Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright wants to know who we are so that we would avail ourselves and receive or if you're put into a place of privilege and you don't know who you are, then you'll want to get out of that place of privilege.
That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series called Ephesians as presented at Reynolda Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program today, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So as you listen to today's message, go deeper as we send you today's special offer.
Contact us at PastorAlan.org, that's PastorAlan.org, or call 877-544-4860. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. I'm thinking about selfies, the phenomenon that's kind of taken over the world with all the smartphones. Everybody's got phones, they've got cameras, and has become famous just snapping selfies.
The President of the United States has helped make it famous. Of course, Ellen's famous Oscar selfie with all the actors and actresses, it became viral, everybody saw it. The Pope has taken some selfies that have gone viral. But Huffington Post has listed what they'd say 29 of the most remarkable selfies ever. It was pretty amazing to look at some of these selfies.
Some of them are just crazy. One of them that caught my attention is a guy, when you first look at it, he's floating in the ocean. He's got a life preserver on, life jacket on. You think, at first, this is a guy enjoying a nice day at the beach, floating around the ocean.
Until you look behind him, you'll see there's an airplane sinking down into the sea behind him. It was a pilot who had crashed in the ocean and was out there floating and taking a selfie. The most dangerous selfie probably ever taken is a guy who's running the bulls over in Spain.
There's a bull about two feet from ready to trample him or gore him to death. He's got a selfie of this thing. He's running for his life with a selfie of this thing. Maybe one of the most beautiful is a space station astronaut who got a selfie, just worked out perfect, with the reflection of Earth just fixed on his space suit mask, reflecting back beautifully with outer space in the back. A dramatic selfie from an F-16 pilot who got a selfie that perfectly timed it right as a missile was flying off of the back of his plane as he is flying through the air. It's just kind of incredible, this whole thing about all the selfies.
Your self-portrait, which is raising the question, who do you think you are? I always love the story of this little boy who goes outside in a lightning storm. He's just flashing, flashing, flashing. Finally, his mother comes and says, Johnny, what are you doing out there? Get inside.
He said, just a minute, Mom. I said, I think God's trying to take my picture. If God did take your picture and he looked at it, what would he see?
Who are you? That's really the question that we're going to be asking in an unhurried study of the book of Ephesians. I'm so excited about this. It's probably my favorite book in the Bible. It's certainly my favorite of Paul's letters. It's cosmic, it's grand, it is beautiful, it is soaring, it is also practical, it's real, and it's life-giving, the book of Ephesians.
You ready for some good news? You are defined by God principally as this. You are in Christ. Look with me in Ephesians chapter one at verse one, and we're going today to look at the first six verses. One of the things that is beautiful in the Greek language about the first chapter of Ephesians is that the verses three through 14 are in the original language, actually one big, long, beautiful sentence that's just almost poetic in its impact, and it's just glorious in all the statements, but we're going to divide it up just so that we can look at it a little bit section by section. Today we're looking at the greeting and then the opening verses of this opening announcement from Paul. Verse one, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace. Now, one of the things that you'll notice as you were to read verses three through 14, which we won't do today, but if you were to read this or if you would just read all of Paul's letters, you're going to notice this incredible repetition, a theme being repeated over and over of this phrase in Christ or in him.
Just glance back down again at this and see this. Blessed, verse three, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Verse four, he chose us in him. And then look at verse six, he has blessed us in the beloved, referring to Christ again. Verse seven, in him we have redemption. Look at verse 10, a plan for fullness of time to unite all things in him. Look at verse 11, in him we've obtained an inheritance.
And on and on it goes. In fact, a matter, Paul uses this phrase in Christ, or a similar phrase in him or in the beloved, 216 times in his letters, 216 times. John also likes this phrase a lot and uses it many, many times. You know, it's interesting, we talk a lot about Jesus being in us, you know, having Jesus in your heart, which is true. When you become a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit and you have Christ in you. But the preoccupation for Paul is not about Jesus being in you, but about you being in Jesus and what that means. And in many ways, everything that we're going to see in the Book of Ephesians about who you are is going to be built upon this foundational statement, that this is the central thing about who you are.
You're in Christ, that everything has changed. I guess every generation in one way or another has an identity crisis. People are always trying to figure out who they are. The actual phrase identity crisis came from the research and work of developmental psychologist Eric Erickson, who looked at life as a series of stages and that in each stage that there was a conflict or a crisis that needed resolution in order to grow up and move on to the next stage. And the adolescent stage Erickson made famous by referring to this being the age in which you have an identity crisis, that the adolescent period of your life is when you are more than ever trying to figure out who you are. And that the conflict is between the dialectic of developing an identity or remaining in confusion.
So it's identity versus confusion. And what he's saying is that during these years that teenagers, they either become self-aware, self-confident, have an assured identity of who they are, or they remain confused. And if you don't really gain a strong sense of your identity, then what he says is you can't really develop and you can't really grow up, in other words, until you really know who you are. And as you're growing up, you're always trying to figure out who you are. It doesn't just start in adolescence.
It starts from the time you're born. So as I was growing up, I was the youngest of three boys. I had two older brothers, so I was always the little one. And that was part of my identity was, you know, if you're the baby of the family.
How many babies in the family we got here? Okay. Well, y'all are cute, you know. And I know that because, you know, you're the little one. And so, you know, it's kind of nice because, you know, you're cute. And that means that people kind of pet you a little bit. And they smile at you and tell you you're cute.
And sometimes they don't expect quite as much out of you. And so I learned to build on that. And, you know, it can carry you a long way in life. And also was the son of a TV newsman who was well known throughout the whole region. He started out as the weatherman. And so every night on TV, he would say at the end of the broadcast, this is Dave Wright, good night. And everywhere I went as a kid, as soon as somebody found out I'm Dave Wright's son, they'd say, oh, Dave Wright, good night.
And, you know, that's one of the things I went around and said, oh, I've never heard that before. But so I was Dave Wright's son. I was the baby of the family. My grandmother's sister, Mary, thought I was the most wonderful thing in the world. I was definitely her favorite. And I had it in my mind I would be others' favorites as well.
And so you're trying to form this identity. I also started playing a lot of tennis. And so I saw myself as a tennis player in high school. I started dating a girl.
I dated her for a long time. And that was part of my identity. You know, it was so interesting. It's like you're trying to form your identity. You're trying to figure out who you are.
But we so often make this mistake that we tend to want to form our identity. If we don't know our identity in Christ, we tend to form our identity about the things that we have or the things that we do or the things that have happened to us. The theme of blessing runs through the narrative of Scripture like a golden thread. God blessed Adam and Eve so that they could be productive and joyful in the world. The patriarchs blessed their children and grandchildren. Jesus blessed the little children.
And as he ascended to heaven, blessed his disciples. The apostle Paul said we need to learn to bless even our enemies. What is this mysterious biblical principle called blessing?
Why is it so powerful? How can we learn to bless others? In his newest book, The Power to Bless, Alan Wright answers those questions and more as he leads readers into a deep revelation of how anyone can learn to speak life and empower the people they love.
Contact us today to get your copy of the Amazon bestselling book. And when you do, for a very limited time, we will send you four additional resources to help you discover The Power to Bless. Along with a beautiful hardcover book, you'll receive Pastor Alan's video masterclass called Speak Life and its corresponding study guide. Also, we'll send you Pastor Alan's brand new video course, The Power to Bless, perfect for small groups or individual devotions.
It also comes with a study guide. Everyone needs to be blessed and anyone can learn to bless others. So contact us today to get The Power to Bless bundle, Pastor Alan's book, two video courses, and two study guides. Learn more at pastoralan.org. That's pastoralan.org. Or call 877-544-4860.
Today's teaching now continues. Here once again is Alan Wright. Because you can't build your identity on the things that you have. I mean, you might say, well, I'm a rich person or I'm a poor person.
But the rich can become poor and the poor can become rich. And if you build your identity upon the things that you have, then what happens if you don't have that any longer, right? Or when we meet one another, we say, you know, hi, how are you? You know, what do you do? We tend to say, my idea, I'm a homemaker, I'm a mother, I'm an accountant, I'm a pastor, I'm a teacher. We tend to think that our identity is wrapped up in what we do.
But what you do changes also, doesn't it? And one of the things that can happen is a lot of people, if you wrap up your identity and what you do, and then the time comes that you're not doing that anymore, then where's your identity? And there's another way that we tend to get our identity that doesn't work, and that is the things that have happened to us. That's basically our circumstances. You know, the things that are going on in our lives. Whether it be good or whether it be bad, a lot of people let those circumstances be the thing that defines them. You win the lottery, hey, I'm the lottery winner.
You know, I'm a lucky person. Or if you go through a really hard time, what can happen, and this is really what the enemy of your soul would like for you to do, is to interpret the events of your life as the thing that defines you. So you've been through a divorce. But you're not defined, your identity is not ruled by the fact that you're divorced. Or you've been through grief, you lost someone you love.
And it's been very painful, so maybe you're a widow. But that's not your identity, that's just part of your story, you see? So we can't let even our sufferings define us. But there has to be a way in which we discover who we really are only from God's perspective. He has to tell us who we are, and that's what His Word is all about.
And that's what we're going to see in the book Ephesians. There's really a description in the end of who you are individually, and who you are as the body of Christ. And it's absolutely important, it's essential, that we know who we are.
Because if we don't know who we are, then in the first place we won't have access to the very places that God wants us to be. So tonight, 7 o'clock, we get on a plane, we fly 5 hours from Raleigh to Los Angeles. And then we get on another plane and we fly 16 hours straight to Sydney, Australia. And then from there we will go from Sydney, Australia to Brisbane, Australia. And then from Brisbane, Australia we will go to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. From there a missionary plane will take us to the island in Papua New Guinea called Yucarumpa.
And then from there we'll get on a little puddle hopper and we'll go to a grass runway over on the little island of Long Island. And all along the way as we go to the airport tonight, there are many, many important things that we need to take with us. And we've been packing and planning for a long time. And of course we need to have our boarding passes, we've got to have our airline reservations. We've got to have our accommodation reservations and all the confirmations for all of that. We've got to have some really important documents that we need to have.
But what's the most important document for us to have? Passport. Passport. We've got to have that passport. If we don't have our passport and we walk up to security and they say, let me see your passport and we say, oh, I don't have a passport, then they're not going to let us through.
If we walk up, could you imagine how silly it would be? You go to the customs official and they say, let me see your passport and you say, no. What do you mean no? Well, I don't see why that's important. Well, I need to know who you are. Well, why do you need to know who I am? See, in other words, identity is directly related to access. And so what I want you to see today and in coming weeks is the same thing with your spiritual identity. That your spiritual identity in Christ is the access into every spiritual blessing of Christ Jesus. And that's what I'm saying is that it is in many ways, the word of God is describing your identity is your passport into every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. It's absolutely essential that we know who we are.
It's essential that we know who we are, not just because the access that we have, but also because it has to do with availing ourselves of what has been provided for us. I want you to write a story about a man who had saved up all his money and wanted to take a cruise. He'd always looked forward to taking a cruise. And he saved up all his money and took a five-day Caribbean cruise. And he had a terrible misunderstanding.
He went in his room at mealtime and he ate crackers and peanut butter and made his own sandwiches. And at the end of the cruise, one of the staff people said, sir, did we offend you or do you have some special dietary needs? He said, no, why? He said, well, you didn't come and avail yourself of the dining room. And he said, oh, no, I used all my money to pay for the cruise. And the person said, sir, you're a passenger on this ship. And that meant that everything's included. These meals have been available to you this whole time. And that's the chocolate buffet, the midnight chocolate buffet.
Just for not understanding that he was a passenger in full standing and good standing. What I'm just saying is understanding who you are in Christ and how you've been put into right standing with God, if you really believe that, it'll change every single thing in your life. It would change every single thing in your life if we really believe that, that we have been put into right standing by what God has done for us. It has to do with availing ourselves of what's been provided for us. It has to do with receiving what we have been designed and appointed to inherit. You can imagine if there was a person who had amnesia, didn't know his identity. And if there was a million dollar inheritance for Samuel Smith, but Samuel Smith didn't know he was Samuel Smith, then though the inheritance was his, he wouldn't receive it.
It's like that with spiritual things. God has provided for us in Christ. And what he wants us to see, and we're going to see this in the book of Ephesians, he wants to know who we are so that we would avail ourselves and receive. Or if you're put into a place of privilege and you don't know who you are, then you'll want to get out of that place of privilege. If someone says, well, what are you doing here? Why do you deserve to be in this place? Why are you here?
And you say, I don't know. You don't know why you belong in that special place. This is the way it is spiritually as well. It also is to say that it's so important to understand who you really are because in the end, this is the only thing that makes for peace in our lives. Because we're like the adolescent, and we're in a crisis of identity versus confusion, and we never really know our identity until we know our identity in Christ.
And so once you discover your identity in Christ, then it puts everything else at peace in your life. Circumstances come and go. Things rise and fall.
They're mountaintops in their valleys. They're difficult times. But absolutely nothing changes your identity because you're not defined by the things that have happened to you. You're not defined by what you have, and you're not defined by what you do. You're defined by what Jesus Christ has done for you and what therefore God has called you in Christ. And what I want to do this morning in setting us up for this magnificent study of Ephesians is not to begin today to describe all the benefits for those that are in Christ, but I just want to show you in word pictures how it's possible that you are in Christ. What does it mean to be in Christ? Because maybe you're like me, and if you can get a mental picture, if you can see in your mind, oh, so that's what it means to be in Christ, then I believe you can believe it more deeply with your heart. And that's really the goal of the proclamation of the gospel is that through the proclamation of the word that faith would come, that you'd really see that this is what has happened for you when you accepted Jesus Christ.
And the thing that bases all of this is the simple fact that 2,000 years ago, in a moment in history, Jesus actually lived, he actually suffered and died for you, and he was raised from the dead for you, so that when you accept him, when you believe him, all of the benefits of that become yours. See, if you were to go and meet somebody and they say, they were so excited, they were a new believer, and they say, I got saved last week at church, what they really mean is I was saved from the consequences of my sin, and I was saved from the dominion of my sin. I've been saved, and they said I was saved last week. What you would know is that they don't really mean they were saved last week. What they really mean is that 2,000 years ago, Jesus saved me, but last week I came to faith and I accepted that, right? Because it had already happened 2,000 years ago, but when a revelation came into your heart and you came to faith, that's what we would say is saving faith, that that's the moment in which you received your salvation, but it's something Jesus had already done. And so this is very important in understanding who you are in Christ, is that all of these things that we describe, it's not something that God is still to do. It's something that He has done, and therefore when our eyes of our hearts are opened up and we see this and we receive it, that's really simply what we call faith. And so you're in Christ as a believer, and the way that this has taken place, I see it in seven different ways, and I'm just obviously going to mention just very briefly to you, and there are many other ways that you could picture this, but the first way that I see it is that to be in Christ means to be in the family of Christ.
Alan Wright. Wow, today's teaching as we kick off a brand-new series in Ephesians, You Are in Christ. Please stay with us. Alan is back in a moment with additional insight on this for your life, and a final word. The patriarchs blessed their children and grandchildren. Jesus blessed the little children, and as He ascended to heaven, blessed His disciples. The apostle Paul said we need to learn to bless even our enemies. What is this mysterious biblical principle called blessing?
Why is it so powerful? How can we learn to bless others? In his newest book, The Power to Bless, Alan Wright answers those questions and more as he leads readers into a deep revelation of how anyone can learn to speak life and empower the people they love. Contact us today to get your copy of the Amazon bestselling book, and when you do, for a very limited time, we will send you four additional resources to help you discover The Power to Bless. Along with the beautiful hardcover book, you'll receive Pastor Alan's video masterclass called Speak Life and its corresponding study guide. Also, we'll send you Pastor Alan's brand-new video course, The Power to Bless, perfect for small groups or individual devotions.
It also comes with a study guide. Everyone needs to be blessed, and anyone can learn to bless others. So contact us today to get The Power to Bless bundle, Pastor Alan's book, two video courses, and two study guides. Learn more at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org.
Or call 877-544-4860. Alan, as we are starting today, and we had to put a bookmark here and resume on the next program, with Ephesians and really a declaration that you are in Christ, this is good news. It is such astounding news. And as we pick this back up, annual, we'll be talking about seven different ways that we're in Christ. What exactly does it mean for us? It means to be in the family of Christ. It means to be legally connected to Christ, to be intimately connected with Christ, to be in the citizenship of Christ's kingdom, to be represented by Christ our champion, to be an unbreakable covenant established by Christ. It means to be qualified by Christ. All of this, I think, is what it means to be in Christ. So as we launch into Ephesians, we're really rooting everything with the astounding good news. Our lives are in Christ, and it changes everything. Today's good news message is a listener-supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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