In Christ, This is Who I Am
There is a wonderful movie that premiered in August, 2019 called, Overcoming. It is the poignant story of a young teenage girl who discovers her dying father. The father had abandoned her, and the family, fifteen years earlier. The movie has many compelling themes including love, betrayal, forgiveness, and restoration to fellowship.
One overarching theme which is returned to throughout the movie involves the question, “Who are you?” All the main characters have to wrestle with the answer to this important question as they ask themselves, “Who am I?” To know who you are as a person will define everything else in life. It will determine how you think, how you act, how you respond, what job you do, what relationships you embrace, and ultimately, where you will spend eternity.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he sets out to help Christians know who they are in Christ. In the movie, Overcoming, the young teenage girl becomes a Christian. She has a desire to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Her spiritual counselor suggested that she read the first two chapters of Ephesians, and write down every word that defines who she is in Christ. That is good counsel. The Scripture is meant to be personal. As you read through the first two chapters of Ephesians you should be able to see the following and say, “I am.”
I am a saint. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). The word “saint” means “to be separate,” or, “to be set apart.” Every person who comes to faith in Christ does so, from a Divine perspective, because they have been chosen by God to become an heir of salvation, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. To be a saint is to be set apart by God for salvation, sanctification, and glorification. This Biblical truth is not to be acted against but rejoice that God would have such great mercy.
The Enemy comes to rob the believer of spiritual joy by suggesting that the Divine selection of individuals, and the Divine determination to set some apart is not fair, or just. The Enemy instils False Guilt in the elect of God, and raises troublesome questions. “Why are some set apart, and not everyone else too?” The debate begins. Paul does not engage in all of these theological debates that divide the Church, but declares the Divine wisdom of God, and writes to the saints in Ephesus. There are also saints in Jerusalem, Rome, Titusville, Viera, and every town and city in the world, in all the nations on earth. Each believer can say, “I am a saint. That is who I am.”
I am blessed. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). The word “blessed” means “worthy of praise.” God the Father is worthy of praise. Jesus Christ is worthy of praise. God the Holy Spirit is worthy of praise. The believer praises the triune God because we are blessed (eu-lo-ge-o) in that we have prospered spiritually because of our position in Christ. Every spiritual blessing, including regeneration, sanctification, glorification, exaltation to heaven when we die, and the bodily resurrection, has been provided for the elect by the gracious work of Christ’s redemption. Let the Christian say, “I am blessed. That is who I am.”
Paul invites the saints, who know the application to their hearts of a definite redemption, to join him in ascribing to God the praise He is worthy of for the spiritual blessings He has bestowed, election, presently bestows, redemption, and will bestow glorification.
I am chosen. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4). These words offer strong proof of the doctrine of an eternal, personal, and unconditional election of men and women, boys and girls, to grace and glory. The timing of this election is also established as, “before the foundation of the world.” This means that your salvation is not a happy coincidence that took place one day. Salvation is not a fortuitous event. Election is not something that is being at the right place at the right time. No, God did choose us, in Christ, before the foundation of the world. The use of the limited personal pronouns in Scripture must be carefully considered, for they help to indicate the extent, and intent of the atonement. Christ intended to save His people from their sin, and He did. Let the Christian say, “I am not an accident. I am a chosen one. That is who I am in Christ.”
I am adopted as God’s child. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5). The Doctrine of Divine Adoption is set forth in this passage as an unfolding of rational thought. If the Natural Man is dead in sin, and has no inclination, or ability, to help himself, and if he comes alive because God has sovereignly planted a new life in him, then God must have previously decided to do so. This is only logical. God is rational, and so Paul teaches. God consciously and deliberately acts, and He acts with forethought and purpose. God has an eternal plan. God predestinates (Gk. pro-or-iz-o; to limit in advance, i.e. predetermine). God plans His work, and works His plan.
There is a divine certainty that accompanies all of God’s decisions and practices. In all matters, including that of adoption, or placing people with mature responsibilities, God is the Author. It is the Father who takes the divine initiative as He works according to the good pleasure of His will. Let the Christian say, “I am part of the family of God. I have great responsibilities within the family of God. That is who I am in Christ.”
I am redeemed. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). The word forgiveness means literally, “to send off”, or “to send away.” In the Old Testament economy, two goats were selected each year to represent the work of redemption to Israel. One goat was sacrificed, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. The other goat was sent into the wilderness, never to return to represent how sin is sent away once it is forgiven. God has forgiven every sin, past, present, and future. of those who are the heirs of salvation. He will remember them no more. Let the Christian say, “I am redeemed. All my sins have been sent away in Christ. That is who I am.”
I am predestined. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Eph. 1:11, 12). If a person finds themselves angry, upset, or emotionally reacting against a Biblical word, “saint,” “chosen,” adopted, “elect,” or “predestined,” something is wrong in the heart. The Enemy has come to sow discord in the soul, and to snatch away the good gospel seed. That is what Jesus taught in Mark 4.
“When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart” (Mark 4:19).
“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Mark 4:23).
God has not set forth the words of the Bible, and the concepts they convey, to provoke His children to anger, or to generate debate. Just the opposite. God wants His people to realize what He has done on their behalf, for the work of salvation is a marvelous work. It is a Divine work. The same power that was present in creation, the same power that brought Jesus from the dead, is the same power that was used to convert the soul of every person that is regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The sovereignty of God is manifested in the decree that ordains all that shall come to pass. Let the Christian say, “I am predestined. God the Father has planned my life. He watches over me. I am the object of His love and care. That is who I am in Christ.”
I am sealed by the Holy Spirit. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). God is faithful. Those whom He saves He will preserve by the seal of His Spirit. The fact that a person is authentically saved is manifested by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life. It is the work of the Spirit to regenerate, to make individuals holy, and then to glorify the soul. It is also the Holy Spirit who inspires the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16), and then He is the One who illuminates His Word (1 Cor. 2:11). The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of sin (John 16:8). He is our Paraclete, or Advocate when needed (John 14:16).Let the Christian say, “I am eternally saved. My salvation is certain for I am sealed by the Holy Spirit. I am secure. That is who I am in Christ.”
I am alive in Christ. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). The origin of true saving grace is rooted in the gracious heart of God. Adam disobeyed the known will of the Lord and deliberately ate of the forbidden fruit. As a result, he brought spiritual death upon himself and all of his posterity, rendering them totally helpless to do anything except to act according to their fallen nature. The omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit to bring to life those who are spiritually dead is one of the great doctrines of sovereign grace. Such a doctrine leaves no room for human assistance or boasting. “When God converts a sinner and translates him into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689).Let the Christian say, “I am alive in Christ Jesus. That is who I am.”
I am loved. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph. 2:4).
Martin Luther said that salvation consists of personal pronouns. It is one thing to say, “God loves sinners.” It is far more precious to say, “God loves me.” A person can know if God loves them by reading the Bible. Every person can read the Bible and see that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Greek word for love is agape. It means, “to highly esteem.” Does God love sinners? Of course, He does. Jesus loved the Rich Young Ruler, even though He walked away from eternal life. However, in contrast to God’s general high esteem, and loving acts of benevolence towards His creation, Paul speaks of God’s “great love wherewith he loved us.” There is a special love of God for “us”, the Christian, according to Scripture. It is not a passive love, but an active love. It is an intimate love. Therefore, let every Christian say, “I am loved. That is who I am in Christ