According to the Riches of His Grace

"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…" -Ephesians 1:7-8

Month: January, 2014

Is your Faith more American than Christian?

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I want to challenge you to think of your faith in a more global way than just in the United States.

There is a huge debate that goes on that America is a Christian nation. I don’t think this is correct. It certainly does seem to have been founded on some ideas that are part of the Christian faith, but that doesn’t make it a Christian nation today. There is only one Christian nation, according to the Bible, and that is Israel. The New Testament would put into place that the church has now taken on the identity of Israel because the ethnic people forsook God. The church of Jesus Christ exists in all nations, collectively as one nation proclaiming the excellencies of Him who saved us from darkness.

Living in the Bible belt, this portion of the country specifically seems to view that being a Christian is a key component to American culture. Oh, may we never let this happen. The world is not our home. We are exiles in it. Never, can anywhere here seem as a home to us.

When Christianity becomes an American culture asset, the faith turns into something that it is not. Instead of the Great Commission being important, Christ becomes a political figure. Being a Christian then means that we must make sure we stop abortion advocates, promote traditional marriage, save our second amendment rights, and get President Obama impeached. It is as if Jesus’ command has been updated to, “Love your enemies, unless they are a President you disagree with.”

This is not what Jesus left his church in the world for. It is not to participate in American politics, but to preach the Gospel. The glorious Gospel that Christ has come into the world to save sinners through the cross is the only hope for the world.

We must stop bearing the flag and start bearing the cross. It is our only hope. The freedom that the cross gives us is worth so much more than the freedom that the flag gives us.

Jesus doesn’t just love America. He gave the commission to make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:18-20) The key message of the Bible is how God seeks to draw all nations to himself through His Son.

So Christians, do not hate America, but do not make it your home either. For we are foreigners here with no home. The cross of Christ stands in beauty over all the nations, not just America.

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What is the Name Above All Names?

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In Philippians 2:5-11, we read

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Based on this passage, we can see that Jesus has inherited the name that is above every name. But what is the name that is above every name? Is it Jesus? If that were the case, every human on the planet with that name is special. But the name that Jesus has received is supremely greater than anything else.

Based on Philippians 2, Jesus received this name because he remained obedient to the cross. So, to know what that name is, we must consult Romans 1.

“…and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 1:4)

The name that Jesus has received that is above all names is Son of God. No one else is Son of God but him.

The Extravagant Grace of God

Ephesians 1:7-8 says “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…”

Ephesians 1 is one of my favorite passages in Scripture and it is often overlooked because of a few controversial words within it. But all controversies aside, I don’t want to take Ephesians 1 out of the Bible. For those who believe the Gospel, God lavishes grace upon them. I love the word “lavished.” Extravagant. Overflowing. Immeasurable.

This passage cannot be applied to those who are not believers. Those who do not believe the Gospel are still under the wrath of God (see Romans 1-2). At the cross, Jesus endured the wrath of God for all who would ever come to faith in him. If you are a believer in Christ, do you realize what this means? There is no more wrath! It has all been poured out upon Christ!

This is great news because you don’t have to feel guilty when you slip into sin. Christians will still fall from time to time. We are being conformed into the image of Jesus, but we aren’t there yet. We seek to flee sin because we love Jesus. In loving him, we are drawn to obedience. But we don’t have to feel condemned when we do fall. In fact, even after our salvation, God continues to lavish this extravagant grace upon us. He pours an overflowing cup of it out upon us and delights in doing it!

So when you slip and fall into sin, get up and keep running the race that is set before you, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.