Amazing Grace/Messy Grace
Things to Be Sure of
We are all familiar with the “Cone of Uncertainty.” This is the probable path of a hurricane as plotted by the weather service. We are uncertain precisely where the hurricane will make landfall. But we are fairly certain it will happen within the cone, although sometimes even that doesn’t work out.
Today I want to talk to you about certainties—things you can be sure of as followers of Jesus Christ. These three involve your identity in Christ and your life path. This is who you are, and this is where you are going, though you may have bobbles along the way.
You Are Dearly Loved Children:
"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." — Ephesians 5:1-2
We had five children spend the night last night.
We enjoy seeing ourselves and understanding ourselves as the children of God (1 John 3:1).
- See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
- How we are, John 1:12: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
- His Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16).
We imitate God by forgiving each other. The verb here is the word from which we get “mimic.”
- “Therefore” connects this verse to what preceded in Eph. 4. Forgiving is what it means to love as God loves us.
- Children of God imitate their Heavenly Father.
“Walk in the way of love”—“walk in agape.”
- The NIV translates “the way of love” because the word is bigger than a single event or emotion. It describes a lifestyle, a way of being in the world.
- Agape itself is the word that the New Testament writers chose to describe the love of God as in John 3:16: “God so loved the world.” This is agape.
- Paul describes I Corinthians 13. He introduces the chapter by saying, “Now I show you a more excellent way.” The “way” is hodos which means a road, a path, a journey.
- John’s gospel uses this word only four times, three of them in John 14:4-6: “I am the way…”
The Way of Love is the Way of the Cross: Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…
- John uses a similar phrase in I John 4:10-11: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
- Paul makes this personal in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
- Giving up yourself is what it means to agape. It is the surrender of your life into the life of God: I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
We are beloved children. This love that God lavishes upon us is both wonderful and challenging. It is wonderful to be loved, and it is costly to love this way.
Paul reminds us now of a responsibility and obligation as the children of God, dearly loved. You cannot take the love without living the life.
You Are God’s Holy People:
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people." — Ephesians 5:3
"You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body." — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In addition to being the beloved children of God we are also God's holy people: hagiois, “saints.”
- This is the word he used in Eph. 1:1 to describe his readers. He said they are “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” So the “saints” are the same as the Faithful.
- The “holy ones” are those set apart for the purposes of God. They are a separated people.
- "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." (John 15:16).
- "I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:19).
Improper. Some things are not proper for you. You are not your own. You are bought with a price. You are to live a life consistent with your new identity in Christ.
- “Among you”: There is a different standard for you.
- Paul insists that these things should not be even mentioned among you—not even a hint of these behaviors:
- Sexual immorality (fornication, porneia)
- Any kind of impurity (moral filthiness; dissipation of our resources and energies for excessive behavior).
- Greed –simply the inordinate desire for MORE and a life organized around this goal of accumulation.
Also out of place or not fitting: obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place
- Another reference to our speech, vocabulary. Your speech may be the easiest and quickest way to identify you.
- Obscenity—filthiness of speech.
- Foolish talk or coarse jesting—dirty jokes.
- What does fit: but rather thanksgiving. Our entire speech and demeanor should be governed by gratitude to God for his unspeakable gift in Jesus.
You Are a Kingdom Heir:
"No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." — Ephesians 5:5
This is exciting. He calls this the “kingdom of Christ.”
- The other time that the “Kingdom of Christ” is mentioned is in 2 Peter 2:11: "You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
- In both instances the “kingdom of Christ” is imbedded in a discussion on proper behavior.
- Matthew 13:41, Jesus’ explanation of Weeds parable: "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil."
- “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28).
- Jesus is the King: “King of kings.” His kingdom is an eternal kingdom.
We are certainly headed for this wonderful inheritance.
"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 5:6).
- Disputing the moral demands of Kingdom living is a favorite pastime for some. It has always been so.
- Some people pretend to be followers of Jesus. They want the benefits without giving the obedience.
- God’s holy people behave in a kingdom way, the way of love.
"Therefore do not be partners with them." (Ephesians 5:7)
- Those who live wicked lives want your approval and, if they can get it, your participation.
- Do not partner with them in their bad behavior. We cannot have it both ways. Either we belong to Christ and behave accordingly, or we have not yet surrendered our lives.
You are dearly loved. You are Saints—set apart for God. You have a glorious inheritance. These three go together, and they are your cone of certainty now and forever.