Soteriology 013

Andy Woods

Soteriology 13, Ephesians 1:3

April 13, 2016

Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the book of Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 3, if you have trouble with finding Ephesians just remember God’s Electric Power Company, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.  Or if you don’t like that Go Eat PopCorn—Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.  That way you’ll be the first one to find the book and people will think you’re so spiritual.

But Ephesians chapter 1, verse 3 and we are tonight continuing on with our study of the doctrine of salvation.  And we have spent a lot of time, probably about five or six weeks if I remember right, on God’s one condition of salvation, which is what?  belief or faith.  And Roman number V is really about how you acquire these blessings in salvation. And God, as we have said over and over again only holds up one condition for the lost sinner to satisfy, which is faith alone in Christ alone.  So we kind of wrapped up that conversation last time and now we’re moving into Roman numeral VI which is about the results of salvation.  In other words, once you trust in Christ to receive salvation what exactly do you receive?

And this deals with Roman numeral VI, the results of salvation.  And so what you’re going to discover in this section, and it’ll take us several weeks to get through it, but you’re going to discover you’re filthy rich; your far wealthier… the average Christian has far more wealth than they probably have ever taken the time to consider or contemplate.  But we’re going to consider it and contemplate it.

So that’s why I had you to turn to Ephesians 1:3 and let me just sort of set the table, if I could, by reading this verse.  Paul says there, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”  So that is an astounding verse, isn’t it.  I have a few points underlined.  You’ll notice that God has already blessed us, see how “blessed” there is in the past tense, the way the English reading out of the NASB translates the Greek. So it’s not a matter of… you know, a lot of people have this mindset that they need to go before God as Christians and plead,  you know, God, bless me, bless me, bless me!  And a lot of people’s prayer life is that way.  And what God is saying is I’ve already blessed you, what else do you want?  So our prayer life is not really to go before God and plead for blessings because the Bible tells us that we already have been blessed.

And what has He blessed us with? See the word “every” there?  He has blessed us with what? “Every spiritual blessing,” not 99%, not 96%, not 99.8%, but “every spiritual blessing.”  So a lot of times we go before God and we say Lord bless me, bless me, bless me, and He’s already… He said I’ve already given you everything I can give you, what else do you want.  So the word “every” there is very important.

And a lot of times in charismatic circles or Pentecostal circles, which I’ve been involved in in different phases of my spiritual life, they teach this doctrine of the second blessing and basically what they mean by that is the Christian has to kind of go on and through prayer seek something else from God, which they call the baptism of the Spirit, which they incorrectly define as something that you receive after you are a Christian.  And so they call this the second blessing. So they have basically two categories of Christians, those that have received the second blessing and then those that haven’t.  And you can see how quickly that whole doctrine falls apart when you look at Ephesians 1:3 because it says there He has already “blessed,” past tense, “us with every spiritual blessing.”  So there is no more need to go before God and grovel and beg and plead for a few additional scraps that fall off the table because the Bible clearly teaches us that we have already been blessed, not just with a few blessings but “with every spiritual blessing.”

And a lot of people mistakenly, and they teach this on so-called Christian television, they give you this impression that you need to give to God financially so you can get blessed.  Well, the fact of the matter is God has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing.  So we as Christians, we don’t give to God to get blessed; we give to God because we have been blessed.  See the difference.  I mean, we serve God, we give to God, we sacrifice and different things that God calls us to do, not to get blessed but we do it because we’ve already been blessed.

So we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing,” now notice where our blessings are; they’re where?  “in the heavenly places.”  Now if you keep your place here in Ephesians and go back to Deuteronomy in the Old Testament for a minute, chapter 28, I want to show you the difference between our blessings and Israel’s blessings, because we’re not Israel, we’re the church.  God has two programs, one for Israel, one for the church.

But you’ll notice that Israel’s blessings were not in the heavenly places; Israel, God’s special nation that we read about mostly in the Old Testament.  Israel’s blessings were not in the heavenly places, Israel’s blessings were here on earth.  So Deuteronomy 28 starts to describe the place, the things that Israel would receive when she was in the place of blessing.

And just starting there at verse 1 it says, “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set  you high above” what? “all the nations of the” what? “the earth.”  So Israel was going to receive political and financial and material blessings relative to the other nations of the earth.  And that’s why it describes Solomon’s wealth in great detail; Solomon, the third king of the United Kingdom in Israel.

And then you go down to verse 2 it says, “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: [3] Blessed shall you be in the city,” see that, it’s talking about an earthly city, “and blessed shall you be in the country.  [4] Blessed shall be the offspring of your body” see how these are all physical things, “and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. [5] Blessed be your basket and your kneading bowl.  [6] Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.”  You drop down to verse 7, “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated,” it’s talking about earthly warfare.  “… and they will flee before you in seven ways.”  Verse 8, “The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to,” that’s  your physical hand to, “and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”  So you can just read all the way through verse 14 there and you see the blessings that Israel had which were physical, material, and earthly.

[Deuteronomy 28:9-14, “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.  [10] So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will be afraid of you. [11] The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.  [12] The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.  [13] The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, [14] and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”]

Now going back to the New Testament compare that to Ephesians 1:3 in the New Testament, in the age of the church which we’re in, it never promises us physical blessings the way Israel had them, but what it promises us is we have already been blessed with every blessing, where?  It’s very clear, not here on earth but in heaven.  So the true ledger of your wealth, your true balance sheet of  your wealth is actually heavenly.

So I’m not diminishing physical blessings and earthly blessings, God can give those as well and many people He does give them to.  But that’s not part of the guaranteed package of the Christian because you see, all over this world, you know, we’re here in America and we have a lot of material abundance but it’s not that way in third world countries and other places where Christians are.  And yet God wants those Christians living in third world poverty stricken countries to understand that although they may not be Americans they have every blessing in the heavenly places as well.

So this is the great error of the prosperity gospel that you hear a lot on television, so called Christian television and radio, some on radio, more prominent on Christian television, where they take the promises related to Israel in the Old Testament which were basically physical and material and they make it sound as if you give money to their ministry then God is obligated to bless your bank account.  And that is intermingling or confusing God’s program with Israel, which is His earthly people with God’s program for the church which is His heavenly people.  So we are not Israel, we are the church.  And as far as heavenly… and I’m not saying God is unconcerned about physical things, He does promise to supply our needs and things like that.  But if you look at your blessings as a Christian just as physical things you totally miss the picture here.  The picture is we have indescribable wealth as God’s heavenly people, the church, in heavenly places.

And then it goes on at the end of this verse and it says these blessings are ours in what? “in Christ.”  In fact, you can summarize all of Paul’s theology with those two words, “in Christ.”  If you are “in Christ” and we talked about how to enter into a relationship with Christ, you know, by faith alone, if you find yourself “in Christ” then you have access to all of these blessings.  If you are not “in Christ” by way of faith then none of these blessings are yours.  So being “in Christ” is really the ticket, if I can use that expression, towards accessing these blessings.

So that’s what the results of salvation is designed to communicate.  Looking at our spiritual assets, looking at our spiritual balance sheet, trying to figure out what it is we own, because God has told us that we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”  So go over, from there go over to Revelation 2 for just a minute, the book of Revelation, chapter 2 and verse 9, this is Jesus speaking to the church at Smyrna, the actual words of Christ to a first century church called Smyrna in Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.

And Jesus, through John, says this: “I know your tribulation and your poverty” now the word “poverty” there in Greek is the lowest level of poverty you could ever descend to as a human being.  So that’s where these people were at in Smyrna; they were at an extremely low level of poverty.  And yet notice what Jesus says, “but you are” what? “rich,” and then He goes on and He describes the fact that they not only are poor but they are being persecuted, He says, “I know … the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  So these folks were basically being persecuted by unbelieving Jews and beyond that they were at a very low level of poverty, they had almost nothing.  And yet Jesus tells them in the midst of all of that that “you are rich”.  Why would He say “you are rich”? Because their riches are where?  Going back to Ephesians 1:3, “in the heavenly places.”

So this is the great thing about being a Christian, is the stock market can tank, the economy can go south, we can enter another great depression, you can lose your job and all sorts of economic bad news can come your way, we can to into hyperinflation, and yet God is telling us that our riches, because they are in heaven, are not impacted at all.  So that’s why He could look at a church like this and tell them that they, in fact, are wealthy.  And so the results of salvation communicates that to us; we are fabulously wealthy.

So what exactly do we own in terms of our spiritual blessings?  And I’m so glad you asked that.

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his book, Salvation, pages 59-65 of that book describes 33 blessings.  These are 33 things not that you have to go and ask God for; these are 33 things you already have.  So just to kind of survey the landscape I’m going to just read through these very quickly, just to give you a broad sweep of them, and then I’m going to come back afterwards and drill down on a few of them.  And probably tonight we won’t get through but two or three if we’re lucky.

So what exactly do you have?  Well, number 1, you are in the eternal plan of God because Romans 8:28 says we are foreknown, elected, predestined, and called.  [Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”]

Number 2, you have been reconciled to God, we’ve talked about that word “reconciliation” when we were talking about salvation words, which means you have perfect peace with God, positionally.  2 Corinthians 5:18-20.  [18,  “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, [19] namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. [20] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”]

Number 3, you have been redeemed which basically means you have been purchased out of the slave market of sin.  Romans 3:24, Romans 8:23.  [Romans 3:24, “being justified as a gift by His grace thorough the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” Romans 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of the body.”]

Number 4, you are related to God through propitiation, and you might recall that was a salvation word that we went over, which essentially means that God’s anger against you because of your sin and my sin has been satisfied completely because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Which means that the only attribute left for God to express towards you is not wrath, because His wrath has been satisfied. But it is His love.  So therefore everything that happens to you as a New Testament Christian is an expression of God’s love toward you; even the trials that we go through.  We think God is punishing us because we’ve been bad or something but the wrath of God has already been satisfied.  He sends us through tribulations, not to make us bitter but to make us what?  Better!  So even trials and tribulations we go through are a manifestation of His love, because of propitiation.

Number 5, all of our sins have been covered by the atoning blood of Christ, past, present and future; every sin is under the blood.  1 John 2:2, [“and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”]

Number 6, we are vitally joined to Christ, this is what’s called our baptism into Christ, when He died who else died?  I did!  When He was buried who else was buried?  We were. When He rose who else rose?  We rose. When He ascended to the right hand of the Father who else ascended to the right hand of the Father?  We did.  Ephesians 2:6 says that’s our position right now.  [Ephesians 2:6, “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”]  We are legally at the right hand of the Father because we have been joined into the transaction of Christ.

Number 7, we are free from the Law.  We’ll talk a lot about that a few sessions down the road.

[8] We are children of God, we’re going to talk about that one tonight.

[9] We have been adopted as sons, or daughters, we’ll talk about that one tonight.  [10] We acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, in other words, God the Father looks at you the same way He looks at Jesus.  Just like He looks at Jesus and sees purity and perfection, that’s what He sees in you.  Now you say well, I don’t deserve that.  You don’t deserve it, none of us do, we receive it by grace or imputation because it has been transferred to us.

Number 11, we are justified by faith, that’s announced innocent, we’ll be talking about that one down the road.

Number 12, all of our sins have been forgiven, past, present and future.

Number 13, we’ve been brought near; you see, formerly we were enemies of Christ but now we’ve been brought near, in fact, into the very household of God.  That’s number 13. [Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”]

Number 14, we have been delivered… the way the Bible describes all of these, these are things that already happened to us.  And see, most Christians go through their Christian life not understanding what they have.  And they have a very low image of themselves as a result.  But you see, the Biblical approach is to understand what you have and then guess what happens with your life; your life, if you understand your wealth isn’t it interesting how our practice starts catching up with our position. In other words, if I’m really holy like God has decreed me to be maybe I should behave that way in my daily life.  See that?  But if you don’t see yourself as holy, positionally, then there’s really no incentive to live holy.  So we act consistently with how we view ourselves.  So we have been delivered from the power of darkness, in other words totally liberated from Satan’s realm.

Number 15 We have been translated into the kingdom of the Son of God, Colossians 1:13, [“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”]

Number 16  We are all on the rock of Jesus Christ, and we’re building on the right foundation because of what Jesus has done for us, 1 Corinthians 1:13. [“Has Christ been divided?  Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”]

Number 17  We are a gift from the Father to the Son and you’ll see that in John 17:6.  Chafer liked to use the King James so it reads they were thine,” they were Yours in other words, Father, as Jesus is speaking, “and Thou” or “You gave them to me.  So it’s almost like we are of such value that the Father took us as a present and gave it…, one member of the Trinity gave us as a gift to another member of the Trinity.   [John 17:6, King James, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.”]  That’s number 17.

Number 18, we have been circumcised spiritually in Christ.  [Colossians 2:11, “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;”]

Number 19, we are partakers of the holy and royal priesthood.   Did you know you were a priest?  Revelation 1:6 says that.  [Revelation 1:6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father— to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”]

Number 20, we are a chosen generation and a peculiar people.  Titus 2:14 says that, [Titus 2:14, “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”]

That’s why we don’t really fit in with this world, because we are a peculiar people because we operate by a different value system.  [1 Peter 2:9, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”]

Number 21, we have access to God, so the Bible says “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  That’s why Earl could lead us in prayer and Greg prayed and others pray, because we have direct access to God because of what Jesus has done.  (Ephesians 2:18; Romans  5:2; Hebrews  4:14-16;

[Ephesians 2:18, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  Romans 5:2, “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”  Hebrews 4:14-16, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. [16] Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”]

Let me tell you something, in the Old Covenant they didn’t have access to God.  In fact, when you study the Tabernacle and the Temple you learn that the Most Holy Place was separated by a veil and the only person that could go behind the veil was the high priest, and he could only do it one time a year, the Day of Atonement, after the right animal sacrifice had been offered for his own sins.  And if anything went wrong the priest was struck dead.  And you could not go back into that Holy of Holies because of the righteous character of God.  And that’s why, according to Jewish tradition, there was that rope tied around the priest’s foot because on his garment, the hem of his garment were bells but if you didn’t hear the bells ringing as he was behind the veil you would think oh, my gosh, something went wrong, maybe he’s dead, you didn’t just charge in to get him or you’d be dead too.  So the rope was there to pull the priest out so your life could be spared.

And when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:50-51 says what happened to that veil?  It was torn asunder from top to bottom signifying that the sin debt has been eliminated so now we can just go on into the throne room of God any time we want to.  But we’re too busy to pray; we’re living beneath our privileges.  So this access to God is a tremendous part of  your wealth that you have.

[Matthew 27:50-51, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. [51] And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”

Number 22, we are within the “much more” care of God.  In other words, if God did the greatest thing already, isn’t He going to help you with the little things?  Like one of the prayer requests was the sale of a house, I mean what’s the sale of a house to God when He’s done everything He can do in Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between you and God.  If He gave you the greatest thing already He’s going to help you with the sale of a house.  So that’s what Chafer means by the “much more” care of God.

Number 23, we have an inheritance, an inheritance is something that is legally ours, we just haven’t entered into its fullness yet. 1 Peter 1:4 says that our inheritance is kept in heaven and it can’t fade or be defiled, so inflation can’t corrode it, thieves can’t break in and steal.  So we have this  inheritance coming to us. That was actually number 24, our inheritance and there’s the verse up there, 1 Peter 1:4.  1 Peter 1:4 says an inheritance that fades not away, “reserved in heaven for you.”  [1 Peter 1:4, “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”]  And then we, going back to number 23, are actually His inheritance.  So we are of such value that God looks at us as His own inheritance, if you can think of that astoundingly.

Number 25, we have a heavenly association because we’re partners with Christ’s life, position, service and suffering, many verses talk about that.

Number 26, we are heavenly citizens.  I love America but the fact of the matter is I’m just an American citizen here on earth; my ultimate citizenship is in heaven.  I have actually dual citizenship in that sense, I’m an American citizen but I’m a heavenly citizen as well, Philippians 3:20.  [Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”]

Number 27, we’re of the family and the royal household of God.

Number 28, we’re light in the Lord.

Number 29, we’re vitally joined to the Father, to the Son and to the Spirit.

Number 30, we’re blessed with the first fruits or the earnest of the Spirit.  Now first fruits or an earnest, some Bible translations call that a down payment.  You know, if you make a down payment on something you’re guaranteeing to the seller, as the buyer, that more payments are coming.  So the fact of the matter is God has already given you a down payment, it’s called the Holy Spirit inside of  you, and the Spirit of God inside of us that convicts us and directs us and prompts us and empowers us is God’s guarantee to us that we’re going to get the whole rest of the package one day.

And number 31, we’ve already been glorified, Romans 8:30 says we are already glorified.  [Romans 8:30, “and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”]  Now you might look in the mirror and say I don’t look glorified and actually you’re not yet in glory but legally you’re in glory.  See?  And God can look at you as if  you’re already glorified.  That’s why going to God and begging and pleading and saying Lord, it’s just me and we have this kind of warm theology, I know God, You don’t want to hear from me, I’m such a bad person, but can You please help me out of this one.  You know, we have this attitude and God is saying what are  you talking about, I’m looking at you not the way you see yourself, I’m looking at you legally as already in a state of glory.

Number 32, we are “complete in Him,” now a lot of churches will give you the 95% theology, you’re 95% complete but here’s the rest of the stuff you’ve got to do on your own.  And it’s usually pay, pray and obey.  So you spend the rest of your life saying have I prayed enough, have I paid enough and have I obeyed enough.  So there’s no assurance of salvation in that kind of thinking because how can you subjectively tell if you’ve done enough?  But the Scripture, on the other hand, says that we are “complete in Him.”  Colossians 2:10 and many other verses.  [Colossians 2:10, “and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”]

And finally, number 33 is the verse that I started with, Ephesians 1:3, we already have been blessed, past tense, “with every spiritual blessing.”  So I hope you feel wealthy.  I hope you feel better about things because that’s what the Bible says about you if you find yourself in Christ, if you’ve trusted in Christ.

So one of the things that we struggle with as human beings and even as Christians is a low self-image because we bought into what I would call a quality of life mentality.  We ascribe worth to things or people if their life is of a certain quality, if they look good, if they’re young, if they’ve got money, if they’ve got career prospects, if they’re healthy, those kinds of things.  And so we say well so and so is valuable because they have all these things.  They have talent, they have money.  But you see, all those things can disappear, your health can disappear, your career prospects can disappear.  So if you’re ascribing self-worth to yourself based on quality of life then you’re going to be like an emotional roller coaster; some days you’re going to feel great about yourself, other days you’re going to feel bad about yourself because we’re living in a fallen world where things that are temporal can be taken away just like that.

And God is trying to move us out of that mentality and trying to move us into, not a quality of life mentality but a sanctity of life mentality where all of us have value because of what God says about us.  What God says about you is what gives you value, not what the world system says about you.  So the guy that’s living under a bridge that’s got alcohol all over his breath, that can’t hold down a job, he has just as much value as the richest person in Houston, the richest, healthiest, quote “happiest” person in Houston; that person has the exact same value in God’s eyes as the wino living under the bridge because of a Scriptural teaching called sanctity of life.  We don’t really think this way because we’re in a world system that speaks of quality of life.

So there’s going to be times in your Christian life when you’re going to get really discouraged and down on yourself and the best solution to that is to go back and apply… I printed these out for you, I want you to have these, and I gave you the verses where you can go look these things up on your own, and you can see I’m not making things up.  The best solution when you get down on yourself is to go back and review your wealth.  Start looking at yourself the way God sees you, rather than how you see yourself or how other people see you, or how you see other people. We have to start looking at ourselves the way God sees us.  And that’s what these riches describe.  So this is a section that we call the results of salvation.

Now Chafer had 33 things, I kind of shortened his list to about 10 or 11, just for purposes of time.  And even with these 10 or 11 you’re going to see, it’s going to take several weeks to get through just these 10 or 11, so I’m going to basically drill down on some of the ones that you may be less familiar with.

The first on my list is our sonship or adoption.  That is item of wealth, spiritual wealth, number 1, our sonship or adoption.  If you have your Bible with you, you might want to try to follow me around here as we look at a few verses.  But according to Ephesians 2:19 it says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens.…”  What gives us access to these blessings is being “in Christ” as we saw.  So what was I like before I was “in Christ.”  Well, I was far from the household of God, I was, in fact, a stranger and an alien to God.  And then came that time in my life where I trusted in Jesus Christ and suddenly I moved from position of stranger or alien and I was brought into a brand new family of God.  We are part of the royal family of God.

And it’s very sad because many people grow up in dysfunctional families so they extrapolate their bad experiences in their earthly family to God’s heavenly family and they think God’s heavenly family runs by the same rules as their dysfunctional earthly family.  By the way, every family on earth is dysfunctional, it’s just a matter of degree, as we’re told.  So the problem is we transfer dysfunction in our earthly family, like if you had a bad relationship with your parents of something, we think God treats us the same way and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  And that’s why we need our minds renewed through the Scripture so that we are understanding God as He has expressed Himself.  So what happened is I was, the moment I trusted in Christ, brought into a brand new family.  And if you look at the second part of verse 19,  formerly I was a “stranger and an alien” but now I am a “fellow citizen with the saints, and” I am “of God’s household.”

So God looks at us as family. Now we treat family differently than strangers, don’t we?  Even in our dysfunctional families. You know, we invite people over for Thanksgiving, not complete strangers we invite family over.  And when you set up a will or a trust you typically don’t leave your wealth to a complete stranger, you leave it to a family member.  So we understand that if you’re in the family you’re treated with greater privileges and that’s essentially what God is saying about us.  We are in His family.

And remember what Jesus said over in Matthew 12:48-50, one of the disciples I think it was, says your mother and your brother, they’re waiting for you, and remember what He said?  Who is My brother, who is My mother, who is My son, who is My daughter, are not they the ones that do the will of” what?  My Father in heaven.  [Matthew 12:28, “But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ [50] And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! [50] For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”]

So right then and there He was speaking of a spiritual family that transcends physical family lines.  So the moment that you are in Christ you are a part of a family of God, you’re still a member of your physical family but you’re actually a member of a higher family than just your physical family.

And Jesus is actually your brother, spiritual brother. You say well where does it say that in the Bible?  I’m glad you asked, Romans 8:29.  Romans 8:29 says this: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He” that’s Jesus, “might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  So Jesus is the firstborn, in a sense, and all of us that are born “in Him” are His brethren, or brothers, or sisters in Christ.  So that’s what kind of kinship we have with Jesus.  And you’ll see the same kind of teaching in Hebrews 2:11-12, where we’re called the brethren, or brothers of Jesus Christ.  [Hebrews 2:11, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,  [12] saying, “I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING  YOUR PRAISE.”]

Even though He’s in a different position than we’re at because he’s deity, that doesn’t change the fact that we are also His brethren.   And we, at that point of personal faith in Christ, become God’s very own child.  So the family relationship is so tight that God looks at you as if you are His own child, spiritually speaking, and notice the Gospel of John, chapter 1 and verses 12-13.  John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, [13] who were born,” watch this, “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”  What makes  you a child of God is the spiritual birth, which is something we call regeneration, which we’ll be talking about, probably next week.

You hear politicians and people of the world say things like “we’re all God’s children,” referring to everybody in the world, six/seven billion people on planet earth, “we’re all God’s children.”  Well, the Bible says we’re not all God’s children. We’re all God’s creation but we’re not all His children.  In fact, Romans 5:10 says if you’re not in Christ you are actually God’s enemy.  [Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”]

You don’t actually become His child until you receive the new birth, or you’re born spiritually.  So 1 John 3:2 tells us that we are children of God.  [1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”]

And if you’ll follow me over to the book of Galatians for just a minute, because we are children of God we are given the privilege of sonship, sons of God, or with the female obviously daughter of God.  But notice Galatians 3:26.  Galatians 3:26 calls us sons of God.  It says, “For you are all sons of God through” what? “faith in Christ Jesus.”  Now if you go over to Galatians 4:5-7 it tells you what privileges you have as a son of God.  Notice what it says, Galatians 4:5-7 says, “So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  So we have been adopted into the royal household and family of God.  Verse 6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,” so because I’m God’s son God says I’m going to put My Son in you, through the Holy Spirit.  And look at this next expression, “…into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Now “Abba” is an Aramaic word and basically what that word means is Daddy.  We are of such close kinship to God that we can actually call God “Daddy.”

And I know that when my daughter, don’t tell her this, says “Daddy,” that is such a heartwarming experience as a parent you will do anything that kid wants you to do at that point, won’t  you.  Anything she wants, if she calls me Daddy I’ll probably end up doing that for her because there’s nothing more warming and intimate and personal than your own descendants calling you Daddy.

So we actually can call out to God the Father and call Him Daddy.  And think how that warms His heart.

And it goes on here and it says, [7] “Therefore you are no longer a slave,” now what was a slave?  Someone that worked for the master but was not an heir; “you are no longer a slave but a son” look at this, “and if a son, than an heir through God.”  So we, as sons of God, have the privilege of heirship.  Let’s say, Bill Gates started Microsoft; who you rather be?  Would you rather be Bill Gates, top CEO, now think of all the money that would entail, you would have stock options, you would have… think of the salary you would have, I mean, that would be a privileged position, to be his CEO.  Or, would you rather be his own physical child who is going to inherit everything.  What would you rather be.  I mean CEO would be great but I’d settle for son.  And see, that’s what the Bible is saying, is you are sons of God “and if a son then an heir.”  You’re not like a slave working for God, which would be a privilege in and of itself, but you’re heir to the whole estate;  you’re heir to the whole fortune.  And that’s why the Scripture speaks of our inheritance in God.

Romans 8:14-17, we don’t have to turn there but it also says we can cry out to God, Abba, Father, which means Daddy.  [Romans 8:14-17, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ [16] The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”]

Ephesians 1:5 calls us sons of God.  [Ephesians 1:5, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”].

So this is a tremendous blessing that we have in our ledger, this is a huge spiritual asset, this privilege that we have of sonship.

Now let me see if I can cover just one more before my time is up.  The second blessing you have, I don’t have these in any particular order, I’m just using numbers to organize my thoughts but the second one that’s huge is you have eternal life.  So take a look if you could at John 3:16, a verse  you already know by heart, most likely.  The second blessing  you have is eternal life.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have” what? “eternal life.”

John 4:14, says virtually the same thing.  “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

John 10:28 says, Jesus speaking, “and I give eternal life to them, [and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.]”

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is” what? “eternal life” notice the little prepositional phrase, ‘in Christ,” “in Christ” gives you access to eternal life.

Now “eternal life” are the exact same words used to describe God’s life.  Romans 16:26 of God says, “but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God,” that’s aiōnios, aiōnios means eternal.  The word eternal that describes God is the same word that’s used, translated eternal life, which we have.

1 Timothy 1:17 says, “Now to the King” what? “eternal, [immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.]”

And then over in the book of Revelation, chapter 4 and verse 10, of God it says, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever” that’s aiōnios.  So the word “eternal,” aiōnios is the exact same word in the Greek New Testament  used to describe God.

So what we have is we as recipients of eternal life we share in God’s life, that never ends, that’s what eternal life is; we are sharing in the life of God and just as God never ends the eternal life that we possess as New Testament Christians never ends as well.

So synonyms for eternal life are: number 1, you’ll never die; you may die physically but “absent from the body” is what? “present with the Lord.”  Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is” what? “gain.”  [Philippians 1:21]  So death is separation; life is being joined to God.  So the very worst thing that could happen to you in this life is someone could take your physical life away but that doesn’t impact your eternal life.  That’s why Jesus talked about don’t fear those who can kill the body, but fear the ones who cast body and soul into hell.  [Matthew 10:28, “”Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”]

So eternal life, another way of saying it therefore is you’ll never die.  You can’t die if your life is eternal.  Right?  Notice what He said the women there regarding the resurrection of Lazarus which was about to happen.  John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her,” that’s Martha, “’I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he” what? “dies,” verse 26, “and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”  So that’s another way of explaining eternal life, we never die.  Another way of saying it is immortality.  Now sometimes I’ve been preaching fast up here on Sunday and I say immorality and that’s not what I mean, I mean immortality.  We don’t have immorality, that’s not something we want to involve ourselves in but we have immortality in God.  That’s another way of saying eternal life.

Notice 2 Timothy 1:10, it says, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” so we have life and immortality, meaning it’s impossible to die.  Death, I’m defining as separation from God.  You cannot, once you receive the gift of eternal life, once you begin to share in God’s life which never ends, death or separation from God is impossible.

This is one of the reasons when we get into eternal security I’ll show you that the Bible teaches that once saved, always saved, because think about this for a minute.  If the life you have in God is eternal, which lasts forever, how can you what?  Lose it?  How can you forfeit something that’s eternal?  Isn’t that an impossibility? So since I’ll never die… immortality, the exact same words that are used to describe God’s life….

Another way, take a look at John 17:3 for a minute, Jesus is giving what I would call the Lord’s prayer, you know, we think “the Lord’s prayer” is in Matthew 6, that’s not the Lord’s prayer, that’s the disciple’s prayer.  Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray.  But in John 17:3 he is giving them a model prayer.  But in John 17 it’s actually His prayer, if you really want to study the Lord’s prayer you don’t study Matthew 6, that’s just the disciple’s prayer.  The Lord’s prayer is in John 17, and notice what Jesus says there in John 17:3, He defines eternal life, “And this is life eternal, that they might know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  It defines what eternal life is there; it’s knowing God.

Now in the Bible church environment we think knowing God means I know some facts about God, and that’s not what the word ginōskō means at all.  “Know” is the deepest level of intimacy you can have with another… in an earthly sense with another human being.  So I think it’s the King James in Genesis 4:1 says “Adam knew his wife,”  that doesn’t mean he learned about her favorite color and horoscope reading because she got pregnant as a result of knowing him.  [Genesis 4:1, And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” KJV]  Adam knew his wife and she became pregnant and begat Cain.

So in the Bible “knowing” is the deepest level of intimacy you can have with someone which is analogous to the sexual relationship between man and woman within marriage.  That’s the deepest level of intimacy you can experience with somebody.  And by way of analogy we know God, it’s not knowing facts about God and data about God, though knowing facts and data about God are important.  But it’s talking about something much grander than that; it’s talking about a deep level of intimacy and that’s how Jesus defines eternal life.

That’s why in Ephesians 5 we are the bride of the church, He is the what?  the groom, that’s why that analogy is used.  It’s analogizing our relationship to God to the most intimate relationship you can have with another human being.  Only the marriage relationship would even qualify as a potential descriptor of knowing God.

So that’s what eternal life is.  I like to define eternal life as sharing in the life of God which never ends.  I have many, many verses there on point number 5 that articulate that but one, I won’t look up all those, I’ll let you look up those up this week in  your personal study time, but one I will share with you is Galatians 2:20, which is… Galatians 2:20 is the secret of the spiritual life.  Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ;” look at this, “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” isn’t that an amazing statement.  So the secret to the spiritual life is not me going out and doing a bunch of stuff for Christ.  I mean, the secret to the spiritual life is not me going out and living for God.  You mean the secret to the spiritual life is not me going out and checking off on my check list what I’ve done for God?  That’s not the secret to the spiritual life at all.

The secret to the spiritual life, Paul says, is not me doing it, it’s Christ who what?  Lives in me.  I mean the best thing I can do is get out of the way, right.  The secret to the spiritual life is get out of the way and let God live His life through you.  That’s a totally different concept isn’t it, than what religion offers where we have to do X, Y and Z to merit something from God.  That’s not what the Bible teaches at all.  The whole spiritual life is  He lives His life through us.  That’s what eternal life is; it is sharing, I’ve got to watch myself, I’m starting to preach here, I’ve got to curtail myself, I feel a three point sermon coming on here, it’s sharing in the life of God which never ends.

And one other thing and I’ll close with this; take a look at John 5:24, eternal life is a present tense reality.  And there is so much misunderstanding… I used to think this, I’m going to die and go to heaven and have eternal life.  In other words, we look at eternal life as something we’re going to get, you know, in the afterlife at some point.  That is not how the Bible ever describes eternal life; it is a present tense reality.  It is something that the believer experiences right now and, of course, death only accentuates that, but it’s something you have now.

So notice John 5:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly,” now when He says “Truly, truly” we need to “truly” pay attention, He’s saying “truly” twice; “truly” is a translation of, it’s translated “amen.” So when we say amen, you know, like the preacher makes a point that’s good, that people agree with, they’ll say “amen.”  Or after a prayer we’ll say “amen,” and that means it’s true or it’s certain.

So Jesus says, “Truly, truly,” amen, amen, certainty times two is what He’s saying, “Truly, truly,  I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me,” that’s what gets you into these riches, believe in Christ,  he who “believes in Him who sent me,” look at this, “has eternal life,”  you see that?  He doesn’t say he who believes in me will get eternal life, He doesn’t say that at all.  “He who believes in Me has eternal life,” now when you translate the verb “has” in Greek it’s a present tense verb, eternal life is something you get right now.  It’s one of your riches that you immediately enter into at the point of faith in Christ.  “He who believes in Me has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death unto life.”  See, death is separation to something you passed out of; now that you’ve passed out of separation you’re into this union with God which can never end.  And it starts pronto, the moment you trust Christ as your Savior.

So it is knowing God (intimacy) and it is sharing in the life of God which never ends.  So what exactly do you have in Christ?  I mean, you have adoption or sonship, or heirship, and then you also have eternal life.  So I hope you’re feeling pretty rich because that’s… it’s not what I say about you, it’s what God says about you.  And we’re just barely getting into this.  Next week we’ll look at regeneration and some of these other things.  All right, I’ll stop talking and we’ll let folks go to pick up their kids if they need to do that and if anybody has any questions we can open it up for Q & A.