Saturday, November 23, 2013

Know What You've Been Given, then Forgive! -- Part I

One problem I find all too often in churches, and with Christians in general, is the focus on what we must do, or what we should be doing.

If we do not know who we are, or what we have, then we will find ourselves unwilling or unable to do anything else.

Consider the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul writes in the fourth chapter:

"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

"Forgive" should read "be gracious".

We need to understand how gracious God is to us before we can be gracious to others.

In other words, we need to know what we have been given in order to forgive others!

How do we find out what God has given us through Christ? Read the first three chapters of Ephesians.

Start with the first chapter:

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:"

We have blessed with everything because we are in Christ. "Spiritual" does not mean that the blessings are only non-material, but that their origins are spiritual.

Keep in mind that God is a Spirit, and He spoke the entire material universe into existence.

"4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love"

God wanted us before we were even born, and before He had formed the world. He also determined that we would be holy, special, and set apart before Him, with nothing to fear in terms of shame or reproach.

"5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"

When we are set before God as blameless and holy, we are predestined to be His adopted children. The word "predestined" has been misconstrued to suggest that God has already determined who will be saved and who will not be saved. Such thinking treats time as a matter larger than God, when God created time as much as everything else in the world.

When He receives you, you can be sure that you are going to be adopted and be His child.

"6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

We are accepted, or made gracious, in the Beloved. Here, Paul does not write "Jesus", but writes specifically "Beloved", so that we can know that in Christ we are precious and loved children of God, and that God the Father sees us in Jesus and as Jesus.

John, who would write "God is Love" (1 John 4: 8), also writes:

"Herein is our love made perfect (lit. Love made perfect among us), that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

I have only read through four verses in the first chapter of Ephesians, and yet many Christians remain woefully ignorant of their identity and inheritance in Christ Jesus.

The more that we see who we are and what we have in Christ, the more that we can do for Him, for He is able to work in us and through us, since He is our life (Colossians 3: 4)

When we see that God's grace has made us children of the Living God, inheritors of all spiritual blessings in Christ, has provided us holy and blameless before God, we find that we can forgive others without great trouble.

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