Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, TO THE SAINTS who are in Ephesus...” (Eph 1:1)

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is addressed to the saints! Individuals who lived in the town of Ephesus, located in present day Turkey. Individuals who had placed their trust in Jesus Christ and had received Him as their Lord and Savior. Individuals who had accepted God’s free gift of salvation. Individuals who read Paul’s letter and were very much ALIVE!!!! So, what then makes one a LIVING saint? Must one be sinless? Is a saint one who is “canonized” by a church or perhaps a member of a special holy sect?

The word “saint” literally means “holy one.” We usually apply the word “holy” to God or the Bible and find it very odd indeed to make the same application to anyone living as it implies they live a pure or sinless life. And yet, Paul applied it to the Ephesians. He wrote “to the saints”!!! Did Paul write to a sinless people? Is this how Paul saw himself? The answer is NO! We are told elsewhere that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). “All have sinned” (Rom 3:23)! All are sinners including Paul. Jesus is the ONLY exception!

So who are these “saints”? A “saint” is one who has been “sanctified” by God. This is something God does when any man, woman or child places their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. They are “sanctified by faith in Me [Jesus]” (Acts 28:18). A saint is one whose standing before God is “perfect,” not because he lives a perfect life but because Christ lived the perfect life. A saint is given Christ’s righteousness. He is given Christ’s standing before God!!

Do you have this standing before God? God declares as saints, ALL who trust in Christ.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8,9)

Salvation is a gift from God. It is freely given and, like any gift, it is not earned. One does not work for a gift! The giver would be offended if payment were offered! A simple “thank you” is all that’s expected.

This may seem trivial but the implications are enormous. For instance, how would you answer if asked why God should accept you into His heaven? Many will answer, “I have been a good person” or, “I have kept the 10 commandments” or “I have gone to church” etc. But these all point to something YOU have done to merit salvation!!!! YOU have been good, YOU have kept the commandments, etc …

But Salvation is a GIFT.  It is not something you work for, it’s something received. If God could accept you on the basis of YOUR good works then He would not have sent His Son to the cross. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross HE DID what was necessary to satisfy the demands of a holy God. It is HIS WORK that earns salvation. Jesus Christ offered Himself as a substitute to pay the price for your sin. He paid the price demanded by the Father, a price you could never pay.
This gift is not a “ticket” to heaven. Such thinking is irreverent and cheapens Christ’s great sacrifice. The one who receives the gift of salvation enters into a living relationship with God. A relationship governed by the Word of God.

Have you received the gift of salvation? Can your works replace Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?