Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
The Great Adventure Awaits
Do you love adventures? I know I do. I enjoy traveling to new and interesting places. The part I like the most about it is the point at which you?ve done all the preparation; you know where you?re going and how you are going to get there. You arrive at the airport and check in and then are waiting for the plane to board. That?s the time when the excitement can really set in. You haven?t taken the journey yet, but you are now committed and on your way. You?ve taken the first step.
Step one in God?s two-step process in the great adventure in the lives of humans is to make us alive (Eph 2:1-5). Step two is to raise us up and seat us with Christ in His dimension. If you thought salvation and life with God begins and ends with the cleansing of your sins, you would be wrong. There are lots of things God is doing in and through you now, and there will be many exciting adventures on into eternity. Coming to Christ sets you on exciting journey that will never end, never get boring, and be better than any adventure you could have ever imagined.
?He raised us up.? The word ?raised? here in the Old Testament was used to lift something heavy (Exod 23:5), and of raising fallen things (4 Macc 2:14). How hard was it to lift the burden of sin off of us fallen humans? It was so hard only one person in all of the universe could do it: Jesus the Messiah.
The Greek word used here is also in an unusual tense: the aorist constative. I know that just really blesses you ? but it means an action that has no beginning, progress, or ending. In essence, Paul is talking about the fact that we have already been resurrected with Christ. It speaks of something called ?positional resurrection.? As Jesus died physically, we were dead spiritually. As Jesus was raised physically, we were raised spiritually. It?s not talking about our future physical resurrection?but the point is that the new life in Jesus starts now and does not end; it?s constant. We don?t have to wait to start living this new life and this new character of God.
Not only that but we are ?seated us in the heavens.?
Mark 16:19 ?Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.?
So we are also seated with Jesus, which speaks of the place of power. ?Seated? is in the same verb tense as ?raised? so the idea is that it is ongoing. Right now we have the power of God from His dimension at our disposal?power that rescues us from death and provides everything we need.
2Peter 1:3 ?His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.?
Why has God done this?
God doesn?t need to prove his graciousness but He wants to demonstrate it both now and also after His return to earth and even in the new heavens and earth. What is He displaying? ?Immeasurable riches.? These aren?t riches like you are used to here on earth ? this the wealth of God?s kindness in giving us grace: salvation, new life, seated with Christ. All this shows God?s kindness, which we can receive because we are in Christ. This is all-important for how Paul defines God?s grace next:
8 ? 9
These two verses are among the most important for us to understand and hold onto.
Paul reveals a very important concept: that we can?t earn this salvation. It comes by grace ? unmerited favor ? through faith ? which is trusting in what Christ has done. The end is that we didn?t do it. We did nothing. We didn?t earn it by being good or not being bad. God did it this way so no one could boast that ?God owed this to me?.?
Sadly, this is how many of us actually feel. Our default is to earn our way. Even though we say it is by grace that I?m saved, we try to continually earn God?s favor. We make sure to tidy ourselves up, clean up our mouth and our act and look all prim and proper so God will like us. We actually miss the point: God did this for us though we still don?t deserve it and can?t earn it.
You might not boast openly about how holy you?ve gotten since you came to Jesus, but you do it in your mind. One of the ways we do it is to think ?since I?ve been really good, God will answer my prayers better.? He won?t. He answers prayers that bring Him glory through Christ. You don?t earn loyalty points for coming to church or reading the Word or bringing so many people to a relationship with Jesus. You get all the immeasurable wealth of God in Christ for free!
If it sounds too good to be true?you?re right. Yet true it is. So what does this mean? How should this change the way we live our lives? Let?s look at the final verse in this section:
There are four things I want to focus on here:
- ?We are His creation.? The word ?creation? here is also translated ?workmanship? and means the work of a master craftsman. It can also mean a ?work of art.?
God took our old stony souls out, gave us new life instead and is now crafting us into something truly beautiful. This happens as our minds are changed and transformed, which affects our will, our actions, and our ability to use God?s power to bring others into relationship with Him.
- ?Created in Christ? 2Cor. 5:17 ?Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.? God created new life in you. The old life and the old ways are gone.
The old nature is in its death throws like a zombie that won?t stay buried. Paul talks about this struggle extensively in Romans 6 and 7. Here is a small sample:
- 6:12 ?Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.? You have power over sin because you are seated with Christ in His dimension through God?s grace.
- Why were we made new? ?For good works, which God prepared ahead of time.? Doesn?t that blow you away? God has specific things for you to do that he already mapped out. We should freak out at this thinking ?Oh no, what if I miss one of the things God wants me to do?? God is big enough to handle it. But for our part, we need to continually tune into the Spirit, asking Him to give us that next direction.
However, it?s not a hocus pocus kind of thing. As God changes your character you will more and more just know the best thing to do. So pray, think about God?s character, focus on the changes He?s making in you, and you?ll find yourself naturally doing those things.
- And this might be the coolest part of it. God created these things for us to do ?so that we should walk in them.? It?s not about accomplishing God?s work on your own. It is about looking for the steps God would take and just following His path in any situation?calling on Him for that divine power to accomplish His tasks for you.
I think the bottom line here is not to worry. You didn?t save yourself and you can?t keep yourself saved. You didn?t create the new life but God did. You can?t even follow His will, but you can fill yourself with Him and let Him create a new character in you and then ask Him for direction and trust that He?s big enough to guide you into doing the things He?s called you to do.
Welcome to the great adventure.