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06 June 9, 2013, Created For Good Works, Ephesians 2:1-10
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06 June 9, 2013, Created For Good Works, Ephesians 2:1-10 06 June 9, 2013, Created For Good Works, Ephesians 2:1-10 Document Transcript

  • Created For Good WorksEphesians 2:1-10June 9, 2013First Baptist ChurchJackson, Mississippi, USAJUNE MEMORY VERSEMatthew 28:19-2019 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name ofthe Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observeeverything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to theend of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20The date for our next SS class luncheon will be Sunday, June 23.It will be in the Chapel Dining Room.The cost will be $6.00 per person.LET FREEDOM RING CONCERTSunday, June 30th6:00 p.m.After the concert, we will have a Block Party on President Street.The Capital City Stage Band will be with us.We will have inflatables for the children to play in.We will be serving “Homemade Ice Cream!”There is a sign up sheet in our Sunday School roll book for people to volunteer.The sign-up sheet will also be in our record book on June 16 and 23.A follow up message will be mailed out with details about where to bring the icecream.WHAT’S THE #1 THING?BRING GLORY TO GOD!
  • Matthew 5:16 NASB16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven.Matthew 5:16 NASBCREATED FOR GOOD WORKSEphesians 2:1-10Wiersbes Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Copyright © 1992 by ChariotVictor Publishing, an imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Copyright © Moody PressJohn MacArthur, Jr. 1983-2007.Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walkedaccording to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we tooall formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and ofthe mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God,being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even whenwe were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace youhave been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in theheavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show thesurpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace youhave been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not asa result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, createdin Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we wouldwalk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 NASBWiersbe divides this Ephesians 2 passage into:What we were (vv. 1-3).What God did (vv. 4-9).What we are now (v. 10).
  • Ephesians, chapter 2:What we were (vv. 1-3).What God did (vv. 4-9).What we are now (v. 10).Ephesians 2:1 NASB1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,Ephesians 2:1 NASBWhat we were (vv. 1-3).What a picture of the lost sinner!To begin with, lost people are dead spiritually; that is, the inner man is dead tospiritual things.In Luke and John we see the resurrections of three people that Jesus raised from thedead:(1) a twelve-year-old girl, Luke 8:49-55;(2) a young man, Luke 7:12-15; and(3) an older man, Lazarus, in John 11. Jesus said, “you will see God’s glory” Each of them was dead; the only difference was their state of decomposition. Lazarus had been buried for four days (John 11:39) and had begun to smell! All lost sinners are dead, regardless of age; the only difference between theunsaved church member and the vagrant on skid row is the state of decay. Lost sinners are not only dead, they are enslaved by the world and live for itspleasures and fashions. Tell them that this world is under the condemnation of God and is passingaway, and they will laugh at you. They are also enslaved by Satan, who is at work in the lives of unsaved people. This does not mean that he necessarily makes them drunkards or murderers; hisusual tactic is to give people false security through self-righteousness.
  • Jesus called the self-righteous Pharisees "children of the devil" (John 8:44), yet theywere religious, upstanding citizens.We are born by nature children of wrath; when we reject Christ knowingly afterreaching an age of accountability, we become children of disobedience by choice.But when we trust Jesus Christ, we become children of God.Ephesians, chapter 2:What we were (vv. 1-3).What God did (vv. 4-9).What we are now (v. 10).Ephesians 2:4 NASB4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,Ephesians 2:4 NASBWhat God did (vv. 4-9)."But God!"These words are among the greatest in the Bible.
  • God could have allowed us to go on in sin and live eternally with the devil in hell, butinstead He chose to save us. (Romans 5:8)Romans 5:8 NASB8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yetsinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8 NASBHe gave us life, raised us from the grave of sin, and took us out of the graveyard!More than that, He made us members of Christ!We have been quickened together, raised together, and we sit together in theheavenlies.God did this because He is rich in mercy and great in love.Justice is God giving me what I deserve (death).Mercy means that God does not give me what I deserve (death);but grace means that He gives me what I dont deserve.
  • Ephesians, chapter 2:What we were (vv. 1-3).What God did (vv. 4-9).What we are now (v. 10).What we are now (v. 10).We are His workmanship, His new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away;behold, new things have come.2 Corinthians 5:17 NASBAlso read Philippians 2:12-13 and dare to believe that God works in you!Philippians 2:12b-1312b work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God Who is at work inyou, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.Philippians 2 :12b-13What does the future hold?We do not know, but we do know Who holds the future.
  • The same loving Father that chose us, called us, and saved us has also marked outwonderful plans for our lives!Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which Godprepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10Although they have no part in gaining salvation, good works have a great deal to dowith living out salvation.No good works can produce salvation, but many good works are produced bysalvation."By this is My Father glorified," Jesus said, "that you bear much fruit, and so prove to beMy disciples" (John 15:8).Don’t coast! Good works do not bring discipleship, but they prove it is genuine. When Gods people do good deeds they bear fruit for His kingdom and bringglory to His name.WHAT’S THE #1 THING?BRING GLORY TO GOD!The Bible has much to say about works.It speaks of the works of the law, which are good but cannot save a person(Galatians 2:16).Galatians 2:16 NASB16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law butthrough faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we maybe justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of theLaw no flesh will be justified. Galatians 2:16 NASB
  • It speaks of dead works (Hebrews 6:1) and of works, or deeds, of darkness and of theflesh, all of which are inherently evil (Romans 13:12; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:11).Hebrews 6:1 NASB1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press onto maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faithtoward God,Hebrews 6:1 NASB All of those works are done in mans own strength and have nothing to do withsalvation. They will not survive the fire!What three things will be in Heaven that are on earth right now?(1) All of God’s Word(2) Some people(3) Some of your worksBefore we can do any good work for the Lord, He has to do His good work in us.By Gods grace, made effective through faith, we become His workmanship, createdin Christ Jesus for good works.God has ordained that we then live lives of good works, works done in His power andfor His glory.“The righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).Revelation 19:8 NASB8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen isthe righteous acts of the saints.Revelation 19:8 NASB
  • John 15:1-81 “I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me thatdoes not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it,that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I havespoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,unless it abides in the Vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bearsmuch fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me,he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast theminto the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this is My Father glorified,that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”John 15:1-8The same power that created us in Christ Jesus empowers us to do the good works forwhich He has redeemed us.These are the, verifiers of true salvation.Righteous attitudes and righteous acts proceed from the transformed life now livingin the heavenlies.To the Corinthians Paul said there was in them "an abundance for every good deed"(2 Cor 9:8).
  • To Timothy he instructed that the believer is "equipped for every good work”(2 Timothy 3:17).2 Peter 1:3 NIV3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through ourknowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.2 Peter 1:3 NIVChrist died to bring to Himself a people "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14).Even this is the work of God, as Paul says: "work out your salvation.., it is God Who is atwork in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13).
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-15 NASB6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God Whocauses the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but eachwill receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellowworkers; you are God’s field, God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder Ilaid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how hebuilds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid,which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood,hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it becauseit is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved,yet so as through fire.1 Corinthians 3:6-15 NASBPauls primary message here is to believers, many of whom had experiencedsalvation years earlier.
  • He is not showing them how to be saved, but how they were saved, in order toconvince them that the power that saved them is the same power that keeps them.Just as they already had been given everything necessary for salvation, they also hadbeen given everything necessary for faithfully living the saved life.The greatest proof of a Christians divine empowerment is his own salvation and theresulting good works that God produces in and through him (cf. John 15).These good works are expected because God prepared beforehand, that we shouldwalk in them, and that is why James says faith is illegitimate if works are not present(James 2:17-26).It is from poiema (workmanship) that we get our word “poem”, a piece of literaryworkmanship.Before time began, God designed us to be conformed to the image of His Son, JesusChrist (Romans 8:29).Paul could therefore say to the Philippians, "For I am confident of this very thing, thatHe Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:6).
  • The story is often told of the rowdy, disruptive young boy in a Sunday school class whocontinually frustrated his teacher.One morning the teacher asked him, "Why do you act like that? Dont you know whomade you?"To which the boy replied, "God did, but He aint through with me yet."All of us are still imperfect, uncut diamonds being finished by the divine MasterCraftsman.PBPGINFWMYPlease Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me YetHe is not finished with us yet, but His work will not cease until He has made us into theperfect likeness of His Son (1 John 3:2).1 John 3:2 NASB2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we willbe. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him justas He is.1 John 3:2 NASB
  • A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he receivedmany requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works.An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the Twenty-third Psalm.The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it.The actors recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis, for whichhe received lengthy applause.The preachers voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and hisdiction was anything but polished.But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied, "I know thepsalm, but he knows the Shepherd."Salvation does not come from knowing about the truth of Jesus Christ but fromintimately knowing Christ Himself.WHAT’S THE #1 THING?BRING GLORY TO GOD!End of MacArthur
  • SALVATION IS THROUGH FAITHEphesians 2:8-9 NASB8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is thegift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 NASBOur response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves but is the gift of God(Romans 12:3).Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources.The following comments are from John Pipers:A Godward Life Book Two pp.327-332This truth has profound impact on how we pray. Jesus gives us the example in Luke22:31-32. Before Peter denies him three times, Jesus says to him, "Simon, Simon,behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, thatyou faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen yourbrothers."Jesus prays for Peters faith to be sustained even through sin, because he knows thatGod is the one who sustains faith.So we should pray for ourselves and others in this way.Thus the man with the epileptic boy cried out, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark9:24).This is a good prayer. It acknowledges that without God we cannot believe as weought to believe.Similarly the apostles pray to Jesus, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).They pray this way because Jesus is the One Who can do that.This teaching about faith being a gift of God raises many questions.God has answers for all of them, even if we dont.Let us seek to put the teaching into practical Biblical use, namely the humbling of ourpride and the stimulation of our prayers.In other words, let us pray daily:"O Lord, thank you for my faith. Sustain it, Strengthen it. Deepen it. Dont let it fail.Make it the power of my life, so that in everything I do you get the glory as the greatGiver. AMEN.
  • We know it is unbiblical because right there in the text the whole point of Romans12:6-8 is to exhort Christians in just the opposite way, namely, to do something."Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is toexercize them accordingly; if prophesy, according to the proportion of his faith; ifservice, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in hisexhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who showsmercy, with cheerfulness." (emphasis added).In other words, exercize your gift.Dont let it lie dormant.Take hold of it by faith and use it.FAN IT INTO FLAMES SO YOU WON’T QUENCH THE SPIRITResist passivity and look to God and say:"Lord I know that you have given me a gift for some kind of ministry. I am tired and Iam anxious that I will not do a good job. But, Lord, I trust You, not me and my gift. Itrust Your enabling grace, In fact, I trust You even to help me trust You because Yousaid that faith is Your gift. And I go to my ministry (say my small group leadership)tonight in the strength that You supply so that in everything You may get the glory."Thats the point of 1 Peter 4:11, RSV (emphasis added), "Whoever renders service, lethim do so as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that ineverything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."The gift of faith doesnt replace service, it trusts in power to do service.We also know that passivity is unbiblical because of Pauls own testimony in1 Corinthians 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward medid not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the graceof God with me."He labored more than all of them!That is not passivity!But look at the conviction beneath it:"Nevertheless it was not I, but the grace of God with me."The great words, "Not I, but grace" are not energy destroying words, but energyproducing words.Listen to Paul again from Colossians 1:28-29, "We proclaim Christ, admonishing every
  • man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every mancomplete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, whichworks mightily within me" (emphasis added). Paul labors, Paul strives. But it is themighty power of Christ that works in him, enabling him.DON’T COAST!GEORGE BLANDALOUIS GUYThe point is this:God does not will instead of our willing; He wills in and through our willing. God doesnot work instead of our working, but through our working.God does not energize instead of our having energy; He energizes our energy.Therefore it is unbiblical and irrational to say that because the grace of Godproduces an active trust in God, we dont need to exert an active trust in God.At the end of your life, after decades of loving ministry, however God uses you to stirup the obedience of faith in others, what are you going to say about the grace ofGod and your lifelong labors?Are you going to boast?No. You are going to use the words of Paul in Romans 15:18, "For I will not presume tospeak of anything accept what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in theobedience of the Gentiles. You will say something like a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians4:7, "What did I have that I did not receive? If then I received it, why should I boast asif it were not a gift.?"The Lord gives spiritual gifts to every Christian, including the faith to use them.Let us pray that He will measure out to us mighty measures of faith.Find your gift.Embrace it by faith.Use it in the strength God supplies so that God will get the glory and you (and thoseyou love) will get the joy.Hebrews 12:2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faithHebrews 12:2From John Pipers A Godward Life Book Two pp.327-332GOD GIVES US ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO BASE OUR FAITH ON (JOB)This coming alive can be accomplished by the power of God because of His loveand mercy.
  • “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).Sin is falling short of Gods glory, and falling short of Gods glory is sin.As Paul had explained two chapters earlier in Romans, in its most basic sense sin isfailing to glorify God.Although fallen mankind "knew God, they did not honor Him as God" (Romans 1:21).Of all the epitaphs that could have been written for Herod, the words of Acts 12:23are the most appropriate:Acts 12:23 NASBAn angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he waseaten by worms and died.Acts 12:23 NASBMans common state of sin has often been compared to a diverse group of peoplestanding on the bank of the Mississippi River (over a mile wide). Each of them is tryingto jump to the other side. The little children and old people can jump only a few feet.The larger children and agile adults can jump several times that far. A few athletescan jump several times farther still. But none of them gets near the other side. Theirdegrees of success vary only in relation to each other. In relation to achieving thegoal they are equal failures. They all fall short!Jesus said,Luke 6:33"If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For evensinners do the same."Luke 6:33On another occasion He said,Luke 11:13"You then, being evil, nevertheless know how to give good gifts to your children."Luke 11:13A person apart from God can only do humanly good things. But as the Lord points
  • out in both of those statements, the person is still a sinner, still evil by nature, and stilloperating on a motive less than that of glorifying God.When Paul and the others were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, Luke reports that"the natives showed us extraordinary kindness" (Acts 28:2); yet those natives remainedsuperstitious pagans (v 6). A sinners doing good is good, but it cannot change hisnature or his basic sphere of existence, and it cannot reconcile him to God.Ephesians 2:1-2 NASB1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walkedaccording to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Ephesians 2:1-2 NASBWhat we often call "the spirit of the times" reflects the wider course of this world, acourse in which lost men are in agreement about what is right and wrong, valuableand worthless, important and unimportant.Sinful men have many different ideas and standards, but they are in total agreementthat the network of things in this world is more important than the divine perspectiveof God.In this most basic world outlook they are of one mind.They resolutely work to fulfill the goals and values of their system, though it defies Godand always self-destructs.Sinners are persistent in their rejection, and the worse their system is, the more they tryto justify it and condemn those who speak the Word of God against it.Ephesians 2:6 NASB6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in ChristJesus, Ephesians 2:6 NASBThe Greek verb behind seated emphasizes the absoluteness of this promise byspeaking of it as if it had already fully taken place.Even though we are not yet inheritors of all that God has for us in Christ, to be in theheavenly places is to be in Gods domain instead of Satans, to be in the sphere ofspiritual life instead of the sphere of spiritual death. That is where our blessings are andwhere we have fellowship with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and with all thesaints who have gone before us and will go after us.That is where all our commands come from and where all our praise and petitions go.And some day we will receive the "inheritance which is imperishable and undefiledand will not fade away, reserved in Heaven for us" (1 Peter 1:4).
  • Ephesians 2:7 NASB7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His gracein kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:7 NASBThe phrase “so that” (“in order that” in the NIV) indicates that the purpose of ourbeing exalted to the supernatural sphere of Gods preserve and power is that we mayforever be blessed.But it is not only for our benefit and glory.Gods greater purpose in salvation is for His own sake, in order that in the ages tocome He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in ChristJesus.That, too, is obviously for our benefit, but it is first of all for Gods, because it displays forall eternity the surpassing riches of His grace (Ephesians 3:10).Through His endless kindness toward us in Christ Jesus the Father glorifies Himself evenas He blesses us.From the moment of salvation throughout the ages to come we never stop receivingthe grace and kindness of God.The ages to come is different from the age to come in 1:21 and refers to eternity.He glorifies Himself by eternally blessing us with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenlyplaces in Christ" (1:3) and by bestowing on us His endless and limitless grace andkindness.The whole of heaven will glorify Him because of what He has done for us (Revelation7:10-12).SALVATION IS THROUGH FAITHEphesians 2:8-9 NASB8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is thegift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 NASBOur response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves but is the gift of God(Romans 12:3).Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources.In the first place we do not have adequate power or resources.
  • More than that, God would not want us to rely on them even if we had them.Otherwise salvation would be in part by our own works, and we would have someground to boast in ourselves.Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from Gods giving it.If salvation is of grace, it has to be an undeserved gift of God.Faith is presented as a gift from God in 2 Peter 1:1; Phil 1:29, and Acts 3:16.2 Peter 1:1 NASB1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who havereceived a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior,Jesus Christ:2 Peter 1:1 NASBEvery person lives by faith.When we open a can of food or drink a glass of water we trust that it is notcontaminated.When we go across a bridge we trust it to support us.When we put our money in the bank we trust it will be safe.Life is a constant series of acts of faith.No human being, no matter how skeptical and self-reliant, could live a day withoutexercising faith.Church membership, baptism, giving to charity, and being a good neighbor have nopower to bring salvation.Nor does taking Communion, keeping the Ten Commandments, or living by theSermon on the Mount.The only thing a person can do that will have any part in salvation is to exercise faithin what Jesus Christ has done for him.When we accept the finished work of Christ on our behalf, we act by the faithsupplied by Gods grace.That is the supreme act of human faith, the act which, though it is ours, is primarilyGods — His gift to us out of His grace.
  • When a person chokes or drowns and stops breathing, there is nothing he can do.If he ever breathes again it will be because someone else starts him breathing.A person who is spiritually dead cannot even make a decision of faith unless God firstbreathes into him the breath of spiritual life.Faith is simply breathing the breath that Gods grace supplies.Yet, the paradox is that we must exercise it and bear the responsibility if we do not(cf. John 5:40).John 5:40 NASB40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.John 5:40 NASBObviously, if it is true that salvation is all by Gods grace, it is therefore not as a result ofworks.Human effort has nothing to do with it (Rom 3:20; Galatians 2:16).Galatians 2:16 NASB16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law butthrough faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we maybe justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of theLaw no flesh will be justified.Galatians 2:16 NASBAnd thus, no one should boast, as if he had any part.All boasting is eliminated in salvation (Romans 3:27; 4:5; 1 Corinthians 1:31).Nevertheless, good works have an important place, as Paul is quick to affirm.John MacArthur, Jr.,RAY STEDMANThe first four letters of the New Testament---Romans, First and Second Corinthians, andGalatians---are the development of the phrase, "Christ in you," teaching us what theindwelling life of Christ is intended to do. But beginning with the letter to the church atEphesus, we are to learn and understand what it means for us to be in Christ and toshare the body life of the Lord Jesus Christ---"you in Christ." Here is the great theme ofthis letter---the believer in Christ, or the nature of the Church.There are many who take the phrase, "the heavenly places," which appears several
  • times in this letter, as a reference to heaven after we die, but if you do this, you willmiss the whole import of Pauls letter. While it does talk about going to heaven someday, it is talking primarily about the life you live right now. The heavenly places are notoff in some distant reach of space or on some planet or star; they are simply therealm of invisible reality in which the Christian lives now, in contact with God, and inthe conflict with the devil in which we are all daily engaged.The heavenly places are the seat of Christs power and glory.In chapter two, verse six we are told, God raised us up with Him, and made us sit withHim in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.But in chapter three we learn that here also are the headquarters of the principalitiesand powers of evil:...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made knownto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.The conflict that occurs is set forth in chapter six:For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, againstthe powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hostsof wickedness in the heavenly places.So you can see that this is not a reference to heaven at all, but to earth. It is to theinvisible realm of earth---not to that which you can see, hear, taste, or feel---but tothat spiritual kingdom which surrounds us on all sides and which constantly influencesand affects us, whether for good or evil, depending upon our willful choice and ourrelationship to these invisible powers. Those are the heavenly places. In this realm, inwhich everyone of us lives, the apostle declares that God has already blessed us withevery spiritual blessing. That is, he has given us all that it takes to live in our presentcircumstances and relationships. Peter says the same thing in his second letter: Hisdivine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter1:3)That means that when you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, you have alreadyreceived all that God ever intends to give you. Is that not remarkable? The weakestbeliever holds in his hands all that is ever possessed by the mightiest saint of God. Wealready have everything, because we have Christ, and in Him is every spiritualblessing and all that pertains to life and godliness. Thus we have what it takes to livelife as God intended. Any failure, therefore, is not because we are lacking anything,but because we have not appropriated what is already ours.We all have the tendency to think of ourselves as somewhat remote from the Church.Every now and then someone comes to me and says, "The Church ought to do so-and-so." I reply, "Well, you are the Church; go to it." The fact that they are the Churchseems to strike them with a degree of amazement. Someone said to me not long
  • ago, "The Church ought to be more friendly." I said, "All right, you and I are theChurch, lets be more friendly."The Church is people. Every believer is a member of the Body of Christ---the Church---so I would prefer to go through this letter using not the word "church," but "Christian,"because every believer is a small replica of the whole Church. If we understand thatGod lives within the Church we see that he also lives within each believer. Each oneof us, as a believer in Jesus Christ, is a microcosm of the whole body. We can,therefore, go through this whole epistle relating what Paul says not to the Church, butto each one of us, as individual believers.In the first figure, the apostle refers to the Church as a body:...and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all thingsfor the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. (1:22)The first chapter is entirely devoted to the wonder and amazement that we normal,ordinary, sin-possessed human beings should be called by God in a most amazingway---reaching back even to before the foundation of the earth---to becomemembers of that body. It is a tremendous declaration. The Apostle Paul never gotover his amazement that he---bowlegged, baldheaded, despised by many,regarded with contempt in many circles---was nevertheless a member of the Body ofJesus Christ, and was called of God before the foundation of the earth and givensuch tremendous blessings that he was equipped for everything that life coulddemand of him. That is what it means to belong to the Body of Christ.Now what is the purpose of the Body? It is to be "the fulness of him who fills all in all." Inother words, it is the expression of the head. That is what your body is for. It is intendedto express and perform the desires of the head. The only time that a healthy humanbody does not do that is when some secondary nervous center is artificiallystimulated.You know, for instance, that if you hit your knee in the right place with a hammer,your leg will kick up in the air without your even willing it. Even if you choose not tokick, it will still react. I sometimes wonder if some of the activity of the Church can beascribed to a sort of reflex movement---the body acting on its own without directionfrom the head. At any rate, the function of the body is to express "the fulness of himwho fills all in all." What a mighty phrase that is! Do you ever think of yourself that way?Do you ever dare think of yourself the way God thinks of you---as a body to be whollyfilled and flooded with God himself?Next, Paul refers to the Church as a temple:...in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in theLord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (2:21,22)
  • Here is a holy temple. One of the greatest things taking place in the world today isthe growth of this building that God has been erecting through the ages. When allthe worthless products of human endeavor have crumbled into dust; when all theinstitutions and organizations that we have built have long been forgotten, thetemple which God is erecting will be the central focus of attention through alleternity. That is what the passage implies. Furthermore, he is building it now, usinghuman building-blocks; shaping them, edging them, sandpapering them, preparingthem just as he desires, putting human beings into this temple where he wants them.Why? What is his purpose for you, and his purpose for the whole temple? It is as Paulsays---to be the home of God, the dwelling place of God. That envisions and includeseverything which we understand by the word "home." When my family and I comeback from a long trip, as soon as we get home, we take off our coats, stretch out,and make ourselves at home. We all say how great it is to be home.But what is it about our home that makes us feel that way? Isnt it than at home wecan relax and be ourselves? That does not mean that when we are away from homewe are something other than ourselves, but we are always somewhat restrained.While at home, we can be all that we want to be---just relaxed and ourselves. That iswhat God is building the Church for---to be the place where he can be what hewants to be in you, fully relaxed and all that he is, in you. That is why he is calling youand building you.This new man in each of us has been given a gift that we never had before webecame a Christian. Our job, our reason for existence---the reason Jesus Christ put ushere on earth and leaves us here---is that we might discover and exercise that gift. Ido not know of anything more important than this. The reason why the Church hasflagged and faltered, failed and lost, is that Christians have lost this great truth whicheach one receives directly from the Lord. That includes us all, from the youngest tooldest, who know Jesus Christ. The risen Lord has given a gift to you, just as the man inthe parable gave the talents to each of his servants, entrusting them with his propertyuntil his return. And when he comes back, his judgment will be based on what youdid with the gift he gave to you. That is the exercise of the new man.The last picture of the Church in this epistle is as a soldier:Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evilday, and having done all, to stand. (6:13)What is the purpose of a soldier? It is to fight battles, and that is what God is doing inus now. He has given us the great privilege of being the battlefield upon which hisgreat victories are won.That is the essence of the story of Job. This dear man was struck without warning by aseries of tragedies. All in one day he lost his possessions one by one. Finally he lost hisentire family, except his wife. He didnt understand what was happening, but God
  • had chosen Job to be the battlefield of a conflict with Satan.God allowed Satan to go to the utmost limit in afflicting Jobs physical body. Inaddition, his mind was troubled; he could not understand what was happening. Butwhen the battle was over God greatly blessed Job, and has used him mightily toteach the people of God in all ages that trials and difficulties are not always for thesufferer alone, but are a means by which God wins mighty victories against theunseen powers. We are called to be soldiers who have learned how to fight.In his first letter John writes to his young Christian friends,I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides inyou, and you have overcome the evil one. (I John 2:14) That is, you have learnedhow to fight---how to move out, how to throw off the confusing restraints of the world,how not to be conformed to the age in which you live---and to move against thetide, against the current, thus greatly glorifying God.I love the story of Daniel who, as a teenager, was a prisoner in a foreign land. He wasexposed to a pagan environment and had to fight the battle day by day, countingtime after time upon Gods faithfulness to keep him when everything was against him.The pressures brought to bear upon him were almost incredible. But again and againDaniel and his friends met the tests and won the battles and carried on.Toward the close of the book Daniel was sent a visitor, the angel Michael, who toldhim some tremendous things. Daniel was allowed to see down the stream of time wellbeyond our own day. Yet when the angel first appeared to him, Daniel was greatlytroubled. He fell upon his face, his knees shook, and he was fearful and afraid of hisholy visitor. But the angel said to him, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved...fear not."(Dan. 10:11, 12) Why was he beloved? Because he was a faithful soldier.This is the privilege to which God is calling us in this day of world unrest and distress.God is calling us to be soldiers, to walk in the steps of those who have won the battlebefore us, having been faithful unto death if necessary. This is the privilege of thosewho are called and equipped with every spiritual blessing, so that there might be abody, a temple, a mystery, a new man, a bride, and a soldier for Jesus Christ. That isquite a calling.The exhortation, then, of this letter is contained in just one verse, in which Paul says,I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, [writing this letter from prison] beg you to lead a lifeworthy of the calling to which you have been called. (4:1)Do not lose sight of what God is doing. The world cannot see it. It has no idea what istaking place. But you know, and you can see it, so do not lose heart.Copyright (C) 1995 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church.
  • 1. Chuck Smith1. Have you ever taken just one piece of a puzzle and tried to figure how it fits into thewhole picture? It is next to impossible, if you have just started to work the puzzle andyou do not have the picture on the box before you. But if the whole puzzle has beenput together and this is the next to last piece, there is no problem in seeing where itfits. God is putting together the pieces of the puzzle in your life it may be that youcant understand the present piece that He has put in.a. You may have even been complaining about your present circumstancesbecause you cant see how the pieces fit.b. You wonder why God hasnt listened to your prayers to remove the piece.c. It is hard to see how all things are working together for good to those who loveGod and are called according to His purpose.d. In your mind you may have even challenged God by asking, "What good canpossibly come from this?"2. There are many advantages to coming to the stage in life that I have arrived atwhere most of the pieces of the puzzle have been put together and the picture isbecoming quite clear.a. I frankly confess that there were many of the pieces of the puzzle that Icomplained loudly about as God was preparing me for the work that He had beforeordained that He wanted me to accomplish for Him.b. There were many a time when I thought God had forsaken me.c. Things that at the time I looked on as a curse, but have now discovered that theywere great blessings. They were necessary preparation.3. Those lessons where God is teaching us trust, and faith are not easy lessons. It is noteasy at 4:00 in the afternoon not to know where the evening meal is coming from. It isnot easy when your kids come and show you their socks showing through the holes inthe soles of their tennis shoes, and you do not have the money to buy a new pair ofshoes which you know they will have to have before they go to school tomorrow.a. Through all of these experiences God was teaching us of His faithfulness to providefor our every need just as He promised.b. He was teaching us that He had resources that we knew nothing about.4. It is not easy to discover you are nothing when you thought you were something. Torealize that you were not doing God a favor when you offered to Him your services.5. Not easy to give it your best fleshly efforts and see them fail.6. Not easy to give the best 17 years of your life to something that seems to produceso little fruit.a. As I see it now, it was all a part of the necessary preparation for the work that Godhad in mind for me to accomplish for His glory. Had the success come earlier I wouldhave been tempted to take the glory.b. Through all of the difficult experiences he was teaching me important lessons of
  • who He is, and how He wanted His work done.c. Lessons that I would one day be able to teach others so they could perhapsescape some of the pitfalls I had to struggle through.d. I think of the words of Paul to those of Galatia, "Be not weary in well doing, for indue season, you will reap, if you faint not."Cite This Page: (explanation of citations)Smith, Chuck. "Ephesians 2:10." The Word for Today.Blue Letter Bible. 1 May 2005. 2013. 5 Jun 2013.Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is thegift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are Hisworkmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God preparedbeforehand so that we would walk in them.Ephesians 2:8-10 NASBIsaiah 43:6b-7a NASB6b Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, 7a Everyonewho is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory,Isaiah 43:6b-7a NASBThe Work of Christ BARCLAY(Eph 2:4-10)2:4-10 Although we were all like that, I say, God, because he is rich in mercy andbecause of his great love with which he has loved us, made us alive in Jesus Christ,even when we were dead in trespasses (it is by grace you have been saved), andraised us up with Christ, and gave us a seat in the heavenly places with Christ,because of what Christ Jesus did for us. This he did so that in the age to come thesurpassing riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus might bedemonstrated. For it is by grace appropriated by faith that you have been saved.You had nothing to do with this. It was Gods gift to you. It was not the result of works,for it was Gods design that no one should be able to boast. For we are his work,created in Christ Jesus for good works, works which God prepared beforehand thatwe might walk in them.Paul had begun by saying that, as we are, we are dead in sins and trespasses; now
  • he says that God in his love and mercy has made us alive in Jesus Christ. Whatexactly did he mean by that? We saw that there were three things involved in beingdead in sins and trespasses. Jesus has something to do about each of them.(i) We saw that sin kills innocence. Not even Jesus can give a man back his lostinnocence, for not even Jesus can put back the clock; but what he can do is takeaway the sense of guilt which the lost innocence necessarily brings with it.The first thing sin does is create a feeling of estrangement between us and God.Whenever a man realizes that he has sinned, he is oppressed with the feeling that hedare not approach God. When Isaiah received his vision of God, his first reaction wasto say: "Woe is me! for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midstof a people of unclean lips" (Isa 6:5). When Peter realized who Jesus was, his firstreaction was: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Lk 5:8).Jesus begins by taking that sense of estrangement away. He came to tell us that nomatter what we are like the door is open to the presence of God. Suppose there wasa son who did some shameful thing and then ran away, because he was sure thatthere was no use in going home, because the door was bound to be shut. Thensuppose someone came with the news that the door was still open and a welcomewas waiting at home. What a difference that news would make! It was just that kindof news that Jesus brought. He came to take away the sense of estrangement and ofguilt, by telling us that God wants us just as we are.(ii) We saw that sin killed the ideals by which men live. Jesus reawakens the ideal inthe heart of man.The story is told of a negro engineer in a river ferry-boat in America. His boat was oldand he did not worry over much about it; the engines were begrimed and ill-caredfor. This engineer was soundly converted. The first thing he did was to go back to hisferry-boat and polish his engines until every part of the machinery shone like a mirror.One of the regular passengers commented on the change. "What have you been upto?" he asked the engineer. "What set you cleaning and polishing these old enginesof yours?" "Sir," answered the engineer, "Ive got a glory." That is what Christ does for aman. He gives him a glory.It is told that in the congregation in Edinburgh to which George Matheson camethere was an old woman who lived in a cellar in filthy conditions. After some monthsof Mathesons ministry, communion time came round. When the elder called at thisold womans cellar with the cards, he found that she had gone. He tracked herdown. He found her in an attic room. She was very poor and there were no luxuries,but the attic was as light and airy and clean as the cellar had been dark and dismaland dirty. "I see youve changed your house," he said to her. "Ay," she said, "I have.You canna hear George Matheson preach and live in a cellar." The Christianmessage had rekindled the ideal.As the old hymn has it:"Deep in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,Feelings lie buried that grace can restore."The grace of Jesus Christ rekindles the ideals which repeated failing to sin hasextinguished. And by that very rekindling, life is set climbing again.(iii) Greater than anything else, Jesus Christ revives and restores the lost will. We sawthat the deadly thing about sin was that it slowly but surely destroyed a mans will and
  • that the indulgence which had begun as a pleasure became a necessity. Jesusrecreates the will.That in fact is always what love does. The effect of a great love is always a cleansingthing. When a person really and truly falls in love, his love compels him to goodness.He loves the loved one so much that the love of his sins is broken.That is what Christ does for us. When we love him, that love recreates and restores ourwill towards goodness. As the hymn has it:"He breaks the power of cancelled sin,He sets the prisoner free."—Barclays Daily Study Bible (NT)