Category: Ephesians



2 Corinthians 6:2, “For [God] says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation.” (LITV)

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Paul here quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It would certainly be beneficial to us to refer to this verse in Isaiah, and the previous one, so that we might understand what the acceptable time means.

Isaiah 49:7-8, “The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the One who is the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You. At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as My covenant with them. Through You I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”

This chapter in Isaiah is a prelude, foreshadowing or prophecy of what would eventually come to pass. Israel would be in state of enmity against God and His Holy Servant Jesus Christ. Verse 7 gives us insight into this strife, which is extant on man’s part alone, but despite the presence of unbelief and outright hostility against God and God’s Holy One, God sought it fit to impart grace upon mankind.

I would ask the reader to reflect upon the sublimity of these facts, that at one of the most hostile times in history towards God and His Holy One, that God somehow, in accordance with a grace and love far surpassing that of human-kind, purposed a time of His favor through that same Holy One, Jesus Christ. As William MacDonald mentions, the “day of salvation” mentioned, as it pertains to Jesus, “refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

"Resurrection of Christ," by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

“Resurrection of Christ,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

Therefore, this “time of favor” can be said to be situated between the resurrection and Christ’s return. Philip E. Hughes, of the NIV Study Bible, says:

“[This is] an affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Hughes correctly points out that throughout history there have been manifest times of God’s favor. However, there is an innovative originality concerning the particular age we live in now, where this hallowed salvation is made available to all mankind. Yet, we say this in a general sense, for there is also an individualistic sense in which, by Paul’s words, is not only suggested this blessed grace or salvation, but also it serves as a warning. For we are told that it is a time of God’s favor, but one necessary condition of time is that it passes. The direct consequent, then, is that this time of “acceptability” will pass. Henceforth, we understand the urgency of Paul’s message, that ‘now is the day of salvation.’

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The NIV Study Bible points this out when it states:

“[‘Now’] underscores the urgency of the divine invitation.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Time is somewhat of a relative term as it is used here. We should realize that time can mean, this moment, today, this week, fifty years from now, a hundred, or, indeed, eons from now. Of course, the verse applies its message for today. Paul does this in probably the full understanding that mankind, when it comes to salvation and holiness are the greatest of procrastinators. We tend to put off these things like obedience and faith because we fool ourselves into thinking that we will always have tomorrow, the next day, or the next, and so on, to come under the grace of our Lord. However, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, nor ten minutes from now. This strikes me as a rather prideful assertion and delusional assurance, for all evidence points to the contrary. Rather than putting these things off, let us today put on the full armor of God, with its helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes to spread the gospel of peace, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Let us put on the shining armor of right living, as the Scriptures tells us:

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Let us again consider the general and specific application regarding this “time of salvation” as it pertains to both mankind as a whole (general) and the individual (specific). We find the generality of the time of God’s favor to pertain to all man in this age between the appearances of Christ. It is in this age we are offered salvation by and through faith (in which obedience becomes an integral part) in Jesus Christ. Yet, as we have said, since it is mentioned in the context of time, it will not carry on indefinitely. Rather, this time supposes an end, so, let us run in haste and endurance that race marked out before us, while we still exist within this state or time, for we do not know the time when it will come to an abrupt end.

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Here is our chance. Here is our opportunity. Let no man suppose that this opportunity will always be there, for if it was the case the Scriptures would not emphasize us coming to the Lord, or obeying His statues, “as long as it is still today.” The Scriptures say:

Hebrews 3:7-8, “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness.’”

Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 4:7, “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’”

Psalm 69:13, “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of Your favor, in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Psalm 32:6, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

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No, we must run for the goal, which is Christ Jesus, in all due haste. How I cringe when I hear Christians suggest by their words that they can always ask for forgiveness later. How I cringe when I realize I too have done this very thing. Now I am not one to put limits on the grace of the Lord, for this is beyond my scope of knowledge, but this attitude speaks loudly in a resounding tone of arrogance and disrespectful presuppositions. For it supposes God will always forgive us and that He is always willing to forgive. Frightfully enough, the Scriptures, though Jesus tells us if we seek we shall find (Matthew 7:7), Proverbs makes it clear:

Proverbs 1:24-28, “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored My advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me.”

Therefore, let us not suppose we are always fit to be found under the grace of the Lord our God. However, those of us who have been forgiven for our past sins let us rejoice and take a firm hold of the faith. For the Lord has granted us favor, and not by our own works, but by His grace which transcends all understanding of man.

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, is is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

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Only from God’s infinite graciousness, and our Faith in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, are we saved. There is no work, nor deed, we can do of our own accord to make us worthy of the gift. Contained within this gift is the gift of salvation, and thereby a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. This gift is offered freely and we shouldn’t look to making ourselves worthy of the gift, but rather realize that the gift has already been offered and the choice is ours to either accept or deny it.

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Yet, we struggle at times, striving to be worthy of the gift, and in essence, belittling the gift offered. It is, to use unworthy human terminology, the greatest of all charitable and merciful gifts. For the gift of life to the dead has the ability to transform lives in amazing ways and it raises us up unto life. Furthermore, it shows how dead we were in sin, and how alive we are in Christ.

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(see my note concerning Romans 6:23, “On The Justice and The Gift”)

The amazing thing is this gift has already been offered to all. Anyone can accept this gift without some worldly action or deed, which testifies to the amazing glory and mercy of God. We are all equally worthless in terms of our ability to able to well up a spring of life within ourselves due to our actions. Rather, our eternal worth is found in the Lord. Thus, let us not boast of our actions and victories, for they, in and of themselves, have no ability to procure the gift. Rather, boast in the Lord, who has offered the gift, to those unworthy, and to all manner of the multitude of sinners and disobedient, due strictly to His great love and mercy for all His creation. May He be forever praised. Amen.

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“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.” -2 Corinthians 12:2

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It should be no secret to those who follow the Lord that there is indeed a supernatural aspect to our faith. The deeper our relationship with the Lord becomes, the more this is manifest within our lives. It does not follow the common course of things, causality and physicality, but rather surpasses it and our mystical (not in a pagan sense, indeed the word actually has its origins in Christianity) relationship with God becomes apparent.

A person who chases after these experiences alone, however, is in extreme danger of practicing that which belongs to the occult. Man should never initiate such experiences, but let them come at the Lord’s bidding and when He sees fit to make them manifest, and to what degree.

There are numerous supernatural manifestations that can occur when one is in the Lord. These range from prophecy, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, and even hearing, or speaking, directly from the Lord Himself. It should be mentioned there is a dualism concerning such things, for the occult has similar practices, but there is one major difference, one is perpetuated by man, the other by the Lord, and manifest in man or nature.

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Paul, no stranger to the miraculous, recounts the story of an unnamed man who was caught up to the third heaven. This, “Third Heaven,” doesn’t indicate that there are separate layers of paradise, but in this account, it suggests that wherever this person was taken, it transcends the upper atmosphere of the earth, the surpassing heaven, the firmament of the cosmos, and finally into that supernatural realm which is the dwelling place of God. What is therefore concluded by the mere existence of this third heaven is that it trumps all that is physical.

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Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t know if this person’s experience was in the body or independent of it. The interesting thing about this, among others, is that regardless, in Paul’s mind, it neither adds nor detracts from the reality of the experience. To Paul, either way, it doesn’t cease to be any less real.

There is a phenomenon some experience called, “waking dreams.” Though it has it’s ungodly representation in the occult, Christians too have these experiences, from God, where they neither know if they are awake or dreaming, or if they are of the body or a part from it. The question becomes if any of these categories negate the reality of the experience? My conviction is that it doesn’t necessarily follow that these encounters are any less real than the physical ground we walk on. In fact, they may represent to some degree true reality.

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As I have stressed before, the occult has similar practices. Apart from who initiates the experience, is there any way to tell one from another? I am convinced that there are some guidelines we should look to when approaching the subject.

The first is, who does it glorify? Realize the Lord does nothing arbitrarily and without purpose. For instance, He wouldn’t lift you up to the third heaven just to satisfy some personal curiosity you may have concerning it. Rather, the experience will be for not only your benefit, which is apparent by the mere personal nature of the experience, but the Lord will use it in order that you be a testimony before man. Thus, it will be to His glory.

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Second, where does it lead you? If one is led to a place of darkness apart from God, or if the experience makes you focus on the self, then one is in terrible danger. If such an experience leads one to become boastful of their own abilities to produce such a supernatural experience, than one can reasonably conclude it is not from God, and if it is not from God, than one is being deceived.

Deception wouldn’t be called such if it didn’t have the ability to put on a guise of something true and lead people astray. That’s why it is so effective. One should pray for discernment in the Spirit and protection of the Lord, that such deceptions may not lead you into believing a lie. We need to realize that the Great Deceiver never created anything himself, he only perverted those pure things that God set in place. Thus, there is a dualism about such things, the proper, and the sinful, or improper.

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If an experience produces fruits of a Godly nature, and it’s in perfect alignment with the Spirit and nature of God revealed in His scriptures, than one can induce that it’s from God.

Yet, on the antithesis, if an experience produces fruits of the self, pride and encourages sin, and leads people astray, along with not lining up with scripture, then one can deduce that it is not from God. Yet, it should be said that we need discernment in the Spirit, for the Spirit is capable of understanding the supernatural, while our minds are inept at knowing such things. Remember, such false supernatural occurrences are due to the actions of man and not the will of God.

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Finally, realize our God is not one of confusion. Chances are, He won’t let such experiences in your life, that are of Him, until you are ready. However, as we grow, use the faculties the Lord has given you, along with the weapons of righteousness, that in these supernatural manifestations, if they indeed occur, you may not be led astray.

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2 Corinthians 5:20“Therefore, on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God is exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

When we accept Christ and are found to be in Christ testified to by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will naturally (as concerns our newly created actuality, rather than that of the old nature) have the desire to spread the gospel message of Christ, which amounts to a reconciliation between us and God. This desire and caring for the spiritual condition or well-being of others comes direct from the Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned before in other posts, “therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. That which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” We necessarily, then, arrive at the question, of which previous statements is Paul referring.

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The answer to this inquiry is 2 Corinthians verse 18-19 of chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

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“On behalf of Christ,” according to the LITV, or Jay Green Sr.’s A Literal Translation of The Bible, is mentioned twice within the verse. The first instance modifies the statement immediately proceeding it, “We are ambassadors.” More or less, this reveals that “we are ambassadors for Christ.” The second instance, that we beseech on behalf of Christ, implies that we share the same message that Christ Himself shared, which is extant within the Scriptures and gospels.

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In addition, when the Word of God repeats itself, or seems redundant in repetition, it is truly not redundancy, but rather repetition is used for a means of emphasis. Therefore, Paul is emphasizing the fact that we are speaking on behalf of Christ, which means a number of things. Some of which will be explored in this blog post. A couple of the most basic though, are that it emphasizes that this message is not of human speech and motive alone, but rather a message preceding from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover, we share in Paul’s divine appointment, which will be discussed later, as will we discuss the great responsibility of such an appointment.

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The term “ambassadors” that is utilized is truly an important one. As The Life Application Study Bible says:

“An ambassador is an official representative of one country to another.” –Life Application Study Bible

William MacDonald in his Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

“An ambassador is a minister of state, representing his own ruler in a foreign land. Paul always speaks of the Christian ministry as an exalted and dignified calling. Here [in 2 Corinthians 5:20] [Paul] likens himself to an envoy sent by Christ to the world in which we live.” –William MacDonald

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Given this definition or usage of the word, “ambassadors,” we find that it is more than appropriate. Ellicott’s commentary gives us a little insight into the origins of the usage of the word in this particular verse.

“’Ambassadors,’ which may be noted as singularly felicitous, first appears in the version of 1611. The word, derived from the medieval Latin ambasciator, and first becoming popular in the Romance languages, is found in Shakespeare, and appears to have come into prominence through the intercourse with France and Spain in the reign of Elizabeth.” –Charles John Ellicott

Prior to this the word used was “legates.” This word has a definition within both the Catholic and Roman traditions. The Catholic usage, is “a member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.” However, because Paul was a contemporary of the Roman Empire, he obviously was using the word in the Roman context which meant, “the general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy.”

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Utilizing both “legates” and “ambassadors” we can reach several striking conclusions. The first concerns authority. By authority I mean that we are given a degree of this authority by Christ and His instruction to share this message of reconciliation. In addition, we are authoritative figures as we are both heirs to the Kingdom and beneficiaries of the glory of the Lord.

Romans 8:17, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

Moreover, concerning this authority, the Christ Jesus says:

Luke 10:16, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting God, who sent Me.”

Furthermore, in John, Jesus tells His disciples:

John 20:21, “Again [Jesus] said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’”

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However, being an “ambassador” means we are subservient to a higher rule, which is the Lord Himself. Due to the fact we are subservient, our message must correspond with the message of the higher ruling Agent, which is that of Christ Jesus. In addition, we have a great responsibility in sharing this glory, authority and message of reconciliation. As the Life Application Study Bible states:

“An ambassador of reconciliation has an important responsibility. We dare not take it lightly.” –Life Application Study Bible

This authority and responsibility in sharing the message of reconciliation denotes a couple of things. First, and again, it is extremely important that our testimony, witness, or appeal unto others must be in complete correspondence with the ministry of reconciliation as revealed by Christ and the Scriptures. Second, we must be a living testimony and sacrifice that our behavior will not conflict with the ministry. Within us the ministry of truth must be apparent as well as expressed, for we discredit the message by not being in obedience to it. I believe this responsibility and the extreme duty we have to follow Christ’s commandments is expressed earlier in chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.”

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If we are to be sincere and be fearful in our responsibility about this ministry of reconciliation, then it follows that not only will we preach the truth, but we will live according to it. Moreover, to some degree we can see how the two are mutually interconnected, so that if we cease to live by Christ’s expressed truth, the message we share with others will become distorted or open to falsehood. In addition, if we accept or let a false message creep into the message we share, how long before there is a concurrent output that becomes evident in our lives. Christians need to beware at making compromises or concessions to their faith based on sympathies or the ways and arguments of the world, for when we give these freedom or speak them, they will produce a harvest of falsity in our faith and detrimentally affect our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, we are to be partners with the Lord and not oppose Him, basing our relationship with Him on invasive doctrines. Unfortunately, this is all too common, which Paul recognized as he said, stating both our responsibility and this danger:

2 Corinthians 6:1, “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

It is God Himself who enables us both to be in obedience and to be ambassadors to the Good News, thereby let us adhere to God’s ways, the ways of the Spirit, the commands of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:6, “[God] has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.”

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This enabling by the Lord is perhaps nowhere seen more explicitly than in the example of Paul, who was chosen by the Lord, by grace and divine appointment, to spread the message of reconciliation unto the Gentiles. As Christ tells Saul at his conversion:

Acts 26:17-18, “And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.”

Though we might have authority by being trusted with this ministry, it does not mean we share, at this time, in kingly comforts which the world might tend to bestow to those who have authoritative positions. It is Paul again who mentions himself as an ambassador even though he lay in chains.

Ephesians 6:20, “I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly as I should.”

These prayers were most certainly answered, for Paul becomes an example for Christians to follow as it applies to the ministry. Obviously our prime example is Jesus Christ, but the early church fathers do present examples of how should live and how we are to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This concerns not only how they lived there lives in obedience to their faith, but also how they shared the message of reconciliation.

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The Christian cannot help but be impressed with the love of God. That the Lord implores, beseeches, and pleads with us to be reconciled to Him expresses this deep love. This love is manifest in both the Testaments. Some have the perception that the God of the Old Testament is entirely wrathful, while the God of the New Testament is entirely loving, yet the discerning Christian will realize that the Old Testament has attributes of love, while the New Testament speaks too of wrath. Yet, our Lord loves us and implores us not to come under this wrath. We live under two realities, we can either live under wrath, or we can live under grace and love. It is apparent, which one the Lord wants from us. Ezekiel (a rather wrathful book in itself) states God’s great love and desire to impart mercy.

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Ezekiel 18:31-32, “Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!”

Concerning man’s rebellion, Matthew Henry exhorts us:

“Now man must lay down his arms of rebellion, must cease his stubborn revolt, and must be reconciled to God.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

This shows the Lord’s earnest pleading, and it is not because God is on some power trip or selfish, for what does our Lord have to gain or lose by us coming to Him or not coming to Him? Matthew Henry expounds on this point:

“Though God cannot lose by the quarrel [the enmity between God and man], nor gain by the peace, yet He beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation He offers.” –Matthew Henry

Concerning this enmity, William MacDonald states matter-of-factly:

“If any enmity exists, it exists on man’s part.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Paul implores, pleads, begs, and beseeches that we would be reconciled to God. Again, God Himself is doing this! The Creator of the universe is begging before the likes of man for us to be reconciled to Him. This speaks amazingly of God’s great love, and brings forth images of Christ washing the disciple’s feet. That the Lord of all, would be so humble as to implore us is almost beyond belief. Yet, I am not the only one to be struck by the reality of this and its implications.

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“[Beseeching] seems rather strange language to apply to an ambassador. Usually we do not think of an ambassador as pleading, but that is the story of the gospel, that, in it, God is actually on bended knee and with tear-dimmed eye begging men and women to be reconciled to Himself.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Truly, it is an amazing God we serve, and we should do so, in full knowledge of God’s love, and our love for Him, in complete obedience and servitude for this is what He deserves. Further, this is the message that we should portray and share with others, that those we come into contact with may experience the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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There is a vast difference between believing in Christ and believing upon Christ. Anyone can believe in Christ, that is, that the historical Christ actually existed and was a great teacher. However, the flaw with this particular school of belief is that it doesn’t necessarily include the truth which is Christ’s inherent divinity, nor does it include the perfect love that was manifest upon the cross. This approach to Christ is held by many, including one of America’s founders, Thomas Jefferson whose “Jefferson Bible” points to Christ’s wisdom, but forgoes His divine nature and the grace offered by His sacrifice. This is a belief in Christ, but not on Christ. It is tragic, but many “Christians” also can be classified as believing in Christ rather than on Him.

To believe on Christ we must have a relationship with Him. Not some figure in the past whose mere teachings we love or agree with, but rather a still living, resurrected, ever present Lord whom we love, admonish, and worship. It is in a relationship such as this that obedience to the Lord’s teachings become manifest. To worship Christ’s teaching without a relationship with Him, is much like worshipping the Law which only condemns us. Christ’s teachings, like the Law, can show us how we fall short and our strong need for grace.

It is by Christ’s true Godly nature, His death and resurrection, that we receive forgiveness for our trespasses. Without this relationship, one cannot come into the forgiveness that is offered through love and grace. Though men may try to follow the Law, or teachings of Christ alone, there is no forgiveness offered, only condemnation. Yet, to have a relationship on Christ, based in love and in which forgiveness is offered, obedience becomes apparent and we do it not to free ourselves of the Lord’s statutes, but to please Him.

Finally, by and through this relationship, the Holy Spirit is giving unto us. It is by God’s love and grace that we receive the Spirit, who according to Ephesians 1:13 is, “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God’s possession.” Thus, if we are granted the Holy Spirit by our love of Christ and the Lord’s love for us, we can have complete confidence in our salvation, which is necessary for us to fully participate in Christ’s great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

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