You Say You Want a New Year’s Revolution?
January 8, 2017
By Ed Young
A revolution is a change for the best. But without the right starting point; without the right catalyst, a revolution can never truly take place. That’s why, in the first installment of this series, Pastor Ed Young takes us back to the only starting point we need in order to experience the best in our lives. And as we look at the revolution God wants us to experience, we discover that it can only begin when we take hold of our true identity.
Today, I want to talk to you about kind of a subject matter that we’ve already been dealing with so far. I want to talk to you about coming together. That song by the Beatles, “Come Together, right now, over me.” Come together right now over me. That’s what Jesus is saying to you and me as we start this brand new year. He wants us to flourish in 2017, he really does. A lot of us make New Year’s resolutions. I’m for it, you know. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution would you lift your hand? All right, good, excellent.
I hate to depress you but only 8% of us will actually keep the resolutions. That’s kind of depressing, a doggie downer. Waa-waa-waa! Eight percent? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Well, that’s what research reveals. Resolutions, resolutions.
Today, though, I want to talk to you about coming together because when we come together we will experience not a resolution, but a revolution. There’s only one letter that separates a resolution from a revolution and that’s the letter V. We can have victory as we understand what it means to be involved in revolution.
What is a revolution anyway? A revolution is a change for the better. A revolution happens again when we come together. It’s like Jesus is saying “come together right now over me.” Are you together? Are you synced up? Are you switched on? Do you have this syncopation going on with you and God? I can tell you this, he wants you to. I don’t care where you are, what you’ve done, what you’re involved in right now, he wants you to.
Is it just me or as I look back in the rear-view mirror of my life, sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted time trying to be someone I’m not. Have you ever done that before? Maybe I’ve seen a certain group, back in grade school, junior high, high school, whatever, college, I would see a group and I would find myself trying to identify with them. Or a certain trend, I want to identify with that. Or maybe we see something on social media or Snapchat we want to identify with that. It’s interesting how our identity can get all jacked up and all messed up. I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people don’t really know who they are. People are like, what do you mean I don’t know who I am? I have an ID, I have a Social Security number. That’s fine, so do I, but even though we carry those around and use IDs it doesn’t necessarily mean that we really know who we are.
So today I thought, 2017 as we kick off this first official weekend, we would look at one of the most energetic and energizing emails in history, the book of Ephesians. It was a letter, written by a guy that had experienced a complete revolution in his life. The guy that wrote this e-mail, you talking about everything coming together for him? It’s staggering, it’s stunning to see what happened in his life. This book, the book of Ephesians, we’re going through chapter 1, verses 1 through 14, this book tells us in no uncertain terms who we are. Because I’m going to argue a lot of us don’t know who we are.
This message, today, is for those of us who are followers of Christ. If you’re not a follower of Christ, listen up. Because you’re going to see who we are, whose we are. You’re going to see our identity that we should own and understand, that will cause a revolution in our lives. But those of us here who are Christians, this message, as we study the book of Ephesians over the next several weeks, I’m telling you could change our lives now and forever.
So let’s look at who we are. Who are you? I mean, do you really know who you are? Don’t let that group try to tell you who you are. Don’t let fashion or this group say this or that. Don’t let trends dictate who you are. I’m all about trends and trying to be fashionable. I like different types of music and art, and that’s cool, but I’m saying the essence of who you are. Do you really know who you are? Because I don’t really think we know who we are.
So let’s jump into the book of Ephesians 1. Here is what I’m gonna talk about today. I’m talking about our identity but I kind of coined this phrase. Our identity is in the Trinity. Say it with me. Our identity is in the Trinity.
You might be going, “what’s the Trinity?” God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Three in one, one in three. We can never, ever, ever wrap our pea-brains around the essence of the Trinity. Who am I? Who am I? As a follower of Christ, I became a Christian as a young guy, who am I? Well, the Bible tells me who I am. The apostle Paul, this guy had a major revolution. He was the hater of all Christians, killing Christians, persecuting the church. He met Jesus. Jesus revolutionized his life. He wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, Paul did, directly hearing from Jesus, writing these incredible words.
Now if you look at Paul’s writing, he begins with facts, with doctrine. Then he concludes usually with the so what principle, the application. So today we’re just gonna look at the facts about who you are in Christ. Let’s check it out.
Ephesians 1:1, “Paul (that’s what he says in this e-mail), an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God to the saints (what saints?) to the saints at Ephesus.”
Do you realize if you’re a Christian, you’re a saint. So turn to your neighbor and say, “What’s up, saint?” Just say it. Because we’re saints, we’re saints. Yeah, yeah. If you have a personal relationship with God through Christ you are a Saint.
Ephesus, the city of Ephesus, Ephesus was like the bank of Asia. People say, “Oh man, he’s banking.” Ephesus, the city was banking. Picture this massive temple, a temple in the middle of Ephesus was dedicated to the goddess Diana. It was a major bank, also this temple held some of the most priceless pieces of art in the world. The money that was flowing, and this temple was just ornate and over the top. So here’s what Paul is saying. He’s going, “hey, you think that temple is something? You think that temple has got some serious money? You think those people there are banking? You ain’t seen nothing yet until you realize who you are in Jesus.” Here’s what he’s saying: You’re rich.
Ephesians 1: 1-14, Paul is saying in Christ, you’re rich. Isn’t it interesting how we use that word picture, that symbol to the goddess Diana, where idolatrous worship was taking place, where these tours were taking place, where people can see all of the riches, he was using that as a springboard to say, “You think that’s all that? Are you kidding me? Look who you are in Christ.” And he’s gonna tell us our identity. It’s God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Our identity is in the Trinity. Our identity is in the Trinity. I like Trin-ID.
Look at God the Father, skip down to verse 4, God the Father. God the Father, the first person of the Godhead, God the Father, he has chosen us, the Bible says. Ephesians 1:4, “For He (God the Father) chose us in him before the creation of the world.” Squillions and squillions of years ago, our great God chose you and he chose me. That is unbelievable! God chose you and chose me.
I love to watch the NFL draft. The first pick in the NFL draft… and they’ll give out the player’s name and everybody, “Yeah!” He will walk up, a cool suit, with the flat bill on, the team, and whoa! I’ve got good news for you and I’ve got good news for myself. The first pick in God’s draft… you. Me.
Before, think about this, you’re not an accident. I’m not an accident, an afterthought, an add-on. Before the very foundation of the world, God the Father chose you and me. Is that powerful?
OK we’re talking about the Trinity, just stay with me, the big idea is God the Father. You have to put your thinking cap on today. But let’s talk about the Trinity right quick. God the Father, as far as God the Father is concerned, he saved you before the foundation of the world. As far as God the Son is concerned, he saved you when he died on the cross for your sins and rose again. As far as God the Holy Spirit is concerned, he saved you when you opened the lid of your life up and asked Jesus and received the gospel. Isn’t that powerful? That’s some theology! It’s just the facts. We have to understand that.
And if you read Greek, if you know how to speak Koine Greek, really verse 4 through verse 14 is one sentence. Now don’t try this now, I don’t want anyone to faint, but a good practice would be to read those verses in one breath. I think yoga is a great exercise, a great thing to do, breathing and everything. And man, if you’re good at yoga or you want to improve your breathing, try this with Ephesians. You know, just one of your poses or whatever. I don’t know what. Just, yeah, I don’t know why I said that but it is true. I didn’t make that up. That apostle Paul, he wrote this like sentence and it’s one breath, truth after truth after truth after truth. So God the Father, he’s chosen us.
Here’s something else. He adopted us. We’re gonna fly through this. Verse 5, “He predestined us for adoption to son-ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the pleasure and will.”
I know what you’re thinking. “OK, God, he’s predestined us. He’s chosen us already so I guess the good guys, the white hats, they go to heaven and the bad guys, God’s predestined them to hell.”
Wrong. Wrong. God is sovereign. The Scripture says that. He is about election. Also, we have a freedom of choice. We have a responsibility. Do I believe in election and predestination? Yes. Do I believe in responsibility and freedom of choice? Yes. Do I understand it? No. Does God understand it? Yes. Those are two rivers that only collide in the mind of God. All I know is this. I keep on nominating them and God keeps on electing them. That’s what I know.
So that’s important, and you don’t want to lean too far. OK, election, election, election, let’s just sit around and stay in our stained glass fortresses called the church and flip off the people. Those who are Christians will be Christians and those who are not… no, no, no. We’re not supposed to do that. But then again we’re not to be so shaky that we think, “OK, I’m saved. I’m not saved. I’m saved. I’m not saved.” You have that holy tension going on between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Hopefully that made sense. He predestined us for adoption to sons through Christ Jesus.
Then look at this. He accepted us. This is God the Father now! I’m not even talking about the Son yet or the Holy Spirit. He accepted us. He accepted us.
Ephesians 1:6, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved.” Jesus makes us acceptable. Many of you have accepted Christ. Oh I’ve accepted Christ! But we have to realize God has accepted us. Why? Because we’ve accepted Christ. We’re acceptable because of Jesus, yet God the Father has accepted us, those of us who have come to know his son, Jesus Christ. We’re accepted. Man, those things should just light us up. I’ve been chosen, I’ve been adopted, I’ve been accepted. Man, whoa. Wow.
ILLUS: Yesterday I got up real early and watched the sunrise. It didn’t rise but to me it rose. In reality it didn’t. I felt like it rose. And then I was flying in a plane to arrive here in Dallas, and I’m flying and I look out the window because, you know, I do that when I fly if I have a good seat by the window. I’m looking out and the earth looked flat. It just did. The horizon, it didn’t look round or like a sphere, it looked flat, and I really felt like the earth was flat. I felt like the sun rose and I felt like the earth was flat. I felt that way but those are not facts. I mean, factually I know the sun doesn’t rise. And factually I know the earth is not flat.
We look at these things and we go, “Wow, I don’t always feel these things. I don’t always feel chosen and adopted, and I don’t always feel accepted. I mean, I don’t always feel that way.” Well, it’s facts. Paul’s saying “here are the facts.”
And let me talk about adoption right quick. I flew through that adoption, Ephesians 1:5, I mentioned it a second ago. Adoption is huge. We’re adopted into the family of God when we become believers. We’re adopted, we’re adopted. But, notice this. We first of all are regenerated, then we’re adopted. Why is that important? Because if we were just adopted we would be like little playpen-whining, Gerber-dining babies. We couldn’t tap into God’s inheritance. We would have to wait. Because we are adopted and prior to adoption because we’re regenerated, we have standing, we have a standing before God as sons and daughters. So, a nanosecond after I become a Christian, go ahead and start clapping, I can tap into God’s inheritance. Because I have the inheritance because of my faith, and I can invest and spend the inheritance because of my works. Did you understand me? I’m rich. I’m rich and while I’m rich because of my faith in Jesus and I can spend that – and he wants me to spend that – by my works. That’s why it matters how we live. We have this inheritance. It’s amazing. That’s just God the Father. Let’s go to God the Son right quick.
God the Son, God the Son. God the Father, God the Son. The Trin-ID. Did you know today, I mean were you talking to your spouse about that on the way to Fellowship Church? Wow. I didn’t realize I was chosen, adopted, and accepted. This is amazing. You probably were. I doubt it.
God the Son. What has Jesus done? Wow, OK, he has redeemed us. What does redemption mean? Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption.”
What does redemption mean? Write this down. Purchased and set free by paying a price. Paul is writing this e-mail from prison, but notice his identity is in Christ. He’s not saying, “Well, I’m in prison. Stuck in Folsom Prison.” No. That’s Johnny Cash. He wasn’t saying that. He was saying, “I’m in Christ.” That was his identity.
Sixty million slaves were in effect throughout the Roman empire while he wrote this e-mail. Sixty million! They were sold, bought, whatever, like pieces of furniture. Back during this time you could buy a slave and set the slave free. That’s the picture here. We were, if you’re a believer, all slaves to sin. Jesus, by spilling his blood on the cross – because the shedding of blood is all about forgiveness and cleansing – he has done what? I’m free! I am free. You are free. So why are you acting like you’re still a slave to sin? You’re not! I’m not! We’re free! We’re free, indeed. So he has redeemed us then.
OK, he’s forgiven us. See that? Look at verses 7 and 8, “The forgiveness of sins.” You know what the word forgive means? You were probably discussing this, too, on your way to church. “Man, I wonder what the Greek word for forgiveness is. I really want to know. I really want to know.”
It means “carried away”. Just carried away. Well, what does that come from? What’s the history of that? Where did you get that, Ed? Think about the day of atonement. Back in the Old Testament, for example, you had a day of atonement. And the high priest, one day on the day of atonement, would take a goat. This is gross but sin is bad. He would slit the goat’s throat, spill the goat’s blood on the altar, atoning for the sins of the Israelites. That’s what happened. And throughout the Bible we see the shedding of blood, the shedding of an innocent third party’s blood must take place for the atonement, for the forgiveness, to occur. So that’s what would happen to one goat. Slit his throat, blood spilled on the altar, day of atonement.
There was another goat called the scapegoat. This is beautiful. And the priest would take this scapegoat, lay hands on the scapegoat, symbolizing the transference of all the sins of the people to this goat, and then they would set the goat out in the wilderness and the goat would get lost, symbolizing our sins are forgiven, blood has been spilled, they’ve been carried away! I need, you need, forgiveness.
And we don’t realize sometimes that sin is committing cosmic treason. We say, “you know I’m not that bad. Man, compared to my neighbor, what a jerk. I’m not that bad. Compared to my crazy uncle who visited over the Christmas holidays, I’m not that bad.”
Yeah, yeah. One sin, a sin of omission or commission, is committing cosmic treason before God. The good news is, think about your ID in the Trinity, Jesus has forgiven you! But don’t make this mistake. I’m talking to Christians again. Sometimes Christians say, “yeah, when I became a Christian my sins were forgiven.” Well, that’s true. But notice that forgiveness keeps on happening. That’s why as we spend our inheritance and we don’t spend it perfectly. When we screw up, when we fumble, when we waste God’s currency, quickly, “Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned.” That’s huge.
He’s also, not only has he forgiven me and you, he has revealed God’s will to us. I know this is like drinking out of a fire hydrant, I know it is. It was for me as I studied it. But we have to understand it. This is God’s plan.
Look at Ephesians 8:8-9. “With all wisdom and understanding he made known (he is making known to you and me) the mystery of his will.”
If you’re outside the family of God you’re never, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna really know why you are here. Let me say that again. I’m not saying you can’t have a decent life or a good life. I’m not saying you can’t be a good guy or a good girl. I’m not saying that, nor is the Bible saying that. If you want to really know why you’re here, and if you really want to know where you’re going and what the future is about and what heaven is about and what your abilities and gifts are about, it starts with Jesus.
Now, God has a plan for your life. He has a plan for man. And one of the plans is for us to simply know who we are. So it’s not like Paul is saying, “Oh yeah, pray for something out here or pray for something out there.”
No, no, no. Just stop and examine the facts. Just look at your ID! Wow! I’m chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven. God, your plan has been revealed to me? There’s something else. I’m talking about God the Son. This is just God the Son. He’s made us an inheritance. Ephesians 1:11, “Also, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of his will.”
OK, listen very carefully. We have an inheritance in Christ. We’re rich. We understand that. Have you ever met someone who is a trust funder? You know what a trust funder is? It’s some kid born in a family who’s a little baby, junior high, high school, he’s clueless that he’s mega wealthy. And then one day, I don’t know how it’s written, either 18 or 25. A friend of mine when he was 25, he got $50 million. He was living a comfortable life and boom! I’m like, $50 million? But see, again, we didn’t understand. In Christ, remember, we can start spending the moment we’re saved. We don’t have to wait 25 years. OK, we got that. I have an inheritance in Christ.
Also, we are an inheritance. So it’s a dualistic thing. I have an inheritance in Christ, and I am, as a believer, Christ’s inheritance. So we draw on him. We have this inheritance, we draw on it. We spend it. We have the inheritance through faith, we spend it through works. OK, but notice this. He draws, Jesus does, on you and me. We are his inheritance.
So you can’t say, “I can’t believe I’m going to this school right now. I wish I… I should be going to an Ivy League school. Or I should have gone to that school in California.” God is using you, Jesus is using you, he’s drawing on you. He’s given you, because he’s in your life, abilities and gifts and aptitudes to reveal him to others in your circle of influence. That idiot at work, you know? You’re like, “why am I here?” Or that situation you find yourself and you’re where you are for a reason. And God is using us, Christ is working through you and me no matter what we’re doing! So that gives me Godfidence.
So no matter what I’m about, no matter what life throws at me, because we live in a crazy world. That’s easy to see. God, through Jesus Christ, the power of his Holy Spirit, is using my abilities (they’re not mine, they’re given to me by Jesus) to be Jesus in all of those situations and circumstances. To me that’s like… because sometimes I get down. I’m like, “man, why is this happening? Or how about that situation?” God is in control and he has you and me where we are for a reason. We can draw on him and he is drawing on us. How are you spending his money? I just want to ask you? How are you investing his life? Hoo, man! Wow.
OK, now the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit. We’re almost done. I have a minute and 45 seconds to go but I can do it. Because we have next weekend. We’re gonna go through the book of Ephesians because it will change your life. Real quick, the Holy Spirit, and I will come back to the Holy Spirit next week, too. He has sealed us. What do you mean he’s sealed us? Well, the moment you became a Christian, Ephesians 1:13 says, “when you believed you were marked with him with a seal.” What’s a seal? Wax, a ring, boom.
Every time I see the world seal I think, this is old school, I’m sorry. Forgive me. Peter Frampton, one of the great guitarists ever. If you’ve ever heard of Peter Frampton lift your hand. If not, Google him. Remember that song, “Here I am baby, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!” Oh yeah, he didn’t write it but I mean… <guitar sound effects> Remember he had that thing in his mouth? And he was one of the first ones that … I like all kinds of music. My man, Peter Frampton.
So we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit. I become a Christian, I receive the gospel. Jesus comes inside of my life, the Holy Spirit is in your life and mine. And the Holy Spirit works from the inside, out, to make us produce this supernatural fruit.
ILLUS: The Holy Spirit is like a wedding ring. You like my wedding ring? People ask me about this. “Hey, is that ivory?” No, it’s rubber! I love it! A friend of mine got these rings for Lisa and I. This thing is so great because I’m kind of an active person, hyperactive, too. And it’s cool. Well, when I gave Lisa her engagement ring that was like, all right. I’m gonna make good on my promise. And we got married.
Well, that’s what happens when I receive Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes in, boom. It’s a seal, the wedding ring. Also, too, he’s my earnest money. He’s my down payment. Are you kidding me? And it’s amazing to see all the financial terms in the book of Ephesians, and we’ll talk about that later.
Ephesians 1:14, “the Holy Spirit, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory.”
So we’ve been redeemed. We’re being redeemed. And we shall be redeemed. The Holy Spirit is that earnest money, that down payment.
You know, Lisa and I have had the opportunity over the years to sell real estate and different houses that we’ve had over the years, over our 35 years of marriage, and some investments and things. And you’re like, “Oh boy! A down payment! Earnest money!” You know what I’m saying to you? Halleluiah! It’s good stuff! That means someone’s gonna make good on the whole package, right? Right.
Well, I’ve gotta close the Bible now. We have talked so much about our ID in Jesus. The Trin-ID. Here’s your homework. Read Ephesians 1 for the next 7 days. Read it. And read it in different translations. They’re online, YouVersion, etc. Read it in paraphrased, different looks at it. Read it, think about it, and go whoa. This is a life-changing, a revolutionary piece that will just help you to come together and know who you are. Because life is too short for us to not know who we are. And it’s more than like, I’m a Christian. I mean, yeah, we’re Christians, but what does that mean? And we’ve seen it. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, three in one, one in three. The sovereignty of God, the responsibility of man. I matter to God. True riches come from God and these riches are for the glory of God.
Here’s how we’re gonna wrap it up. We’re going to do a declaration. We’re gonna do a declaration so everyone stand and we’re gonna read this. This was written by a gentleman, strangely enough, I had breakfast with about 25 years ago, which is about the time we began Fellowship Church. He has passed away now. He was a brilliant, brilliant theologian, Dr. Ray Stedman. And he wrote this as a declaration around these verses. Let’s read it together, 1-2-3. “I am accepted in God’s family. He has marked me out as his own. He has put his Spirit within me, releasing to me the full life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every power that Jesus himself had to perform in his life upon earth, I have in him. Therefore, I am equipped to handle whatever comes today. I can take whatever life throws at me because I have him and all the fullness of his life.” That, that is a revolution. That is what it means to come together. Would you pray with me?
[Ed leads in closing prayer.}