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Making a Difference: What are the essentials to training? Ephesians 2:1-10
I have three questions–indicate your answer by raising your hand. 1) How many of you have seen a dead person? And 2) How many of you have watched someone die, whether a relative, on the battlefield, in an accident or at a hospital? And 3) How many of you have seen someone move from being dead to being alive?
The third question depends on what I mean by dead and alive–because the Bible teaches, even though you were alive, before Christ you were dead. And Christ made you alive–you are now spiritually resurrected from the dead. Salvation is radical work. Salvation is the dramatic work from death to life.
Salvation is not the addition of Christ to your life, it is Christ transforming your life. The Bible knows nothing of, “Just ask Jesus into your heart,” or “Pray this prayer and you will be forgiven,” or “Try Jesus.” Those phrases are not merely dangerous, they are often damning. In order to impact others, influence a spouse, train children, evangelize the lost, disciple students, invest into leaders to make a difference for Christ, you must know, live and share genuine salvation.
Today we begin a life-changing series–it’s my doctoral dissertation preaching project, a future book, a main passion all about the biblical essentials to training others. All of you desire to influence your children and grandchildren, your students, your spouse, believers in your community group, relatives, even future leaders from foreign lands.
But in order to impact others for Christ, you must know the Gospel of Christ. You must embrace genuine salvation. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3 to 4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
With your children, the most important issue is their salvation. With students, the most essential priority is their genuine faith in Christ. With your community group, the first importance is each one’s eternal state. And with your own heart, the most important reality is, are you truly born again? Genuine salvation is the most important issue for all of us–and it is not easy to determine.
There is the danger of self-deception. Matthew 7:22 and 23 say, “’Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” 23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”’”
There is the danger of a false gospel–like the, “Just accept Jesus into your heart” is not a biblical phrase or true process.
There is the subtle danger of works–turning to Christ on your terms, not His terms, as if you were Lord and He is not.
Salvation is not about a choice you make, it is about a transformation God does. Salvation is not about a decision you make, it is about a whole life direction God gives. That’s why Paul makes this statement to a well-known, faithful believer like Timothy. Apply this exhortation to yourself.
First Timothy 4:16, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” Whoa, that’s Timothy, Paul–a proven, preacher, teacher, godly, apostolic assistant–Tim. Yet Paul says, as you continue in this direction–as you persevere, you prove your salvation.
That is why if you want to help anyone, disciple anyone, parent any child, train anyone–you must first know Christ, then make certain they know Christ in saving faith. They must have genuine salvation, where they were dead but are now made alive. To do that, turn to Ephesians 2:1 to 10.
You’re not going to Heaven, nor are you forgiven for your sins because you made a decision once, prayed a prayer, attend church, or have a Christian family. You’re rescued from your sins when God gives you eyes to see and raises you from your spiritual deadness so you can turn from your sin in repentance to follow Him and rely upon Him to save you by faith.
You don’t save yourself–God is the one who saves you. That’s why it’s called good news–God is the author of salvation. As Paul writes the Ephesians, he’s challenging believers to live what they are–to practice their new position in Christ. Christian, you have everything you need to live as a believer.
In Ephesians 1:3 Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” When you’re born again, you have all the equipment you need to grow into spiritual adulthood. But you didn’t start that way–before Christ saved you, you were dead. In fact, worse than dead.
Sadly, today people do not like to see themselves as helpless, hopeless, unwilling, unable, enslaved, blind, rebellious, defiant sinners in need of God to initiate their rescue. But that is what Ephesians 2:1 to 10 proclaims. In these ten verses, there are no commands. Paul uses verbs which state the certainties of what God did to save you–and it starts with, “you were…”
#1 PREDESTINED for salvation by God in eternity past Verse 1a
Read Ephesians 2 verse 1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” The first word of verse 1 is key—“and” connects chapter 2 verse 1 to chapter 1. “You were dead,” which means you need life. How do you get life? Ephesians chapter 1 describes how God gave dead people life. It is so profound, Paul takes the whole of chapter one to explain it, then prays they’d understand it.
Look at chapter 1. What God says in Ephesians 1 is, God chose you for salvation, God predestined you to be saved, God initiated the rescue from your sins. Look at Ephesians 1:4,5 and 11, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
God literally determined beforehand you would be saved. Why? Because you were dead–that’s why! God must choose me, because as a spiritual zombie I won’t choose Him! Terms like chosen, election, foreknowledge, calling and predestined bother people–but they’re freely used by God in His Word.
Predestination is God deciding our eternity in advance. Foreknowledge is God’s predetermined love relationship with His children. Calling is God awakening His own to give them faith. And election is the action of God where He graciously chooses out from among sinful people the ones who will be saved.
The chart shows you there’re two views–one view shows God is ultimately responsible and the other shows man as responsible. Which one do you embrace?
|God Ultimately Responsible||Man Ultimately Responsible|
|God’s choice unconditional||God’s choice dependent on man’s choice|
|God chose in eternity past||God’s choice determined by present events|
|Fallen man cannot choose God||Fallen man can choose God|
|Faith is a gift of God||Faith is possible for all men|
|Justice is found in God’s character||Justice is found in equal opportunity|
In spite of the two views, Scripture teaches God is responsible for your salvation. God doesn’t look ahead to see who will respond in faith. God doesn’t look ahead and see who will be good or work real hard–but for His own glory, God elects some to be His children.
Jesus says clearly in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” Second Thessalonians 2:13 adds, “Because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.” The Word of God clearly teaches the only reason you choose to follow Christ is that God first chose you.
The Bible makes a loud point about salvation not being conditioned on people’s choice at all. In Romans 9:11 to 13, Paul is in your face, “For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ 13 Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”
God chose Jacob, not Esau. God didn’t look down through history and see that Jacob would have faith, and as a result God chose him. No–that is exactly the opposite of what this passage is teaching. The point is, Jacob’s future actions, his faith, his attitudes had absolutely nothing to do with God’s choice of him. Why?
Verse 11 again, “In order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls.” Why? So God, not Jacob would receive 100% of the glory. John 6:65b, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” But why does God have to choose us?
#2 The PROBLEM of SIN–without Christ you were DEAD Verses 1 to 3
Read verse 1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Your problem is not lack of education, your personality, your poor environment, or your health. Your problem is you are dead to God because of your sin. The word dead literally refers to the stench of a corpse–a person so dead they smell. There’s absolutely no life.
If you’ve ever been to a funeral, you know a corpse has no ability to choose anything. Most of you are isolated from death–hospitals and funeral homes protect you from the harsh reality of dying. Yet the stats are pretty compelling–each of you will physically die unless you’re alive when Jesus returns. But none of you have to spiritually die. You don’t have to be separated from the God who made you.
Death is separation–physical death is spirit separated (immaterial) from body (material). And spiritual death is immaterial (spirit) separated from God right now and forever. Today right now, every non-Christian you know is a zombie. John MacArthur says, “Men apart from God are spiritual zombies. They are the walking dead, who do not know they are dead. They go through the motions of life, but they do not possess it.”
And the biggest problem is this–though you intrinsically know something is wrong, you don’t know just how serious your situation is. So Paul tells us how serious the problem is in verses 1 to 3. What is wrong with you? Or as a Christian, what was wrong with you? Verse 1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” God gives three direct facts about sin in verse 1. Sin is . . .
1 WHO you are
The word in, “in your trespasses and sins,” means in the sphere of. You’re not dead because of what you do, you’re dead because of who you are. You’re born sinful (born in the sphere of sin). You are not a liar because you lied–you lied because you’re a liar. Born sinful means our natures are twisted and warped.
Often we are not even aware of the worst parts about us. Admit it–you’ve seen your two-year-old do evil things and intentionally sin. They look right at you and disobey, then smile. They’re born in sin and grow up to be sinnerlings. Paul also says sin is . . .
2 Acts violating God’s LAWS
See the word trespass in verse 1–you are dead because of trespass. You violated God’s warning sign. God’s law said, “No trespassing–keep out.” Why do most of us want to know what is behind the door that says, “NO ADMITTANCE.” What is in us that makes us want to enter the area that says, “NO TRESPASSING.” Answer: rebellious sin.
God has set up some laws for our own protection, for our best. When we violate His design, we trespass. How many of you have lied, cheated, lusted—perverts. When we’re jealous, yell, are proud, or complain–we’re violating God’s laws. It’s sin. Sin is also . . .
3 Missing God’s perfect DESIGN
The word sins in verse 1, “dead in your trespasses and sins,” means to miss the mark, to fail to hit the target. God has a design for us, based upon His perfect character. He designed perfect joy, love, peace for us–but we missed it. Therefore sin is not merely the things we do–sin is also the things we don’t do or failed to do.
When we could have loved, expressed thanks, but didn’t–that’s sin too, missing the mark of God’s perfect character. And every human being, each of us here, has missed the mark. The internet says about 4% of the population is evil–only one in 25 people are bad. But God says we are all bad.
You say, “I am not as bad as Hitler.” You may be better than Stalin, but you are not as perfect as God. Some of you are better or worse outward sinners, but none of you are perfect, none of you are as holy as God–meaning you’re in trouble with God because of your sin. Now Paul clearly tells us the results of our sin in verses 2 and 3.
Four painful outcomes of sin, of being a spiritual zombie. Those without Christ are 1) easily directed by the world, 2) pawns of Satan, 3) led by their own faulty thinking, and 4) under God’s judgment. Do you see this problem? Read verse 2a, “in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world.” Non-Christians . . .
1 Go with the flow of the WORLD
The world is the secular world system that leaves God out. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The world tells you it’s okay to ruin people with your talk about them. The world declares, “You don’t have a Creator you’re accountable to–you’re merely an accident of time plus matter plus chance . . . from the goo, to the zoo, to you.”
Those who are dead within float down the stream wherever the world leads them–they’re slaves to trend. Style is okay–being a slave of trendy is not. (“I have a spinner!”) Because Paul says our sin makes it even worse in verse 2b–another result of sin is verse 2b, “according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Those who sin are . . .
2 Following the lead of God’s ENEMY Verse 2b
Satan was the most beautiful and powerful angel God created, until the sin of pride welled up in his heart and he led an angelic rebellion against God. The creature tried to take on the Creator. Now he seeks to corrupt everything about Christ and His character. He encourages you to live a life that’s all about you–to accept what you think is better than what God thinks in the Bible!
Thoughts like, “It’s all about me, my opinions, and my family.” Not only are you dead, drifting along with the world, but you’re also listening to God’s enemy promoting pride and self. And a third result of sin is in verse 3a, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Non-Christians are . . .
3 ENSLAVED to their own strong feelings and warped thinking Verse 3a
In verse 3, lust means strong desire or feeling. Those without Christ are slaves to their own feelings and desires. They do whatever they feel like doing, regardless of the consequences and regardless of whoever it hurts. Plus in verse 3 Paul says, “desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Their mind is corrupt.
People begin to adopt weird ideas about life, death, Heaven, Hell, what is true, what is not, what’s important and what’s not. Why? Because they’re dead to God. A final result of being spiritually dead is a final phrase in verse 3, “and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Children of wrath means non-Christians are . . .
4 Under God’s JUDGMENT Verse 3b
Christian, you were under God’s judgment. You deserve God’s wrath for your sin–you deserve to be condemned because you have sinned against God and His Law. You all want justice. If someone murders your friend, you want him to be punished. You want justice–a holy, righteous, perfect, sinless God must judge sin to be just. God is just to condemn that which is rebellious, defiant and twisted to His character.
You are totally depraved–that doesn’t mean you drool, growl and smell like garbage. Total depravity speaks of the inability to choose. Being spiritually dead means no ability to respond to God. As a result of Adam’s sin in Genesis 3, all people are spiritually dead–unable to either comprehend or believe spiritual truths.
This is why Jesus says in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” Why must God do the choosing? Because we can’t. You say, “Wait a minute–I chose God!” Let me ask you, “Was that you? Or did God enable you? Did you choose Him, or were you dead, then God awakened you in such a manner you could respond by putting your faith in Christ? When you’re dead, you can’t choose–you can’t respond.
We’re not sinners because we sin–we sin because we’re sinners. Read Romans 3:10 and 11, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” You were a spiritual zombie who didn’t know you were dead to God. So what does a dead man need? Life!
And true life is only found in Christ, as He says in John 10:10b, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” So does a natural, fallen, spiritually dead man have the ability to become alive and turn to Christ on his own? What’s the answer? Yes or no? No! This explains why some of your friends and relatives you plead with just don’t get the Gospel.
Underline two words in John 6:44, “Jesus says, ‘No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.’” The Greek word unless is a necessary condition–this must happen before something else can happen. Unless the Father draws, they cannot come to Christ.
The Greek word draw is very strong–it means compel. Look at how the same word draw is used in James 2:6b, “Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?” The same word draw is also used in Acts 16:19, “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities.”
Unless the Father compels me, drags me into life with Him–unless He drags me into salvation, I’m not going to respond. Does natural fallen man have the ability to come to Christ? No! Wait–don’t I have a free will? We think free will is the ability to make decisions free of any inclination, disposition or prejudice–totally undistorted. So do I have that kind of free will?
No, you don’t–not a completely free will! You and I are not going to make choices without any prior influence. So what is influencing the natural man? Sin. He is a slave to sin–his nature is corrupted by sin. You and I have a sinful prejudice, inclination and disposition. And what is my bent? Pride, sin and rebellion. This is what I naturally do.
Martin Luther said, “Free will without God’s grace is not free will at all, but [free will] is the permanent prisoner and bond-slave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.” That is from his famous book, Bondage of the Will. The point is, my will is in bondage to my nature. Have you ever seen a big lion at the zoo?
Let’s imagine a lion being here today and this lion has not eaten in a week, so we decide to test this lion. I will put a head of lettuce right here and a big steak here. Question–is the lion going to go for the lettuce or the steak? How do you know that? Maybe it’s a lucky guess, so let’s get another lion, and we keep doing this–not one time, but fifty times. And fifty times the lion goes to the steak.
But we’re still not convinced, so we get lions from all over the world and give them the choice of lettuce or steak and let them go. The lion from Russia goes to the steak, from South America goes to steak, the lion from Berkeley, California goes to the lettuce–no, steak. We get every lion alive and give it the choice–and every single time it goes for the steak.
Get this–they have permission to go to the lettuce. They have free choice, but they didn’t have a free will. They are in bondage to their will. They have permission to go for the lettuce, but they only had the ability to go to the steak. Natural man has the permission to come to Christ, but only has the ability to sin and reject Christ–that’s total depravity.
If you don’t believe in total depravity, you don’t believe what the Bible says about sin and you’ll never see just how sinful you really are and how much you need Christ or how much Christ did for you. Christian, this is good news—celebrate that you were dead in your sin. Non-Christian, this is bad news–you are dead because of your sin.
I can share the Gospel to an unsaved friend repeatedly, but unless something happens to change his spiritual deadness and make him come alive, he’ll reject God’s Gospel time after time. So God must act. And He did.
#3 God’s PROVISION through Christ–you were made ALIVE Verses 4 to 6
Notice two of the most important words in the New Testament in verse 4–see them? “But God.” Here you are helpless and hopeless and God intervenes–why? Read verse 4, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” God is rich in mercy. Does your heart ever break over starving children? That’s God’s heart toward the lost, except a billion times more–because God is wealthy in mercy and rich in compassion.
And what else in verse 4? God is great in His love. His love is literally superior in amount to anything you have ever known. Not a feeling toward you, but sacrifice desiring only your greatest good. God didn’t choose you, Christian, because you would turn out so wonderful, or do so many things for Him, or because you were an attractive zombie. God picked you on the basis of His compassion and love.
In India, beggars are intentionally and horribly crippled by parents to be sold to an organization like a mafia that takes all the money they collect. I asked my missionary friend, “What do you do since there are so many and the money doesn’t help them?” His answer was, “You help some—you care for some.”
That was you, Christian, and God compassionately helped you. So how did God help us? Read verse 5, “Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” You’re alive. What does a dead man need most? Life. Paul says when Jesus rose, you who’d be His children rose with Him. You were dead and now you are alive.
Instead of, 1) a nature twisted by sin, you now have God’s nature, and 2) violating God’s law, you now have a heart that wants to obey, and 3) being under wrath for disobedience, all God’s anger for your sins fell on Christ on the cross. You are made alive by God.
Did you have to earn it, pay for it? No. Read the end of verse 5, “(by grace you have been saved).” God gives you what you don’t deserve—His grace. It’s a gift. God did it. Why? Because you were dead, unable, but He loved you. If you are a genuine Christian, you have been saved–literally meaning delivered from sin and its consequences.
The verb saved in verse 5 in the original language is in the perfect tense, meaning it’s done (you’ve been saved) and it continues to be completed–finished to this day. You continue to be saved, meaning you’re secure when you are in Christ. You are so secure, read verse 6, “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”
You are so secure you are already in Heaven. You are as good as there. Since you are one with Christ, you’re seated with Christ. You’re still here physically, but you worship, long for, follow after, and obey all that is in Heaven. I live now for heavenly realities.
I was gone once for almost five weeks in Israel and Egypt years ago, without Jean who was pregnant with Dan. The end of the trip was Egypt, horseback riding around the pyramids. But all I wanted was to go home–my heart longed for home.
As God’s child, I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies and everything that really matters to me is there with Him. So my heart longs to be there. Heaven is the home I have not been to yet, but my heart is already there. I am there in Christ.
So look at what God did. Verse 4, He loved us, verse 5, He made us alive, verse 6, He raised us up together with Christ. All are active verbs–God is doing it. God is the subject, saves is the action and sinners is the direct object. God saves sinners. God lost you in the fall, found you in salvation and bought you back.
Like the little boy who lost his sailboat the first time he took it out. Then weeks later he saw it in a pawn shop, saved up and bought it back. “I made you, I lost you and I bought you back.” That is what Christ did for you. God saves sinners. But why? We are predestined because of the problem of sin and we have hope because of the provision of Christ–but what is the . . .
#4 PURPOSE–in Christ you have a great future Verses 7 to 10
What is God’s purpose in all this?
First For His GLORY and our good Verse 7
Read verse 7, “In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Salvation shows us just how gracious God is. Why would God make a bunch of rebellious sinners come alive? Paul says so God could be kind to us forever. Isn’t that amazing?
John MacArthur writes, “The purpose for which God saved us was not primarily to keep us out of Hell, we were saved primarily so that God could shower His grace and kindness on us.” WOW! Instead of children of wrath, you become display cases for Christ’s grace and kindness. Genuine believers are on God’s trophy shelf–you are on the Lord’s wall of diplomas. Also . . .
Second For our DEPENDENCE, not our doing Verses 8 to 9
Read verses 8 to 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” If you were responsible for your salvation, who’d get the glory? You.
God gets all the glory because He did it all, even giving us the faith to believe. Faith, in simplest terms, is dependence–a dependent conviction about Christ and the cross. Approach an elevator believing it will hold–but it’s not faith until I get inside. You may believe Christ is the only way of salvation, but you don’t have faith until you depend upon Him with your entire life.
And that ability to have faith is a gift. Verse 8 and 9 says it, “and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works.” You didn’t earn it, work for it, choose to express it and you still can’t. “But,” you say, “Chris, it was my faith that let me accept Jesus!” Really?
First Peter 1:1 says, “Simon Peter, …, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Peter acknowledged they had received their faith. They did not work it up on their own–they received faith. Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” The Philippian believers had been given their faith. God gives us the faith to believe.
“But Chris, if I believe this, then I have to believe God elects some to eternal life but not everyone. Why doesn’t God choose everyone?” The issue is not, why didn’t God choose everyone, but why did God choose anyone? Men and women–God reserves the right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy.
Some of fallen humanity receive the grace and mercy of election. The rest God passes over, leaving them in their desired rebellion. The non-elect receive justice. The elect receive mercy, but no one receives injustice. If you and I received justice, then we’d be sent to Hell. God isn’t obligated to be merciful to anyone. It’s God’s decision how merciful He chooses to be. Yet He is never guilty of being unjust toward anyone.
God’s answer to this question of why He didn’t choose everyone is found in Romans 9:20. “Who are you, O man who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” In other words, “Be quiet and know I am God. I’m the Potter, you’re the clay. I’m the Creator, you’re the creation.”
If you don’t embrace election, you’ll never understand just how gracious God has been to you. You didn’t work it up, choose it, make it happen–why? You were dead, remember? Therefore you can’t boast. You can’t take credit. You didn’t do it. Look at the end of verse 9, “Not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
God created everything. God created you–then from a heart of grace and kindness He saved you. You did nothing but resist God in your sin. Verse 9, “no one should boast.” If you breathe, spiritually, it’s because God slapped you on the bottom. If you can hear the Bible with a new heart that wants to obey Christ, it’s because God unstopped your ears. It’s all of God.
Salvation did not come through baptism, giving, being good, a decision, your family—but by God’s gift of grace to you specifically. Finally, why else did God save you? His glory, our dependence and . . .
Third As His Masterpiece, to accomplish His pre-selected tasks Verse 10
Read verse 10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Workmanship means masterpiece–God designed you to show off His Son in a masterful way.
Only God can take an ugly, dead, walking zombie and turn him into a Christ-like masterpiece. The original term workmanship is where we get our English word for poem–you are God’s poem to point to Christ. How do I show off Christ? Pre-ordained, literally prepared beforehand good works. John 15:8 says, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
There are good works only you can do as a Christian and only we can do as a church. You can’t do them in your own strength–they must always be done according to the Word of God, depending on His Spirit. And when they are, they will bring you incredible joy.
Remember Eric Liddle, of Chariots of Fire? “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” I would say, “When I preach, lead and train, I feel His pleasure.” I do get tired, there are difficulties and trials and discipline, but I feel His pleasure! It’s the same with you—when you find those tasks, ministry, service He wants you to do, you will sense His pleasure.
How do you discover those pre-ordained good works? It won’t be in study or attending church–it will be as you serve, get involved in ministry to the body, develop a passion for Christ and His priorities. Then it will become obvious. Your children, disciples, people you wish to influence already have good works to fulfill.
God’s true children do good works–not because they have to, but because they want to. The predestination of you to salvation was necessary because of the problem. You were (and some still are) dead in sin. So God gave the provision–salvation by grace through Christ, for the purpose of glorifying God and producing good works through you.
ONE When TRAINING, proclaim the TRUE gospel
Reject the “just accept Jesus in your heart” gospel, because it is not the true gospel. Stop trying to save people and start telling them the truth of who God is and what Christ has done. You don’t save anyone—God does. Tell them–the one true God, the Creator, is sovereign, perfect, sinless and holy. You are sinful by nature, helpless and hopeless, part of a race of rebels against God.
But Christ is a perfect Savior, the God-man who can be our substitute. Teach the truth and call lost kids, students, disciples to cry out for God, to open their heart to respond in repentance and faith, submitting to Christ by exchanging all that they are for all that He is. God saves sinners.
Don’t say, “If God doesn’t elect, I can’t be saved.” No, that’s pride. You are to respond and believe, just like Acts 13:48, “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” God appoints people to eternal life, but you must believe. Acts 16:14, “Lydia, … the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”
The Bible teaches God is sovereign, but you are responsible. God knows everything, but you are responsible and honored to pray. God accomplishes His work, but you’re responsible and blessed to serve. God works through us, but we are responsible and empowered to obey. God saves people, but those same people are responsible to respond in repentance and faith–be responsible.
TWO When TRAINING, expect a heart to OBEY Christ
When God causes someone to be born again, they will have a new heart, which desires to obey Christ, serve Him and to grow mature in Him. This is what you look for in your children and disciples–not to pray a prayer, but they follow Christ from the heart.
John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Expect those who claim to know Christ, to serve Christ and mature in Christ from a heart which desires to obey the Word of God and follow Christ.
THREE When TRAINING, DRAW out what Christ has already put in
God created them, God redeemed them, God gifted them, God gave them their unique background and talents. Your job as a parent, discipler, leader is to help them discover what God has already put in them so they can live their God-designed purpose.
FOUR When TRAINING, both trainee and trainer need HUMILITY
The genuine Gospel teaches true salvation is all of God and none of us. That is a crucial foundation for impacting others. You can’t disciple or be discipled unless there is humility. If you’re not humble, you can’t mature, or be taught anything. It is genuine salvation, which teaches you humility needed to be trained and live dependently upon Christ every single day. Let’s pray.