Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ephesians 2 Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes- 8/31/2014

         We are making our way slowly through Ephesians without any apology. There is so much here that although we are going slowly, it feels like we are going much too quickly.
         I often feel this way as I drive through parts of Virginia, especially when it involves going up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is always a nice path where you can cruise right on up and over the mountain. On the way up and the way down, there are beautiful vistas. At times, you get a glimpse as you zoom past an viewing site. But it seems that we are almost always in a hurry to get somewhere and almost never stop and really look. Even the times that we do stop and look, it is always just a minute or two and off you go. Pile up and move em’ out!
         I feel this way in Ephesians. There is so much here to see and know and yet we do have to keep moving. Maybe we won’t stop but let’s be content with slowing down.
         What is our destination anyway? To know God and to make Him known. So, it is worth it sometimes to simply sit at His feet and get to know Him before we get on to making Him known. This way of thinking fits perfectly well with the way Ephesians is laid out for us. Some slow driving time getting to know God and then some slow training time in learning to obey Him. To know God and to make Him known, go slow.
1.   Able to sin, able to not sin.
2.   Unable not to sin.
3.   Able to not sin.
4. Unable to Sin- The Resurrected state. We will be perfected and protected from falling into sin.

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Your times past- This spirit still alive in the sons of disobedience. But we should not be drawn to it as in times past because we are ‘in Christ.’
The world- course of this world
The flesh- lusts of the flesh
The devil- prince of the power of the air

Lusts- desire for the forbidden. This is part of the transformation of the Christian mind to change us from desiring that which is forbidden to desiring that which is given.
By nature- ordinary generation, born into sin and God’s wrath.
Wrath- can mean desire. The context seems to encourage the thought that we were born into lustful desires. That is we were born wanting what is prohibited and thus an object of God’s wrath, like Adam.

Prince of the power of the air- the devil. He now works in the children of disobedience. But he does not govern the lives of the faithful. This letter is to make it clear to us that the principalities, that is the prince of the power of the air and his cohorts, have been overthrown.
Among Whom- the children of disobedience. We are no longer among them but have been transferred unto the children of God.

Eph. 2:4   But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 

A proper view of God, the Father, for saints.
God, the Father
1. Rich in mercy. He has loads and loads of mercy. If we were counting all of His treasures, a great heap would be mercy.
2. God loved us with a great love. God loves us because God is love. The Father’s great love. The Reformed tradition should understand this as well as we do His Holiness and hatred towards sin.
He hates sin because sin brings death. Death is the enemy of God’s people and is the reason that God sent His Son to deliver us from darkness to light, death to life.
3. His love was towards us even when we were dead in sins. This makes perfect sense. He is the life giver. He saw us dead in sins, loved us, showered us with mercy and love and made us alive together with Christ.

Hath quickened us together with- suzwopoie÷w suzoopoieo, sood-zo-op-oy-eh´-o- The idea here is that God made us alive in and with Christ. This was done by grace. This refers back to Christ being raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father. God made us alive with Jesus.
         By grace ye are saved- God did it. He quickened us together in Christ. He saved us
from sin, from death, from the realm of the prince of the power of the air, from the life among the disobedient
         to righteousness, to life, to the realm of the kingdom of God, to the kingdom and submission of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the life of the saints in Christ’s Church.

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 
He has not only quickened us together with Jesus, he has connected us in such a way that what happens to Jesus happens to us. Where the living saint is, there is Jesus. Wherever Jesus is, the living saint is with Him, for the two have been made alive together.
We have discussed this verse in some detail concerning the fact that Jesus is raised and seated. This means that He is alive and it also means that Jesus is in the seat of authority. He is seated as a King over all the Heavens and over all the Earth. This has far reaching implications. There is no place in Heaven or on Earth where Jesus Christ does not lay claim to absolute ownership and full authority.
Jesus could immediately demand all His enemies be executed or submit to Him. If it were not foreign to His character, He has the power and the authority to act like ISIS, now calling themselves the Islamic State. He could be like the Islamic State but He is not like that. This should help us understand how the Church is to act, for we are also seated with Jesus ruling Heaven and Earth.

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 
Exceeding- huper ballo, throw over the top. Hyperbolic riches of his grace in kindness. God went over the top on this one.
So His over the top kind. This reveals his extraordinary grace. This is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Keep in mind those things I said last week. God is extraordinarily kind to us in Christ Jesus. The depths of His grace and kindness cannot be plumbed. We cannot even imagine how far His kindness and grace go. We can have some idea. Monsters like the Apostle Paul can be saved from sin and death.
But even amidst God’s extraordinary kindness, there is still judgment for sin. He gives us the way out in Jesus but like Lot’s wife, we are not to turn back, like a dog to its own vomit, but rather to press on to our high calling in Christ Jesus. Were sin abounds, grace doth much more abound. But there is a reality of apostacy. Keep looking to Jesus and be filled with the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
But let us now look to God’s grace and respond in thankfulness. Our blessings are overflowing. Do we see that and respond in thanksgiving?

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 
How are we saved? By grace through faith. The main point here is that we are saved by grace. Our faith does not save us. This is an important point. If we think our faith saves us, then we might wonder how much faith we need to be saved?
Synechdoce- A part for the whole. Faith saves you is a great example of synechdoce.
Christ saves us through the grace of God. This grace is apprehended by us when we believe God, that is, when we have faith.
But we cannot even claim to be doing anything when we have faith. Sure, we do something, we believe. That belief is active. But we are not giving God anything but ourselves. And the saving value of ourselves is zero.
And our faith is simply taking God at His Word that we need a savior, that we fall short, that we have nothing to give God, that we are dead in our sins.
Not of Yourselves- The phrase, and that not of yourselves, is not totally clear in what it belongs to. The three words preceding it are all feminine in the Greek but the amplifier is neuter. It could amplify the entire phrase by grace are ye saved through faith, meaning that none of this is your own, it is all given. Or it could refer to grace, or salvation, or faith. But in the end it is all one and the same. This grace, this salvation, this faith is all gift. It did not derive from your dead heart. That would be impossible. God gave you life. God gave you the desire to seek Him. God gave you the ability to believe. So, it is all gift.

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 
We did not work our way up to this belief, this salvation, this grace. If we were smarter than other people, we might have something to boast of. If we were more holy than other people, we might have something to boast of. No, we are just as lost outside of Christ, as everyone else. We are no smarter. We are no more holy. We are not prone to right decisions or wisdom. Our wisdom is in Christ. Thus, there is no room for boasting.
Incidentally, this is true of all the subsequent blessings that have come to us in Christ. These include some of what we call the distinctives of our church or denomination. Things like big families, Christian education, Covenant Renewal Worship, raising and disciplining children, a Covenantal view of Scripture. These are all areas where we tend to boast or look sidelong at our neighbor. But these are gifts to us, not reasons for boasting. So, act like they are a gift. Be thankful and do not boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
It is not we who worked this all out. God worked it out. He worked us. Get his point here? If we worked, we could boast. But we did not work. God worked. Now, God is not a braggart. He is not saying that God is the one who gets to boast. But we should look at the One doing the work and marvel and give thanks.
What kind of work did God do? He called us to Himself gracefully and then changed the direction of our lives towards Him. This means that we have a new orientation away from self and towards our Savior. Thus, we now work, not a work to earn God’s favor but a work of thankfulness for the One who did all the hard work. Thus, he worked, got everything all set up and then we just walk in and marvel at it all and work in the midst of His work. Okimoto labs.
This is not a cooperation in salvation. This is simply working out of us what God has worked into us.


Verse 12, having no hope and without God in the world.
         No hope but in Christ. Not in my family, my upbringing, my testimony, my prayer card, my baptism, my catechism. No, there is no hope without Christ. And Christ is a gift to us who believe. There is no reason for boasting of any kind, only thanksgiving.

         You were dead but you are now alive.
         You used to live after the flesh but now you live after the Spirit.
         You were without God but now God is in you.
         You were without hope but now you have assurance in Jesus Christ.
         You were far away from God but now have been brought near.

Eph. 2:11   Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:  13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Exhortation- It has been said that one of the jobs of the preacher is to move people from this place to that one. Through good preaching, a man should feel compelled to do something, to change, to repent, to make some new commitment.
But this passage helps us realize that there is almost nothing that we can do. It is clear from this passage that it is almost completely about what God has done.
Of course, God calls us to a new way of living in Jesus. A man who was dead but is now alive has to breathe. But the life is from Jesus, the breath is from Jesus. It is all God’s work from first to last.

So, what is our response? What should this cause us to do? The only thing I can think of that is eminently appropriate is gratitude. God truly is awesome and when we consider all that He has done in us through Jesus Christ, we simply gape in awe stuck wonder. And then we wake up and are filled up with gratitude. No place for pride in gratitude. Just humble reflection on God’s glory.

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