Thursday, October 20, 2011


"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

This is the gospel. This is what has saved us. This is what will keep us. This is what we look back to for our foundation and what we look forward to for our hope. This gospel secures us and it frees us. This gospel gives our eyes a direction and it gives our feet a path. It gives our hearts a worthy object for affection and our minds a worthy object for attention. There is no greater treasure on earth that we could ever possess--- because the gospel gives us God.

For all of us who have seen His glory and the salvation he has brought to us, Ephesians tells us just a chapter earlier in verse 6 that He has purposed this saving gospel so that we might praise "His glorious grace." The reason that we have been saved from our sin and death is so that we might exalt the Lord Jesus' name--- because that God is great. That God is worthy. He's worthy of our lives and He's worthy of our worship.

When God frees us from the bondage of our sin, this gospel is not merely something we acknowledge. No! This gospel is something we stake our lives upon. This gospel shapes our speech. This gospel determines our decisions. This gospel pushes us to live holy and entices us to look like our Father in heaven. This gospel defines us. When we see what God has done for us, and the extent to which we did not deserve his mercy, our only response is to offer ourselves as a complete sacrifice to this unbelievably kind and righteous God.

The early Christian martyr named Ignatius was condemned to death in AD 110 for being a follower of Jesus. Upon receiving his sentence, he declared: 

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian. But actually to be one. Yes, if I prove to be one [by being faithful to the end], then I can have the name... Come fire, cross, battling with beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil- only let me get to Jesus Christ!” 

What on earth would possess someone to say something like that--- to act like that? There is only one explanation: this man has been born again. This is a man who was consumed with the truth we find in Ephesians 2:1-9. This is a man who held the truth of the gospel as his highest treasure. Nothing trumped this man's love of the gospel... not his life, not his security, not his comfort, not his temporal happiness. That is what it looks like to be defined by the gospel. That is what it looks like to be a Christian.