Real Christians Should Exhibit Evidence Of The Holy Spirit In Their Lives

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-16)

Why was the Apostle Paul so happy to see the Ephesians’ faithfulness to the Lord and love for each other? Because it was evidence that they were genuine Christians, that they were saints, God’s elect. These actions were evidence that the Holy Spirit was indwelling them, and of course, the Holy Spirit only indwells those who are saved:

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13b-14)

Christians are given the Holy Spirit the Moment they believe

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13b-14)

Christians are “elected” or “chosen” in Christ before the foundation of the world. However, we were not given the promised Holy Spirit to dwell inside us until the day when we believed. The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. What this means is that the Holy Spirit is a down payment signifying God’s promise to completely transform us at the ressurrection (I Corinthians 15:52). We are still sinners now, and yet we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. He gives us the power to choose to serve God rather than ourselves. Proof that the Holy Spirit is inside us is when we accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior and obey Him in our hearts. Of course many people will pretend to obey Jesus and believe in Him for appearance’s sake, but only those who really do trust Him in their heart have been sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I urge everyone reading this blog post to admit that they are horrible sinners, to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, if they have not already done so.

It was always part of the plan

in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. (Ephesians 1:12-13a)

Some people become Christians when they are very young, others when they are old.  Some people learn the truth about Christ from childhood, while others, God allows to wander most of their lives in hopelessness and despair until they finally hear the gospel and believe. This is not because God loves some Christians more than others, but rather, that He has an unique role for all of them. When God allows someone to be raised in a Christian home and come to know Him at a very young age, God is glorified by the results, by empowering the person to live a lifetime of consistent integrity. On the other hand, when God saves some one who is very old, after years of being lost in sin, God is still glorified, as a compassionate God who saves the weakest out of most desperate circumstances. God is glorified in both cases, and His love for both believers is complete. They will both spend eternity in fellowship with Him in heaven.

The Apostle Paul had been a Christian longer than most of not all of those at the church of Ephesus when he penned the letter above. He was one of the first to put our hope in Christ. The Ephesians were saved later, being included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Neither group is superior or inferior to each other. The individuals in both groups were equally “elect,” chosen by  God before the foundation of the world. They were always going to be saved, He was never going to abandon any of His children, but God had reasons for waiting unto the appropriate moment for it to come to fruitiation.

Christians are elected for the Praise of God’s glory

In my previous post I talked briefly about the “what” of election, the fact that believers are predestined beforehand to believe in Jesus Christ. In today’s verse (Ephesians 1:12), we will learn about the purpose of God’s election:

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-12 NIV)

Paul says that him and the other early Christians, namely, the “first to put our hope in Christ” were predestined by God to be saved, not to bring glory to themselves, but for the praise of God’s glory. Those of us who trust in Jesus Christ for salvation have nothing to brag about, our salvation was accomplished by God’s grace and love, not by our own intelligence and greatness.

 

God’s elect are chosen in Christ

 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:11 NIV)

Nothing that happens in the world is random, including each decision that each one of us make. All who hear the gospel are commanded to consciously believe in Jesus and repent of their sins, but sadly, not all will. Those who do indeed choose Christ were actually chosen by God from eternity past, being predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Although each of us believers is unique, and have a different story of how we came to faith in Christ, we are also the same in that we were all chosen in him (Jesus) and for him. God does not save people through diverse pathways and religions, only those who believe in Jesus Christ are His true followers. Those who choose Buddha, or Mohammed, or Joseph Smith over Jesus Christ are not God’s chosen people, because they have not obeyed God by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. God’s election happens in Jesus Christ alone.

All things will be united under Christ

 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV)

God’s working in human history has always been directly related to the great mystery of the univers: Jesus Christ coming as a man to die for our sins. This mystery, which was mostly hidden during Old Testament times, has now been revealed with great clarity, although it has not yet been completely consummated. Christ has already died for us and been ressurrected and ascended to heaven. However, the times have not yet completely reached their fulfillment, because wicked humans are still permitted to disobey and rebel against God; indeed, God has allowed the ungodly to be dominant over the world governments.But a day is coming when our savior will return as judge and set things in order. Then Jesus Christ will recieve the recognition and worship that is rightfully His. He is both the beginning and the end; the creator of the Universe and it’s final judge. All that ultimately matters in this world is whether or not one has a relationship with Him.

The mystery revealed

It’s a well established fact that human beings are much more fascinated by what they do not know than what has already been revealed. That is why writers save their greatest plot twists for the end of a book. God, fully aware of the inconsistencies of human nature also saved some of the greatest “plot twists” when He gave us the scriptures. The largest part of the Bible, the Old Testament, although containing a lot of plain truth, leaves some of the biggest truths of all shrouded in ministry. It is only at the end of the book, the New Testament, where the answers are revealed plainly:

With all wisdom and understanding,  he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, (Ephesians 1:8b-9 NIV)

The reason why God hid the truth about salvation in Christ for so many years was because of His wisdom and understanding. He knew that if He had unveiled His salvation right away that humans would have taken it for granted and quickly forgotten about it. So instead He built up the suspense. He gave His people instructions that helped them grow in their knowledge about their need for salvation from sin. He taught them about His salvation by giving them food in the wilderness. They learned about judgment from the plagues He sent among them. He taught them about the necessity of perfect sacrifice in the passover meal and the tabernacle rituals. He sent them prophets to give them hope that a savior was coming.

And then, one day, the savior came. They were excited for awhile–especially as long as Jesus was feeding the hungry and raising the dead. But it wasn’t long after that that they started taking Him for granted and forgot about Him, just as one would expect. Fortunately, not every one forgot about him. There have been some throughout the ages that have remained true believers. We have clung to the truth of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross even while others have gotten bored with it. It may have been more interesting when it was still a mystery, but now we can experience the deep joy that comes from having the mystery revealed. We must stay true to the hope that has been revealed to us, and not get sidetracked by the distractions of the world that try to make us forget about what we have learned.

Christianity addresses the problem

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us (Ephesians 1:7-8a).

People turn to religion for many different reasons. Often it is to find purpose, happiness, friends, or recognition. But true Christianity teaches us that we need to turn to God not only to get something that will make us happier, but to get rid of something that is destroying us. True Christianity teaches us that we are all sinners, not just part-time moderate sinners, but fulltime immoral sinners. We are all extremely wicked and we do horrible things to the ones that we ought to love. Other religions are not honest about the great depth of this problem. But true Christianity tells it to us like it is. It reveals us each as horrible sinners.

Fortunately, in addition to providing condemnation, Christianity also provides a way out. The answer is Christ, and only Christ. He is the only Who died for our sins, so we must believe in Him in order to be saved from Him. True believers are brought back to a relationship with God through His blood. We have all committed many sins, but fortunately God grants forgiveness of sins, not meagerly, but richly. With great liberality God’s grace has been lavished on us. This grace is only given to those who believe in the one through which it comes: Jesus Christ. Those who spurn this rich gift will still have to face punishment for their sins, as the writer of Hebrews says:

 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:3-4 NIV)

God’s Predestination is both gracious and glorious

In love  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6 NIV)

In my previous post we discussed how true believers are chosen by God long before they are born. We are too sinful to believe through our own power; the only reason that we are able to choose God is because He chose us first. He predestined us to be adopted as His own sons, and to spend eternity with Him. This act of predestination brings great honor to God, because it reveals His loving, gracious nature for all to see. The election of the saints (true believers in Christ) results in the praise of the glory of His grace. This grace is not something that any of us have earned, rather it is something that is freely bestowed on us. We are not saved by our own merit, but by the merit of the Beloved, that is, Jesus Christ.

How are we able to find our way?

In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (Ephesians 1:5 NIV)

Finding the truth in life is hard. It is more than just learning facts; finding truth requires one to interpret facts, an exercise of the intellect that is much more difficult than it sounds. Human beings cannot discover spiritual truth on their own because of their ignorance of the facts on the one hand, and their strong bias to disbelieve the proper interpretation on the other hand. However, many people do believe the truth in the end because God predestined them to find it. True believers are not those who are naturally smarter and wiser than others; they are simply sinners who found the truth because God chose them in love, according to the kind intention of His will. Those whom God has thus elected are thereby predestined to be adopted as sons of God Himself. This adoption is made possible by the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Therefore, no Christian is able to take personal pride in their salvation, since it came by the grace of God, not by the power of their own intellect, nor their own inherent goodness. We must praise God for our salvation; we can claim none of it for ourselves.

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