Companies use "before and after" pictures to sell their merchandise like home improvements and diets of all sorts. The Bible paints spiritual descriptions of "before and after" to encourage us to be God's people. We take a look at some "before and after" basics.

1. Not A People / Now The People Of God: -- In trying to encourage early Christians to be faithful, Peter penned, "Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God" (1 Pet. 2:10). There was a time when Gentiles were not among the chosen people of God, on the the Jews fit that particular situation. Old Testament people were Jews and it was not until the conversion of Cornelius in Acts chapters 10 and 11 that Gentiles were brought into the fold of God as special people along with the Jews. Now both Jew and Gentile can be reconciled "unto God in one body by the cross" (Eph. 2:16). You too can be among the people of God!

2. Sheep Going Astray / Now Returned Unto The Shepherd:-- When Jesus, "as a sheep before its shearers," was "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," found us "like sheep having gone astray" (Isa. 53:6,7); made it possible that we could be, "returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Pet. 2:25). Because sin "separated between you and your God" (Isa. 59: 1,2), it took the death of the Chief Shepherd to make the arrangements whereby we can be brought back to God.

3. Dead / Now Alive: -- One is said to be dead in sin before obeying the gospel. A reading of Romans 6:1-11 will teach us: "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so man of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?" Peter added to this, as he wrote of Christ, "Who His own Self bare our sins in His Own Body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).

4. Aliens / Now Fellowcitizens: -- The Ephesian Christians were once, "without Christ, aliens, strangers, having no hope and without God in the world, but now are made nigh, and are fellowcitizens and of the household of God" (Eph. 2:11-19). What a change! Have you had this change made in your life?

5. Far Off / Made Nigh: -- Before folks obey the gospel, they are said to be far off, but are made nigh after gospel obedience. Paul wrote, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). Are you far off or nigh?

By Johnie Edwards in Back to Basics, Vol. 2, No. 11, Nov. 2004.

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