The text of the 2nd chapter of Ephesians is … well, what word should I use? Amazing? Wonderful? Revealing? Encouraging? I could use those and more. Some people fail to take the passage as seriously as we must. As a result they read the soaring prose of Paul as poetic, hyperbole perhaps, not grasping the immense revelation that was inspired by the Spirit. This text encourages Christians who live in a world that is hostile to genuine faith by reminding us of His work to save us and His striking purpose in doing so. The contrast between who we were and who we are is starkly made.
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Has your faith wavered?
Do you question your worth to God?
This is a passage for YOU. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-11, NIV)
The desperate state of humanity apart from God is clear. “Dead in transgressions… objects of wrath.” In an era of self-esteem, when we take great pains to avoid giving offense, this is an ‘in your face’ truth, not readily accepted. We insist that we are noble, that our ‘sins’ are really just mistakes, resulting from a lack of opportunity, a failure of education, or being poorly parented. While it is true that many things shape our choices and understanding, the most basic fact is where this text begins.
We are sinners, rebelling against God, thinking that our best life is found in ‘gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature.’ Occasionally we may have a faint impulse to do better, but under pressure, we revert to focusing on Self. We are influenced by ‘the world systems, the flesh, and the Devil.’ And thus, destined for eternity’s junkheap!
BUT, God because of ‘great love, rich mercy, and incomparable grace’ meets our desperate condition with an offer of life, received by faith, which is itself, a gift He offers! Why? Because He desires to ‘show the riches of His grace, expressed to us in His kingdom to us in Christ Jesus.’ God desires to show His love, to refute the devilish lie that He is not good, a despot.
He is the prime actor in our salvation, the source of grace and faith. We respond to His gift with a ready “yes,” and in the new life we find in Him, become His ‘workmanship.’ We are His art work, living the life He desired for us before we even existed. That is, at least to me, a mind-blowing, astonishingly wonderful truth that gives me, and you, value beyond estimation in a way similar to what happens when a great artist takes an ordinary canvas and paint and makes a treasure.
Let’s revel in the wonder that we, once destined for the junk heap of eternity because we rejected God, and were ‘in Adam,’ are now destined for beauty, saved and ‘in Christ.’ The Artist is imprinting His beauty on us. What would the Church become if we grasped the fact that our true destiny is to become a gallery of portraits of saints, displaying the artistry of God for time and eternity? And that is who we are!
The word from the Word calls us to worship. “So we praise God for the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. He is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God’s secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to his good pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:6-9, NLT)
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone I’ve been set free
My God my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine
Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio © 2006 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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