The 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. Butbeginning with the letter to the church atEphesus, we are to learn and understand whatit means for us to be in Christ and to share thebody life of the Lord Jesus Christ---"you inChrist." Here is the great theme of this letter---the believer in Christ, or the nature of theChurch.
There are many who take the phrase, "theheavenly places," which appears several timesin this letter, as a reference to heaven after wedie, but if you do this, you will miss the wholeimport of Pauls letter. While it does talk aboutgoing to heaven some day, it is talkingprimarily about the life you live right now.The heavenly places are not off in some distantreach of space or on some planet or star; theyare simply the realm of invisible reality inwhich the Christian lives now, in contact withGod, and in the conflict with the devil inwhich we are all daily engaged.
The heavenly places are theseat of Christs power andglory. In chapter two, versesix we are told,God raised us up with Him,and made us sit with Him inthe heavenly places in ChristJesus.
But in chapter three we learn that here also are theheadquarters of the principalities and powers of evil:...that through the church the manifold wisdom ofGod might now be made known to the principalitiesand 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, against the powers,against the world rulers of this present darkness,against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in theheavenly places.
So you can see that this is not a reference to heaven atall, but to earth. It is to the invisible realm of earth---notto that which you can see, hear, taste, or feel---but to thatspiritual kingdom which surrounds us on all sides andwhich constantly influences and affects us, whether forgood or evil, depending upon our willful choice and ourrelationship to these invisible powers. Those are theheavenly places. In this realm, in which everyone of uslives, the apostle declares that God has already blessedus with every spiritual blessing. That is, he has given usall that it takes to live in our present circumstances andrelationships. Peter says the same thing in his secondletter: His divine power has granted to us all things thatpertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
That means that when you receive Jesus Christ asyour Lord, you have already received all thatGod ever intends to give you. Is that notremarkable? The weakest believer holds in hishands all that is ever possessed by the mightiestsaint of God. We already have everything,because we have Christ, and in Him is everyspiritual blessing and all that pertains to life andgodliness. Thus we have what it takes to live lifeas God intended. Any failure, therefore, is notbecause we are lacking anything, but because wehave not appropriated what is already ours.
We all have the tendency to think ofourselves as somewhat remote from theChurch. Every now and then someonecomes to me and says, "The Church oughtto do so-and-so." I reply, "Well, you are theChurch; go to it." The fact that they are theChurch seems to strike them with a degreeof amazement. Someone said to me not longago, "The Church ought to be morefriendly." I said, "All right, you and I are theChurch, lets be more friendly."
The Church is people. Every believer is amember of the Body of Christ---the Church---so I would prefer to go through this letterusing not the word "church," but "Christian,"because every believer is a small replica of thewhole Church. If we understand that Godlives within the Church we see that he alsolives within each believer. Each one of us, as abeliever in Jesus Christ, is a microcosm of thewhole body. We can, therefore, go throughthis whole epistle relating what Paul says notto the Church, but to each one of us, asindividual 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 thehead over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulnessof him who fills all in all. (1:22)The first chapter is entirely devoted to the wonder andamazement that we normal, ordinary, sin-possessed humanbeings should be called by God in a most amazing way---reachingback even to before the foundation of the earth---to becomemembers of that body. It is a tremendous declaration. The ApostlePaul never got over his amazement that he---bowlegged,baldheaded, despised by many, regarded with contempt in manycircles---was nevertheless a member of the Body of Jesus Christ,and was called of God before the foundation of the earth andgiven such tremendous blessings that he was equipped foreverything that life could demand of him. That is what it means tobelong to the Body of Christ.
Now what is the purpose of the Body? It is to be "the fulness ofhim who fills all in all." In other words, it is the expression of thehead. That is what your body is for. It is intended to express andperform the desires of the head. The only time that a healthyhuman body does not do that is when some secondary nervouscenter is artificially stimulated.You know, for instance, that if you hit your knee in the right placewith a hammer, your leg will kick up in the air without your evenwilling it. Even if you choose not to kick, it will still react. Isometimes wonder if some of the activity of the Church can beascribed to a sort of reflex movement---the body acting on its ownwithout direction from the head. At any rate, the function of thebody is to express "the fulness of him who fills all in all." What amighty phrase that is! Do you ever think of yourself that way? Doyou ever dare think of yourself the way God thinks of you---as abody to be wholly filled and flooded with God himself?
Next, Paul refers to the Church as a temple:...in whom the whole structure is joined together and growsinto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are builtinto it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (2:21, 22)Here is a holy temple. One of the greatest things taking placein the world today is the growth of this building that Godhas been erecting through the ages. When all the worthlessproducts of human endeavor have crumbled into dust; whenall the institutions and organizations that we have built havelong been forgotten, the temple which God is erecting will bethe central focus of attention through all eternity. That iswhat the passage implies. Furthermore, he is building itnow, using human building-blocks; shaping them, edgingthem, sandpapering them, preparing them 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 thewhole temple? It is as Paul says---to be the home of God, thedwelling place of God. That envisions and includeseverything which we understand by the word "home." Whenmy family and I come back from a long trip, as soon as weget home, we take off our coats, stretch out, and makeourselves 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 we can relax and be ourselves? Thatdoes not mean that when we are away from home we aresomething other than ourselves, but we are alwayssomewhat restrained. While at home, we can be all that wewant to be---just relaxed and ourselves. That is what God isbuilding the Church for---to be the place where he can bewhat he wants to be in you, fully relaxed and all that he is, inyou. That is why he is calling you and building you.
This new man in each of us has been given a gift that wenever had before we became a Christian. Our job, our reasonfor existence---the reason Jesus Christ put us here on earthand leaves us here---is that we might discover and exercisethat gift. I do not know of anything more important thanthis. The reason why the Church has flagged and faltered,failed and lost, is that Christians have lost this great truthwhich each one receives directly from the Lord. Thatincludes us all, from the youngest to oldest, who know JesusChrist. The risen Lord has given a gift to you, just as the manin the parable gave the talents to each of his servants,entrusting them with his property until his return. Andwhen he comes back, his judgment will be based on whatyou did with the gift he gave to you. That is the exercise ofthe 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 inthe evil day, 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 isdoing in us now. He has given us the great privilege of being the battlefieldupon which his great victories are won.That is the essence of the story of Job. This dear man was struck withoutwarning by a series of tragedies. All in one day he lost his possessions one byone. Finally he lost his entire family, except his wife. He didnt understandwhat was happening, but God had chosen Job to be the battlefield of a conflictwith 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 washappening. But when the battle was over God greatly blessed Job, and has usedhim mightily to teach the people of God in all ages that trials and difficultiesare not always for the sufferer alone, but are a means by which God winsmighty victories against the unseen powers. We are called to be soldiers whohave learned how to fight.
In his first letter John writes to his youngChristian friends,I write to you, young men, because you arestrong, and the word of God abides in you, andyou have overcome the evil one. (I John 2:14)That is, you have learned how to fight---how tomove out, how to throw off the confusingrestraints of the world, how not to be conformedto the age in which you live---and to moveagainst the tide, against the current, thus greatlyglorifying God.
I love the story of Daniel who, as a teenager, was a prisonerin a foreign land. He was exposed to a pagan environmentand had to fight the battle day by day, counting time aftertime upon Gods faithfulness to keep him when everythingwas against him. The pressures brought to bear upon himwere almost incredible. But again and again Daniel and hisfriends met the tests and won the battles and carried on.Toward the close of the book Daniel was sent a visitor, theangel Michael, who told him some tremendous things.Daniel was allowed to see down the stream of time wellbeyond our own day. Yet when the angel first appeared tohim, Daniel was greatly troubled. He fell upon his face, hisknees shook, and he was fearful and afraid of his holyvisitor. But the angel said to him, "O Daniel, man greatlybeloved...fear not." (Dan. 10:11, 12) Why was he beloved?Because he was a faithful soldier.
This is the privilege to which God is callingus in this day of world unrest and distress.God is calling us to be soldiers, to walk inthe steps of those who have won the battlebefore us, having been faithful unto death ifnecessary. This is the privilege of those whoare called and equipped with everyspiritual blessing, so that there might be abody, a temple, a mystery, a new man, abride, and a soldier for Jesus Christ. That isquite a calling.
The exhortation, then, of this letter iscontained in just one verse, in which Paulsays,I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, [writingthis letter from prison] beg you to lead a lifeworthy of the calling to which you havebeen called. (4:1)Do not lose sight of what God is doing. Theworld cannot see it. It has no idea what istaking place. But you know, and you cansee it, so do not lose heart.
Copyright (C) 1995Discovery Publishing, aministry of PeninsulaBible Church.
1. Have you ever taken just one piece of a puzzle and tried tofigure how it fits into the whole picture? It is next to impossible, ifyou have just started to work the puzzle and you do not have thepicture on the box before you. But if the whole puzzle has beenput together and this is the next to last piece, there is no problemin seeing where it fits. God is putting together the pieces of thepuzzle in your life it may be that you cant understand the presentpiece that He has put in.a. You may have even been complaining about your presentcircumstances because you cant see how the pieces fit.b. You wonder why God hasnt listened to your prayers to removethe piece.c. It is hard to see how all things are working together for good tothose who love God and are called according to His purpose.d. In your mind you may have even challenged God by asking,"What good can possibly come from this?"
2. There are many advantages to coming to the stage in life that I have arrivedat where most of the pieces of the puzzle have been put together and thepicture is becoming 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 hadbefore ordained 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 thatthey were great blessings. They were necessary preparation.3. Those lessons where God is teaching us trust, and faith are not easy lessons.It is not easy at 4:00 in the afternoon not to know where the evening meal iscoming from. It is not easy when your kids come and show you their socksshowing through the holes in the soles of their tennis shoes, and you do nothave the money to buy a new pair of shoes which you know they will have tohave before they go to school tomorrow.a. Through all of these experiences God was teaching us of His faithfulness toprovide for 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 youwere something. To realize that you were not doing God a favorwhen 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 thatseems to produce so little fruit.a. As I see it now, it was all a part of the necessary preparation forthe work that God had in mind for me to accomplish for Hisglory. Had the success come earlier I would have been tempted totake the glory.b. Through all of the difficult experiences he was teaching meimportant lessons of who He is, and how He wanted His workdone.c. Lessons that I would one day be able to teach others so theycould perhaps escape some of the pitfalls I had to strugglethrough.d. I think of the words of Paul to those of Galatia, "Be not weary inwell doing, for in due season, you will reap, if you faint not."
Cite This Page:(explanation of citations)Smith, Chuck. "Ephesians2:10." The Word forToday. Blue Letter Bible. 1May 2005. 2013. 5 Jun2013.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB8 For by grace you havebeen saved through faith;and that not of yourselves,it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works,so that no one may boast.
10 For we are Hisworkmanship, createdin Christ Jesus for goodworks, which Godprepared beforehand sothat we would walk inthem. Ephesians 2:8-10
6b Bring My sons from afarand My daughters fromthe ends of the earth,7a Everyone who is calledby My name, and whom Ihave created for My glory,Isaiah 43:6b-7a NASB
The 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 mercyand because of his great love with which he has loved us, made us alive inJesus Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses (it is by grace you havebeen saved), and raised us up with Christ, and gave us a seat in the heavenlyplaces with Christ, because of what Christ Jesus did for us. This he did so thatin the age to come the surpassing riches of his grace in his kindness to us inChrist Jesus might be demonstrated. For it is by grace appropriated by faiththat you have been saved. You had nothing to do with this. It was Gods gift toyou. It was not the result of works, for it was Gods design that no one shouldbe able to boast. For we are his work, created in Christ Jesus for good works,works which God prepared beforehand that we 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.What exactly did he mean by that? We saw that there were three thingsinvolved in being dead in sins and trespasses. Jesus has something to do abouteach 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 usand God. Whenever a man realizes that he has sinned, he is oppressedwith the feeling that he dare not approach God. When Isaiah receivedhis vision of God, his first reaction was to say: "Woe is me! for I am lost;for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people ofunclean 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 tellus that no matter what we are like the door is open to the presence ofGod. Suppose there was a son who did some shameful thing and thenran away, because he was sure that there was no use in going home,because the door was bound to be shut. Then suppose someone camewith the news that the door was still open and a welcome was waitingat home. What a difference that news would make! It was just that kindof news that Jesus brought. He came to take away the sense ofestrangement and of guilt, by telling us that God wants us just as weare.(ii) We saw that sin killed the ideals by which men live. Jesus reawakensthe ideal in the heart of man.
The story is told of a negro engineer in a river ferry-boat in America. Hisboat was old and he did not worry over much about it; the engines werebegrimed and ill-cared for. This engineer was soundly converted. Thefirst thing he did was to go back to his ferry-boat and polish his enginesuntil every part of the machinery shone like a mirror. One of the regularpassengers commented on the change. "What have you been up to?" heasked the engineer. "What set you cleaning and polishing these oldengines of yours?" "Sir," answered the engineer, "Ive got a glory." Thatis what Christ does for a man. He gives him a glory.It is told that in the congregation in Edinburgh to which GeorgeMatheson came there was an old woman who lived in a cellar in filthyconditions. After some months of Mathesons ministry, communiontime came round. When the elder called at this old womans cellar withthe cards, he found that she had gone. He tracked her down. He foundher in an attic room. She was very poor and there were no luxuries, butthe attic was as light and airy and clean as the cellar had been dark anddismal and dirty. "I see youve changed your house," he said to her."Ay," she said, "I have. You canna hear George Matheson preach andlive in a cellar." The Christian message 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 saw that the deadly thing about sin was that it slowly but surely destroyeda mans will and that the indulgence which had begun as a pleasure became anecessity. Jesus recreates the will.That in fact is always what love does. The effect of a great love is always acleansing thing. When a person really and truly falls in love, his love compelshim to goodness. He loves the loved one so much that the love of his sins isbroken.That is what Christ does for us. When we love him, that love recreates andrestores our will towards goodness. As the hymn has it:"He breaks the power of cancelled sin,He sets the prisoner free."—Barclays Daily Study Bible (NT)