The Call of Ephesians: Don’t Waste Your Life!
The common thread of the message of John Piper and the message of the Harris brothers is the gospel. The thread of the gospel must be interwoven throughout the theological quilt, as it were, of these big ideas, because the gospel is the crux of our faith, and the crux of any difficult endeavor for the glory of God. So we need to understand what the gospel is and how it relates to these two messages.
The gospel is simply this: God created everyone to glorify Him by enjoying Him forever. Everyone has turned away from God and sought to glorify themselves rather than Him. Our sin breaks the perfect fellowship that God created us to enjoy with Him. So God sent His Son Jesus to earth to bear the penalty that we deserved to pay because of our sin. Now, anyone who trusts in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins gets His righteousness in place of their unrighteousness, is restored to fellowship with Him, and is equipped with everything they need for life and godliness!
That last part is important. Believers are equipped for life and godliness because of the cross! John Piper and the Harris brothers know that. See, the only way that we can do hard things and not waste our lives is because Jesus pulled each of us out of the pit of our sin (Psalm 103.4). Apart from His gracious intervention, we’d all be in hell. So, a two-fold change must occur in each one of our hearts: first, we need to know the love of Christ, as Paul said. Second, that understanding needs to change our lives; the way we think about culture, media, friends, food, everything!
In Ephesians 1, Paul lays out the many reasons why we ought to treasure the gospel; he does so simply by telling us what the gospel (or “the love of God”) is. He says that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (vs. 3),” “chose us in [Jesus] (vs. 4),” adopted us as sons (vs. 5), redeemed us (vs. 7), forgiven our sins (vs. 7), lavished grace upon us (vs. 8), and made known to us His plan of uniting everything to Himself (vs. 10). That’s our lot, brothers and sisters. That’s what Jesus has done for you and me.
And that’s in spite of who we were: dead in sin, enslaved to the passions of our flesh, children of wrath (just read Ephesians 2.1-3). We were rebellious. Foolish. Numb. Nevertheless, the previous paragraph is still true!
That’s the backdrop of Ephesians 3. Paul’s aim in this chapter is that we would feel the weight of Christ’s forgiveness of our cosmic rebellion against Him. He prays that believers “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God.” In other words, understand the gospel!
So where does “do hard things” and “don’t waste your life” come in? Ephesians 4.1-3, that’s where. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The key is to realize what the “therefore” is there for. It’s a reference to the previous three chapters, in which the gospel was laid out!
See, the gospel is not simply “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10.13).” It’s not just a message for unbelievers. It’s also “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17.25, emphasis mine).” Believers need the gospel. The love of Christ is to be the catalyst for our walking in a manner worthy of His calling. That’s not some teeth-gritting, do-it-yourself calling. It’s a calling to know the love of Christ and to do what He says in light of and through the gospel, asking God for His strength to not waste our lives.
So that’s my plea to each of you: think about His love often, every day. It will get you through tough times. It will encourage and strengthen you when you feel deserted by everyone else, to know that His love is boundless. If you don’t understand it, if you don’t feel it, pray fervently until God sheds His light on your soul. Any hard thing you do is absolutely in vain unless it is rooted completely in the gospel. Whatever you do, remember that!
It’s been a joy to work on this blog. I hope you’ve been encouraged, blessed, and convicted by these words, as I’ve been to write them. This isn’t my truth; this is God’s Word. If any lasting good has come out of this thing, that’s why!
If you don’t take away anything else from these posts, take this away: Love the gospel. Look to Jesus. Ask Him to help you feel His love. That’s the only way you’ll make a difference in this world for His glory.
Don’t waste your life.