One or the Other

There are two types of people in the world. You are One or the Other.

  • Those without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ are One;
  • Those with a saving relationship with Jesus Christ are the Other.

Ephesians 2:1-10, written to those already following Christ, contrasts One and the Other. 

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

Verse 4, with the word “But”, is the hinge between: before & after; without & with; lost & found; drowning & rescued; death & life; natural & supernatural; One & the Other.

On your own you are One

  • dead to God (verses 1 & 5)
  • drowning in the world (verse 2)
  • living my way (verse 3)

With God you are the Other

  • no longer dead to God, but alive with Christ (verse 5)
  • no longer drowning in the world, but rescued by grace (verse 5)
  • no longer living my way, but living God’s way (verses 6-7)

“Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again,” states 2 Corinthians 5:15. You get new life.

God wants to change your life. He offers you true, eternal life. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins. You just have to commit your life to follow him.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God,” encourages John 1:12. You can become God’s child right now.

Consider the amazing transformation God offers:

  • righteousness instead of guilt
  • honor above shame
  • power opposed to fear
  • purity rather than defilement
  • meaning versus emptiness
  • community in place of alienation.

Your life may be defined by One OR it can be transformed into the Other.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” assures Romans 10:9. You can be rescued right away.

If you have never committed your life to follow Jesus, then you can pray a simply like this:

God, I know I have broken your law. I humbly ask that you forgive my sins. I commit my life to follow Jesus forever. Amen.

If you did, then let someone know—me or a committed Christ follower you trust—and start your new life of following Jesus without delay. You are no longer the lost One. You have become the found Other.

If you previously have committed your life to Christ but have returned to old ways, then you can turn back to Christ in repentance today. You return like you came, by grace, as Ephesians 2:5&8 teaches. You are created to serve (Ephesians 2:10) as determined by Sovereign God.

One or the Other? Following my way or following Jesus. Serving self or serving God. Which will you be?

Note: This is my Gospel invitation shared at the conclusion of each 2013 performance of This Day of Resurrection.

Coming Judgment

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.

They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.

With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.

The words of Joel 2:1-6 NIV. Words of coming judgment. Words of warning terror.

Can you imagine such a sight? The sound? The foreboding? The devastation to follow? Locust plagues still occur today. One locust, commonly known as a grasshopper, is small thing. An inch or two long. Millions of locusts, however, are a devasting force. For acres and miles.

God loved His people, Judah. Yet His people, enjoying the prosperity of His blessing, had grown away from Him. Worship had become ritual. Life had become selfish.

In His everlasting, covenant love, God needed to capture the attention of His people. By His sovereign power, God brought a locust plague to do it. Inspired by God, Joel prophesied of a greater judgment coming, the Day of the Lord, with the plague of locust as his terrible, unavoidable illustration.

God’s judgment would be swift, thorough, and absolute. Every person—eldest to youngest, richest to poorest, positioned to humbled—would be effected (2:15-17). Every person should return to God (2:12-13). Every person should humble themselves before God in broken confession and genuine repentance. 

Then, in response to the genuine return of His people, God would relent of the judgment Joel warned of (2:18). Then, because of His grace, God would pout out His Spirit on people and everyone who calls on Him will be saved (2:28-32).

The Book of Joel is of uncertain date. With no kings or major events to tie it to. And Joel himself is a bit of a mystery. A common name with little other than his father’s name to describe him by. At three chapters and just 73 verse you can read it in about 10 minutes. Yet Joel still has a message of warning for us today.

When was the last time you endured some calamity, even tragedy, in your life? 

Did you turn your attention to having a right relationship with God in the midst of it?

God loves you enough that He will either allow or cause negative circumstances in order to turn you back toward Him. He is gracious and compassionate (2:13) and He will save (2:32). Return to him. Before judgment comes. 

This post, based on the Old Testament Book of Joel, is the second in a twelve-week survey series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. To receive future posts automatically, please subscribe to the site via RSS or FeedBurner.

Stop Hiding

"One of the problems with pride is that we can see it so easily in others, but not in ourselves," writes Jerry Bridges.

Gregory Frizzell adds, "Pride is a subtle sin so easily overlooked... True revival always begins with deep humility and brokenness over sin."

How should I overcome my hidden pride to find humility and revival?

  • Assess myself honestly. Psalm 139:23-24 begs, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." God knows all our faults. We can't hide from him. Why don't we stop hiding from ourselves?
  • Seek true humility. Psalm 51:17 confesses, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." God gives grace to the humble.  Don't we need all the grace as we can get?
  • Identify with humanity. Ezra 9:6 laments, "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens." We are part of a fallen race. Will you joining in confession together?
  • Confess wholeheartedly. 1 John 1:9 promises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Naming it alone does not suffice. Turning from pride and sin, can't we give ourselves fully to God?

As we are broken and humble, we are moved to repentance and turning from sin, God offers gracious forgivenness, we expererience new freedom in Christ, that infuses us with greater love for God and others, resulting in more powerful worship of God, and bringing us to new depths of humility in His awesome presence. This is the cycle of revival.  A spiritual flywheel that gains momentum by the Holy Spirit as we continually lean in.

Hidden pride is powerful.

Sin has power in secret.

Sin exposed becomes powerless.

Stop hiding from yourself.

You are the only one you are fooling.