RESTORATION IS OUR INHERITANCE
A. Introduction: In Eph 1:16-23 Paul recorded a prayer he regularly prayed for Christians in the church in the city of placeCityEphesus. His prayer doesn't seem directly related to the problems of everyday life. But Paul knew that if believers learn to walk in these truths they (we) will have victory in every area of life.
1. Paul prayed that they would have insight and revelation in three specific areas as they learned more and more about the Lord. He prayed that they would know the hope to which God has called us, the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and the greatness of His power in and toward those who believe.
a. These three points are a summary of God's plan for man. He calls or invites us to join His family through faith in Christ. When we respond to His call we become sons of God with an inheritance. God then works in us and through us by His power to produce the effects of what He has provided through the Cross of Christ.
b. It's not what you see that defeats you in life. It's how you see what you see. If you can learn to see your life in terms of the big picture or the overall plan of God it will make this very difficult life easier to deal with. Rom 8:18; II Cor 4:17,18
2. God created men and women to become His sons and daughters and made the earth to be home for His family. However neither this world nor humanity is as God intended. Both have been damaged by sin.
a. But God is working out a plan to deliver His creation from sin and the corruption and death it has produced and restore mankind and the earth to His original plan.
1. Knowledge of what God has done, is doing, and will do is a tremendous source of hope. Hope looks to the future. It is expectation of coming good. It affects how you see life.
2. Despite how things look now, according to the Bible, it's going to get better. This knowledge makes what ever you're dealing with easier to bear. Prov 4:18
b. God is going to restore what was damaged by sin. When you answer His call to join His family through Jesus, you become His son and receive an inheritance. Participation in the coming restoration is part of your inheritance. That is our topic in this lesson.
B. Peter, one of Jesus original twelve disciples (and part of His inner circle), was an eyewitness of Jesus' entire earth ministry along with His death, burial, and resurrection. When Jesus returned to Heaven Peter and the others went out to preach what they had seen and heard and to give witness to His resurrection.
1. In one of his first public sermons after Jesus returned to Heaven Peter gave us an important detail about God's plan and purpose¾our hope. Acts 3:21
a. He told his audience that Jesus has gone back to Heaven until the times of restitution of all things which God has been talking about through his prophets since the beginning “from the most ancient time in the memory of man” (Amp).
b. The Greek word translated restitution means to restore; a restoration of a thing to its former state: Heaven must be his home, until those times of universal restoration (20th Cent); when all things are put right (Basic); until the final recovery of all things from sin (TLB).
1. God's original plan was and is to have a family of holy, righteous sons and daughters with whom He can dwell forever on this earth. Eph 1:4,5; Isa 45:18
2. Jesus went to the Cross to pay for sin so it can be removed and sinners can be restored to sonship. He will come again to cleanse the earth of all corruption and death and restore it to a fit forever home for the family.
2. We said in the last lesson that many of us relate to God like Peter did when he first met Jesus: Get away from me! I'm a sinful man. Luke 5:8
a. But Jesus was well aware of Peter's condition. He came to earth to fix it by transforming Peter and restoring him to what God intended from the beginning.
1. Eph 1:4--Even as he (God the Father) selected us out for himself in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze. (Wuest)
2. Holy, in the original Greek language, means pure, clean. Without blemish means without flaw or imperfection.
b. He knew what men would become due to sin. And he knew He could restore them through His plan of redemption and make men such that no matter how deep He looks He sees holiness and blamelessness in us.
3. When we believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord we become heirs or possessors of righteousness “that results from faith” (Heb 11:7, Williams). Righteousness is a gift received from God's grace through our faith. Rom 5:17; Rom 10:10
a. The Greek word translated righteousness comes from a root word that means right or as it should be. Our English word comes from an old English word spelled “rightwiseness”.
1. Our inheritance includes restoration or being made right again through supernatural transformation by the power of God.
2. Titus 2:14--He it is who sacrificed himself for us (NEB) to purchase our freedom from all iniquity (Weymouth), to free us from all wickedness (Goodspeed), and to make us a pure people marked out for his own (NEB), to secure himself a clean people (Moffatt) eager to do right (Goodspeed), with our hearts set upon living a life that is good (Phillips).
b. Eph 2:1-10--Paul summarizes the process of transformation that restores us. v1-3--He reminds Christians of their condition before they bowed their knee to Jesus as Savior and Lord: You were dead in your sins, following the dictates of the Wicked One who worked in you. You were by nature (lineal descent) deserving of God's wrath (v1-3).
1. v4-7--But God, motivated by love and mercy, helped you when you were in this dreadful condition by giving you life through Jesus. He did this so that we'd have a future and a hope, as He continues to show us His kindness in the ages to come.
2. v8,9--We have been saved from sin and its effects through no effort or accomplishment of our own. It was His grace through our faith. Therefore no one can boast.
c. v10--For we are God's workmanship (POIEMA). Our English word poem comes from the Greek word. Workmanship means that which is made.
1. The point is that through salvation which produced transformation (accomplished through the Cross and the new birth God) has made us what we are and we are what He wants us to be.
2. For we are God's own handiwork (Weymouth), we are his design (Knox), For he has made us what we are (Williams), created, by our union with Christ Jesus, for the good actions (20th Cent) as he has prepared beforehand, to be the employment of our lives. (Knox)
A. We've discussed this in the past few lessons. Through the Cross we've been justified or legally acquitted of sin (all charges dropped due to lack of evidence) and glorified (born of God, becoming partakers of the uncreated life in God, eternal life). Rom 8:30
B. This is God's plan¾to restore men through union with Christ by making us partakers of eternal life. I Cor 1:9--It is God himself who called you to share in the life of his son Jesus Christ our Lord; and God keeps faith. (NEB)
4. II Pet 1:4--Peter (who over thirty years earlier said to Jesus: Get away from me; I'm a sinner), just before his execution, wrote that through Jesus we've become partakers of the divine nature. Peter now understand why Jesus came and how He restores men through the Cross and the new birth.
a. Thus he has given us his precious and splendid promises so that through them you may escape the corrupting influences that exist in the world through passion, and come to share the divine nature (Goodspeed).
1. We don't become God. We become sons of God, born of Him. Through union with Christ we become partakers of His life. His nature is life. John 1:4; John 5:26; John 14:6; etc.
2. Col 2:9,10--For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (KJV) and, by your union with him, you also are filled with it (20th Cent); and you are complete through your union with Christ (NLB).
b. We have all sorts of religious platitudes about what it means to be saved that are contrary to what the Bible reveals and they build a sense of unworthiness, condemnation, and insecurity into us.
1. People say: We're snow covered dung. We have an outward “robe of righteousness” but inwardly we're still sinful creatures. We're forgiven sinners.
2. But sinners (or snow covered dung) can't enter the kingdom of God. I Cor 6:9. A change of nature must take place within us. That's what the new birth is all about.
A. Through receiving eternal life at the new birth an inward transformation has takes place that restores you to what you were intended to be.
B. The New Testament teaches: You were, you are. You were dead in your sins. Now you are alive in Christ (Eph 2:1,4; Col 2:13). You were darkness. Now you are light in the Lord (Eph 5:8). You were a sinner. Now you are righteous (Rom 5:19).
C. The new birth is the beginning of a process of transformation that will ultimately restore us and make us right or as we should be in every part of our being.
1. Our spirit (inward being) is regenerated by the entrance of eternal life at the new birth. Our mind and emotions (our soul) and our body are not directly affected by the new birth.
a. Our bodies will be transformed by eternal life at the resurrection of the dead and made incorruptible and immortal. Our soul can become increasingly Christ like in this life as we follow specific instructions in scripture. These are topics for another day.
b. Right now, we are finished works in progress. We are fully God's sons and daughters but we aren't yet fully transformed in the rest of our being. I John 3:2
1. The condition of our spirit is the basis of our identity. We are born of God, holy, righteous sons of God, new creatures. II Cor 5:17--So if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new being; the old state of things has passed away; there is a new state of things. (Goodspeed)
2. God deals with us on the basis of the part that is finished because He knows the process will be completed. Phil 1:6
A. This awareness gives us confidence before God. I John 4:17--In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment¾with assurance and boldness to face him¾because as He is, so are we in this world. (Amp)
B. This verse refers to our identity in Christ. It can't be a reference to our behavior since none of us are yet fully Christ-like in all of our attitudes and behaviors.
2. Part of Christian growth and maturity is learning to let the inward changes affect and dominate the as yet unchanged parts (lessons for other days). Eph 4:22-24
a. In the context of not acting like you used to (put away those activities v17-21), Paul instructs believers to put off the old man or the old actions and activities you used to engage in. 1. v22,24--Fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living…(and) put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God's design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion. (Phillips)
2. We're to take on outwardly the effects of the inward changes. This will be expressed in the way we talk, think, and act. Paul calls this “putting on the new man”.
b. Notice, he gives an important detail about the new man or the regenerate man (born again you), He is made of righteousness and holiness. As a born one, a son of God, you partake of God's righteousness and holiness through union with Christ. v24
1. And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image (Godlike) in true righteousness and holiness. (Amp)
2. And that you put on once for all the new self who after God was created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Wuest)
c. In between put off the old way of living and take on outwardly the effects of the inward changes is verse 23--You must adopt a new attitude of mind (Goodspeed); the very spirit of your minds must be constantly renewed (20th Cent).
1. Key to success in this process is renewing your mind (lessons for another day) To renew your mind means to change your view of reality. We do this by regular, systematic reading of the Bible which shows us the way things really are.
2. A renewed mind sees things as God sees them and is more readily able to demonstrate the will of God in their lives. Rom 12:2
3. We must to learn to see ourselves (assess ourselves) according to the inward changes, according to our true identity as holy, righteous sons and daughters of God by second birth.
a. Because we are not yet fully transformed and restored to all that God intends we still commit occasional acts of unrighteousness. But what we do doesn't change what we are by new birth.
1. Think about it. Many unsaved (unrighteous) people commit occasional acts of righteousness (like giving money to the poor) but it doesn't change what they are by nature. They are still unrighteous.
2. When you commit an occasional act of unrighteousness it doesn't change what you are. But what you are is and will change what you do.
b. In the context of why Jesus died and the fact that men and women become new creatures in Christ, Paul wrote that we are no longer to assess ourselves according to the flesh (the as yet unchanged parts of us).
1. II Cor 5:15--Christ died for us all, so that being alive should no longer mean living with our own life, but with his life who died for us and has risen again. (Knox)
2. II Cor 5:16--Once convinced of this, then, I estimate no man by what is external (Moffatt) and therefore, henceforward, we do not think of anybody in a merely human fashion (Knox) 3. II Cor 5:17--Therefore if any person is (ingrafted) in Christ, the Messiah, he is (a new creature altogether,) a new creation; the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come. (Amp)
D. Conclusion: We haven't said all we need to say, but consider one more thought as we close this lesson.
1. God's purpose in redemption is to so thoroughly deal with our sin that it's as though we never sinned and then restore us to His original plan as holy, righteous sons and daughters.
2. If you are born of God through faith in Christ and His sacrifice at the Cross a process of restoration has begun. You can rest in the fact that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it. It's part of your inheritance. More next week!