September 9th Ephesians 2 (The Temple of God)
Christ has quickened you
1: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6: And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9: Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Remember how far you have come
11: Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12: That at that time ye 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 ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14: For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15: Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16: And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18: For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Having described the great all encompassing purposes of God, which expand the minds of christian men, Paul brings us right back down to earth – to a personal perspective of where we as individuals fit in. He says, and you he raised from the dead – when you were in trespasses and sins. And then Paul goes on to explain what our past lives were like. You lived, says Paul, according to the ordinary career of this world, and according to the whole empire of evil spirits controlled by Satan – the prince who has control, in the atmosphere. Satan is at work in the lives of unbelievers who are the offspring of disobedience to God. Paul reminds them, that the Ephesian believers also had their daily lives steeped in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind and were in their natural state children who are already under the wrath of God. Paul having described the very low state of men he now brings the great contrast, But God… He says, but God who is rich in his kindness in withholding judgment and in order to satisfy the love with which he loves us even when we were dead in sins he raised us up in Christ and has caused us already to sit alongside Christ in heaven. By Gods special unmerited kindness he has saved us. And he did all this so that in the times yet to come (before Christ returns,) he might display to all the exceeding richness of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Then Paul homes in on the greatest truthes of Salvation. He says, because by Gods kindness you are saved – through faith. And then having stated this great truth that salvation is by grace through faith, he goes on to say more regarding the salvation we have received. First he says that, the salvation of God is not ‘of yourselves’. Salvation is not found within men nor is it found by their hands. Nobody can save himself. Why is this so Paul? We might ask, He answers, because salvation is the gift of God. Salvation is a gift, it is not given as wages - a repayment of what we have done. Salvation is a gift and everyone knows that nobody can earn a gift. Gifts are given because of the love found in the givers heart. And the gift is received by empty hands and an open heart. Then Paul goes further, he says, the gift of salvation is not given because of works which the sinner does, so that no-one can boast in Gods presence. No man who enters heaven will boast of his great deeds that took him there. That is why everyone that enters heaven will be truly humble. Then Paul goes on to say that we christians are Gods workmanship. There are no self-made men in heaven. We are made and created by God to do good works for him. Now these good works do not make a christian acceptable to God rather they are the output of the life of a christian who is already accepted by God. And it was not to salvation that we are ordained but we are ordained to do good deeds. Then Paul reminds them that as Gentiles there were far from God. He says you were Gentiles ‘in the flesh’, you were called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who were circumcised. You were as unbelievers outside of the common wealth of Israel and strangers to the Covenants of Promise (These were the special covenants of God to Israel) he says, you had no Messianic hope and you did not have the presence of God with you in the world (as Israel did) Paul bring another great BUT. But now, ‘In Christ Jesus’ you who were afar off are now made near by the blood of Christ. Christ is the one who reconciles men with God and so he makes peace. All christians both Jews and Gentile are united in Christ – in salvation. And the wall which separated the Jew and Gentile i.e. the Mosaic Law, has been broken down. Christ has abolished by his human life the antagonism between God and men which was encapsulated in the Law. And so Christ has abolished the Law in the cross and so has made us to be at peace with God. Christ has reconciled us to God in one body – (the church) by the crucifixion. And he has destroyed the sense in which men are enemies of God. And when Christ had done all this he came and preached peace to the Jews who were near and to the Gentiles who were far off. And now in Christ both Jews and Gentiles have access by one Spirit – the Holy Spirit, to the Father. And so now Gentile christians are not strangers to God anymore but fellow-citizens with all of Gods saved people and members of Gods family. And the church is like one great building, which is built on the foundation of the Apostles and New Testament Prophets and Jesus Christ was the first stone to be laid – the chief corner stone. (All of us are laid in relation to him) And all the building fits together perfectly and is constantly growing up into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. And we are also built in to it and we become a holy dwelling place of God with men in fellowship with his Spirit.
- Take verse 8 and break it down into its parts. Then explain what it is saying.
- In what way is salvation received?
- In what way is it not received?