11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11–13, NKJV)
The fleshly circumcision that identified Israel as God’s covenant people was an operation performed “in the flesh by hands” (v. 11). Removing the foreskin was a foreshadowing of the “circumcision of Christ,” which is “the putting off of the body of the sins of flesh” – the operation God performs when a sinner is “buried with Him (Christ, jrp) in baptism” (Colossians 2:11-12). Baptism is an action of faith in the power of God that saves the sinner and raises him or her to spiritual life in Christ (Colossians 2:12). Whether you are a Jew or Gentile in the flesh does not matter. In this gospel age, one is not a child of God until the circumcision of Christ occurs in the heart, as the sinner is buried with Christ in baptism and God forgives his or her sins by the blood of Christ (Colossians 2:13). That is when the sinner rises from spiritual death to walk in newness of life.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV)
The works and words of Jesus were sufficient proof to assure John that Jesus was “the Coming One.” From Moses, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Malachi, God’s prophets foretold of One coming to rule in righteousness and in judgment (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Malachi 3:1-3; 4:5-6). The same evidence that assured John still exists on the pages of divinely inspired Scripture, ready for eyes that will see and ears that will hear. Just like John, we too are expected to use this evidence to draw the only possible conclusion (the necessary inference), that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This body of evidence is how the Father revealed this truth to Peter and the whole world (Matthew 16:15-17; John 20:30-31). We dare not stumble (be offended) over who Jesus is. The evidence is sound and abundant. Jesus is the Messiah who was promised. Yes, He is the Coming One who came to save the world.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
All the earth and all who dwell on it belong to the Lord God, but Christians are God’s own special people (Psalm 24:1). The word “special” conveys an idea of acquisition and possession. We have been acquired by God, purchased or redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We belong to Him and not ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:20). Here again we see the value of the church from heaven’s point of view since Christ purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The church, God’s purchased possession, will be redeemed eternally when Christ delivers it up to God on resurrection day (Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24). Having been purchased by Christ’s blood, we are purified to accomplish God’s purposes. As “His own special people” we are redeemed from sin to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Therefore, we bear a great responsibility to represent God faithfully and honorably in this world (1 Peter 2:11-12). Belonging to God means we arm ourselves with the mind of Christ and live for the will of God, not for the lusts of men (1 Peter 4:1-2). We belong to God. Let us live for His will, not our own.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
Without strength. Ungodly. Sinners. Such was our spiritual condition when Christ died for us. We are impotent to save ourselves from our sins. Ungodliness is powerless to cleanse the ungodly. Sinners are incapable of freeing themselves from the bondage of sin. We were neither righteous nor good when Christ died for us. That Christ died for us cannot be attributed to our own righteousness or goodness. It can only be ascribed to the great and matchless love of God. The defining trait of God’s love is that He sent His Son to die for us when we were His unloving, unlovable enemies (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). The depth of God’s love for us compels us to love one another, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love is not merely stated, it is demonstrated. God has shown us true love. Now, let us go and love as He has loved us.
25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28, NKJV)
Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of God, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He is King today, and will continue to reign until death – the “last enemy” – is destroyed at the resurrection of the dead. Only God the Father, who gave all authority to the Son, and to whom the kingdom will be delivered, is exempt from being under the Son’s powerful authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ’s return will be the grand summation of God’s plan of human redemption. The delivery of the kingdom to God the Father will usher in the everlasting kingdom in which righteousness dwells and over which God will reign forever and ever (2 Peter 1:11; 3:13; Revelation 21:22-22:5). The gospel calls us to submit to the authority of Christ with full, obedient faith. By doing so we are preparing to live with Him forever when He returns (John 14:1-6).
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:6–9, NKJV)
John the baptizer was the Messiah’s predicted messenger, the forerunner who testified Jesus to be the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:29-34; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:1-4). John’s work prepared the people to believe in Jesus as the Christ (Luke 3:3-6). John testified that he had been sent before the Christ, the One who came from heaven and who is “above all” (John 3:28, 31). John further testified that Jesus spoke the words of God that bring life to all who believe in Him (John 3:34-36). As John called sinners to repent and to believe on the One who came after Him—Jesus, he drew attention to the Light that the Word brought into the world. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). Allow the Light that Jesus brought into the world to shine in your heart and life. Believe in Him and let His light of truth guide your feet in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1–2, NKJV)
Jesus gave His apostles power (capacity) and authority (the freedom to act) over demons and diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to work miracles which confirmed the divine nature of their message. The New Testament identifies the kingdom of God as the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13). Preaching the kingdom of God is central to preaching Christ. When the evangelist Philip preached Christ, he preached “things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:5, 12). We fail to preach Christ if our preaching minimizes His church (His kingdom). There is rich irony in one thinking he can preach Christ to sinners (so they can be saved and added to the church, His kingdom, Acts 2:47) by not preaching the church (the kingdom) to them! Such is the feeble and futile attempt to preach Christ but not His church. We cannot preach Christ (the Anointed One, the King) without preaching His kingdom, His church. Truly, the gospel of Christ is the gospel of the kingdom (Luke 4:18, 43-44). Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, and so did His apostles. When early Christians preached Christ, they preached His kingdom (the church). When we preach Christ, we must preach His kingdom, His church.