Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thoughts from the Book of Ephesians (Part 1)

I've recently been meditating on Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. At our church, I recently preached a series of sermons from this wonderful treasure of scripture entitled, "Sit, Walk, and Stand." These are the three key words that are brought out in pretty much every study of the epistle of Ephesians. These three key words in Ephesians relate to our POSITION IN CHRIST: "SIT" (verse 2:6), our LIFE IN THE WORLD: "WALK" (verse 4:1), and finally, our ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE ENEMY: "STAND" (verse 6:11). The life of every believer is governed by these three aspects. What is our position in Christ? How do we walk that out in relation to the world and our earthly surroundings? And finally, how does that relate to our attitude towards the enemy?

If we understand our position in Christ, then the other two aspects will fall into line. So…Today, let's look at the first of these three words, "Sit"…found in Ephesians 2:6. Actually…if we want to know our position relative to Christ, we must first know the position of Christ. Fortunately, we have to look no further than the book of Ephesians. Paul writes, in Ephesians 1:20-21, "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Where is Christ? These verses plainly state that Christ is seated next to the Father in Heavenly places. This is His rightful place as the firstborn of the Father and heir of all things (Heb. 1:2). After His resurrection, Christ is exalted and sits at the right hand of the Father. After His resurrection, Christ said to His disciples in Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Phil. 2:5-16 says that He has been given a name that is greater than any other name! He has complete authority over Heaven and Earth. Now that we know where Christ is, we must understand how we fit into the picture.

Let's look at verses Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."

There are three experiences that a believer has in union in Christ:

1. God made us alive with Him (Ephesians 2:5) - Literally it reads that God's love and mercy have "made us alive together with Christ," expressing the intimate union we have the Lord.

2. God raised us up with Him: (Ephesians 2:6) - We have been raised up, or resurrected, in the likeness of Christ. (Romans 6:5) - Not only that, but we have been raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places, far above this earth.

3. God seated us with Him: (Ephesians 2:6) - The believer, by virtue of his union with Christ, is enthroned in the invisible world of spiritual reality where Christ reigns supreme. Because we are made alive in Him, raised up us with Him, the result is that we are jointly seated with Him

We were once dead in sin, but now we are resurrected and are to sit with Him in Heavenly places! This verse speaks of the spiritual position the believer has in Christ and His authority. Sitting in heavenly places with Christ is both a present and future truth. It is a position—seated in heavenly places—that is a reality now so that we may claim throne rights over our adversary, the devil. This is a wonderful truth, but also a very difficult challenge. This involves a completely new way of thinking. It is hard to comprehend that we are seated with Christ in Heavenly Places whilst here on this earth. Fortunately, Paul elaborates for us in Colossians 3:1-2, "If [SINCE] ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Since we are risen with Christ and seated with Him, we must be Heavenly minded at all times. Being Heavenly minded is seeking things above, not of this earth. Christ exhorted His disciples to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"…this is being Heavenly minded.

Recently, we were privileged to have the President of Zion Fellowship International, Dr. Brian J. Bailey, come to visit our church and teach at the little Bible School that we have here in Virginia. Dr. Bailey taught on the subject of the Second Coming which is a subject that he quite literally wrote the book on. He was one of my teachers when I was in bible school and the spiritual father to my spiritual father, which I guess makes him my spiritual grand-father. Anyway, it was a blessing to have him here and have him share the wonderful revelation that God has given him regarding the subject of the Second Coming of Christ. We took the privilege of his coming as an opportunity to invite many people outside of the church to come and sit in on the classes. We had a family drive almost 2 hours just to hear him teach. Unfortunately, not everyone capitalized on this tremendous opportunity and I was greatly saddened. One particular story, which I will share now, broke my heart. This morning I went to breakfast with our senior pastor and his family. During our time of fellowship he shared to me how he had invited a pastor of another church to hear the teachings of Dr. Bailey. He shared with the pastor personal experiences of the anointing that is upon Dr. Bailey when he preaches and the very specific revelation that the Lord has given him and invited him to come and be a part. His response… "That sounds so nice…but that day is going to be so nice. I prefer to be out on my motorcycle." Are you kidding me?!?! I don't know this pastor and I'm sure he's been invited to lots of different services, but how do you pass up an opportunity to be in the house of the Lord and hear anointed teaching to go out on a motorcycle ride? This is just incomprehensible to me? I have nothing against motorcycles and I'm sure they're fun, but that is a temporal thing. This is exactly what being Heavenly minded is NOT! This is not seeking first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness.

I have noticed this dangerous mindset in many Christians. God is an afterthought. Church is something you do on Sunday and that is that. Christians are so overcome with temporal things that they lose sight of the fact that they are seated in Heavenly Places next to the Lord Jesus! If Jesus were standing in front of you, would you tell Him, "Hang on Jesus…I know you wanna talk to me right now, but it is way to nice to be inside. I'm gonna go for a ride on my Harley!" Or how about, "Jesus, I just got free pass to play Pebble Beach…I can't turn this down…catcha later." We must live our lives with the understanding that God has raised us up and seated us next to Christ. What are we doing with our lives? How are we going through each and every day? Do we live with the understanding that we are seated with Christ? Do we seek Heavenly things? Do we pursue the Kingdom of God with all our strength? Or…do we get so overwhelmed with the pleasures of this world that God becomes an afterthought?

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