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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Message of Salvation

As we continue to study the book of Ephesians, St Paul's message of salvation unfolds. He is showing us who we are in and through Christ Jesus and it is who we were always meant to be.

The book of Genesis tells us... Genesis 1:26 "God said, 'Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves..." .

We were created in God's own image.
We are regarded by Him as more important than all of His other creations, including the Heavenly angels. We were created to be with Him, in all His glory and splendour, to be in His presence and bask in His Love for all eternity.

This is who we were meant to be...but along came the serpent. The moment Eve  ate of the forbidden fruit and encouraged Adam to do the same sin entered the world and sin separated us from God. We could no longer bask in His loving presence.
Eve and Adam,  Domenichino 1623, Royalty Free Images
We were sentenced to death.
St Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-2 "And you were dead, through the crimes and sins which used to make up your way of life when you were living by the principles of this world, obeying the ruler who dominates the air, the spirit who is at work in those who rebel."

When we choose to embrace sin and choose the values of the world over God's commandments...we are spiritually dead. We have inherited the sinful nature of our ancestral blood...straight down from Adam and Eve. We will constantly have to fight against this 'natural instinct' if we choose life with God through Christ Jesus.

St Paul goes further to say  Ephesians 2:4-5 "But God, being rich in faithful love, through the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, brought us to life with Christ - it is through grace that you have been saved."

God loves us even when we sin. 
He never turns His back on us, it is we who separate ourselves from Him by our poor choices. He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him.

Jesus' sacrifice is proof of God's love for us.
We are constantly reminded throughout the New Testament that it was through Jesus Christ that we have been restored to the place that God always intended for us to be.  Ephesians 1:7 "...through His blood we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins."

St Paul gives us this reminder...Ephesians 2:6-7 ...and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in Heaven, in Christ Jesus. This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how extraordinarily rich he is in grace."
God's grace is a gift.
We are told further in Chapter 2 that  we are completely unworthy of God's graces. We are His creations, re-created through the blood of Christ and saved from our true and deserved destiny because of His great love for us and through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The gift of salvation is the greatest gift that God has ever given to mankind. We walk among the living dead daily. We encounter them almost everywhere we go, though we may not even be aware of it. Some of us, like St Paul himself, once were living dead as well. Some of us even walk a sort of death tightrope, delicately balancing the light and the dark, not fully embracing the light.

God is love, God is light and we were made in His image and likeness. This means we were meant to give love and light, to be reflections of God in our world. We are called, through Jesus Himself, to do as He did when He walked the earth. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

Am I walking the death tightrope by compromising with the values of the world?
Am I afraid to let my God-light shine because of what others will think?
Am I firm enough in my faith to make a stand when the need arises?
Am I a living example of Christ? Do I live out my faith?
Do I draw others to God or turn them away?
Do I choose God above all else?

That's a lot to chew on isn't it? St Paul gives us much food for thought and I find that I fall short of who I am meant to be in God's eyes, but I believe in His love for me and for us all. I have faith and trust that His Grace covers over all.

Father I pray for myself and all who read this blog and all my friends in blogland. I pray for our families and for all of our needs. Mostly, right now, as I lift them all up, I pray that you will give us the strength and courage to not sit on the fence, to not walk that tightrope anymore, but to choose to put you first above all else, to embrace who we are meant to be through Christ our Lord.

My friends may we all shine brightly for Jesus...now and always.


Renee said...

Thanks for this lovely post, lovely picture (of Jesus welcoming someone home), and lovely prayer. Blessings!

Craig said...

THAT was a post that shone (shined?) brightly!! The whole gospel presentation from the book of Ephesians – I've never done one like that before – I think it's brilliant the way you put it together. And this – you know I heart this, "we were meant to give love and light, to be reflections of God in our world." there is good reason for us to be aligned – for humans to be in this universe – God knew what he was doing – thank you for this Lisa Maria – you ARE good at it!! I was blessed.