine,
which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to
one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music
in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In a New York rescue
mission a derelict would sit slumped over in his seat while the sermon
was being preached until the speaker made a slight mistake in quoting a
Scripture verse. At that moment he would straighten up and give the exact
reference and correct wording. The workers called him "Chapter and Verse
Charlie." He knew a lot of Bible verses. He heard many sermons, but he
never changed his way of life. A preacher who had read about "Chapter and
Verse Charlie" was reminded of him one day when a young man carrying a
big Bible told him he didn't think he preached "hard enough." The young
man said, "My preacher really lets us have it!" He apparently likes to
hear the truth shouted, but does it change his life? Apparently not. He
made life so miserable for his wife that she left him, and his fellow workers
have lost respect for him because he is a pious pretender.
Becoming a spectacle
to the world of God's glorious grace involves demonstrating submission
to the world. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves
one to another in the fear of God."(Eph 5:20-21)
In Christ's sacrifice
he gave himself for our sins and that is exactly what submission involves.
(5:25-27) Giving up self for others.
mutual sacrifice of both husband and wife. (5:22-33) If you find a couple
willing to die for one another, you will find a very successful marriage.
mutual honor of both children and parents. (6:1-4) When you find parents
and children honoring each other you will find a great relationship.
mutual respect of both slaves and masters. (6:5-9) In the first century
when you found slaves and masters dedicated to Jesus Christ and seeking
to please Christ as they served one another you found a great place to
The purpose of the church
is to submit to God's battle plan for victory. (6:10-24) We will only succeed
as we discover God's purpose for being here and surrender to his power
which is available to enable us to do his work.
Finally, my brethren,
be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole
armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against
spiritual wickedness in high places.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
"For though we walk
in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare
are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against
the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the
obedience of Christ . . ."