Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Today is the final part of Pastor Rich's sermon on Ephesians 1, 1 and 2. And so, in Christ is a statement that speaks of our identity. Who are you Rich? I am in Christ. I am blessed beyond measure because I am in Christ. Christ is my element.
What do you mean by that? What is your element? Oxygen, air, right? It's not H2O.
You just drink H2O. But think about a fish, alright? A fish's element is water.
A fish thrives in water. Now how God looks at you is He has placed you in a position where you can thrive because you are in Christ. He is your element. And He looks at you far differently than the adversary of your soul. God looks at you as your bountiful, loving Creator. You are in water and you are therefore able to thrive in the water as a fish in your element.
The adversary, on the other hand, looks at you like you're a fish on a plate about to consume you. But God sees you as your loving, bountiful Creator who placed you in the water to thrive. Christ is your water. You are in Christ. Christ is your element. And He mentions this twelve times, this phrase is twelve times in this letter, in Christ. Ephesians 2, 6. Let's look at a few of these. God raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There's one.
2, 7. That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Look at verse 10. For we are His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Look at verse 10. For we are His workmanship created, say it with me, in Christ Jesus for good works. We're created in Christ Jesus. Think about that. Keep that picture there of a fish thriving in water.
And you're kind of the fish that doesn't go for these hooks with worms on them. Verse 13. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
You see the reconciliation there? In Christ. You see where in Christ is our identity.
He is our element. Chapter 1, verse 7. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace.
In Him. It is a profound phrase. I want you to contemplate this, loved ones, as we study the book of Ephesians, as we get ready to do it.
Some of you are reading through the book and that is profoundly encouraging. Contemplate what it means to be in Christ. So, in Christ speaks of our union with Christ by grace through faith. It also speaks of the unity of the church and the place of the church in God's overall plan.
Because it is God's plan. This is His creation. It is His universe. This is His world and we are placed on this world by Him. So, it is a big picture. And that's why He says that there is one Lord, one church, one baptism. The unity of the church, the place of the church in God's overall plan.
And you know why this is so important? Because Ephesus, remember, was the domicile of the temple of Artemis, the temple of Diana. Here is the ruins of that temple. This temple was ruined by the Goths in the third century A.D. And because by that time it had almost completely lost its influence on the people.
Remember, go back to Acts chapter 19. But it had lost its influence on the people so they never bothered to rebuild it. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The magnificent structure that it was.
Here it lies in ruins. As opposed to the church of Jesus Christ and God's purpose for it in His overall plan. This is what He says in Ephesians 1.10. You can look there with me. It's up here that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things. Say it with me. In Christ.
Both which are in heaven and which are on earth. Say it with me. In Him.
You get the theme there? Paul's all about helping us understand, reminding us that we are in Christ and it has everything to do with a big picture of God's plan. Here is God's plan.
Here's where you fall in it. Take your part in it. As one who is in Christ. As one who is in His body, the church. One plan and it is God's plan.
And He is sovereign over it. And we don't need to fear that things are losing control because God is there. So we are in Christ. Let that be a very encouraging phrase to you. And I encourage you to contemplate that phrase. Think about it through the course of the week. I am in Christ. What does that mean? Study Ephesians.
Read it. What does it mean that you are in Christ? He is your element. Another theme, a second theme of Paul's letter to the book of Ephesus encompasses the words riches and fullness. Riches and fullness. Eleven times he uses these concepts in this letter.
Particularly in the first three chapters. Riches and fullness. And what they refer to are the immeasurable blessings of God's grace. I want you to know how rich, how wealthy you are as one who is in Christ. It has nothing to do with stuff. Nothing.
It has nothing to do with things that can burn up and rot and be taken from you. I want you to know the wealth that you have in Christ. The wealth of His grace. The immeasurable blessings of God's grace. All that our Father has lavished on us because of His love for us and our union with Christ. That you are joined together with Christ. That His history is yours, His death is yours, His resurrection is yours, His life is yours. That's how God sees you. And as the Father loves His only begotten Son, so now He lavishes that same love upon you.
Wow. These things are worthy of our meditation and that's why the scripture is written to us for our meditation. To know what we have in Christ. As I mentioned last week, thirty years after this letter was written, John writes the revelation as Jesus appears to him. And he writes the revelation and included in that revelation is another letter to this church, the church at Ephesus. And he commends them, Christ commends them through John penning the words. He commends them for being faithful to the truth and having the truth and sticking to the truth. But then he also says to them, I have this against you that you have left your first love. Think about it loved ones, how is it that we can have the truth and yet leave our first love. Leave that passion that we have for the one who made us and loves us. And redeemed us and has lavished all of His grace upon us.
How can we leave that first love? What does it look like? It looks like cold, hard, dead orthodoxy. And I'm not talking about a denomination of a church, I'm talking about, we could call it doctrine or we could call it theology. The reason why Jesus said that to the church is because the church at Ephesus had become academic and intellectual in their doctrine and theology. But so academic and so intellectual that it no longer gripped their heart. They simply knew it as truth or as doctrine and they lost sight of the person. Let's not do that.
Let's not do that. He calls them to a life of contrast in this letter. A life of contrast as we live in the outflow of all of the grace that God has lavished upon us.
I want you to know something. He calls them to live worthy of their calling. But there's a reason why there's a sharp division in this letter. There's six chapters in this letter. Chapters one through three are all indicative. What do I mean by that? This is truth. This is who God is and this is what He has done.
Search hard. I think there are only two commands in all of the first three chapters. Chapter two, I don't want you to forget. Chapter three, I don't want you to lose heart.
That's it. Everything else in chapters one through three are all about this is who God is, this is what He has done, this is who you are in Him. Chapters one to three are the stuff upon which you and I need to meditate. We need to memorize these scriptures. Because you get into chapters four, five and six and that's where the imperatives come.
That's where the commands come. And so many people today, oh, you know, I want practical teaching. I want practice. Just tell me what to do. Just tell me what the Bible says I need to do.
I want practical teaching. Listen, let me tell you something. Without chapters one to three, you can't do chapters four to six.
You with me? If you're going to do chapters four to six, chapters one to three have to grip your heart and transform you at the level of desire and attitude. That's how grace works. That's why He starts with three chapters of the majesty, of the grace of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. This is who you are.
So read Ephesians that way, chapters one to three. And when those become realized in your heart and mind, when you become transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to live out the truths, a life of contrast. That you are alive instead of dead. You are alive. You live as if you are alive. In other words, you are thriving regardless of the adverse circumstances that are happening around your world. You are able to thrive just as a fish thrives in the water.
As a salmon is able to swim upstream with all the flow going against him, that salmon can thrive because he is in his element. So you and I can thrive in Christ. You've been listening to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, lead pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Visit our church website to see upcoming events or to listen to more messages at gbcwinston.com. To discover how to live by grace, tune in with us on weekdays at 10 a.m.
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