Carlton B. Matthews / General
God: Grace; Faith / Ephesians 2
Location: Ebenezer Faith and Grace Tabernacle
I'm Writing to You
Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul during his imprisonment by the Romans near the end of his life. The book of Ephesians has 2 big ideas to convey to the people.
- Our Salvation is Accomplished in Christ
- Because of that our lives should be different
We Are All Against God
Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Slaves to our passions
Our lives are filled with desires. So much so that entire religious orders have been created to deal with our passions. It is part of the human condition to desire. As with everything else in creation post Genesis 3 our desires have been corrupted.
We seek things, experiences and feelings to fill a void that can only be filled by the greatest desire we could fulfill.
But I am getting ahead of myself. How does being a slave to our individual passions show up in our lives?
Doing What Is Right In Our Own Sight
It is all about me. It is my way or the highway. Songs have been written and are being written to highlight that MY truth is the only truth and that MY way is the only way. I don't have to worry about what happens to someone else because I needed to get somewhere. A perfect illustration of this is seen on the road. I've got to get where I am going, and I have to get there now. That means if you are in my way, WATCH OUT! Run a yellowish light, check. Swerve in and out of lanes, check. Ride the Shoulder, check.
Ephesians 2:11-12 ESV
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
There was no difference between us.
I skipped ahead to verses 11-12 to highlight the point that there is no difference between us and them. There is no distinction. We are living in a culture, even a world, that is becoming more and more polarized. This letter was written to a Gentile church and it included this reminder that there was no difference between the Jew and Gentile believers as well as the between believers and non-believers. At one time we were all alienated from God. What follows is a reminder to all of us that God ultimately is the one who saves.
God Does The Work
Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ---by grace you have been saved--- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God Sends His Son
God rich in mercy, abounding in love, sends Jesus to live a life free from sin. This is not just so that those after Him would have an example. It was also to demonstrate the great love of God. That God would send his perfection to die for our imperfection.
We are made alive through Faith in the Risen Christ
We were all DEAD in the world. We create and build and earn and store, seeking something incomplete. WE are trying to fulfill an longing that we lost in the Garden. Through the sacrifice of Christ we are able to satisfy this desire. We are able to commune with God, worship Him and experience the fullness that can only come through Him.
This gift is freely given so no one can claim their own salvation
Best of all this gift is given freely. We receive this grace by faith and NO ONE could ever claim to have earned it. This is a claim that separates the Christian from other religious systems. We don't have a God whose love has to be earned. This is why the life of the Christian should be marked by JOY even in difficult circumstances.
Grace Through Faith Creates Joy
Ephesians 2:14-22 ESV
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
He is our Peace
Through God there is Peace. The Shalom of God descends upon and dwells among his people. Joy and Peace should mark our lives. This does NOT mean that we do not have difficulties. It does not mean that we we never be anxious. What it does mean that in difficult moments we dwell on what God has done. When we feel anxious we remember the grace that God imparted to us. Shalom...
Brought Everyone Together
This is an interesting time to be alive. I am seeing both unity grow and divisions sharpen in the most unlikely places. Politics, Race, Money, Prestige, fandoms are being used as wedge issues. What needs to be driven home, especially in our camp is that we are all image bearers of God. We were all against God and that there are no levels to that. We are all now brothers and sisters, fellow citizens with the other saints.
We are alive together in Him
Ultimately we are all alive together in Him. We will live this life together as his bride, the church. We strive to fulfill his commands on this earth. We live lives worthy of His Sacrifice. We strive to be in unity with each other and be mindful of those outside of our fellowship that have yet to be drawn in.