When the apostle Paul went to Athens and preached the gospel, he walked around the city and saw that it was completely given over to idolatry. Athens was known for its cultural learning. It was known for its incredible edifices. And it was also known for spirituality.
The people of Athens were very religious. They worshiped many gods. It was said in that time that it was easier to find a god in Athens than a man. Idols were erected for every conceivable deity imaginable, including one with an inscription that read, “To the Unknown God” (see Acts 17:23).
Historians tell us there was a great cloud of hopelessness covering the ancient world. Their philosophies were empty. Their traditions were disappearing. Their religion was a vain attempt to reach God by their own human efforts, and it was powerless to impact them in this life or to prepare them for the life to come.
In spite of their numerous gods, they did not have a relationship with the one true God.
Is that not a picture, in many ways, of our culture today? We have made incredible advances in technology. But I think more and more Americans are asking the big questions such as: Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?
Unfortunately, many are looking for truth in all of the wrong places. We want the benefits of faith, but we don’t want the restrictions of it.
The Bible says this will be a sign of the last days. As one translation puts it, “They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:5 NLT).
So in Ephesians 2, Paul was basically saying to the believers at Ephesus (and to all of us), “You were without God. You were separated from Him.”
But then comes a blessed interruption in verse 13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (NKJV, emphasis mine).
We were on our way to a certain judgment, but God sent Jesus. Because of His death and His shed blood, we have now been reconciled with God.
That was really the essence of the angel’s message to the shepherds as they watched over their flocks on that first Christmas Eve. Part of that message was, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV). A more literal translation of this statement would be, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men with whom God is well-pleased.”
That is the key to peace on earth, peace between nations, and peace in a family: Peace on earth among men with whom God is well-pleased.
How do we please God? It is only through Jesus Christ, only through the way of reconciliation He has made available to us. So if we want to be reconciled to God and want to be reconciled with others, then it must be through Christ.
So many of us need reconciliation today. Husbands need to be reconciled to wives. Parents need to be reconciled with children. Sinners need to be reconciled with God. We all need reconciliation.
Sin is the great separator. Ever since it entered the world, it has divided people throughout human history. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, sin immediately began its work of separation. It separated Adam and Eve from God. It ultimately separated their sons, Cain and Abel. It was all because of the separating impact of sin.
But at the cross of Calvary, Jesus eliminated the wall that separated us from Him. He brought about reconciliation. And Paul was saying that because of this, we need to be reconciled to one another.
In the Old Testament, an animal was sacrificed for sin. But in the New Testament, Jesus Christ fulfilled all that the Old Testament pointed to. He became the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Now the only way that I can know God is through the shed blood of Christ. It is only through Jesus Christ that I can approach God.
This is the great truth: We have open access to God through Christ. We can be reconciled to Him. And He wants us to be reconciled to one another.Let’s rejoice that God has given us this access to Him.
The Bible tells us that, one day, all Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. Don’t let that frighten you, because this particular judgment happens in heaven, which means you made it!
Have you ever seen a baby rattlesnake? They are actually kind of cute. Everything is miniaturized. They get that menacing look on their face, bare their fangs, and shake that rattler, warning you of impending doom.
Did you know that the Lord has an amazing trade-in deal in store for you? That’s right; you are going to trade in your existing body, with its aches and pains, for the newest model.
I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!
The As I See It book by Cathe Laurie will be sent to you in appreciation for your gift to Harvest Ministries this month.
As I See It is a collection of bite-size thoughts, anecdotes, and illustrations, each of which points to a biblical truth or characteristic of our Savior. Cathe Laurie shares pearls of poignant insight from her experiences as a Christian, a mother, and wife to Pastor Greg Laurie.
In appreciation for your gift to Harvest Ministries this month, Harvest Ministries will send As I See It to you.