Chapter 2, Lesson #1
How did you enjoy Ephesians chapter 1? If the word of God is like food, Ephesians is like a steak dinner complete with appetizer, potatoes, salad, bread and dessert. There is no way you can walk away from this book without being spiritually stuffed!
Ephesians 2:1-3 – 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.
Chapter two divides itself into three sections. Verses 1-3 deal with our natural spiritual state of death, verses 4-10 speak of our change from death to life by the grace and power of Jesus, and verses 11-22 deal with our new life in grace.
Speaking of death, have you noticed how many popular movies, television shows, books, comics and video games contain zombies?
I see them everywhere. And, yes, I admit to being a fan of some of them! [Do you have a favorite?] What’s that – is it possible that some of you aren’t familiar with the concept? If that is the case, you should know that a zombie is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse. The term comes from Haitian folklore in which a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic.
Picture some of those zombies in your mind. They have rotting flesh. Some are missing big clumps of hair or teeth. Some are missing arms or legs. These disfigured corpses wander aimlessly, attacking the living. They do not love or work or create. They do not enjoy music or the beauty of nature. They do not feel pain or pleasure. They do not have relationships. They have no plan for the future and no idea where they are going. They just exist in a state of death and seek to bring death to others. They are oblivious to anything else.
If we could look into the spiritual realm, I think we would see a lot of zombies. In fact, we used to be zombies ourselves! All of us were born into sin which is a state of spiritual death; we were alienated from God who is the fountain of all life. To be dead in trespasses and sin is another way of saying that we ‘walked following the course of this world’. We were under the authority of Satan, here referred to as the prince of the power of the air.
In verse 3, Paul is very clear that “we all” – meaning Jews and Gentiles alike – once lived in this state of spiritual death, where we indulged in whatever thoughts and activities we wanted to, regardless of whether they were right or wrong. As I am sure you would agree, the depravity of man knows no limits.
To make matters worse, we are completely unable to raise ourselves from the dead.
We can no more rescue ourselves from sin, than a zombie can turn itself back into a normal human. Man, due to his own actions, was rushing towards inevitable ruin, misery, death and eternal hopelessness.
In order to get the full impact of this scripture, I want you to consider your own sin, not just sin in general. Each one of us has lied, gossiped, lusted, cheated and a whole host of other vile things we would rather not mention. Despite what we may think, the Bible does not divide sin up into “big sins” and “little sins”. Sin is sin and we are all guilty. Each one of us deserves death.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – 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
BUT… God intervenes on our behalf. Hallelujah! Our hopeless situation is reversed. Man’s utter futility becomes God’s opportunity. In due time, God reveals his great, all inclusive plan of salvation.
God’s plan of salvation reveals two of his amazing attributes, those being Mercy and Love, as mentioned in this passage.
Mercy is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; it is compassion, pity, or benevolence. It includes acts of kindness or favor. The noun denotes compassion and love, as expressed in tangible ways.
God is not just merciful, he is mercy. He has all the rights and all the power needed to punish us and hold us accountable for sin, yet he has so much compassion that he gave his only Son that we might inherit eternal life. I can’t think of a more tangible expression of mercy! Clearly, God’s mercy is not stingy; it is rich and full and it overflows onto each one of his children.
Titus 3:4-5 – But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness but according to his own mercy…
1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a loving hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The other attribute from which the plan of salvation sprang is God’s love. Again, this is misnomer; God does not possess love, He IS love! His love is inexpressibly great and inexhaustibly rich. It knows no bounds. It is a great love, an everlasting love, an unchanging love, a perfect love, and an invincible love.
Romans 5:8 – But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Paul goes on to say that we have been ‘made alive together with Christ’. In other words, God has given us a complete resurrection from the death of sin, just as the body of Christ has been resurrected from the grave. The same divine power was at work in achieving both resurrections. Further, our amazing resurrection was obtained by grace; which is the unmerited or undeserved favor of God towards us. There can be no pride or glorying in ourselves.
Ephesians 2:6 – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended up into heaven, he did not do so merely as an individual. He was raised as the head of the church (see chapter 1). Therefore, when the Father raised and glorified Christ, all believers were raised and glorified with him. What He has done, the believer may be said to have done, because he is the head of the body. Notice verse 6 does not say “and will raise us up with him and will seat us with him”, it says “raised us up and seated us with him” which is in the past tense. Now, the scripture tells us that God sees the end from the beginning. So even though we have not seen the entire manifestation of this yet, God has. In other words, God already sees us raised from the dead and seated in Heaven with Jesus. Eventually, the day will come when you and I experience the fulfillment of what God already sees.
Isaiah 46:9-10 – Remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying ‘my counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purposes’.
We are a part of the body of Christ, raised to life with him and seated in heavenly places with him!
I don’t know about you, but I cannot help but be astonished by this! By the sacrifice of Jesus we were changed from the hopeless zombies in verses 1-3 to people who are a part of the body of Christ, raised to life with him and seated in heavenly places with him! Stop for a minute and consider how great God’s love for you truly is. If you have ever doubted God’s love for you, this should settle your questions forever.
Ephesians 2:7 – so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Verse 7 tells us that God poured out his great love, mercy and grace upon the Ephesian believers, and this is an everlasting example of his mercy. It shows that his love is perpetual and unchanging; we also have this same love bestowed upon us. We also have an opportunity to be forgiven and be seated with Christ in heaven. As believers, we also will become monuments of God’s love and mercy for future generations.
We can draw a couple of conclusions from this passage. One, as previously mentioned, the conversion of each and every sinner is living proof of the mercy and goodness of God.
Two, the conversion of every believer is an encouragement or a testimony to all those who are still spiritual zombies. It is very important that, as Christians, we live our lives in a matter that reflects the love of God. If we call ourselves Christians, but we still lie, gossip, hold grudges, are unforgiving, etc, what does that say to the lost about the love of God? Please pause and remember – YOU represent God to the lost world. What kind of representative are you?
Three, this monument to God’s love is eternal. At some point, all believers will be seated together in Heaven with Jesus. This will exhibit the most impressive proof, for all eternity, of the goodness of God. Think about the countless numbers of people who were once dead, vile, hopelessly doomed creatures, alive forevermore because of his great love. All life created by God (whether angels or other beings we know not of or even those not yet created) will see in us this monument to God’s love. Aren’t you glad to be a part of that?
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Here Paul clearly and concisely states an important truth, which is kind of a recap of what he has been discussing so far. We could not save ourselves, it required an act of God. Since that is the case, there can be no boasting by believers.
Interesting side note: God’s salvation is a free gift, but God does not ever force it upon us without our consent. We must purposely and knowingly accept the gift through faith. Sadly, there will be people who know of the gift and know that it can be theirs for the asking, but they will die without it, remaining slaves to sin.
Good works are not the cause of our salvation; they are the result of it. Again, since that is the case, there can be no boasting.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do you realize that YOU are God’s workmanship? He has created YOU for a purpose and he has a plan for YOU. There are people in this world who will say that you don’t count for anything. They will say you are worthless or unimportant. These lies may have been spoken to you by someone close to you or someone in authority over you, and thus you are tempted to believe them, but they are still LIES. You are an integral part of what God wants to do in this age. You are an irreplaceable piece in the body of Christ. No one can offer praise to God like you do. No one prays like you do. You have a sphere of influence that no one else can penetrate. God wants YOU to be his representative in that place. God did not create you on an assembly line. The bible says he breathes the breath of life into every person. You are a unique creation that God wants to use for good works. So, lift up your head. Be glad that God has redeemed you. Reading this blog is a sign that you are spiritually training yourself. When those good works show up, you will be ready to seize the opportunity for Christ!