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Once Dead, Now Alive! - Ephesians 2:1-7

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Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?

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11/15/2020
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Once Dead, Now Alive!
Ephesians 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. Dead (v. 1)

  2. Drifting (v. 2)

  3. Doomed (v. 3)

  4. Delivered (vv. 4-5)

  5. Destined (vv. 6-7)

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap Notes: November 15, 2020
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Once Dead, Now Alive!"
Text: Ephesians 2:1-7

Path

Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and transformative. Try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment? In this teaching, Pastor Skip addresses the various stages a saved person goes through in coming to Christ.
  1. Dead (v. 1)
  2. Drifting (v. 2)
  3. Doomed (v. 3)
  4. Delivered (vv. 4-5)
  5. Destined (vv. 6-7)
Points

Dead (v. 1)
  • Christians are saved humans, people brought from death to life.
  • We are not saved because we say we are; we are saved because of what the Savior secured for us.
  • Humans aren't just sick; we're born into sin, spiritually dead on arrival.
  • When Adam and Eve rebelled against God (see Genesis 3), sin entered the world, spreading to all humankind (see Romans 5:12).
  • A spiritually dead person cannot respond to spiritual stimuli.
  • What is the cause of death? Sin and trespass. Sin is the condition; trespass is the action.
  • Sin is hamartia, defined as a fatal fall or sin, missing the mark of God's perfection. It's an archery term for missing a target.
  • The word for trespass is paraptóma, meaning a falling away, lapse, or slip. It is the deliberate crossing of a boundary.
Drifting (v. 2)
  • We were once the walking dead: people who were physically alive but spiritually dead.
  • As nonbelievers, we walked according to the ways of the world, drifting farther and farther from God.
  • The word for walk is peripateó—to move about, order our behavior, or meander. In some cases, it describes an uncommitted, purposeless life.
  • Nonbelievers walk according to a pattern. The word used for world is kosmos, an ordered system of thinking, ideology, or values.
  • Paul stated that these values are found in "the prince of the power of the air, meaning Satan."
Doomed (v. 3)
  • People are either doomed under judgment or saved by God's grace.
  • G.K. Chesterton said, "Hell is God's great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice."
  • God will honor the choice people make, whether to receive or reject Him.
  • As nonbelievers, we were "children of wrath, but as God's saved children, we are objects of grace."
Delivered (vv. 4-5)
  • Notice the life-saving words "but God" (v. 4). This phrase appears forty-five times in Scripture, and something good always comes after it.
  • Here, this phrase leads to a description of conversion.
  • Conversion is a human's willing response to their sinful condition based on God's grace.
  • Conversion is turning from sin to Jesus through repentance and faith.
  • Four things to note about conversion:
    • God initiates it. God makes us alive in Christ (regeneration).
    • God's character enables it. It's about God's mercy—Him not giving us deserved punishment. God's mercy is tied to His love.
    • Only God can do it. God accomplishes this when we are helpless and hopeless.
    • People must cooperate. We believe in Jesus, and we are saved by faith through grace.
  • Conversion is instantaneous. We're born again immediately. There is a moment in every believer's life when God enters in and saves.
  • Conversion is synonymous with justification, leading to the next phase of salvation—sanctification, being conformed to the image of Jesus and producing fruit.
Destined (vv. 6-7)
  • Once saved, we are destined for heaven.
  • This is a positional description. We are spiritually seated in "the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (v. 6), and one day we will literally be with Him (see Revelation 21:3).
  • We have peace now and heaven for eternity, so we look for Jesus with eager anticipation (see Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Philippians 3:20-21).
  • It'll take God all eternity to show how much He loves us.
  • Heaven is our ultimate hope. When Jesus saves us, it's all the way to heaven.
Practice

Connect Up: As Paul noted and Pastor Skip reiterated, humans are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). Humans are dead in relationship to the things of God. There is a spiritual chasm only the cross of Christ can bridge. Before you came to Christ, did you recognize your sin? Were you aware of God's perfection and holiness? If so, what would you attribute this to? Your upbringing? Your conscience? A God-shaped hole in your heart? The Holy Spirit (see John 16:8)?

Connect In: Knowing that humans are spiritually dead, what is our role to be as the church? Here are some models that have been suggested. Discuss the pros and cons of each:
  • Hospice for the dead
  • Hospital for the sick
  • Commissary: an organization commissioned to dispense information; a school of the saved
  • Caravan: a group with a common cause heading a certain direction
  • Consort: cohorts of a king, usually soldiers, implying obedience to that king
Connect Out: Not only should churches teach that humans are dead, drifting, and doomed, but they must also clearly proclaim that humans can be delivered—saved through Christ. Take time to review the Romans Road to salvation. Here's a summary:
  1. Admit you are a sinner.
  2. Understand that as a sinner, you deserve death.
  3. Believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death.
  4. Repent by turning from your old life of sin to a new life in Christ.
  5. Receive, through faith in Jesus Christ, His free gift of salvation.
How is each step vital to a full understanding of both the human predicament and God's promises? How is each step vital for proclaiming new life in Christ to nonbelievers?

Transcript

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Once Dead, Now Alive! - Ephesians 2:1-7 - Skip Heitzig

God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy all of us.

I guess there's a God out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God.

God isn't really something that I worship.

God is everywhere.

Good morning.

[APPLAUSE]

Would you turn, in your Bibles this morning, to the book of Ephesians chapter 2. Ephesians chapter 2. Can I just tell you thank you as we start for two things. Number one, for your involvement in Operation Christmas Child, of which we have been involved with for decades. It's one of the great projects that we love to do. So thank you for that. I look forward every year. This year I got to do it again with my grandkids, pack boxes, pray for the children who are going to receive them. And thank you for your involvement.

Second, thank you for your flexibility. This is a crazy season. It seems like we take two steps forward and one step back in terms of being able to meet. So we're going to go online for two weeks starting tomorrow. We're going to still be busy. We're still going to have service. We're just going to ask you to take it online. They told us till November 30. So we're going to comply for now, and we're going to see how this plays out and how intrusive it gets. But the data is always contradictory, I find. And I have one group of people saying shut down forever more and other people saying defy the government, do whatever you want, don't wear masks, and just live your life.

So it's sort of hard to navigate this. It is fluid. We are prayerful. We are thinking of the weaker brother and sister, and we just have to figure out at some point what the Lord has called us to do in the midst of this. So we understand it's a difficult time. People are feeling uncertain. We're going to continue to reach out to the community, take goods and groceries to people who are shut in, and give out services and teach the word of God and share the gospel. We're going to ask you to stay in contact with people, pray with people, FaceTime people, encourage them. And please understand that this disease is not in control. God is in control. And we march forward with that in mind.

So let's pray together and get into our study today. Father, I thank you for your people who have come and gathered and are here and love you and are singing and worshipping and trusting, and being responsible all at the same time. Father, we pray that you will speak to us, inspire us, educate us, and equip us, Lord, as we live in this world that you have called us to be in. Thank you that we are also citizens of heaven, and that no matter what we go through on this earth, there is something far better that lies ahead. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

There's a lot of things that define who I am. You could say that I am defined by the word man. I am a man. You could use another descriptor. I'm a tall man. I'm an old man. I'm a German in my origin. I'm a Californian. But the one descriptor that would define me more than anything else is I am a saved man. I have been saved. Something has happened in my life that has altered the course presently and for ever more.

We understand the concept of what it means to be saved. If a doctor performs an operation on you, pulls out a tumor-- like what happened to my wife 11 years ago. She had a very aggressive tumor, and a very skilled surgeon took it out. I can rightly say that doctor saved her. If you are in a wreckage, an automobile accident, and pinned under a fiery automobile, and a fireman came in and pulled you out of the burning wreckage, we would say that he saved you. If you were out in the ocean and the undertow was taking you out into the sea and you were being pulled under, and the lifeguard saw you flailing, went out, and brought you back in, same thing. You've been saved.

The Bible tells us that we have a condition. It's called sin. We are being drug out in the undertow of life. We have a flaming future certainty that is awaiting us that's called being lost. God saw us in that condition. He took the penalty of sin upon himself and his son. And if we understand that and embrace that personally, we can be saved.

Now, this topic of salvation, and this is a series we're going through-- 2020, understanding truth clearly. We've looked at the doctrine of God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit, humanity. We come to the most important subject ever, which is salvation. It is the most important thing in the world. In fact, in 100 years from now, the only thing you'll care about is this. In 100 years, you won't care about the election. In 100 years, you will not care about the economy. You will not care about a virus. In 100 years, you will care about am I saved or not.

So I'm going to date myself. I told you I was an old man. I grew up watching a program on television called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Does anybody remember that show? Look, we have a few of us old folks together today. So in that show-- and I think it aired from 1955 to 1965. It was black and white. Alfred Hitchcock was the master of mystery stories. And there was one particular program where there was a woman in prison serving a life sentence, and she had become friends with the caretaker of the prison. The caretaker had many jobs, one of which was to, whenever a prisoner died, ring the bell letting the prison know that somebody had died, take the body, put it in the casket, go and fill out the paperwork, the death certificate, return to the casket, nail the top shut nice and tight, put the casket on a cart, take the casket outside the walls of the prison, and bury it in a graveyard.

So she worked out a deal with the caretaker that the next time a prisoner dies and the bell is rung, that she would sneak into where the casket was, lie on top of the corpse, get the lid nailed down. She would have enough air to breathe. She would be taken out and buried with the corpse. Later on, the caretaker would return, undo the dirt, and she would be set free. So they had this worked out.

So as months went on, in the middle of the night she heard the bell ring. She figured out a way to pick the lock in her cell, got out. She escaped and snuck into the room where the caskets were, found the corpse. She fell for it. She climbed in the casket and waited until she heard footsteps of somebody coming down and putting the nails in the lid. She felt being hoisted onto the cart, being taken outside into the graveyard, and being buried. She heard the dirt as it was being put on the casket. She got all excited. She started laughing in the casket. And so she decided while she waited to just light a match and see which prisoner it was that died. So she lit the match and looked down, and to her horror, it was the caretaker. So her plan was foibled. And the whole episode ends as it fades to black and she's screaming in the casket. There's no way out.

Listen, you do not want to get this choice wrong. You don't want to hedge your bets on the wrong plan. When the dirt is tossed onto the coffin, there are no other options. It's too late to say oops. And yet, most people do get this wrong. You talk to people about salvation. Oh yeah, I'm saved. Really? How do you know you're saved? Well, because I professed it. I said some words. Therefore, I'm saved. Or, I'm saved because I go to church, or I'm saved because I carry a Bible, or I'm saved because I like Christians now. And it's usually a performance reference. They're referring to something they have done, a ritual they have performed, a prayer that they have said.

But listen. You are not saved just because you say you are. You are only saved because you've received a savior. Somebody has saved you and declared that you are. So with that in mind, I bring you to Ephesians chapter 2, and we're going to look at the first seven verses really. I will read down to verse 10 for context. And Paul has such a knack of giving us a panorama of salvation, past, present, and future.

He says, you he has made alive who are dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath just as others.

"But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved." And raised us up together. Made us sit together in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith-- that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." This is Paul going from the graveyard to glory. From Death Valley to Graceland.

And what I'm going to do with you is show you five different stages of salvation. These are stages everyone goes through, who comes to Christ. Every human being goes through at least the first three. Redeemed one go through all five. Let's begin with the first one. Dead. Dead is the word that describes everyone. For He says in verse one, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins."

This is every single human. You either are dead or you were dead. How did you get dead? You were born that way. You were born dead. DOA, dead on arrival. That is separated from God, possessing no spiritual life of your own, unable to understand spiritual things. David said of himself in Psalm 51, "For I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me."

Now, we all know that we live in a troubled world, and you have pundits and philosophers who tell us every generation what's wrong with the world and how to fix it. Some will say the real problem with humanity is a social problem. We haven't figured out how to get along with each other. We have racial tensions, we have to understand each other socially, and we haven't learned how to get along. That's our real problem, social issues.

Others will say, no, that's not really our problem. Our underlying problem is not a social problem but it's a psychological problem. We have to understand ourselves before we can ever understand others. We have to get along with ourselves, accept ourselves, have self-esteem and self-acceptance, and then we'll be able to socially adapt. Others will say that's really not the problem. The problem is environmental issues. We have pressures in our environment, we have parents who told us we'll never measure up. Or uncles who were mean to us, or teachers who put us down. And so we are victims of our environment.

None of those are the problems. They may be symptoms of the problems. The problem is not a social issue, the problem is not a psychological issue, the problem is not an environmental issue. The problem is we're dead. We were dead, dead in trespasses and sins. Unbelievers aren't sick. Unbelievers are dead. They don't need a self-help course. They don't need a personality adjustment. They need to be saved. That is the most important issue. If you put a person in the best schools in America, you will have at the end of the process a very well-educated sinner.

You can put a person in the best therapy environment and psychological counseling in the city, and you will have at the end of the process a very well-adjusted sinner. You can put a person in religious schools or religious institutions, churches, and you can have at the end a very religious sinner. It's only when a person is under the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ that you have a saved sinner.

Now, this is something that God said would happen. Way back in the book of Genesis, God told the first people on the Earth, "In the day that you eat there of you shall surely die." The soul that sins, it shall die. The wages of sin is death. So the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, death happened immediately. There was an immediate separation with God, and there was that spiritual death and there was an eventual physical death.

Now, what Paul said is what happened then continued all the way until now. For Paul says in Romans 5, "Through one man sin entered the world and death entered through sin, thus death spread to all." This is why unbelievers do not understand spiritual truth. They don't understand spiritual things.

Paul said, 1 Corinthians 2, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him. Nor can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." So an unbeliever will say, "Yeah, you're telling me about these spiritual things. I don't see it. I don't get it. I don't understand." Of course you don't understand it. You can't understand it.

It's what Jesus described when He said, "A sower went out to sow seed and some fell on the pathway, the wayside. And as soon as the seed went down on the hard path, the birds of the air came and stole it away." Jesus said, "So is everyone who hears truth, and Satan immediately snatches it from their heart." It's hardened. They don't get it.

Just as a physically dead person cannot respond to physical stimuli, a spiritually dead person cannot respond to spiritual stimuli. Listen, a corpse cannot hear the conversation going on in the funeral parlor. A corpse has no appetite for food or water. A corpse feels no pain, so that's the condition dead. That's why Jesus said a man must be born again. There must be a spiritual birth that occurs, because outside of Christ, everyone is dead. That's the first condition.

The question is, how did we get dead? Well, there's two things that are mentioned in verse 1, trespasses and sins. One is a condition, that's sin. One is an action, those are trespasses. Our condition is the sinful condition that is part of our nature from Adam. The other are things we do, trespasses.

Now, let me describe that word sin. You've heard this before, some of you. It's the word hamartia. It actually means to miss the mark. It's an archery term. It's a term used 173 times in the New Testament, and it actually refers to aim at something and to miss it. You shoot your arrow, but you fall short of the target.

So here's one example. We're all standing today at the edge, let's say, of the Rio Grande River, and the goal is to, in one jump, jump all the way across. Now, let's say it's springtime because today you could probably just walk across it. But if there's water in it, the goal would be to jump from one side to the other.

Now, if you're a little child or an older person and you jump, you're only going to make it a few inches or a couple feet perhaps. That's about it. If you're a little older child, you might make it a few times further than that. If you're a very accomplished athlete, you're going to make it even further out. All of you will only succeed relative to one another, but you will all fail, self included, in reaching the goal to go from one side to the other. We will all fall short of that goal.

Now, that's sin. We've all fallen short of the glory of God. But look at this other word, trespasses. Now, that's different. That means to cross a known boundary. That is a deliberate willful act of disobedience. That's when you put down a line and say don't cross the line, and somebody goes, that's a trespass.

So the first time you wax your floors and you tell little junior don't walk on the floors, and he forgets and starts walking out there, that's sin. But when you correct him and then he looks at you with that little gleam in his eye to see if you're going to do anything about this, that's a trespass. Or, for example, when I was a little boy, my parents took us to Disneyland. This is when it first opened in history.

And I remember going through Disneyland or only just a few things, and I'm just walking around going where I shouldn't go. And my parents had to bring me back, that's sin. But later on, when I was a teenager and I jumped the fence at Disneyland by the 5 Freeway and snuck into It's a Small, Small World, now that was a trespass. We were dead. Separated because of sins and trespasses. Or as He puts here in order, trespasses and sins. Stage one.

Stage two. Not only that, we were drifting, verse 2, "In which you once walked, according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the Spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." Now, this is a bit of a conundrum, because on one hand Paul says these people are dead and you were dead, but while you were dead you were walking. So how does that work? The Walking Dead, right?

You're looking at an unbeliever. They seem very much alive, very vivacious, very vibrant, intellectually stimulated, a very well accomplished. Can we rightly say that those unbelievers are dead? Absolutely. In the sphere that matters supremely, which is not the body, which is not the mind, but is the soul, the spirit, they have no life. They are dead, and they are drifting.

And that takes us to the word in verse 2, walked. I want you to notice that. "In which you once walked." Now, the word walked, parapatao, is a Greek word that means to order one's behavior or to move about or to walk about. But one commentator suggests the best translation. In fact, one translation uses the word wandering or meandering. That the word means to browse or wander about loosely with no goal or purpose.

You know the difference if somebody is walking, you see them walking on the street. They have a gait. You look at them. You go, "That person's going somewhere. He knows right where he's going." But then you have people who saunter, and they just walk around and they're meandering, they're browsing. Have you ever gone into a store with the intention of not buying anything and you walk out with two or three bags of something? You know what happened? You browsed. You browsed your way into buying something.

Now, listen to how Isaiah describes our life before Christ. "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have all wandered and gone our own way." So not only were we dead, we were drifting. And we were drifting according to a pattern, a path. A course, Paul calls it. According to the course of this world.

Now, just a note about that word world. The world here is cosmos, and it means ordered system. Something that is ordered. The unbelieving world is very organized and ordered mankind is an organized creature. So cosmos world, ordered, is the opposite of chaos, unordered. So the idea of the world is a world system, an organized world system. A world order, a value system, led by a common leader called here the Prince of the power of the air. Anybody know who that is? It is Satan. It is another description of Paul for Satan.

So to walk according to the course of this world is to think and to live and to act according to the ideologies and standards dominated by Satan and demons. That is to drift, meander, browse in this world. So dead, drifting. Now it gets worse. He takes us down to the third stage, doomed. Doomed. Verse 3, "Among whom we also once conducted ourselves in the lust or desires or pleasures of our flesh, fallen nature, fulfilling the desires of the fallen nature, the flesh, and of the mind. And were by nature," here it is, "Children of wrath just as others."

Boy, Paul has gone from bad to worse. Dead and then drifting and then doomed. Children of wrath or objects of wrath or sitting under the judgment of God. Sitting under the judgment of God. John RW Stott, a commentator on this book, said, "I doubt if there is an expression in Ephesians that has provoked more hostility than this." People do not like to believe that they are under the judgment of God. That is a reprehensible thought to them.

But all human beings are either under God's judgment or under God's grace. You're under God's judgment because of trespasses and sins because you were born into it, or you're under God's grace because you were born again to it. There is no middle ground. In fact, Jesus said you're already condemned. John chapter 3, verse 18, "He who believes in Him, that is in Christ, is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Now, all this does is serve to show how helpless we are without God's intervention. How lost we are and cannot save ourselves. That we are under a death sentence as long as we reject God's solution. G.K. Chesterton once said, "Hell is God's great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice." When it comes to Heaven and Hell, God is pro-choice.

God will let a person determine their destiny based on what they do with Christ, to receive Him or reject Him. And God will honor that person's choice throughout all of eternity. The person says, "I want nothing to do with God." OK. You don't have to have anything to do with God forever. So three dire stages. Dead, drifting, doomed. But now it gets good.

Now, think of it this way. When a jeweler wants to display a particularly brilliant bright diamond, he will often or she will often come out of the back with a little black velvet cloth and spread it out on the table. And against that very dark background-- and you put that little diamond or that big diamond on it-- all the brilliance in contrast is stunning. So Paul paints the worst background, darkest background possible, and then he drops in the diamond.

And verse 4 is the diamond. Verse 4 is the next stage, which is delivered. Verse 4, "But God." We did a whole series on those two words. 45 times in the Bible we find the words, but God. And whenever you find them, there's good things afterwards. We were going this direction, but God. We were this way, but God. They did that, but God. Everything good comes after that. Now the sun begins to shine. "But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved."

Those two little words, but God, contain the whole Gospel. It is one of the most eloquent inspiring transitions in all of biblical literature. Call it a holy conjunction. But God. I even saw it on a license plate. I think it was a New Hampshire license plate. They had on it, but God. They understood the meaning. You understand these words, it changes everything.

Now, what we have here, beginning in verse 4, is conversion. Conversion. We go from dead, drifting, and doomed to delivered. And this is conversion. By conversion I mean our willing response to the Gospel call, that includes repentance and faith. Our willing response to the Gospel call, that includes repentance and faith. Now, I want to drill down a little bit on this. There are a few components to this being rescued.

First component, please notice, God initiates it. It says, "He made us alive." He made us alive. You can't make you alive. A dead person can't crawl out of the casket. A dead person can't improve his or her condition. He made you alive. This is regeneration. This is where God animates you, gives you spiritual life. He made us alive. It's not like, "Yeah, man, I had my own epiphany. I reasoned my way through it. I figured this out." No, you were dead. You were helpless. You couldn't crawl out of the casket. You had to be made alive, so God initiates it.

A second component. Not only does God initiate it, God's character enables it. God's character enables it. He made us alive based on what? Based on mercy. "But God who is rich in mercy." Boy, this is a good match, because we are rich in sin but God is rich in mercy. Or you could say we are poor because of sin, therefore God is rich in mercy. So mercy is the idea of not giving you what you deserve.

Now, you've heard this before. Grace is giving you what you don't deserve. Mercy is about not so much as getting something as not getting something. You deserve judgment, punishment. Mercy is God withholding that. That's mercy. And God's rich in it. It's not like God runs out of it. Or, God, how much mercy you got? I got a lot of it. I'm rich in it.

Lamentations chapter 3, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. His compassions fail not. They are new every morning." it's also tied to God's love. Notice it says, "God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." If there's one thing I hope you never forget, is that God really does love you. And I'm saying that because for a long time, I just thought God tolerated me. I wasn't even sure if he liked me. I knew he put up with me, but loved me?

But when you discover God loves me, I'm the object of God's love-- and it's a great love, it says, wherewith He loved us-- it's amazing. He doesn't want to destroy you, He's not out to get you, He wants to save you. That's God's love. So God initiates it, God's character enables it. Let me give you a third component about this rescuing, this deliverance. Only God can do it. Only God can do it. It says, "Even when we were dead, He made us alive." Listen, if a dead person can't fix himself, then somebody on the outside has to resurrect him. Only God can do it.

It wasn't when I was good, it wasn't when I was lovable. It's when I was dead, so only God can do it. So God initiates it, God's character enables it, only God can do it. Let me give you a fourth component of this conversion, this deliverance. We must cooperate with it. We must cooperate with it. That takes us to verse 8, "By grace you have been saved through--" what's the next word?

Faith.

Faith. Then now, that's our part. That's where we latch on to his provision by believing. We have been saved by grace. You have been saved through faith, and that-- even that faith is not of yourselves-- it is a gift of God. So we believe. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." This is conversion.

This is conversion. And the word conversion means a turning. It is a spiritual turn, it is a complete turn. Think of it like this, I'm turning from my sin and I'm turning to Jesus Christ in one fell swoop, one movement. Repentance and faith are two aspects of the one act of coming to Christ, and both occur at the same time. It's not like, "Yeah, I gave my life to Jesus Christ, then 20 years later I repented." No, it's a turning. It's a complete turning.

Repentance and faith, two aspects of one single act. Both occurred at the same time. Now listen to this further. It is an instantaneous event. It's an instantaneous event, meaning one moment you are spiritually dead having no life of God, the next moment you have spiritual life from God. You may not exactly know when that instantaneous change occurs, especially kids who are raised in Christian homes. Those who attend church, those who attend Bible study for years and gradually grow in their understanding of the Gospel.

But at some point, it registers and it's like, "OK, now it's real." CS Lewis, who was a very well known unbeliever, became a believer, wrote these words. He said, "I know very well when but hardly how the final step was taken. I was driven to Whipsnade," it's a little town in England, "One sunny morning. When we set out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did. And yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought nor in great emotion."

Now, other people have a real dramatic experience that is far more punctuated and far more marked than that. That is they realize they are a sinner, they know they're separated from God, they give their life to Christ. They see immediate results, there's assurance of forgiveness. A desire to read the Bible, a desire to pray. A delight in worship, a longing for fellowship, a desire to tell others about Jesus. Whether you have a dramatic crisis or not, the change is both instantaneous and eventual.

Instantaneous because it's simple authentic faith, and that's all that is required. But then eventual because fruit will be shown. If you have been changed by Jesus Christ, if you truly believe, others are going to see it eventually in your life. That's the process of sanctification, we see the fruit.

So we have four distinct stages, dead, drifting, doomed, followed then by delivered. That's conversion. And I'll give you a fifth. We could probably keep going, but we don't have time, but I'll give you this one, destined. Destined. Verse 6, "And he raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly realms," literally heavenly places, "In Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Now what Paul does is turns from the past, through the present, now all the way to the future, showing that the present reality has a future destiny. And notice the phrase. I don't want to skip it over too quickly because it happens to be one of Paul's favorite descriptions of believers. He says you are in Christ Jesus. It's one of his favorite phrases to describe us. We are in Christ Jesus. He uses it 85 times in the New Testament.

And that is associated with verse 6, "He made us sit together in the heavenly places." And when he says that, he's talking positionally, not literally. We're not literally right now in heavenly places. We're here on Earth. We're in church this week. Here we are. Jesus indeed ascended into Heaven, but we are there positionally with Him. One day we will be there literally with Him, so he speaks as though it has already taken place.

What is true positionally will one day be true eventually. Look at verse 7, "That in the ages to come," that's future, "He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." At some point, after we come to Christ and we're truly saved, it's like, "Wow, man, I'm saved. I'm forgiven. I have hope, I have purpose, I have meaning." It dawns on us that that's not the end the game, it's just the beginning.

Now there's even something beyond this that extends into the next realm, and that is hope forevermore in Heaven in glory with Him. That's why Christians get excited talking about signs of the times or is Jesus coming? Because Jesus promised He would come back and we should look for Him. And so that's why Christians get excited about the future. Titus chapter 2, "Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

1 Thessalonians chapter 1, "You turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." Philippians chapter 3, "For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." How are we to wait for Jesus?

Eagerly.

Eagerly. Not passively. Not like, "Yeah, Jesus is coming. Cool. Hope this virus gets over quick." You know what I mean? Yeah, that's true, but Jesus is coming. He's coming. We're living in these days and we look forward to His coming and we wait eagerly. Why are we so eager? Verse 7 again, please notice, "That in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Let me rephrase that for you. It's going to take God all of eternity to show you, to reveal to you, to disclose how much He loves you. That is, as much as you know now and experience now and will be rewarded in Heaven, it's still going to take God into the future eons to fully display how much He loves you. All of eternity will be a continual revelation of God's love to you. No wonder we look forward to what's coming.

And yes, unbelievers accuse believers all the time, you guys are-- you got your pie in the sky, you're so heavenly minded, you're no earthly good. Listen, our hope goes beyond our economy, our election, a virus cure, a vaccine. Our hope is fixed and we have a destiny. That is Jesus saves us all the way to Heaven. And this is what marks the difference between somebody dead and somebody who has been made alive by Christ.

Every single human being has experienced the first three conditions of dead, drifting, and doomed. Only those who have been born again, redeemed people, have experienced the delivered and destined. You either are dead or were dead, and this isn't like Princess Bride, he's only mostly dead. No, he's all dead. And you can be all alive, all alive.

Father, we are so thankful for the Gospel that takes fallen humanity, born separated from God, born insensate to spiritual things, blind to the glory of Jesus, deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit, completely alienated, separated, dead, hopeless. Only Your truth, only Your Gospel. Only Jesus, only the blood can take dead, drifting, and doomed sinners and save them. Speak life to them. Regenerate them, and bring a new birth that results in adoption. And results in living with our heads held high and living with destiny.

Father, I pray for anyone here who may not have ever said yes personally to Jesus, that today would be the day when they just say, "I'm done living for this world and this value system. This course of this world. I want to be set on a different course." If that's your desire, it can happen. It can happen now. And if you want that, you say yes to Him, you invite Him into your life as Savior. And you just right now think about your own life and ask yourself, am I saved or am I unsaved? Am I still in a lost condition or have I authentically made a turning, a conversion? Where my faith has reached out to God's provision and I have received His solution.

If you haven't done that, you can just simply ask, and I'm going to lead you in a simple prayer. You can say this or something very similar to this, but right now just say this. Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Forgive me. I believe Jesus died on the cross. I believe Jesus rose from the dead. I turn from my sin, I turn from my past, I leave it behind. I turn all the way to Jesus as Savior. I give you my life. Please forgive me. Accept me, take me. I'm yours. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to live for you, seeing your glory, hearing the voice of the Spirit, alive to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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6/28/2020
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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig
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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
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7/5/2020
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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7/12/2020
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Hello, I’m God!
Exodus 34:5-9
Skip Heitzig
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People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
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7/19/2020
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Knowing the God Who Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
Skip Heitzig
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A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
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7/26/2020
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Here, There, and Everywhere
Psalm 139:7-12
Skip Heitzig
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One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
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8/2/2020
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The Unrivaled Power of God
Psalm 139:13-18
Skip Heitzig
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God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
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8/9/2020
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Holy, Holy, Holy!
Isaiah 6:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
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8/16/2020
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One Plus One Plus One Equals One?
John 14:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
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8/23/2020
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Pain: God’s Biggest Problem
John 9:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
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8/30/2020
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Christ Jesus Our Lord
Philippians 2:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
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9/6/2020
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The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
John 12:20-33
Skip Heitzig
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Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
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9/13/2020
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He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
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9/20/2020
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The Holy Spirit in the World
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
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10/11/2020
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Who Is the Holy Spirit?
John 16
Nate Heitzig
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There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
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10/18/2020
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Help Has Arrived!
John 14:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
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10/25/2020
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God’s Purpose for People
Genesis 1-3
Skip Heitzig
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After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
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11/1/2020
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The Dark Side
Romans 3:10-26
Nate Heitzig
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God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
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11/22/2020
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I’m a Christian—Now What?
Romans 8:12-17
Skip Heitzig
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Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
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11/29/2020
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The Angels of God
Hebrews 1
Skip Heitzig
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Angels are largely relegated to the realms of mythology and childhood fantasy. Most people never think about them. But angels are very, very real. Martin Luther commented, “An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body, for the service of Christendom and of the church.” He was partly correct, but angels serve an even greater role than being strictly for the church. Their ministry objective is principally concerned with the glory and majesty of God. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy traits that angels have.
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There are 21 additional messages in this series.
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