Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ephesians 2-3

Ephesians 2:1-10 – New Life in God’s Grace

If you are not a Christian you are spiritually dead.  A person who is not born again follows the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, Satan.  Satan works in the disobedient.  They have a sinful nature gratifying their own desires and thoughts – (Eph 2:1-3).  If you are a Christian, these verses describe your past.

Transgression means to slip or stumble.  Sin means you missed the mark or target.  God’s holiness is the mark.  We start sinning from the beginning of life.  We are this way as babies and cannot overcome influences of the world, Satan or our sin nature.  We may be able to do some good, but we are still spiritually dead.  We can’t meet God’s standard and the penalty is death.  We are the “walking dead”, but God says “I love you so much”.

Why has God gone to so much trouble for you?  Because He loved us even while we were sinners – (Rom. 5:8).  He didn’t wait.  Sin is way more than breaking the rules.  It’s working against His love.  Grace and mercy is God’s love in action.  When we became a Christian, we became alive and responsive to spiritual truth.  His Word became real to us and then He placed us in the heavenly realm with Jesus. 

Why did He do this?  He has a plan (see verse 6) so He can show Himself to the world and show that He is kind and merciful.  You can’t say “I am a nice person”, “My parents are Christians”, or “I have several Bibles in my home”.  We are wretched!  Now What?  Once we believe we are alive and are royalty and children of the King.  We are a new creation in Christ.

What does it mean to be born again?  It means you have confessed your sins and repented (turned from your sinful desires) and now follow Jesus.  You believe the gospel – that He died for your sins and was raised on the 3rd day and now sits in heaven on the right hand of God.

How do you know you have been born again?  You believe the gospel, have faith and trust in Jesus as Savior, don’t habitually sin, don’t conform to the world’s standards.  You have the Holy Spirit’s seal promising you eternal life and you let Him guide and direct you.  “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” – (John 5:24).  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom.10:13

Eph. 2:4-9 tells us what God has done for believers.  “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.”

How does one get faith?  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

What is the good work, Paul talks about in verse 9-10?  We are God’s workmanship (masterpiece) so we are His good works.  We are saved by grace and there is no more work to be done.  We are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” is that not by our own strength we are not able to lead a Holy life, but in Jesus we can.  He made us righteous and holy.  He prepared a path of good works for us to do.  This is His purpose for us.  As we do the work it reveals the heart of God as it pertains to Christ.

Believers saved by grace through faith are God’s masterpiece of love and mercy.

Are you trying to be good enough?  No one is good enough.
Is your name written in the family tree of God?
Have you discovered His plan for you?  If you are in His plan, you will encounter Him and you will grow in your faith.
Are your plans already underway and don’t need any interference from God?
Do you know all you need to know about the Bible?
Does He have authority over you?

Ephesians 2:11-3:13 – New Life in God’s Family

Paul tells the Ephesians to remember how they once were as Gentiles, without hope and excluded from citizenship in Israel and considered foreigners. What do you remember before you had a relationship with Christ?  How does remembering make you love God more?  Jesus brought peace to the world by His blood on the cross.  He did away with the law and its regulations.  The world methods of peace are threats, alliances, treaties, force, power, tolerance and a live and let live attitude.  By following Jesus’ example we can practice love and unity to maintain peace with others.  We can pray.  He became our peace by His love and His blood.

If you belong to Christ, you are reconciled to God through the cross.  You have access to the Father.  You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. – (Eph. 2:14-20)

The Jews and Gentiles hated one another.  The Jews were prideful and hated the Gentile for their idol worship.  The Gentiles thought the Jews were religious snobs.  Rom. 1 says all know the true God and many refuse to honor Him.  Christ came to destroy barriers and dividing walls of hostility.  He came to make peace and to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross.

A Christian should view social and racial barriers by seeing everyone as brothers and sisters.  Social barriers are man-made and not from God.  God does not show favoritism.  You don’t always have to be right.  We are no better than anyone else.  There is hostility all around, but you can’t control the actions of others.  How willing are you to do your part?  Are you willing to repent of your resentments and forgive?  All Christians have the same unlimited access to God.  We are all one in Christ Jesus.  When the church lives like the world, it does little for the world. 

How does your attitude toward church need to change?

The mystery that God revealed to Paul is in Eph. 3:6.  Through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel and members together of one body and share together in the promise of Christ Jesus.   God’s purpose for humanity is to bring unity in heaven and on earth under one head, Jesus.  We are encouraged that God is in control and we don’t have to fix anything.  He can handle anything. 

God intends the church to make known the purpose and power of salvation in Christ to the world.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – New Life in God’s Power

Paul’s prayer is one we should all pray.  The word “Father” in the Bible means acceptance.  Grace through faith comes and dwells in a Christian’s heart.  His Spirit is at home.  When you hear the word “rooted”, you think of plants.  When they have deep roots, they have resilience and better growth.  To be powerful in Christian life, you must have power in the roots.  He wants to fill us with all His attributes.

Are you “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”?  A person who is filled to the measure of all the fullness of God always wants to please Him, always seeks His will for their lives, puts others first, and exhibits the traits of the gifts of the spirit.  It is a process and we should constantly move toward the full completeness that God intends.

In faith believers access God’s immeasurable knowledge and power through His Spirit.

Believers never need to live without love and suffer without strength.  How open is your heart to His Spirit?  God’s love is immeasurable.  So live it!

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