Year 3 Day 65
Read - Ephesians 2
Message - Scott Woodburn
Without the Gospel our lives would take a familiar and devastating path. Paul describes it as spiritual death. Everyone is in the same boat, dead in trespasses and sin (v1) and following the path of this world and Satan himself (v2). The individual who is not "in Christ" marches to the beat of their own drum, such a person follows their own passions and desires giving no consideration to their eternal doom (v3). Paul's description of the human condition is that without Christ we are "children of wrath" (v4), we are dead in sin and heading for the righteous wrath of God to be poured out upon us.
Humanity might seem to be on an endless progressive upward curve but regardless of our technological advances our greatest issue is sin. Human history from start to finish is bathed in rebellion and sin which God will one day bring into judgement. These are depressing thoughts which hopefully lead us to a place where we ask "what can be done?" The answer is that we can't do anything, we need someone to do it for us.
After outlining our wretched position, Paul drops two words which change absolutely everything..."BUT GOD" (v4). Here is hope for wretched humans. We are unable to save ourselves and unable to change our misery...BUT GOD! What has God done? Out of sheer mercy and love, even when we were sinful wretches, He made us alive together with Christ (v5). Paul here speaks of our spiritual resurrection, our being born again. It is a supernatural work whereby the Word of God goes forward and the Holy Spirit breathes life into a spiritually dead person.
The dead can't raise themselves BUT GOD steps in and causes hard dead hearts to soften to the sweet tones of the Gospel. This is all of grace. The sinner described in verses one to three deserves nothing but wrath, BUT GOD has poured out His unmerited favour upon those who deserve judgement. In a wonderful way He has raised us to life in Christ and even now it is true to say that we are seated with Jesus in the heavenly places (v6). What does this look like? Jesus remains true God and true man. Flesh and blood is at the right hand of the Father. Because we are "in Christ" and because Jesus lives and will never die again, His presence in glory is a sure testimony that all the promises we have believed are "yes and amen!"
In the ages to come we will see and know the "immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." (v7) Brothers and sisters, we think we know God and at times we love the blessings of the Christian life but in reality we see dimly. A day is coming when we will be filled with awe at the size and scale of God's love for us. It is all by grace that we have been saved, through faith (v8). We have not worked our way into God's good books. The Lord has gifted us with saving faith and even our good works were prepared by God Himself (v8-10). He owes us nothing and yet has given us everything.
This glorious news applies to all who have received Christ by faith. Once in human history the church and the Gospel were primarily focused in ethnic Israel. Gentiles were seen as unclean by the Jews and indeed Gentiles were far from the things of God with no hope and without the Lord (v11-12). But then Christ came. His blood was shed for the sins of his people (v13) and He Himself ushered in a new age where the hostility between Jew and Gentile was done away with (v14).
Christ is the true prophet, priest and king. The old sacrificial system is fulfilled in Christ. The temple is no longer required because Jesus is the true temple. Christ has made one new man instead of two and has brought peace to His people from every age (v15). This work was accomplished at the cross and today regardless of your background, by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone we have access by the Spirit to the Father (v18).
What a journey Paul takes us on in this chapter! Starting with our pitiful wretchedness he takes us to the monumental words "BUT GOD" before showing the Gospel in glorious vivid colour. No words could finish this devotion better than those Spirit inspired words of the Apostle. Hear them...
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." (v19-22)
Q64 What is required in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.