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.

Restoring Righteousness

Sad bunch, those People of God. Every time we turn around they are in trouble again. Here they go in Malachi, the last Minor Prophet in our Major Stuff blog and sermon series.

God laid out pretty clear rules for His people repeatedly over a thousand plus years: I’m your God; you are my people; you obey my rules; you don’t serve other gods; you stay holy; you worship me as I desire; I’ll bless you. Period.

Simple. Right?

The problem: Simple is not always easy.

The reality: Sin is tempting to humans.

Sin is when we act like God, when we do things our way, which is invariably contrary to God's way.

So, once again, in this concluding book of the Old Testament—not only the last in book order, but written last too (430 BC)—we have Judah, God’s Chosen People, falling back into sin over simple stuff.

God asked faithfulness. God asked worship. God even prescribed how to worship.

Yet Israel was cheating the prescription. They “placed defiled food” on God’s altar and then acted like they didn’t know (1:7). They brought blemished offerings they wouldn’t give a governor, but tried to pass off on God (1:8). They called God’s table a “burden” and would “sniff at it contemptuously” (1:13).

“You might as well turn out the lights and shut the doors of the Temple,” it’s as if God says in Malachi 1:10. Ouch. Problem. Big problem.

God requested worship via the Temple sacrifice system. They had taken it so much for granted that God basically says, “Shut it down. Your worship is an insult. And you are in trouble.”

If ever, did God’s people need righteousness restored? In Malachi’s day, once upon their roller coaster history again, they needed God's imputed righteousness. But how, as 3:4 asks, could their offerings become “acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years?”

The Holy Refinery. The Divine Laundry. God purified them (3:2-3). Only He could restore His people to righteousness. “Then,” and note well what Malachi 3:3b says here, “the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.

Did you catch that? In chapter one God’s people were called out for impure offerings, but here in chapter three it is not the offering that it called righteous or unrighteous, but the person offering it. Righteous people offer righteous offerings. Righteous people do righteous things. 

Righteousness comes from from God within the heart of a person. Righteousness is a gift of God, manifest in right action, but rooted in a right heart.

The righteous heart gives birth to righteous actions.

Our righteous God makes us righteous.

Ask yourself today:

  • How is my personal righteousness with God?
  • What secret sins or unforgiveness am I harboring?
  • What must I confess to God without delay?
  • How should I express thanks to God for His forgiveness? 

Restoring Righteousness is the twelve and final entry in our Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets series of posts and sermons. You can read all those posts in the previous weeks herein. You can hear any of those sermons via iTunes or our church podcast page. Please share this post and leave comments as you wish.