Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically today’s passage begins with the first verse of the second chapter and continues through to the thirteenth verse of the third chapter. “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar of, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with t he saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the buildings fitly famed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builder together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:11-22).
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all the saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:1-13).
When you read the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian saints you will find language that is incredibly encouraging for your faith and you walk with the Lord. Upon reading thee words which are found in this epistle you can and will be brought face to face with who you are in Christ—and not only who you are in Christ but you were meant to be in Christ. There is absolutely denying the fact that when reading this epistle you are confronted with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul’s desire to bring the Ephesian saints into an understanding of who they were as saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the beginning of the epistle and in the very first verse the apostle Paul addresses and speaks to them as saints—and not only as saints but as those who are the faithful in Christ Jesus. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to not simply how the apostle Paul saw the believers in Ephesus but how the Lord Jesus Christ sees and views us. When was the last time you stopped and truly thought about what the Lord thinks about you? When was the last time you stopped and truly asked yourself if what you believed in what the Lord says about you. We know that in Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked His disciples whom men said that He the Son of Man was and the disciples initially responded by telling Him how there were those who thought He was Elijah, those who thought He was John the Baptist, those who thought He was Jeremiah and those who thought He was one of the prophets. After hearing the opinions and views of others Jesus then transitions the question to them and asks them who they said that He the Son of man was. To this Simon called Peter responded by emphatically declaring that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Jesus heard this confession and declaration made by Simon Peter and would emphatically declare unto him that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but His Father which was in heaven.
You might be wondering why I would choose to reference and speak of Jesus’ encounter with the disciples in Caesarea Philippi and the answer is actually much simpler than you think and/or would imagine. In Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was. The disciples heard the question of Jesus and responded by telling Him what they heard men speak of and declare concerning Him. Moving and transitioning from this Jesus would then make the question person and ask them who they personally thought and believed He the Son of man was. This is something quite interesting when you think about it for as surely as Jesus asked the disciples who they said that He the Son of Man was I can’t help but think about and ask myself if there has ever been a time when we have entered into our secret closet of prayer and asked a similar question of the Lord. When was the last time you entered into your secret closet of prayer and simply asked the Lord, saying, “Lord, who do you say that I your son am?” “Lord, who do you say that I your daughter am?” If you are truly honest with yourself and with the Spirit of the Lord who dwells within you when was the last time you entered into the secret closet of prayer and asked the Lord to define you and ask the Lord to tell you who you are? We spend so much time asking the world who they think we are—and not only who they think we are but who they want us to be. I am absolutely convinced that there are two great questions we must needs ask in the presence of the Lord—the first is who the Lord says that we are and the second is who the Lord wants us to be. There is absolutely no trouble or concern with us entering into the secret close of prayer and asking the Lord who He says we are and who He wants us to be. What’s more is I would dare say that there would be and there have been many of us who have allowed the world define us, have allowed the world to tell us who we are and have even allowed the world to tell us who we should be.
Building upon this particular truth I am absolutely convinced we need to examine two distinct encounters our Lord had while He walked among us as the Word made flesh. If you read the Synoptic gospels written by the apostle Matthew, the physician Luke and John Mark you will read three different accounts of the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River. It is absolutely necessary that we read and recognize that which is found within these passages of Scripture for there at the Jordan River three distinct things occurred within the life of Jesus and within the witness of John the baptist. It would be there at the Jordan River as Jesus came forth out of the waters the heavens were opened before Him, the Spirit descended and lighted upon Jesus in the bodily form of a dove and the voice of the Father spoke from heaven and not only declared that Jesus was His beloved Son but also that He was well pleased in His Son. What we must needs recognize is that this occurred when Jesus was thirty years of age and after He had come from Nazareth and from Galilee unto the place where John the Baptist was baptizing men and women in the waters of the Jordan River. What’s more is that when we read the words which are found within these gospels we must needs recognize that this happened before Jesus had performed a single miracle, before Jesus had healed a single person, before Jesus had cleansed a single leper, before Jesus had cast out a single unclean spirit or devil and before Jesus had even raised Lazarus from the dead. There at the Jordan River—before Jesus had even begun the work which had been ordained and appointed by Him of the Father—the voice of the Father not only declared His great pleasure in Him but also His idenity. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage that they not only express the pleasure and delight of God but they also described the idenity of Jesus.
I am sitting here today and I can’t help but think about the fact that the pleasure of God and our idenity in Christ are intrinsically linked together. We cannot have a discussion about the pleasure of God within our lives and not at the same time also have a discussion about our idenity in Christ. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand that one of the greatest places we can indeed be in within our lives is understanding who we are in Christ. We know that we were created in the image of God and that we were formed and fashioned within our mother’s womb, however, there is something else we experience when we believe on Jesus Christ and when we allow ourselves to walk with and follow Him. While it is indeed true that we have been created in the image and after the likeness of the living God it is also true that when we make the decision to walk with and follow Jesus we are transformed and conformed into His image. This is something that requires great consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality of how our idenity is found in the person of Jesus Christ and how that identity is essentially our representing the image of Christ in this earth. When Jesus came into the world as the Word made flesh He was the image of the invisible God and came unto men that He might show, display and present the Father. With this being said we must needs recognize that each and every one of us as members of the body of Christ have imprinted upon us a portion of the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is and there must be absolutely no mistaking this particular truth within our lives for it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth that we were created in the image and likeness of God, we are transformed and are being transformed in the image of Christ and our idenity is found—not in ourselves or who we think we are or should be but in who Christ is and who we are in Christ.
It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the passages of Scripture found in the Synoptic gospels concerning the baptism of the Lord Jesus by John in the waters of the Jordan River. What’s more is we can also find a description of this event in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John when he writes and describes the witness of John the Baptist. It was John the Baptist who—after he had baptized Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River—emphatically declared and confess Jesus as the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world. What’s more is that directly linked to this confession and proclamation was a powerful description of that encounter at the Jordan River when he had baptized Jesus in the waters of the river and as Jesus emerged from the waters. When John the Baptist was providing witness concerning Jesus the Christ He recounted that experience at the Jordan River and how the heavens were opened before and unto them. Undoubtedly John the Baptist remembered how the heavens were opened, how the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the bodily form of a dove and how the voice of the Father spoke concerning Jesus and declared that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. This would be the confirmation the apostle John needed and was provided by the Spirit concerning the One who was coming after Him who was mightier than He. Having said this I now invite you to consider the following passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is my. Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).
“When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not. Know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding Jesus’ identity in the Father before He had even taught and preached in the synagogues, before He had even performed a single miracle and before He had even begun fulfilling that for which He had been sent. There is something truly astonishing and captivating about the words which we see here in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the idenity of Jesus as the beloved Son. What’s more is there something incredibly beautiful about the Father declaring the idenity of the Son before He would even begin stepping into that for which He had been called and sent to do. There at the Jordan River the eternal Father declared who the Son was—and not only who the Son was but also His express delight, His pleasure and His joy in the Son. I am absolutely convinced we must needs acknowledge the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face with the idenity of the Son—not in who man said he was but who the Father said that He was. We know that before Jesus came to John the Baptist there at the Jordan River John would speak of One who was coming after him who was mightier than he was and who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. What makes the encounter at the Jordan River so incredibly unique is that it’s almost as the Father wanted to be the first One to tell Jesus who He truly was.
LETTING THE FATHER SPEAK FIRST! The more I think about the narrative of Jesus at the Jordan River and the voice of the Father speaking to and concerning Him the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality that the Father speaking at the Jordan River seems to demonstrate that before anyone else could formulate an opinion about Jesus the Father wanted to declare who He was. Before anyone else would think and perceive that Jesus was possibly John the Baptist reincarnate, before anyone else would think that Jesus was Elijah, before anyone else would think that Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the prophets the Father would speak concerning Him and would declare that He was His beloved Son. This is something we have great need of recognizing and paying attention to for directly connected to the reality of the Son is the love of the Father and the pleasure of the Father. When you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Father declaring that Jesus was His Son but he didn’t merely declare that Jesus was His Son. The Father declared that Jesus was His beloved Son thus emphasizing and expressing the tremendous love and affection He had toward Him. What’s more is the Father expressed His great pleasure—his delight and his joy—in the Son there at the Jordan River. There at the Jordan River the Father not only declared and proclaimed Jesus to be His Son but He also spoke of His great love for and pleasure in the Son. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when thinking about Jesus at the Jordan River for the Father speaking from heaven almost seems to indicate and suggest that he wanted to be the first to declare who Jesus was.
Pause for a moment and think about how incredibly unique and powerful that truth really is for there at the Jordan River it’s as if the Father wanted to be the first to declare and proclaim who Jesus was. After Jesus had emerged from the waters of baptism the voice of the Father wanted to set the tone for the idenity of who Jesus was and would declare that He was the Son. This is something worth mentioning and understanding for we must also recognize that it’s as if the Father wanted to set the tone and set the stage for the idenity of Jesus during those days—not as a mere man who came forth from Nazareth but as the beloved Son of the living God. Please pay close attention to this for there is something about allowing the Father define who we are before anyone else is able to define us and/or tell us who we are. I am convinced that this is true at two different points within our lives—one when we are young and the other which could indeed happen at any point within our lives. There is something to be said about allowing the Father to define who we are while we are still children before the world and the voices in the world can begin telling us who they think we are and who they want and would like us to be. One of the greatest dangers facing our children and our teenagers in this generation today is that there are a myriad of voices that are speaking unto them and trying to tell them who they are. There are countless voices that are speaking to our children and our teenagers trying to tell them who they should be and who the world would like them to be. This is why it is so important for parents—if they are godly parents—to instill in their children while they are young their idenity in Christ. This is precisely why it is necessary for the voice of the Father to be one of the first voices children hear as the voice of the Father can in fact declare unto them that they are indeed His sons and daughters. Parents have an incredible responsibility to be those who will instill in their children the view God has of them and the view God has for them that they might recognize and understand who they are and why they were created.
Perhaps one of the greatest questions that any one person can ask themselves—and has in fact asked themselves at one point or another—is why they are here. I am absolutely convinced that there have been countless millions—if not billions—of men and women who have asked the question why they were here and what their purpose in life us. If there is one thing that I find so incredibly powerful about the encounter there at the Jordan River is the Father didn’t speak from heaven and declare unto Jesus what He wanted Him to do. The Father didn’t speak from heaven and declare unto Jesus that he was to heal the sick, that He was to raise the dead, that He was to cleanse the lepers, that He was to cleanse the lepers, that He was to cast out unclean spirits. What’s more is the Father didn’t speak unto Jesus and declare unto Him that He was anointed by the Spirit to do good works during those days among men. The Father spoke from heaven and declared unto and concerning Jesus that He was His Son—and not only that he was His Son but also that He was His “beloved” Son and that he was pleased in Him. This is something we must needs acknowledge within our hearts and lives for two of the greatest things we need to know—and not only know but also hear—is that we are beloved of the Father and that the Father is pleased with us. Not only this but there is a great need within our hearts and lives in this generation to be those who hear the voice of the Father speaking unto us declaring that we are His sons and His daughters. We dare not and must not allow anyone else to tell us who we are or try and tell us who they think, feel or believe we should be. Much damage has been done in the lives of many when they have allowed others to try and tell them who they are and/or who they should be in this life.
I am sitting here today thinking about this particular truth and I can’t help but be reminded of the movie Black Panther. Closer to the beginning of the movie T’Chala entered into a ritual ceremony where he would be stripped of the powers of the Black Panther. On this particular day on ceremonial ground the various tribes of Wakanda would gather there at the river for one reason and one reason only—to see if there was one who would challenge T’Chala for the mantle of Black Panther and as the king of Wakanda. As the scene unfolds there were individual voices from each tribe that would declare that there was none from their tribe that would challenge. If you continue watching, however, you will hear chants coming from within one of the caves is the tribe from the mountain would enter into the scene. The leader of that tribe M’baku would step forth as one who would challenge T’Chala in ritual combat for the mantle of Black Panther and king of Wakanda. What is important about this battle is that it could end only by death of one of the parties or by one of the parties yielding. There was no way out of this ritual battle without and apart from death of one of the parties and as the scene unfolds you will find T’Chala accepting the challenge for the mantle of Black Panther. Initially during the battle it would appear that M’baku would defeat T’Chala as he would appear to be far superior, far stronger and far more skilled in battle. The scene continues with M’Baku having T’Chala in a vice like grip that would seem to spell defeat for him until you see his mother there at the river yell in the hearing of others but specifically unto her son, saying, “Show them who you are.” T’Chala would hear the words of his mother and would cry out, saying, “I am T’Chala” and immediately turning the tide on M’Baku and proceeding to have him in a submission hold at the edge of the cliff. T’Chala would call for M’Baku to yield and would also ask him to not make him kill him. M’Baku would in fact yield, the battle would be over and T’Chala would become the Black Panther.
Now you might be wondering why I would choose to include in this writing a scene from the Marvel movie Black Panther and yet the answer is quite simple and is found in the words of a mother to her son. The mother looked upon her son in a vulnerable place and in a place where he was facing potential defeat and would cry out to her son calling on him to show them all who he was. These words are incredibly powerful for they not only called on T’Chala to know who he was but also show who he was. What makes this all the more important when you think about it is in terms of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Most translations will read the tempter coming unto Jesus and using the phrase “If” you are the Son of God, however, the more accurate rendering of this is “Since” you are the Son of God. That which the tempter was doing was calling Jesus to use His divine power to not only show who He was but also prove that He was the Son of God. There in the wilderness, however, Jesus would not turn stones into bread in order to show that He was the Son of God. Jesus had indeed heard the voice of the Father declare and proclaim to Him that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased and He would spend three and a half years showing Judaea, Galilee, and even a city in Samaria who he was. Jesus would spend three and a half years demonstrating the tremendous reality that He was indeed the Son of the living God.
What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture is that at the Jordan River Jesus would indeed hear the voice of the Father be the first to speak to Him concerning who He was. There at the Jordan River the Father would be the first to declare and proclaim that Jesus was indeed the beloved Son and that He was well pleased in Him. What we find in the Marvel movie Black Panther is a loving mother seeing her son in a vulnerable place facing defeat in ritual combat and she calls on him to show all those who were present who he was. These words of the mother were meant to call her son to not only know who he was but also believe who he was. This is something worth recognizing and understanding for we as the sons and daughters of the living God must not only know who we are in Christ but must also believe who we are in Jesus Christ. We as the sons and daughters of the living God must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed been created in the image of God and that we have been transformed and are being transformed into the image of Christ. There is a great need for us as the saints of God and disciples of Christ to be men and women who not only allow the Father to tell us who we are but also allow the Father to define us. Moreover we as the saints of God must needs not only know who we are but also believe in who we are. There is a great need for men and women in this generation to know who they are in Christ and to recognize who we are and who he have been created as being sons and daughters of the living God. Jesus came from Nazareth to the Jordan where John was baptizing and after being baptized the Father would not only express His supreme pleasure and delight in Him but also His love and affection for Him as well. This is in addition to the Father declaring concerning and unto Jesus that He was His Son. Oh how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for this would not be the first time the voice of the Father would speak concerning the Son. There would be another account where the voice of the Father would speak to Jesus atop the mountain of transfiguration which is first recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and is mentioned in the gospels written by John Mark and Luke and then recounted in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter:
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord, It is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him! And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and do not be afraid. When they had lifted up their eyes, t hey saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacle: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. .And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son. Hear Him! Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves” (Mark 9:2-8).
“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud saying, This is my beloved Son. Hear Him! When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen” (Luke 9:28-36).
“For we did. Not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).
If we read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture we will find a second occurrence within the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and how the voice of the Father would speak from heaven declaring that He was His beloved Son. What makes this truly intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the voice of the Father was the first to declare the idenity of the Son as He was preparing to engage in the ministry which was before Him. Moreover the Father would also speak to Jesus a second time as the time of his suffering and crucifixion drew near. There is not a doubt in my mind that as Jesus was approaching the suffering He would face in the flesh and as He was preparing to be delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified the Father would speak to Him once more confirming and declaring that He was His beloved Son. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there are two distinct times within our lives when hearing the voice of the Father speaking unto us is incredibly necessary and critically vital—early on in our lives during our childhood and/or teenage years or later on in our lives if we came to Christ during our adult years, and when we are preparing to enter into a period of intense suffering. One of the greatest things that can indeed serve as a foundation and bedrock in the mist of our suffering is knowing who we are—knowing that we are sons and daughters of the living God, knowing that we were created in the image of God, knowing that we were and are being created in the image of Christ and knowing that He is pleased with us. In all reality these truths are expressed in the eighth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome as well as in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the following words which are found in both of these passages beginning with the eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the Roman saints:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin: he condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ front he dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the. Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, b it you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our. Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting fort the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, b it hope that is seen is not hope; for why does on still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what. We should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is e Ben at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:1-39).
“For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. For if we are besides ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:12-21).
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found here in these passages of Scripture for not only do they highlight our being a new creation if we are in Christ but they also demonstrate that old l things have passed away and all things have become new. What’s more is that when writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul not only spoke of adoption as sons but also spoke of us as being the sons and daughters of the living God. I am absolutely convinced that one of the greatest truths we can indeed understand and recognize within our hearts and lives is that we are indeed sons and daughters of the living God. Tell me—when was the last time you entered into the secret closet of prayer and heard the voice of the Father speak to you and declare that you were His son or His daughter? When was the last time you entered into the presence of the living God and did in fact ask Him to reveal unto you your sonship as the beloved? Have you ever entered into the secret close of prayer and asked the Father to show you who you are—and not merely show you who are but who you who you are in Him? When was the last time you entered into the presence of the living God and were simply still in His prevalence and let Him not only reveal Himself to you but also show you who you are in the beloved. One of the greatest truths we can recognize and understand is who we are in Christ—and not only who we are in Christ but also who we are in the beloved. If there is one thing we must needs understand it’s that our identity is not only contained in the mystery of the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father but our identity is also found in our relationship to the spiritual body of Christ. Moreover I would dare say that the more we align ourselves with the spiritual body of Christ and the more we seek to find our place in the body of Christ the more we are indeed brought into the realization and understanding of who we are. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we want to truly understand who we are as sons and daughters of the living God we must needs commit ourselves to being joined together with other members of the spiritual body and other sons and daughters. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints concerning the spiritual body of Christ:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of s wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of Spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individuals as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For y one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I am not. Of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
It is at this juncture I find it fitting to return to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading this epistle it’s that the apostle Paul not only desired to describe to the Ephesian saints who they were in Christ but he also sought to remind them of who they were not. In fact when you come to the second chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul seeking to remind them of who they once were for in understanding and recognizing who you once were you are able to comprehend and understand who you are in Christ. The words which we find in this epistle calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that we have indeed been ransomed, redeemed and rescued by the person of the Lord Jesus Christ through His suffering, through His death and through His resurrection. You cannot read the words found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding that which the apostle Paul was seeking to convey to these saints. The apostle Paul desired to bring them into the place where they recognized and understood the inheritance they had in Christ—and not only the inheritance they had in Christ but also their idenity in Christ. I am absolutely convinced that two of the greatest needs we have as the saints of God is not only knowing and understanding the inheritance we have in Christ but also the idenity we have in Christ. The one deals with what we have in Christ while the other deals with who we are in Christ. It isn’t enough to merely focus on what we have in Christ and not also understand who we are in Christ. In fact I would dare say that knowing who we are in Christ has greater value and greater worth than knowing what we have in Christ for there would be some who would become so focused on the blessing(s) in Christ they forget about who has called and transformed them into.
With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to declare unto you that our idenity in Christ—who we are in Christ—is directly linked and intrinsically connected to what we have in Christ—and not necessarily what we have in Christ but what Christ has done for us. The inheritance we have in Christ is made possible solely because of what He has done and what he has accomplished within our lives as the saints of God and those who are His disciples and followers. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the apostle Paul clearly seeks to contrast who the Ephesian saints once were to who they were now—who they are now being saints and the faithful who are in Christ Jesus. Please don’t miss this for there is something truly captivating about knowing who we are and knowing that Christ was willing to invest in us. While we were yet sinners and while we were enemies Christ died for us and came as the eternal and only begotten Son sent by the living and eternal God. This is something we have great need of paying close attention to for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the fact that we were once alienated from God and were once separated from Him and yet we have been brought near by and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact this is precisely what the apostle Paul wrote in his epistle unto the saints which were at Rome—specifically in the fifth chapter:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:1-11).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. Within the first two chapters you will not only find the apostle Paul declaring unto the saints who they were in Christ but He was also declaring unto them who they were before Christ. There is a great need for us to remember who we were before Christ redeemed, rescued and ransomed us for it serves as the foundation for who we are, who we have become and who we are becoming in the person of Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this when reading this epistle for when you come to the second chapter you will find the apostle Paul writing to them how they were dead in trespasses and sins and how they once walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to describe how we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath just as the others. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this for sometimes in order to understand how far you’ve come you need to remember who you once were. The apostle Paul was very clear when writing unto these dear saints that they were once dead in trespasses and sins and how they once walked according to the course of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air. Not only this but the apostle Paul would mention this a second time in the fifth verse after building upon the reality that God who is rich in mercy and because of His great love with which He loved us made us alive together with Christ—even though we were dead in our trespasses. Furthermore the apostle Paul goes on to describe how God made us alive together with Christ, how He raised us up together, how He made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus that He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul would go on to declare that it is by grace we have been saved through faith—and that not of ourselves for it is the gift of God which comes not of works lest any man should boast.
If you continue reading in the second chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul admonishing them to remember that they were once Gentiles in the flesh who were called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands and were without Christ. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to write how not only were they without Christ but they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul goes on to write that they were indeed brought near by the blood of Christ in Christ Jesus having once been far off. It was Christ who is our peace and has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation having abolished in His flesh the enmity which is the law of commandments that HE might create in Himself one new man from the two making peace. Christ reconciled both to God in one body through the cross and thereby putting to death the enmity. Not only this but Jesus came and preached peace to those who were afar off and to those who were near and gave us access in Him, through Him and by Him to the Father. Because of this we are no longer strangers and foreigners but are now fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone. Furthermore we have become a new building in God fitted together and growing into a holy temple in the Lord as we are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.