Grace For The Journey
When it comes to the subject of changing our lives, we all feel the same as we feel about going to heaven: We’re all for it, but we’d rather not go through what you have to go through to get there! The idea of change sounds good, but when it gets right down to it, we think, “You mean I actually have to live differently? No way!”
But the Christian life is
Fundamentally a changed life.
If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul paints a grim portrait of how unbelievers live. While not all unbelievers are as bad as they possibly could be, they all live “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (4:17b-18).
That bleak picture describes each of us
Before we met Jesus Christ.
But in Ephesians 4:20 Paul draws a sharp contrast: “But you did not learn Christ in this way.”
He gives us a brief sketch of the changed life
That every believer should be experiencing.
He’s saying . . .
The changed life stems from
The transformation that God works in us
Through the gospel as we put off the old life,
Are renewed in our minds,
And put on the new life in Christ.
Over the next four days we will learn (1) how Christ changes our life as a result of the Gospel (4:20-21) and (2) what those changes are that Christ brings into our lives (4:22-24). Today we will consider . . .
- How Christ changes our life as a result of the Gospel (4:20-21).
The changed life begins when we come to know Christ personally through faith and repentance (Philippians 3:9-10 – “That I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection …”). Paul describes the changed life in four ways:
- The changed life begins when you learn Christ.
To “learn Christ” is an unusual phrase that occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Paul does not say, “you did not learn about Christ,” but rather, “you did not learn Christ in this way.” “This way” refers to the way of unbelievers that he has just described.
What does he mean, to “learn Christ?” He is saying that to become a Christian is a matter of coming to know Christ personally. Yes, you must know something about Who He is, as revealed in Scripture. The entire Bible testifies to the truth of Who Jesus is, that He is the Christ (Messiah, God’s anointed One), the Son of God. He is the eternal God in human flesh. You must also know something about the significance of what He did when He died on the cross as the substitute for sinners. He satisfied God’s wrath toward our sin, so that we are free from condemnation when we trust in Christ to save us.
But it is possible . . .
To know all of these facts
And more and yet not
To know Jesus Christ personally.
In John 17:3, , Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
The Christian life begins
When you receive
Eternal life from God
Through faith in Jesus Christ.
At that moment, you come to know Him personally. That initial encounter with Christ is only the beginning of an eternal relationship with Him. But . . .
If you have not entered into that personal relationship with Christ,
You are not a Christian in the true sense of the word.
You may be a theologian or a Bible scholar; but you are only like a historian who knows much about the President, but who has never met him or spent any time with him personally.
The changed life begins when you learn Christ.
- The changed life continues when you hear Christ.
“If indeed” in Ephesians 4:21 does not express any doubt, but rather affirmation. Paul is saying, “I know that you have heard Him.” Probably none of the Asian believers had heard Jesus in Palestine when He was on earth. None of them had had a personal encounter with the risen Christ, as Paul did on the Damascus Road. Rather, Paul means that when he and others had preached the gospel, these people had heard it as God speaking to them. God opened their deaf ears so that they didn’t just listen to words, but they heard Jesus Christ calling them to Himself.
So as to obey
His call to faith
In John 8:43, Jesus asks the Jews that were challenging Him, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” He goes on to identify the root problem, that they were of their father, the devil. Satan had deafened their ears so that they could not hear Christ’s words of eternal life in order to believe and be saved. The changed life begins when God opens your ears to hear Jesus Christ in the gospel and you respond with obedient faith.
Tomorrow we will look at two more ways Christ changes our lives as a result of the Gospel.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”