Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:4–10

Read Ephesians 2:4–10

Questions from the Scripture text: In what is God rich (Ephesians 2:4)? What caused Him to act? Whom does Paul include among the dead in Ephesians 2:5? What did God do to them? In Whom? By what were they saved? What two things did they do with them in Ephesians 2:6? Together with Whom? What did God want to show (Ephesians 2:7)? In what? In Whom? By what have we been saved (Ephesians 2:8)? Through what? And not of whom? Of whom is it a gift? If it is a gift of God, what is it not of (Ephesians 2:9)? What does this prevent anyone from doing? What are we, according to Ephesians 2:10? What has been done to us in Christ Jesus? For what were we created? From where did these good works come? For what purpose did God prepare these good works beforehand? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Ephesians 2:4–10, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Amazing Grace.

We sometimes read of people saying that what is “not of ourselves” in Ephesians 2:8 is the grace and salvation, but that somehow the faith does come from ourselves. This kind of thinking completely misses the first “by grace” in Ephesians 2:5. Those who are dead and need resurrecting cannot believe. They must be “made alive” first.

And praise God that He gives this faith according to His rich mercy and great love (Ephesians 2:4)!

And this passage teaches not only the resurrection of the believer in Christ before faith, but the ascension and session of the believer in Christ by that faith. And He “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

This is how faith works unto justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. It doesn’t just give us credit for merit that belongs to Christ or access to power that belongs to Christ; it is the means by which we are joined to Christ Himself. We are crucified in union with Him. We are resurrected in union with Him. We ascend in union with Him. We sit in union with Him.

Again (cf. Ephesians 1:23), the Holy Spirit says something here that would be a terrible blasphemy if we had come up with the idea. But this is the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of His love (Ephesians 2:4)—to give us such honors and privileges by means of our union with Christ!

And ultimately, that is the purpose of seating us with Him, and in Him, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” The purpose is, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

The church is like a trophy unto the exceeding riches of God’s grace in His kindness toward us. And Christ Himself, as we have been united to Him, is the great display of that grace. And God has taken His trophy and set it upon the highest pedestal of the highest heaven. Praise be to His grace!

In Ephesians 2:1-7, the apostle wrote about our utter deadness in sin as the black velvet backdrop against which shine so brightly the diamonds of God’s rich mercy, great love, and exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness. Ephesians 2:6 took us back to Christ’s seat, from Ephesians 1:20–23—to the highest height of heaven, whereupon God has placed this dazzling trophy of His grace.

But that is not the only place where it is displayed. God displays the glory of His grace down in the nitty gritty of our lives on earth as well, both in our justification and in our sanctification.

In our justification, God is pleased to display His glory in what we do not do. We do not save ourselves; we are saved by grace. Grace supplies righteousness, because we have only guiltiness to offer. Grace absorbs wrath for us, because we have nothing worthful with which to atone. Grace supplies life for us, because we have only death in us. All of this is supplied in Christ, but we are unable even to produce from ourselves the faith that makes us Christ’s and Christ ours. So grace supplies the faith too; even that is not of ourselves.

In our sanctification, God is pleased to display the glory of what He has done through what we do. Having invalidated all boasting by saving us only through union with Christ, the Lord begins to turn that black velvet into a mirror in which the dazzling glory of Christ’s goodness is reflected. 

Those who began dead in sin actually begin to do good works! Not meritorious, to be sure, but genuinely good. God begins demonstrating His workmanship (us, Ephesians 2:10) by the good works that we do. A Christian is a good-works-doing creature that did not previously exist, created in the same Christ through Whom the original creation was made. 

God is displaying His workmanship when believers submit and learn under their shepherd-teachers (Ephesians 4:7–12). God is displaying His workmanship when believers study doctrine to get it right instead of “celebrating diversity of thought” (Ephesians 4:13–14). God is displaying His workmanship when no church member is dispensable, but the God-assigned role of each is understood to be used by Christ in building up all the others (Ephesians 4:15–16). God is displaying His workmanship when believers refuse to be controlled by desires and feelings, but rather control them with truth (Ephesians 4:17–24). God is displaying His workmanship when believers do good to one another and take care not to offend one another, not to be quick to be offended, and to be quick to forgive offenses (Ephesians 4:17–5:2). God is displaying His workmanship when believers refuse to live in the fleshly or careless way of this dark world, but as the children of light whom they have been re-created to be (Ephesians 5:3–21). God is displaying His workmanship when believing wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22–24). God is displaying His workmanship when husbands give themselves for their wives’ sanctification (Ephesians 5:25–33). God is displaying His workmanship when children honor and obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1–3). God is displaying His workmanship when fathers take the lead in their children’s discipline and instruction as something that belongs to the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). God is displaying His workmanship when employers and employees serve Christ first and foremost in all workplace interactions (Ephesians 6:5–9). And that is why all of these works must be supernaturally sustained by God through spiritual means that He has appointed (Ephesians 6:10–20).

Where is this great glory of God displayed? In the most mundane, everyday lives of those who began as darkness but whom He has created anew as children of light. Good works are essential, even before our needing to be holy for admittance into glory, because God has given them such a central place in displaying His glory in our sanctification. God prepared them beforehand for this!

What happened to you, in Jesus? Where “are” you, in Jesus? What difference does it make? 

What specific good works has God prepared beforehand for you to display the glory of His grace?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace!”

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