Someone said, “Our attitude determines our altitude.” Rising above the pain of this world and focusing on the promises of God requires a different mindset than the world offers. To aid in this, God offers to make us a new creation and to help us renew our minds.
The great missionary William Carey wrote, “Expect great things from God—attempt great things for God.” Carey wisely coupled these statements as they are reliant on each other in many ways. That is, before we can attempt great things for God (and find joy and purpose in life) we must believe (expect) that our God can and will do great things for and through us. We must believe with all our heart that Jesus stands with us, is for us, and will not leave nor forsake us. Satan attacks the mind. Do not let him steal your joy or compromise your calling by listening to his favorite lies—You are not good enough. You are not worthy. You are a failure. God does not love you. Certainly, God would not want to use you. You are not qualified. The fallen should not get up and try again.
Satan knows his time is short and the return of the Lord is near. He strongly desires to steal your joy and confidence—to slow or stop your work to preparing others for the Rapture. Remember, Satan is an expert at attacking the mind.
I have found the book of Ephesians to be an excellent antidote to the venomous strikes of the enemy. In Ephesians we find a listing of profound and fantastic declarations—think of the best half-time pep talk a coach could give, then multiply that by 1000 and you begin to imagine the scope of the titles and honor Jesus “lavishes” on his people in Ephesians chapter one.
It is a documented fact that athletes perform better when cheered on by a crowd. It is amazing to me, that cheering strangers can make a highly trained and focused athlete run faster, but it is true. The book of Ephesians begins with Jesus calling out to you with a voice more awesome than a cheering crowd of thousands of millions. His words—His cheers for you should energize, inspire, and remind you of who you are in Christ.
Imagine Jesus, the mighty King, the conquering hero Jesus of Revelation 19, the Jesus clothed in power and majesty with eyes afire and a countenance as fierce and brilliant as the sun—imagine that Jesus standing before you and saying, “There are things I want you to know, things I want you to remember. And I want the knowledge of these blessings give your confidence to be a bold witness for Me.” What follows is a partial listing of what Jesus has done for you (from Ephesians 1).
WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU
- You were “chosen.” Satan may whisper, perhaps even through some notables with titles, that you are unworthy—that you are some kind of interloper, wholly undeserving of being part of something great—something of eternal value. You may think that a great theologian like Dr. Charles Ryrie, or a Billy Graham-type evangelist could be chosen, and that is true, but in addition to them, the verse pertains to God does not make mistakes. He knows you, and chose you—not because of your greatness, but by virtue of His kindness, and despite your faults. Jesus said:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain…”
The second part of verse 4 notes that you were chosen…before the foundation of the world…” Verse 5 follows up that thought by announcing that you were predestined. Verses 4-5 affirm the following truths:
- You were chosen by God
- God loves you, chose you, and equips you. Jesus more than saved you—He saved you and chose you and desires to use you.
- God’s choice to love, save, and use you was not a random thought or a second choice. You were in the mind of God long before you were born and were “chosen before the foundation of the world.”
The fact that we were chosen reveals there were other options for God. The Almighty was under no obligation to love willful and defiant humans—He chose to—knowing the cost and knowing our failings. What an amazing thought—a thought that Paul builds on in verse 5 by noting that we were predestined, which means, “God determined His choice beforehand.” What choice? The choice to love you, extend grace to you, come to earth for you, die for you, and grant you the privilege of sharing in His Kingdom’s work.
- The latter part of verse 5 notes that believers are adopted…by Jesus Christ. Note: adoption (such that one becomes an heir) was very rare in Hebrew culture. A vulnerable child could be adopted by a family and provided for, but that child would not be in line to receive an inheritance—that blessing was for blood relatives. The idea of adoption was more common in Roman and Greek cultures. The idea of an adopted child receiving an inheritance was fairly common, but it was equally common for that child to have to earn the inheritance. And it was a foregone conclusion that one bad decision could lead to the adoptee being cut-off.
Staggering then are the spiritual implications: Gentiles are not of Abraham’s bloodline and therefore cannot merit an inheritance. Though Romans had the possibility of receiving an inheritance, it was a possibility—not a promise. Paul wrote these somber lines to the Romans, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It seems that a new convert had no hope, but here Jesus promises He bridged the gap, and He “himself” has adopted us as “His children” and by grace grants the great privilege of being called His heir.
What a pep talk! His promises and blessings are manifold. If I may use a sports analogy, consider the older movie titled Hoosiers. The movie (a true story) profiles a small, underdog basketball team from Indiana winning the State Championship. Every win along the way seemed like a miracle—the team had few players and were constantly outsized and outmatched. During the State Championship, they faced a much taller, faster, larger, and better resourced team. It was a David vs. Goliath-type match-up. During the halftime pep talk, the coach did not say “You can win because you are stronger, taller, faster, and better players.” He could not say that. But he said, “I believe in you. Play with all your heart, and let’s hope for the best.” It inspired the team—they went on to win. But how much more has Jesus done for us. How much more has Jesus said to us.
There is no, “Let’s hope for the best.” There is only, “The victory has already been won! I have chosen you to be on the winning team! I have adopted you so you can inherit an eternal reward!” You can be at peace, and you can have confidence because ‘if God be for [you], who can be against [you]?’”
One might ask, Why? Why would a perfect God, with infinite choices, choose to, at great cost, stand with a willful and stubborn humanity? No words can express the depths of God’s love—so Paul simply notes that we have been crowned with grace “according to the good pleasure of his will…”
Paul recognizes the truth is amazing and almost unbelievable, and, I maintain, is part of the reason he leads in verse one by noting that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” It may be easy for us to think of Paul as the great Apostle, but as he penned this letter, many hated him or feared him. In those early days of the church, it is possible that some considered Saul/Paul an assassin rather than an Apostle. Further, Paul does not fulfill the list of requisites to serve as an Apostle as they are presented in Acts. It seems that Paul has far too much baggage that disqualifies him from serving God in a position of honor. The Jews believed he was a blasphemer and heretic. There was trouble almost everywhere Paul went in the Gentile world. Scripture seemed to be against him too, for he was complicit in the murder of Stephen and does not fulfill the Acts chapter one requirements to be an Apostle.
I believe, Paul leads with noting that he is “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” to illustrate that what others think, and even what you may think about yourself, is immaterial. The bottom line is: What does God think? What does He see in you? What does God call you to be? What calling does God want you to fulfill? God can always make a way. He breaks the chains of tradition, supersedes human logic, and uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible.
In these opening verses, Paul declares: God chose me, elevated me, and is using me—and I believe God desires to do that for you too. Herein is a great truth. God can use anyone to accomplish anything at any time.
Ephesians 1 continues by profiling who we are in Christ. We will address this in part two of this writing. Stay tuned, for what follows are words of encouragement that could act as a stand-alone document—a creedal statement touching on the unfathomable love that God extends to the unworthy. In part two of this writing, we will look at five great statements about who we are in Christ.
 2 Corinthians 5:17
 Romans 12:2
 Hebrews 13:5
 2 Corinthians 10
 John 10:10
 Ephesians 1:8 (NIV, NRSV, HCSB, ESV, RSV)
 Ephesians 1:4a
 John 15:16
 Romans 3:23
 Ephesians 1:4
 Romans 8:16-17
 1 Corinthians 15:57
 Romans 8:37
 Ephesians 1:5c
 Ephesians 1:1
 Acts 1:21-26
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