Faithlife Sermons

Who Are You? Beholding God



First of a 4our part series asking the question: Who are you?
We live in a world in which questions of identity are all around us
Seemingly the most important thing
We try to define our identity in all sorts of ways:
Many are benign:
The music we listen to
The TV shows and media we watch
The sports teams that we root for
Others can become more toxic and destructive:
Our Politics
Our race or ethnicity
Our sexuality
But the thing is, none of these not the ones that we thinkare less problematic, not the ones that we think can be more toxic, none of them are how God tells us we are to identity
Felt like that with all of these questions raging around us about identity, we needed to talk about and begin to get a handle on what it means to find our identity in Christ
Our identities are formed and fortified as we spend time with God
We are compelled to act in response to meeting God
This four-week series will connect our experiance of beholding God with how he changes us.
Our God-given identity is found when we behold God.
Ephesians 1:1–18 CSB
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will: To the faithful saints in Christ Jesus at Ephesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him. In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory. In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory. This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints,


Obviously, Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus
Not to solve a particular problem
Rather to urge recipients to stay strong in the faith
Paul spends the whole letter point people to Jesus.
belong to Jesus
Ephesus is also known for its temple to Artemis
What does it mean to belong to God?
These introductory words from Paul are a description.
(V. 1) Paul says the believers in Ephesus are “faithful in Christ Jesus” (v. 1).
Matthew Henry writes that this means they are “believers in him, and firm and constant in their adherence to him and to his truths and ways”\
In other words, they are good disciples
and good disciples are going to be reflections of the master, of Jesus
Good disciples grow in Christ-likeness
We can use Paul’s definition of belonging to Jesus as a measuring stick to determine whether we meet those qualifications also.
Faithful followers reflect Christ, since we carry his image to the world.
Additionally, throughout this context Paul uses a number of words and phrases to communicate the relationship between the believer and God,
such as “saints” (v. 1),
“he chose us” (v. 4),
“adopted as sons” (v. 5),
“sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (v. 13),
and “the Holy Spirit is the downpayment of our inheritance” (v. 14).
This language is vastly different from how one would communicate regarding one’s relationship to an idol or statue.
No one is going to describe their relationship with the idol of Artemis like this
THe temple is all about outer show, but what Paul is talking about is a rewritten identity that comes from with in and is rooted in knowing, seeing, and beholding God.
In other words, Paul seems to use specific, familial, relational terms to describe our position with God rather than the stark and sterile interaction with an idol.
In verse 18, Paul uses the word phōtizō, which means “to enlighten” or “render evident.”
Our English word photograph is derived from this Greek word
When we have experienced God (seen him with the eyes of our heart), as Paul says, we will better understand the hope God offers.
We can see a picture of God so that we can be a picture of God to others.
After all we carry the imago Dei
The image of God
Gen 1:27
Genesis 1:27 CSB
So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.


In 1874 a group of artists that had been rejected by the French artistic establishment held an independent exhibition in Paris.
One critic, riffing off the name of one of the works exhibited, gave this group of artists the name bey which we still know them: Impressionists.
Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, etc.
The painting that gave them the name was this one: Impression, Sunrise
Impressionism was an artistic movement away from hyper realism and an attempt to capture a scene at a particular moment in time
In particular they were concerned with how light changed over the course of a day or through the seasons.
The world shifts around us light, and thus shadows, colors and, well, impressions change.
I understand it is particularly hard to paint something like the Grand Canyon
As soon as you have your paints mixed the light changes and you are looking at something totally new.
But here is the thing, the Grand Canyon or a sea scape, or even a sunrise is nothing compared to the granduer of God,
We can’t even think to fully capture the granduer of the GC, even with a photograph,
But God says that we can capture what He looks like, that we can behold him.
Part of beholding God is spending time with him
If you are going to paint a scene you spend time observing, and we must do the same with God, we must come to know him
Allow time for our prayers to turn from monologues to dialogues
We are communicate with God and communication is a two way street
We can learn to observe him around us through his powerful creation
We are told in John 1 that God wove the Word into all of creation
We can read his Word to learn the story of God and his people
In doing so, we can shift our gaze from an almost black and white image we sometimes have of God in our minds eye to the see how truly great He is.
Again, we carry the image of God
John Piper:
“The imago Dei is not a quality possessed by man; it is a condition in which man lives, a condition of confrontation established and maintained by the Creator. Thus in no sense can we speak of man losing this image”
In other words, bearing the image of God is not something that is tangental to our experiance, it is not one aspect of our identity
Rather it is central to it!
The Park West Gallery is an art gallery just out side Detroit
Have great page that explains how best to appreciate art.
First, we are told to spend time with it, just allowing the piece to become familiar.
Second, we should observe the basics, such as the size and shape, medium, and other initial facts.
Third, we notice how it causes our eye to move
We can apply these same skills to how we behold God
Spend time with God
In prayer and Bible study
This is why that personal time is so important
Getting to know the One whom we are to reflect
Observe the basic things about God
As we get to know him and spend more time with him there are things that we learn about Him
This is how you come to learn about anyone, right, spending time with them
You come to observe more and more about that person
To the point that there are people that you can see off at a great distance and still recognize because you know their basic shape, how they move and walk, how they carry themselves
There are other ways to learn about God
Scripture must always come first
The criterion by which we judge all things
But also theology and things that have been written about God
Creeds and confessions
No believer should be content not trying to grow their knowledge about God.
Read books
Listen to podcasts
Watch things
But in all things be discerning
Lots of junk out there
Weigh all things against Scripture
Make sure author/presenter is centering scripture and not simply relying on it as a crutch
Pay attention to how God causes your eye to move in new or different directions
As we come to grow in our knowledge of God and in the Christ-likeness that this knowledge will foster in us, we will come to be more and more confident in hearing the Holy Spirit in our lives
Prompting us to serve God in particular ways
Showing us where we are needed in building the kingdom.
If we will do these things, spend time with him, learn all we can about him, and pay attention to him, we will certainly gain a broader understanding of him.
As we know more, we will grow more.

Application Point

Spending time with God, acknowledging his grandeur and beauty, develops our familiarity with the one whom we are called to reflect.
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