Is “Sabbath-keeping” Today Really A Big-deal?

POST SCRIPTURE – Luke 6:1-10

I have been residing in the small town of Lynden, Washington now for almost fifteen years.  It is a small rural town south of the Canadian border.  I have been hearing stories from residents and have become interested in how the town’s history all began with the early pioneers.

There Are Really Two Lynden’s –

The historic downtown part of the city was settled in the 1870s by Baptists, Methodists and THREE DUTCHMEN who, legend has it, wrote back to their families in the Midwest that LYNDEN was “just like home.”

They were right and by the early 1920s, the Dutch were the majority. Soon. Lynden stores closed on Sundays, reflecting the Christian Reformed church belief that one day of the week should be set aside for rest.  And boy, did they “set aside the day”; abstaining from all other activities was as-much-a-part of observing the Sabbath Day, as was, going to church.

At one time, the city of Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita although unsubstantiated.  [Lynden History Museum]

I heard long time residents tell me stories of the “Christian Dutch Mafia” who would respond to church members reports of “mowing lawns” on the Sabbath or reading the newspaper on front porches; checking out the reports, then telling the so-called ‘violators’–“The Sabbath is holy, so you should be holy.”  No strong-arming–just a verbal warning.

Front Street in Lynden, Washington

Things are different in this small little Dutch town today.  On October 20th, 2008, liquor is now sold on Sundays in local grocery stores and local restaurants. And even the local Family Bible Book Store opened its doors for business on Sundays.  [Note: The Family Bible Book Store has closed their doors.]

Before I go any further…let me say that these particular church members of their day were no legalists.  The didn’t make and keep rules just for the sake of making and keeping rules!

SABBATH DEFINITION:  Google online Dictionary defines “Sabbath” this way:  “A day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians (my add: ‘whatever “most” Christians mean’) on Sunday.”

Somehow…some way, these THINGS had become commitments for them; deeply rooted personal commitments that emerged in the course of living and applied their faith day-to-day, week-to-week.  And I think that’s what we wanna do!  Having FAITH,…believing in God,…trusting that God has forgiven us through the redemptive work of Jesus: that’s the one thing.

And what about life and living when it comes to the Sabbath?

What difference does it make how I spend my days…how my time is organized and spent during the week?

That’s what SABBATH is all about!

We don’t keep the Sabbath in order to be a Christian; …But we keep the Sabbath because we already are Christians!

In other words, …the motivation, …the impulse to recognize the Sabbath doesn’t arise from a desperate hope to be acceptable to God; …but it springs from a HEART OF GRATITUDE that we’ve already been accepted by God.

QUESTIONS arise when investigating what the SABBATH is all about:

  • What was God thinking when He established a Sabbath-day?
  • Why should we observe the Sabbath in today’s society?
  • What does it mean to “keep the Sabbath”?

Looking up in my Bible concordance, I found the word “SABBATH” appearing 151 times!  94 times in the Old Testament and 57 times in the New Testament.  So, I’m thinkin’ that it was pretty important to the biblical writers.

The Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8)

Bible scholars have pointed out that the first 3 commandments given deal with our relationship with God…and the last 6 deal with our relationship with others. The 4th Commandment becomes a bridge.

So if “keeping the Sabbath” is in the Top 10 of God’s Commandments, it must be important.

I thought about that for a while and reasoned why it’s an important thing for us to practice because, by the time Jesus stepped onto the scene of human history, Sabbath-keeping is an issue that keeps coming up.

Over and over again, JESUS is answering questions, providing new teachings, handling complaints, and the SABBATH is one of the main points of argument between himself and the religious leaders of the day.

If Sabbath-keeping was something Jesus talked about a lot, it must be a pretty important thing for us to understand.

My whole purpose of this exploration of “Keeping the Sabbath” is to challenge and to inspire us all to a greater appreciation…a deeper understanding…a stronger commitment to Sabbath-keeping.  And by-the-way, I had to do some soul-searching as I hope you will also, in getting a clearer picture.

We may find some stuff that has been working beneath the surface,…that really has held us back to embrace the GIFT of the Sabbath.  When we don’t observe the Sabbath,…we are really subjecting ourselves to BONDAGE–SLAVERY!  Does that sound pretty harsh?  Well…it is!

But as Galatians 5, verse 1 says:  “IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].”  (Amplified Bible)

SABBATH-KEEPING IS A BIG PART OF EXPERIENCING FREEDOM IN CHRIST  (Luke 6:1-10):

TWO incidents happen…involving JESUS and those who were considered “religious leaders” of the day.

The FIRST involved picking and eating some grain (verse 1); the SECOND involved healing a crippled man’s hand (verse 10).

Both times, Jesus was put on the spot.

Both times, the implications was:  JESUS was breaking the Sabbath command.

Both times, Jesus used the opportunity to shed new light on what Sabbath-keeping was really supposed to be about.

Giving the Pharisees the Benefit of the Doubt –

The prize of the Ten Commandments was their greatest desire and not to break any of God’s commands.  And so, in order to protect the commandments, they designed an elaborate and detailed system of additional RULES,…not so much because they liked a bunch of rules, but because they really didn’t want to break the BIG ONE!

Look at some of the RULES that we’ve come up with at home.  We don’t want our children to get their hand burned by touching a hot stove.  But, we add RULES so they are protected from ever getting close enough to the stove to get burned.

So we tell the children they can’t come into the kitchen when Mom is cooking.  The KITCHEN is off-limits!

Is the kitchen such a bad place for kids that we have a RULE saying they would have to stay out?!  NO!  The only reason why the kids must stay out of the kitchen is to make sure they don’t break the really big rule:  “Don’t touch a hot stove!”

That’s the kind of attitude that the Pharisees had.  They started coming up with layers and layers of RULES & TRADITIONS.

And so, when we read about them getting their feathers all ruffled with Jesus picking grain, or healing a man’s crippled right hand on the Sabbath…we must realize that they had developed these extensive, and elaborate rules to guard against breaking the Sabbath Command!

If you pick a handful of grain as you walk through the fields, the next thing you know, you’ll break out the combines and open a 24-hour bakery on the Sabbath!

If you heal one crippled hand on the Sabbath, the next thing you know, you’ll open an emergency care clinic on the Sabbath!

The Pharisees saw it all as a slippery slope.

They weren’t going to stand for Jesus and His disciples flaunting their “disregard” to the traditions and the laws of their fathers!

In their efforts to protect and preserve the LAW, the religious leaders added greater burdens that obscured the BLESSINGS that God wanted to give through the covenantal Law.  Their intentions were initially good. But, over time, the pharisaical restrictions…their interpretations became the focus, rather than the HEART of the Law.  And because they had lost focus, they ended up arguing with and despising Jesus.

So was Jesus then a RULE BREAKER?

Was He a trouble making, rabble-rouser?  Did He snub His nose at the good rules that had been in place for generations?  Did Jesus think He and His disciples were better than them?

Keep in mind that JESUS came to fulfill the LAW, not to abolish it!  (Matthew 5:17)

So how do we understand these events, and particularly Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath?

JESUS GIVES US THE BOTTOM LINE.

He says that He is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 5).  In other words, the SABBATH is all about Him!

Keeping the Sabbath is all about walking with Him; it’s about submitting to His Lordship.  So, whatever else it means to “keep the Sabbath”, this we can be sure of:  JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE DAY, He is the focus!

JESUS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  It is a “holy” day because we treat it differently from all the rest!

IT’S A “HOLY” DAY BECAUSE GOD, MADE IT HOLY (Exodus 20:8-11):

AND…that’s why we should treat it differently from all the rest.

We keep it HOLY when it is distinct from every other day.  It has a HOLY origin…really going back to the SEVENTH DAY of Creation:

It is a HOLY day, …with HOLY beginnings, …and a HOLY purpose.

And, Keeping It Holy!

So back to my earlier question:  “Was Jesus a rule breaker?”  Well, if you’re talking about man-made rules and traditions…I guess He was.

But when it comes down to it, how can He, …be a Sabbath-breaker, if He is the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’, as Scripture tells us?

It begins with Him; it focuses on Him, and it ends with Him.

The Pharisees had done the old ‘switcheroo’!  Instead of putting the emphasis on the One who instituted and established the SABBATH, instead of focusing on the One who gave humanity this gift, instead, their focus had shifted to man-made rules and regulations and traditions.

Those things are fine for what they are.  We all set up these kinds of things in our lives, in our households, and in our work ethics.

BUT, our RULES, TRADITIONS, AND REGULATIONS…

Being more specific…the particular ways that we practice Sabbath-keeping are not more important than the One who gave us the SABBATH and blessed it!

MY MESSAGE in this Post regarding the SABBATH is a simple one:

#1.  It is to get our focus in the right place…or better yet, on the right Person!

We start exactly where we need to start:  on the Lord Jesus!

We don’t start with man-made rules or traditions.  We don’t start with our own personal preferences.

We start with the Lord…the Lord of the SABBATH!

The SABBATH is a gift from God for us to enjoy.  So let’s CELEBRATE the Giver of this good gift;

Let’s CELEBRATE the Lord of the SABBATH!!

____________________________________________

CREDITS & SOURCES:

The Seattle Times:  Change Comes to Lynden by Robert T. Nelson.

Lynden History Museum.

The NIV Complete Concordance by Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

OUR NAKEDNESS REVEALED

Several years ago, as an adult Sunday School teacher, I was asked this question during a bible study in Genesis 3: 

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness
Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

“Why was it, that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the first thing they noticed was that we’re NAKED?  Weren’t they ALWAYS naked?”

“Well yes,” I answered.

“But before they ate of the tree…they didn’t think about it.  They were innocent; their hearts were pure.” 

Genesis 2:25 (AMP):  

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.”

Have you ever noticed little children?  Sometimes they strip off all their clothes and begin running naked all through the house.  They’re not worried about being naked, one bit.

They have no shame.  But why?

One commentator noted:

“Two-year-olds don’t see any difference between (their) face, (their) knees, and the parts of (their) body which we adults insist that (they) cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Because those parts are connected with physical lust and passions”  (Chaya Sarah Silberberg, Chabad.org).

You see, before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, their hearts were PURE–nothing needed to be covered.

But once they ate of the FRUIT…that all changed.  Their HEARTS–MINDS were now tainted by sinful thoughts they had never considered before.

JESUS said “…out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs)…”

You see, there were NO evil thoughts inside them UNTIL…they ate of the FRUIT.  

But afterwards, the KNOWLEDGE they gained…SHAMED them.

But it gets worse!

The couple’s new-found knowledge separated them from God.

THE FINAL PUNISHMENT from their disobedience of God’s command (Gen. 2:17) upon Adam and Eve was for them to leave His presence (Gen. 3:23,24):

23  So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt of which they’d been made.  24 He threw them out of the garden…

Yep! God kicked them out!!!  He evicted them from their home.

But God didn’t completely turn His back on them.  Before God sent them away, He gave them a SPECIAL GIFT:

Genesis 3:21:  “…the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now when I read the words here, I thought this was interesting:

 1st, Adam and Eve ALREADY had clothes–FIG LEAVES.

Genesis 3:7 tells us that “…they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves”  (English Standard Version – ESV)..

You know, I’ve seen many different kinds of leaves over my lifespan; I even once tried toFigLeaf grow a FIG TREE in the backyard BUT I have yet to see any LEAF that I’d feel very comfortable with wearing out in public.  And apparently, these particular leaves didn’t do much more for Adam and Eve.

When GOD comes walking in the Garden and finds the couple hide themselves…and when GOD calls out and asks Adam where he’s at, look at how Adam replies:

“I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was afraid because I was NAKED; and I hid myself”  (Genesis 3:10).

Think about that!

Up until that moment they thought their fig leaf aprons were doing the job.  But suddenly the LEAVES…leave them feeling NAKED…EXPOSED.

SO WHEN did Adam realize his fig leaves were not enough; making them feeling NAKED?  (when God came visiting)

It was when Adam found himself in God’s Presence that he realized his man-made coverings were not enough.

NAKEDNESS has been the symbol of our sinfulness ever since the Garden.  

Whenever a person’s SINS are discovered, we say they have been EXPOSED/REVEALED.

JESUS warns us NOT to be found “naked and exposed” when He comes again:

“BEHOLD, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake (alert)  and  who  guards  his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!”  (Revelation 16:15 AMP)

I think most people understand this reality of “being exposed”.  

They know their “nakedness”…they know their own sin/shame personally.  They even may be merrily living their lives, working out in the garden one day, doing something in the house, or working at the local grocery store and suddenly…it hits them out of the blue; A THOUGHT will overcome them reminding them of a something they’d said, done or thought in the past that brings a sudden wave of SHAME over their lives.

Genesis 3:11:  And GOD SAID,  “Who told you that you were naked?”

I just love that verse, which brings me back to the peruvial “THE GENESIS QUESTION” presented in Genesis 3:1:

And he [Satan] said to the woman,

“Can it really be that God has said…?”

In Henry M. Morris’ book, The Genesis Record, he writes this commentary:

The approach of Satan (through a serpent) to the woman was a masterpiece of effective subtly.  Catching her when she was alone, without Adam to counsel and warn her, probably one day when she was admiring the beautiful fruit trees in the garden, he first insinuated something which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before, namely, that it was possible for a creature to question God’s Word, “that God has said?”  In other words, “Did God really say such as that!”  Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve’s “naive” acceptance of God’s command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries with great success ever since. This first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought.  “He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He?  Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?

If one studies each situation closely, you will find that SIN always begins by questioning either the Word of God or the goodness of God, or both.

So the 1st thought-provoking thing that came to me about the story of ADAM & EVE was that they ALREADY had clothes; they just weren’t very good clothes and were man-made.

The 2nd thing that’s thought-provoking here was God supplied their clothing.  He gave them clothing that He made for them.  GOD DID IT ALL–they did nothing.  All they did was to put on the clothes and even more interesting was the KIND of clothing God supplied–ANIMAL SKINS.

Genesis 3:21 says, “…the Lord made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now where would God get skin off an animal?  It’s got to die!

When God called these animals to cover Adam and Eve’s NAKEDNESS–their Shame–it became the beginning of animal sacrifices.  Animal Sacrifices were made throughout the Old Testament to pay for SIN.

The LAW OF MOSES repeatedly taught the Israelites that every SIN that they committed was punishable by DEATH.  But since everyone sinned, God allowed them to PAY for their sins by OFFERING UP a Sacrifice a pure and spotless animal in their place.

Hebrews 9:22 tell us  “..without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”

Leviticus 17:11 taught  “…for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents].”

In order for God to give mankind forgiveness…something had to die.

But why would God have an animal die for ADAM & EVE?  Well, God had created the animals FOR them.  One of these gentle companions God had given them had to DIE to cover their NAKEDNESS.

A PRICE had to be PAID for their SIN and BLOOD, which is the life of the sacrificial animal was the dearest price that could be paid.

And so, the animals that God used to make Adam and Eve’s garments are the FIRST DEATHS on earth.  Nothing else had ever died before this.  They were literally the FIRST SACRIFICES ever made in man’s history.

One person has rightly noted that God made the FIRST and the LAST Sacrifices for man’s sin.

Here in the Garden of Eden, God sacrificed the FIRST innocent animal to cover sin.

And it was on Mount Calvary, God made the LAST sacrifice, His sinless son, to COVER sin. 

In the garden, God supplied Adam and Eve with garments.  His GIFT to them involved the DEATH of an innocent animal.

His GIFT to us, involved the GIFT of His Son…a PURE & SPOTLESS OFFERING to cover our NAKEDNESS.

Genesis tells us that God sacrificed those first animals to cover man’s NAKEDNESS. And today, the SACRIFICE of Christ on the Cross covers our NAKEDNESS.

BUT HOW?

The answer is found in Galatians 3:27:

“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ  [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah]  have put on (CLOTHED yourselves with) Christ.”

When we were buried in the waters of our BAPTISM, we were literally wrapped in JESUS and His righteousness COVERS us like a garment.

BUT THE GARMENT we received through Jesus Christ is far better than the ones that Adam and Eve were given.

  • Their garments would eventually wear out.
  • Their garments would eventually be torn and stained.
  • And their garments would ultimately become shabby and not worth wearing.

But worse than that…the GARMENTS God had made for Adam & Eve would never allow them back into God’s presence.  No matter how long they wore them, they would never be allowed to re-enter the beautiful Garden that He had prepared for their home.

But when you and I put on JESUS, that all changed.

Hebrews 10:14-23:

“…by one sacrifice (Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more…Therefore brothers, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having out hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”  (NIV Bible).

Unlike Adam and Eve, the GARMENT Jesus supplied us with gives us the privilege of BOLDLY COMING to God’s presence and enjoying His love and compassion on a personal level.

No more NAKEDNESS–no more SHAME!  We have been made innocent in God’s eyes by the BLOOD COVERING of His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

stock-photo-cross-with-a-man-kneel-in-prayer-on-a-beach-at-sunset-138903485

 

 


CREDITS:

The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris – Baker Book House Grand Rapids, MI 49506 – Copyright 1976

Photo Images:  search Google Images; Shutterstock.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

“A Match Made In Heaven”

TEXT:  Ephesians Chapter  One.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  [4] For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love [5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will”  (Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV).

[*NOTE: Capitalizations–“He”, “Him”, “His”–are inserted by this writer out of respect for God’s Majesty.  The original text in the NIV Bible doesn’t capitalize].

 

FIRST of all, this study is NOT about Calvinism or Arminianism doctrines.  It IS a study on BLESSINGS:

BLESSING #1.  God pursued us in the past–called ELECTION and…

BLESSING #2.  He makes us family in the present–called ADOPTION.

BLESSING #3.  GOD will make us COMPLETE in the future–called UNIFICATION.

I could end this blog right here…but I won’t, for there is so much more to learn from Scripture.  My hope is by the end of this study, you will grasp the LOVE of God has for you and the beauty of this BLESSING regarding ELECTION or CHOICE.

WHAT IS “ELECTION”?

The Greek New Testament, the word is eklegomai – “CHOOSE” [See Footnote [i] ].   In the context of DIVINE ELECTION, God is said to “choose” His people – (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 15:7; and of course, here in Ephesians 1:4).

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins with “Long ago, even before he made the world…”- long before anything at all was made, God was there–this was the ETERNITY before CREATION.

God was completely sufficient and not needing anything.  But before CREATION, God did something–He thought about you and me with a PURPOSE in His mind.  This PURPOSE included JESUS and us – It says “God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ  Jesus…”

This CHOOSING of us by God is called ELECTION, based on “A Match Made In Heaven”. After 50 years of marriage, my wife and I can look back at all the naysayers, the trials, the disappointments along the way, and truly say our marriage was “a match made in heaven!” 

In Eternity–Before time began…

A MATCH was made in heaven where God Almighty matched us together with JESUS in His mind!  He did this because His LOVE–He specifically and purposefully CHOSE you, He chose me.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!

There are some arguments about where the concept of LOVE belongs in verse 4 of the text; actually three different arguments.  But I like the New Living Translation (NLT) talking about God CHOOSING US in relation to His LOVE–and nothing else:

“Even before he made the world, God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

THE FIRST TRUTH–That God’s LOVE should revolutionize and transform the Christian life.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT TO HIM:

God CHOSE to have a relationship with you–GOD CHOSE YOU!  You were important to Him!  Take a second and PRAISE GOD, right where you are, for that!

We were like a puppy at the local Animal Shelter.  But you know what?  God didn’t need to choose you.  There’re others far more eloquent than you and me–more compassionate–more holy than us that He could have chosen for His service in our place.

But God, who looks out over all of humanity, knows every skill, every weakness, knows every sin and every part of goodness in every person, and out of all those CHOICES, He decided to CHOOSE you and me.

And notice that Paul wrote “God chose us” – It’s NOT about me being chosen (focused on PRIDE)–It’s about God CHOOSING me (focused on humility).

But in LOVE to God and humility, I can say, if you are a CHRISTIAN, you are God’s CHOSEN–His ELECT.

The Concept of Election…

The idea of “ELECTION” plays against what we’ve always thought.  We think that WE need to pursue our relationship with God!  CHRISTIANS DON’T NEED TO PURSUE GOD – He has already pursued you, chosen you, and developed a relationship with you.  The fact is, it’s not all about PURSUIT, but about OBEDIENCE to the call.

In Tommy Tenney’s popular book, The God Catchers:  “God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found”  (page 11).

Your RELATIONSHIP with God is more important to Him than it is to you by a long shot–considering all that He has done in advance through Christ to establish it.  What we need to do is let HIM continue to RELATE to you.

Don’t insult God by acting as if you bother Him, or a nuisance,  or you annoy Him.  He went to great LENGTHS to make you His ELECT, His CHOSEN.  You have the relationship–start honoring God today by letting Him take back control of the relationship.  TALK TO HIM and let Him talk to you…to guide and to love you.

God pursues US!

See, you might not have known this before, and so before…when you WORSHIPED unenthusiastically; before… when you PRAYED, timid and shy; before… when you read your Bible and you didn’t expect anything…that’s where I found myself years ago, so I know…but NOT ANYMORE!

Forget that stuff that’s behind!  Now you know that when you come into the PRESENCE OF GOD, He says “MY CHOSEN ONE!  I have sought you.  I have bought you with the blood of the LAMB.  Come on in!”

But there is more– The “BLESSING OF ELECTION” (Ephesians 1:4):

“God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes”

In the Amplified Bible, it reads “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ…that we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS”

The words “HOLY” and “BLAMELESS” are two important terms in the BLESSING OF ELECTION–

The first term is “HOLY”:

Back in verse one, Paul addressed this letter “to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones).”  If something is set-apart, it’s made “HOLY.”    VERSE 1 and VERSE 4 uses the same Greek word – “hagios” – holy [Footnote [ii] ].

GOD’S LOVE TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES–

God made you HOLY, and HOLINESS is being set-apart for God’s use.  In other words, if you are a “true believer” in Christ, God CHOSE you from the beginning of time so He could USE you today!  God doesn’t just set something apart so it can sit and collect dust.  He has a specific plan for our lives in Jesus’ name.

That idea doesn’t set well with some people–that God would have a different plan for your life than the one you’ve chosen–

“I don’t want to live in a jungle as a missionary!”

Or here’s a personal statement I made when my pastor approached me with a bible study for dementia/Alzheimer at a group home:  “I want to teach Lord, but not here!”  He had a different plan for my life, and full of many blessings.

The fact is, we don’t TRUST God with our lives.  If you’ve never seen that missionary movie, Edge of the Spear, you should.

But God made us HOLY so He could use you and make your life SIGNIFICANT for JESUS’ sake.  Our lives are important to God whether we believe it or not!

But there’s more! – God made us “HOLY” and…”BLAMELESS” in His sight–(without fault).

Paul is making reference to the requirements in the OT system; where lambs were sacrificed.  The SACRIFICIAL lambs represented Jesus Christ–the SINLESS, SPOTLESS Lamb of God who would be SACRIFICED for all of us.

Peter uses the same word:  “But  [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:19 AMP).

FACTS DON’T LIE!

MY PURITY IS IMPORTANT TO GOD–

God considers you right where you are now, WITHOUT a blemish, not bearing the effects of sin, carrying no blame because you are “in Christ.”

JESUS paid for our sin on the cross.  If He hadn’t died…we wouldn’t be “blameless.”  But because He did, when we placed our TRUST in the cross of Christ, God looked at us and said “You are spotless.”  It ALL comes back to God making that possible in eternity past through His love.

But what a slap in the face we give God…when we willingly turn our backs and choose to live in sin–when we treat our BLAMELESSNESS dishonorably, sinning without so much as the beat of an eyelash.

Our PURITY is important to God–so important that He gave us the title of BLAMELESS in eternity past–before Genesis 1:1.

THE THREE BLESSINGS I FOUND IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER ONE:

ELECTION is the FIRST of Paul’s’ three blessings in Chapter One.  Or as I like to call it, “A Match Made In Heaven.”

It reveals the LOVE God had for me; it presents me with some truths about God that absolutely revolutionized my own spiritual life.

My RELATIONSHIP with God is important to him and…my life’s DIRECTION is important to my Father, while at the same time, my PURITY is important to God.

A Match Made In Heaven
A Match Made In Heaven

My POST has been directed primarily for those of us who have accepted JESUS as our Forgiver and Lord.  When we understand how BLESSED we are to have been chosen by God as HOLY and BLAMELESS through Jesus Christ, when we realize that our DESTINY is to be part of God’s family; when we comprehend that God has poured out all His grace into our lives; how can we help but humble ourselves before Him and give Him the PRAISE and GLORY!

But maybe after reading this message, you’re asking – “Am I really one of God’s chosen, ‘a match made in heaven’?  

I believe, if that’s your thoughts in asking, it’s the evidence that God is drawing you to Himself.  He’s been waiting for your decision.

SHARE your questions, your decision below in the comment section of this Blog and I’ll try to answer your questions.

 

Bible References: New International Version [NLT]; Amplified Bible; New Living Translation Bible [NLT].

Photo Credits:  Ephesians 1:4-5 – mazmagi.blogspot.com; Shutterstock.

Footnotes:  [i]; [ii] – Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.