August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
August 04, 2021

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."

Ephesians 1

This reminds us of Romans 8 in terms of the wonderful blessing we have in Jesus Christ. I have quoted John Calvin on this matter several times. It has to do with identity which is a big issue in our day. People are asking a lot of questions about who they are and you have what you might call an identity crisis. John Calvin says, “Man will never understand himself until he first looks into the face of God.” This is a paraphrase based on his exposition of Psalm 90. He is saying that we will never understand who we are until we understand who God is. We need to know God to know ourselves. That is the point that Calvin is making.

When you open up the Bible what is the first thing you learn about God? You learn that God is the creator and we are his creature. We are not like every other creature, not the ordinary everyday run of the mill kind of creatures in terms of animals, birds and fish. We are made distinct. On that sixth day God gives special attention to the making of man. Man is made in the image of God. That means that we are unlike every other creature. Birds can build nests but they can’t build airplanes; they don’t have that capacity, that ability. We are made in the image of God. We are not God, but we are like God, we reflect God. But if people reject God they will have a hard time understanding who they are. They won’t appreciate their nobility, their dignity as divine image bearers.

That image bearing is reflected also in our masculinity and our femininity. God made them in his image male and female which again is part of our image bearing capacity. That explains again why there is such gender confusion in our day.

But even Christians can struggle with identity issues. We can’t forget who we are in Christ. When we forget who we are in Christ we can tend to go searching for identity in all the wrong places. Paul Tripp, in a recent devotional that someone sent me about identity said, “I searched for identity in my successes, but my failures get in the way. I look for my identity in my possessions, but they age, break and malfunction. I sought identity in people, but everyone is flawed somehow. I have searched for identity in ministry, but the Spirit gets in the way. I searched for identity in knowledge, but I never know enough. I got my identity from my strength, but weakness took it away. I have taken identity from my abilities, but inability stole it from me. There is no place, no person, no experience, no possessions, no success, no skill, no level of knowledge that can impart the security of identity that everyone desires.” Here is his wise determination, “I quit looking out, (or I quit looking in) and I began looking up. I began looking up, looking to Christ.”

That is why Ephesians 1 is such a great place to go when you are having some struggles. You are struggling with identity, where do you go? You go back to a place like Ephesians 1 and it reminds us of who we are in Christ. We are told here, “I am loved, I am forgiven, I am accepted, I am adopted, I am redeemed, I have meaning and purpose, and I have a guaranteed inheritance.” Here is a great identity shaper. Christ is in you and you are in Christ.

Galatians 2 is another great place to remind us of our identity in Christ, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith with the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Our identity is found in Jesus Christ.

Who am I? I am an image bearer. Broken, because of the fall, but recreated in the image of Christ. As we go to the throne of grace we have to remember who God is, he is our Father. Our brother reminded us of that in his prayer. He is our father, but what does that make you? You are his son! We go to the throne of grace as children, that’s our identity, we were adopted in Jesus Christ.