BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED
Alive Together With Christ
Paul provides a devastating description of humanity as he writes about the state of the soul. Humanity does not enter the world with a blank slate or inherently good. People begin under the dominion of death. It is not physical death; it is alienation and separation from God, the source of life. The church at Ephesus followed the course of the world, the devil, and the flesh. Paul paints a picture of our adversary the devil as he details this supernatural being that has authority over evil spirits. The devil does not have dominion; he has influence only because King Jesus has dominion over all things. Paul acknowledges that it is not just the Gentiles who experienced this dead state, he declares that all were included in the disobedient sons and daughters. The conduct of the lost is driven by the sinful desires of the flesh making the sons and daughters of disobedience also the children of wrath. God acts in wrath toward sin because he is holy, just, and righteous. Paul follows this catastrophic explanation that includes the necessary judgment and wrath of holy God with the beauty and wonder of amazing grace. God is rich in mercy, and the wonder of the gospel is that he sets his affection on creatures who are his enemies and loves them. While dead in sin with nothing to offer, God brings the dead to life with Christ. The curse is reversed, and the believer's union with Christ imputes his righteousness and shares his resurrected life. Jesus Christ brings dead sinners to life and rescues them from the dominion of death and power of sin. Salvation is a work of grace. Only Jesus saves sinners. Christ's resurrection raises the believer with him and moves them into heavenly places away from the old jurisdiction of the enemy. God's immeasurable grace and kindness will be on display in the coming ages by his work of salvation. People are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Grace is a gift, not a reward for anything good in the creature. There are no grounds for anyone to boast of any works. The Christian is God's workmanship as he creates a new humanity from both Jews and Gentiles. The believer is saved by grace through faith alone, but it is not a faith that stays alone. Good works cannot save anyone, but they serve as evidence of the grace at work in us. God has called a people to himself and called them to holiness. To walk in the good works which God prepared beforehand, he must save and enable his children to demonstrate the hallmarks of salvation.
One New Man In Place Of The Two
Paul points to the sign of the covenant that was given to Abraham and Moses called circumcision. Anyone outside of this covenant relationship was called the uncircumcision, and it pointed to the reality of their estrangement from God. The Gentiles were separated from Christ and alienated from Israel. The Gentiles were outside the covenants of promise and Paul states they had no hope in the world. This dreadful position is reminiscent of the previous verses describing man's condition. The separation is taken away by the blood of Christ, and the distance is removed. Christ himself is our peace, and he reconciles us to the Father as he takes away any external distinctions between Jews and Gentiles. Jesus' work of salvation should remove hostility and bring unity. Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, and his death on the cross satisfied the divine wrath and justice of God. Therefore, Jesus is our peace, and there is a new covenant in his blood which renders the old covenant obsolete. God is creating one new humanity and reconciling that humanity to God through his life, death, burial, and resurrection. By the cross, Jesus killed the hostility between God and man as well as man and man. Christ proclaims peace to those who were separated from God. Through Jesus, Jew and Gentile are made family and have access to the Father. The church is the people of God, both Jew, and Gentile who are adopted as the children of God into one household. This household is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The members of God's household rests on the normative teaching of the scripture. Christ is the cornerstone upon which the building is constructed, and he determines the position of all other living stones. The church is a people, not a building and God the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and builds them together.
Things To Consider:
- Why is sin associated with death?
- How does the devil have influence?
- How the knowledge that we were all dead in our trespasses and sins effect evangelism?
- Why were we the children of wrath?
- Why would God rescue rebellious children of wrath?
- How does God save his fallen creatures?
- Why is God's grace necessary for salvation?
- Why do we keep trying to earn our salvation?
- What is the difference between repentance and feeling sorry about our mistakes or trying to do better?
- Are you walking in an ongoing pattern of obedience?
- Why do we need peace with God?
- What impact should this passage have on racism?
- Why is the teaching of scripture essential for the church?
- How is one built together for God?