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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, February 23, 2018

Ephesians (2:7-10) (Lesson 06)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (2:7-10)                                                               (Lesson 06)

Greetings and welcome to HBS.

Last week we started working our way through the first ten verses of Ephesians 2.  I mention again these ten verses contain three segments.  Verses 1-3 focus on fallen man and his hopeless condition – he is dead, not ill, not gravely wounded, He is spiritually dead, i.e. unresponsive to the spiritual things of God.  Verses 4-6 focus on the Sovereign God’s mercy, love, and grace in making all Believers alive to God.  We were dead, but God gave us spiritual life in Christ Jesus as a Sovereign act of His will.  Verses 7-10 focus on the purpose of our salvation; it is to the praise and glory of God.

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Please open your Bible at Ephesians chapter 2, and we’ll read 2:7-10 together.

Ephesians 2

…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

Beginning with 2:7a Paul writes:  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus –we Believers benefit from receiving God’s mercy and grace through faith without question.  But here our Apostle Paul explains the reasons why God kindly provided lost humanity the opportunity to be reconciled to Him through faith (alone). 

1:  It is so the riches of His amazing grace would be shown (evidenced) in the conversion of people who were once lost but now found in the ages to come (Psalm 106:48; 1 Timothy 1:16-17).  Said differently, every true Believer is authorized by God to state in the ages to come that He who saved these sinners at Ephesus is ready to save all who like them believe the gospel unto salvation.  The blessings of God’s grace come to us Believers because we are united with Jesus Christ in His death and His resurrection:

For if we (who have trusted in the gospel of Jesus Christ) have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… (Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

This truth is also reflected in verses 6-7 where Paul explained Believers were:  made alive together with Christ (v5), raised us up with Him (v6), and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (6).  The three verbs, “made alive,” “raised up,” and “seated” were all prefixed with the denotation “with,” highlighting how God did to us what He previously did to Christ Jesus.  Here Paul emphasizes the divine and secure link between Jesus Christ and true Believers.  God cannot reject us without rejecting His own Son.  It’s that kind of relationship; we are family.

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.  He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:35-36). 

2:  Believers praise God because of His mercy and grace in our salvation.  True Believers stand in the flow of God’s unending mercy and grace. 

What does this mean?  Admittedly, I value organization and exactness.  But even though I try there are no “sin-less” days in my life.  I win some spiritual battles with my flesh but I lose far too many.  This annoys me because I’m actually trying to know and respond to the will of God who desires that I be Christlike in everything I do and say (Galatians 2:20; Ephesian 4:22-23; Philippians 2:1-30).  I’m not there yet.  It’s good to know this book says God doesn’t expect me to be perfect (Matthew 5:48).   Perfect in Koine Greek is translated “Teleios” and it means:  something that has come to an end.”  It frequently refers to a body that is fully grown, reached its full potential, or matured. 

Our Apostle Paul speaks our language, so to speak, as he writes:  For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want (Romans 7:15-19).

God knows we’re going to sin and He has made provision for us for that through Jesus Christ’s work of the Cross (1 John 2:1).  We are justified through faith (Romans 3:24).  God has forgiven all our sin (Colossians 2:13).  This brings me to my point; when I reflect on God’s gift of grace and mercy which was given to me, knowing even on my best day I’m going to “fumble the ball” at some point in time, it leaves me speechless. 

In view of the fact we were dead, without hope in this world, and all things have been given to Jesus Christ by God the Father, the question arises, “What can we give God,” since all we are and all we have is due to these two words But God? 

In response to receiving the priceless gift of salvation, Paul said we are to give praise and glory to God along with thanksgiving and praise.
 
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). 

This book says all good things come from God (Psalm 127; James 1:17).  Therefore we give thanks for everything the Lord has done and provided for us.  We are not to count our circumstances; we’re to count our blessings, i.e. all that flows from God’s mercy and grace (Psalm 27:13). 

Praise like thanksgiving comes from the heart but it is different; it’s more meaningful than thanking Him.  I need to mention this book says all of creation is commanded to give praise to God (Psalm 148:1-10).  When we praise God for all He is and what He’s done for us we experience more productive lives and our frustration is neutralized.  We actually find more people praising the sunset rather than the Creator of the sun.  The difficulties of life often cloud our vision and keep us from praising God.  However, Praise chases away gloom and despair (Isaiah 61:3). 

Great is the LORD (Jehovah; a.k.a. Jesus Christ in the N.T.), and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3).

No matter our circumstances Jesus Christ is worthy of our praise 24/7/365.  The point being, things are from God, through God, and to God – the glory is all His (Romans 11:33-36).

Verse 8 -9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

As I pointed out above, all things are from God, through God, and to God; to Him go thanksgiving, praise and glory.  Salvation is by grace through faith, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Why?  God alone receives the glory.  

To get a handle on these verses you must understand what Paul meant by the words:  saved; grace; faith; gift (as opposed to works); and boast. 

1:  A lot of people don’t care for the biblical word saved.  Explaining they need salvation is an affront to them because according to their reckoning they’ve done nothing wrong.  Most people play the comparison game.  They consider themselves a better person than so-and-so.  But to be saved means the Lord Jesus Christ has rescued us from God’s wrath and judgment. 

The main message of the Bible is declared in line one; right at the dawn of human history.  After God made all things and said, “It is very good,” everything went bad because the serpent entered God’s perfect garden, consequently, evil entered the world through the man’s sin.  In order for everything to be made right again, God designed a plan to rescue humanity and the broken world from sin’s corruptions.  The LORD told Satan: 

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

These symbolic words, sometimes called the “First Gospel,” are God’s inaugural announcement of the solution He will provide for humanity’s sinful predicament.  The only part man has to play in this is believe what God said or exercise their faith.  The LORD’s words also establish the theme for the rest of Scripture.  From this point forward, the great battle unfolds between the offspring of Satan (his evil forces) and the offspring of the woman (God’s appointed Redeemer), and the outcome of the conflict is certain declared the LORD:

Satan will wound the Redeemer (“bruise his heel”), but the Redeemer will deal Satan a mortal blow (“He shall bruise your head.”)

Simply put, God will graciously provide a divine deliverance from the human dilemma.

A lot of people in and outside the church don’t want to hear about God’s wrath either.  But here’s the thing, Paul pointed out in Ephesians 2:1-3 we were all formerly dead in our trespasses and sins.  This means we were “by nature children of (God’s) wrath.” 

As I said, God’s wrath isn’t a popular topic.  You seldom hear anyone speak of it anymore in the churches.  Why?  It makes the people sitting in the pews uneasy.

But if you reject the wrath of God as truth you might just as well reject the rest of God’s Word.  God judges and punishes evil.  Scripture reveals God’s wrath is real and this world will experience it.  The climax of His righteous wrath will be revealed to all ungodliness in the last 7 years of human history (See the Book of Revelation).  But this isn’t the end, God’s wrath culminates in the final, eternal judgment of the Lake of Fire; the second death for every unbeliever (Revelation 2:11). 

Far too many people emphasize God’s love in their sermons and ignore or deny the wrath of God.  During an interview on “60 Minutes,” Joel Osteen, the pastor of America’s largest church and author of many books, including the best seller, “Your Best Life Now” [Warner Faith] was interviewed by T.V. host Byron Pitts.  Mr. Pitts was surprised at the absence of any mention of God or Jesus Christ in the main points of Osteen’s latest book, “To Become a Better You.” 

Mr. Osteen’s response to that was, “That’s just my message.  There is scripture there that backs it all up.  But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people… how do we walk out the Christian life?  How do we live it?  And these principles can help you.  I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’  I don’t think that’s my gifting.’”  The question is:  “How can you genuinely help lost people if you don’t point them to the cross of Christ?” 

But here’s the thing Mr. Osteen and so many others fail to report.  If we were not under God’s wrath, Jesus didn’t need to show up in our world at His first Advent and He definitely did not have to die on the Cross, which means you and I don’t need to be saved!

Mr. Osteen preaches there are “many paths to Jesus,” (see interview by Oprah Winfrey) denying what God has said re:  the exclusivity of Christ.  He preaches his prosperity gospel message for a couple of reasons:  people flock to it and he’s making lots of money (2 Timothy 4:3); he’s helping no one but himself.  Paul had to deal with people just like him in the first century church (see Acts 19:13-20).  There were a number of exorcists practicing in Ephesus.  God’s hand was on Paul’s work and some folks wanted to “cash” in on it.  If Paul could accomplish what he did in the name of Jesus Christ, so could they - for a profit (Luke 11:19). 

Our Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders about false apostles in Acts 20:29.  These men distorted God’s truths in order to draw away disciples to themselves.  I continue to warn people today about men who appear to be for God and you, because they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They teach false gospels and deny outright what God has said.  The danger is real.  Do not be deceived (Galatians 6:7-10). 

There’s nothing new under the sun” wrote King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

2:  Salvation by grace (plus nothing else) means we did absolutely nothing to earn or merit our salvation.  Simply defined, grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who are dead (outside of Christ).  If we could earn it, it is no longer grace.  If God gives grace to us because He noticed we were a good person, as compared to so-and-so, then it’s not grace.  God’s grace means you receive the opposite of what you deserve, i.e. God’s wrath.   

When you work your employer is responsible to pay you a wage or salary.  These wages are owed to you.   Paul uses this analogy, which signified the food and pay which Roman generals gave to their soldiers, to explain the unbeliever whose “work” is sin will receive the payment of spiritual death.  But there’s good news in this passage.  Paul provides the answer to their sin problem.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:22-23).

Someone described grace as:  God’s riches at Christ’s expense.  I like this expression because it explains God did not compromise His righteousness or justice in forgiving us.  His justice demands the penalty for sin be paid.  Jesus volunteered to place Himself in the gap between the world and God.  He paid the penalty on the cross for all who trust in the gospel.  In this way God can be the justifier and the one who exercises their faith (Romans 3:26). 

3:  Many people don’t understand saving faith.  There are those folks who confess to believing in God, but they have issues with His Son – the only way to the Father.  This phrase is far too restrictive for them.  It may surprise you to know about 70% of evangelical Christians have fallen for Joel Osteen’s opinion of scripture believing there are many paths to heaven.  Just because people utter words it doesn’t mean they are being truthful.

This book says Jesus Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24).  He is not simply one of an infinite number of ways to God; He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).  This is probably the most exclusive statement ever made by anyone in Scripture.  It is also an offensive remark, according to a great many people in this present age of tolerance who openly declare “You do you and I’ll do me.” 

But the truth remains:  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 

The world “outside of Christ” despises that statement.  However, God’s Word says Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:8-11). Put another way, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Jesus, the great I Am, spoke with supreme authority on the night before His death. This is one of the seven great “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John.  He isthe way, the truth, and the life.  The “way” is the only path to God the Father.  Jesus Christ is the truth incarnate and He is the life to all who believe on Him.

4:  Salvation is God’s free gift.  Paul wrote:  “it is the gift of God, not as a result of works…”  Plainly put, we are saved by grace.  Paul repeats his earlier statement but here he adds, “through faith.” 

The true Believer’s most important tenet is how we receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation from the Lord:  we are saved by grace.  This is where the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak.  The second important tenet is we receive this gift through faith – not by works. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 is plainly written.  The gift of eternal salvation can only be received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and this not by works of any type.  Why?  Because the Bible instructs us every single person has sinned and has fallen short of the glory of God, and there is no one righteous before God, not even one (Romans 3:20-23, 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:11). 

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).

As I’ve said repeatedly, God the Father has made it easy for all of us to receive eternal life with Him.  I don’t mean to say God’s salvation plan is simplistic.  I don’t think we’ll fully understand God’s plan and purpose until we reach our heavenly destination.  There are understanding will be complete.  I mean to say we are simply saved by grace and our responsibility in this is to exercise faith in what has said (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  That’s about as easy as receiving your paycheck on payday!  The only difference in that is you are owed your paycheck.  God owes us nothing.  Our (self) righteousness is like filthy rags, says the prophet Isaiah (64:6); our iniquities have taken us far from God’s favor. 

5:  Our Salvation gives all the glory to God and none to us.  Paul concludes verse 9 by saying, “so that no one may boast” in His presence.  We have nothing to boast about.  And we’d never be able to stand in His presence if not for His grace.

Or, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 after arguing that salvation rests on God’s grace (alone).  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God… LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 

In other words, relativism, ritualism, and legalism are out the door when it comes to being able to receive eternal salvation through Jesus.  You can’t neglect the only way to the Father and hope to make it to God’s heaven.   All that boasting being practiced in the church at Corinth was misdirected.  If any part of salvation, including the faith that saves, comes from us, then we have some grounds for boasting.  “No,” Paul said, if salvation is totally of the Lord, then He gets all the glory.

So, God provides the way to approach Him and He wants all to be saved.  In the Dispensation of Grace it’s through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, Paul informs the Ephesians (and us) their good works are not considered “filthy rags” anymore:  

For we are His workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (2:10).

 The Koine Greek word translated workmanship is Poiema (poy’-ay-mah), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #4161, and it means:  that which has been made; of the works of God as the Creator.  We get our English word “poem” from this word.  This should give you some idea as to why Paul chose this word.  He used this word once before in Romans 1:20:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, He eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

Paul uses five words to present Poiema here as he refers to the “physical creation.”  All we hear, smell, taste, and touch in the universe is akin to reading God’s creative masterpiece, His epic poem. 

The meaning is almost the same in 2:10.  I say almost because the sun, moon, and the stars aren’t complex, living creatures and they can’t recognize their Creator or know Him personally.  Charles Darwin, who was baptized an Anglican, and used to run the mile to school, prayed earnestly to God to help him, attributing His success to these prayers.  Later in life after he quit believing in God he wrote:  it was absurd to propose that the human eye evolved through spontaneous mutation and natural selection… 

I know a few surgeons who were unbelievers at one time, but after medical school, and definitely after operating on numerous patients, conceded only God could have created the human body.  One surgeon told me she willingly performs the necessary surgery on her patients, but understands God heals them.  This phrase was stenciled on a banner over her office desk.

So, as I’m reading this, God, through our Apostle Paul, wants the Ephesians to understand they are His wonderful masterpiece (Poiema) created:  body, soul, and spirit.  They are God’s living poem or symphony: 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature (creation); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now let’s return to 2:10:

…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Your good works will not save you; Paul (speaking for God) doesn’t mince words.  He makes this point clear in several of his letters to the churches:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ; and may be found in Him, not having (what) a righteousness of my own derived from (keeping) the Law, but that which is (here it is) through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:8-9; Romans 1:17, 9:30, 10:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). 

Although deeds play no part in earning their salvation, Paul says they are not unrelated to it.  Paul is saying the Ephesians were created in Christ Jesus (Galatians 6:15) so they could practice good works (Titus 3:5). 

Paul’s saying God doesn’t intend for their salvation to be a passive experience.  They are to walk continuously in the good works God prepared beforehand for each of them.  Let’s not miss the point:  it’s not a suggestion.   God has purposed these good works for them, therefore He expects these Believers to obey.  They (like us) don’t know what these good works are, but it’s clear from this passage they are out there waiting for the Ephesians (and us) to walk in them. 

The other thing worth mentioning is this does not mean doing the work for God; instead, they are performing His works in and through Believers:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves (see another person’s highest good); do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others…
(Philippians 2:3). 
Summing up, this passage begins by explaining those who are dead to sin walk according to the flesh or the world (v2).  Paul ends it by exhorting Believers to walk the road God paved for them, i.e. practicing good works, which God ordained in eternity past.  

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Ephesians (2:1-10) (Lesson 05)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (2:1:10)                                                               (Lesson 05)

Welcome to HBS.

We begin our study of Ephesians 2 today so I’ll pass on a comment from a well-known and respected Bible teacher who once said, “Ephesians 2 is in the same category as Romans 8.”   He meant Believers should consider them “priceless gems.”  You see, Romans 8 is the highlight of Paul’s letter to the Believers in Rome and chapter 2 of Ephesians is the highlight of this entire letter.

I say highlight because you’ll find our Apostle Paul, repeating spiritual truths.  If you’re not opposed to marking or making notations in your Bible have your highlighter handy.  You see when God deems the subject matter important, you’ll find a word, phrase, or topic repeated in the same passage, in the chapter, or elsewhere in Scripture.  And since God is calling our attention to it, we’re not only responsible for knowing what God said we are required to understand why He said it (2 Timothy 2:15). 

God did not save us so we’d have an occasion to dress up on Sundays and look good sitting in our favorite church pew.  We have been commanded to share the word with those who by choice remain in darkness or ignorance. 

Now all these things are of God, the One having reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and having (what) given to us the ministry of reconciliation:  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-19).

God could save everyone outright and skip all the drama and some people actually believe that’s what He’s done.  No one is going to Hell or the Lake of Fire according to these people.  But that belief comes from man; God never made that statement.  Instead, He prefers we choose Him over this world and with our salvation there comes responsibilities.  The ministry of reconciliation is one.  We’re to share the Word with others, especially those who remain outside of Christ Jesus. 

We’re not able to save anyone; salvation is God’s business.  But we are to show the world we’re not dead to God.  “We have been made alive in Christ;” and Christ lives in us (Romans 8:10-20).  We’re to live our lives in such a way as to bring honor and glory to God and we must be ready to explain to others why we choose to live this way.  So, the question is “Do people see a reflection of the world or Jesus Christ in you?”

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Made Alive in Christ

It stands to reason, since true Believers have been “Made Alive in Christ, before our conversion we were all dead to God.  Biblically speaking, there are two types of death.  We will all experience the inevitable 1st death, but this book says death is not end.  Jesus proved this to be true; on the third day the tomb was empty (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). For unbelievers, after the Great White Throne Judgment, there awaits the second death and it’s preventable. 

When a person dies their eternal, invisible soul departs their body.  The example I use from Scripture to show you what this book means to say on this subject is Jesus’ account of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  This isn’t a parable, as some claim, but a description by the Lord of something that really happened after these two men died and their soulless bodies were laid in the ground.  What occurs to them in Paradise and Sheol/Hades in the center of the earth explains what happened to them in their “disembodied state.”  Clearly, they were both conscience, i.e. they are aware of their surroundings for the Rich Man recognized Lazarus across the divide or chasm.  This would have been impossible if Lazarus did not possess a body, not his physical body that lay buried in the earth up above, but his soulish body.  This proves our body is not simply a body.  Our soul in its outward form and appearance mirrors our earthly body; otherwise these two men could not have recognized each other.  In this account the Rich Man could feel, see, speak, think, and thirst.  This proves, besides showing us he was alive in his soulish body.  He possessed all his senses and did not lose his personality. 

Keeping this in line with what God has said, we need to know each person (as complex and individualistic as they are) is made in God’s image.  Like the Triune Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), we too are a trinity having been made body, soul, and spirit.  Some people teach we are only a body with a soul.  They consider the soul and the spirit as one.  But this book mentions all three aspects of our being; not just two, and it says our body and soul are two separate entities: 

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). 

So, this body we occupy is merely a tent (a temporary shelter) housing the real you and me which is our invisible soul and spirit (2 Corinthians 5:1):  

Our carnal flesh (body) has the ability to:  see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. 

Our soul (the psyche) is capable of:  affection, conscience, imagination, memory, and reason. 

Our spirit (Pnuema) went from being spiritual at creation (in a personal relationship with God) to natural.  In short this means we could not relate to God at all.  We were only interested in appeasing our physical appetites or carnal desires (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15:46).  Our spirit is capable of sensing those things related to God:  faith, hope, prayer, reverence, and worship. 

Now you can’t see any of these attributes, but we all know they exist.  Like the Holy Trinity these character traits are invisible just like God who is Spirit (invisible), and yet capable of expressing thought, will, and emotion (another trinity); the very same traits we possess. 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (Ephesians 1:11).

The shortest verse in the Bible is, “Jesus wept.” Upon hearing the news His friend Lazarus had died the Lord mourned him; He expressed emotion (John 11:35). 

The Holy Spirit is identified as a Person by the Apostle John (John 16:13).  The main purpose of the Holy Spirit (our Helper) is to come alongside the Believer to do what Jesus did when He was here working with His disciples.  This means the Holy Spirit has the same attributes as Jesus Christ.  The Spirit is our teacher and our comforter (John 14:26); this would be hard to achieve if the Holy Spirit is some remote force. 

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints (Romans 8:27). 

But the one and the same Spirit works all these things dividing to each one as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Do not grieve (an emotion) the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30; Isaiah 63:10).

After that groundwork, we’re ready to commence our study, so please open your Bible at Ephesians 2. 

In the first ten verses our Apostle Paul presents the past, the present, and the future of the Believer in Christ Jesus:  what they were (v1-3); what they are (v4-6, 8-9); and what they will be (v7-10).  He also gives us six aspects of salvation:  it is from sin (v1-3); by love (v4); unto eternal life (v5); with a purpose (v6-7); through faith (v8-9); unto good works which God prepared beforehand (v10). 

 Ephesians 2

1: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins - Chapter 2’s central theme is about our new life in Christ, so Paul begins by explaining the Ephesians’ former life outside of  Jesus Christ, and to be honest it was discouraging.   I say this because without Christ they were without hope in this world.    I liken this to saving a non-swimmer from drowning.  If a caring individual does not intervene (mediate) by tossing them a life preserver, or diving in to save them, they too are without hope.  The Ephesian, like each one of us, was drowning in their trespasses and sins, until God provided them the gospel of peace (a.k.a. the one and only life preserver today).  These folks took God at His Word and were saved, by faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

You were dead in your trespasses and sins – there’s no clearer statement in the Bible on the sinfulness of man, and its foreseeable result, but this statement is past tense.  The Ephesians are Believers in Christ, meaning their sin is no longer an issue with God. 

The KJV Bible translators added the phrase hath he quickened (made alive) to verse 1.  Skipping ahead just a bit, in Ephesians 1:19, Paul prays for his readers to recognize what God’s power has done for them.  As a part of this opening prayer, verses 1-10 inform them of some of the blessings God’s divine power has accomplished for them and for every Believer who freely chooses to accept His free gift of salvation.
             
Any gift presented to you is yours FOC:  free of charge.  You don’t have to earn a gift.  Now if you opt to pay the gifter, or work to earn it, it is no longer a gift because the gift is owed to you.  The other noteworthy thing is it’s not your gift until you accept it.  In all my years I’ve never seen anyone refuse to open their gift on Christmas morning.  The living room floor is littered with bows and ribbons and torn Christmas wrapping proving everyone who was offered a gift accepted it without hesitation and unconditionally.  Furthermore, they couldn’t wait to see what was in the package!

God’s offer of salvation is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive because it solves man’s sin problem forever; it reconciles them to God, gives them eternal life, and so much more.  Yet millions of people have basically told God, “No, I don’t need your gift,” and this great treasure remains unopened, ignored.  

This begs the question, “Why do people reject God’s free gift of Grace?”  This book says we are all born with a sin nature.  Consequently we enter this world spiritually dead to God.  But here’s the thing, our sin problem is not terminal.  God has published His invitation of salvation and those who choose to accept it by faith are imputed with the righteousness of Christ.  They are “Made alive in Christ” for God desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:3-40).  However this is a personal decision.  Your mother and father can’t choose it for you and God will not force you to accept His gift of grace. 

Verse 2:

2: in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit (apart from God) that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air – put another way, all the people outside of Christ seeking to fulfill the desires of the flesh, are living under the power of this world (Satan’s power).   In the state of spiritual death, the only walking or living a person can do is according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.

the course of this world – the word “course” signifies all the deeds, pursuits, tendencies, thoughts, etc. characterizing this present age.  This world” (Kosmos) means world system which originated with Satan and is opposed to God.  We are not sinners because we break God’s laws; we break God laws because we’re sinners.  Any law or rule inflames our sinful nature.  The desire to trespass it is stronger than the desire to obey it. 

The world’s system consists of those philosophies and values that perpetually influence humanity to think and behave contrary to God’s will or His Word.  I believe it is best characterized by these three elements:  humanism, materialism, and illicit sex. 

Humanism places man above all else, especially God.  
Materialism places a high value in physical things, especially money. 
Immoral or illicit sex dominates our way of life.

Before their conversion the Ephesians used to behave in accordance with these ungodly values.  They once lived in accordance with Satan’s designs and not God’s.  Paul’s not saying every unsaved individual is necessarily indwelt at all times by Satan.  However, since they are unsaved (outside of Christ), either knowingly or unknowingly, they are subject to Satan’s evil influence.  Because they share the devil’s nature of sinfulness and exist in His world they routinely demonstrate their total rebellion against God.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17; Genesis 3:1-7).

Verse 3:

3: Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as (all) the rest.

When Paul said, “we too” he included himself and the smug thinking religious Jew who thought or openly stated, “I’m glad I’m a Jew and not a Gentile.  I’ve never committed a terrible sin.  Paul’s argument is similar to Romans 1-3, where he first indicts the Gentiles because of their sinfulness, but then shows the religious Jews are equally guilty before God:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). 

and were by nature children of wrath, even as (all) the rest - this means because of our sin nature everyone has a “sin problem.”  If you’re outside of Christ, the problem is fatal.  Our flesh seeks to control us.  If we give into its lusts we show we’re by nature children of wrath.  Once you’re saved, the indwelt Holy Spirit will help you conquer the flesh (Romans 7:20-25).  

The soul of man could be compared to the will of man.  The spiritual battle is between the flesh and our spirit over the soul.  Paul writes: 

But I say, (choose to) walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:16-17).

Far too many people believe they are a child of God, when in fact they are not.  They have not received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  They are, then, by nature (God’s enemies and the) children of wrath (John 3:18). 

Verse 4:

4: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

You’ll find Paul using this phrase, “But God” frequently.  In brief, it means God Sovereignly intervened in man’s redemptive history.  These two words also summarize the heart of the gospel of peace.  The term “But now is an explanation of the way things are now.  In other words, if you said, “Because God is rich in mercy and grace” instead of But now, the meaning would be the same. 

In this instance, But God means our salvation hangs entirely on these two words.  If God did not intervene in humanity’s affairs, we would all still be dead in our sin.  

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins – But God! 
We were enslaved to sin – But God! 
We were all trapped by Satan’s schemes – But God! 
We once walked a destructive course – But God! 
We were once children of wrath – But God!

Paul approached this problem the same way in Romans 1:18 – 3:20 by demonstrating the sinfulness of mankind and the need to be righteous, “in right standing,” before God.  Then in Romans 3:21, he revealed God’s redemption in Christ.  Paul always starts with man’s lost and dead condition.  In Titus 3, Paul is telling us what we were like, and then explains what God has done to change our lost state:

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:3-6).  

In other words, But God explains what man cannot achieve only God can!  After the rich, young man walked away from Jesus, He explained to His disciples:  And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:23-24). 

I was wrongly taught “the eye of the needle” was a low gate in the Jerusalem wall.  But here Jesus was talking about a literal sewing needle.  All you have to do is read with understanding the disciple’s response: 

When the disciples heard this, they were astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26).

We were all spiritually dead once, But God! 

being rich in mercy – the Koine Greek word mercy translated is Eleos (el’-eh-os), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #1656.  The word appears frequently in Paul’s writings and elsewhere in Scripture.  The Hebrew word mercy is translated Chesed.  It means:  goodness, kindness, faithfulness.  It expresses the idea of loyal or covenant love.   

Jesus describes what this word means in His parable about the Good Samaritan.  The Lord, after reciting the account simply asked, “Who proved to be a neighbor to the wounded stranger?” 

And he said, “The one who showed (what) mercy toward him.”  Then Jesus said to him, Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37). 

Jesus said the Good Samaritan showed mercy.  His mercy was more than an emotional response to a need (empathy or pity).  The Good Samaritan’s mercy was discernible: 

(The Good Samaritan) came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you’ (Luke 10:34-35).

Like the Good Samaritan in this account God loves us with a sacrificial, selfless, unconditional (Agape) love.  God didn’t just use words to express His great for us.  He gave the world His best gift in Jesus Christ who died for all (Romans 5:8-9).  God shows us mercy is not merely words or emotions.  It is the outward manifestation of compassion.  Our Bible text says God is “rich” in mercy.  The word rich in Koine Greek is Plousios (ploo’-see-os), Adjective, Strong’s Greek #4145, and it means:  abundant.  Our God, therefore, is abundant in mercy.

For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them (Deuteronomy 4:31).

For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all (Romans 11:32). 

because of His great love with which He loved us – God didn’t just love us; He showed us love is a verb. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 
 
In other words, God didn’t choose to save the world because He pitied us.  He was motivated by His great love for us (Romans 8:37-39; 1 John 4:7-10).   

Verse 5:

5: even we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Paul repeats himself here saying, “We were dead.  Some of you may not have heard this expressed before, so in anticipation of questions from the back of the room, figuratively speaking, let’s address the two main questions now: 

1)      Why did God consider the Ephesians “dead?”
2)      What does Paul mean by “dead;” since they’ve been breathing oxygen from birth, i.e. demonstrating signs of life?”

If you’ll turn in your Bible to Romans 5:12, Paul gives us the answer to #1.

Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and (spiritual) death through sin, and so death (did what) spread to all men (and women), because all sinned –

In Genesis 3 we find the man playing the “blame game.”  In response to the LORD’s question, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11-12).  Paul explains the result of the man’s (Adam) transgression:   sin (and death) entered the world. 

The account of man’s (and the woman’s) fall from grace is recorded for us in Genesis 2.
This account is the beginning of humanities end.  It isn’t a tale told to Hebrew children around campfires meant to frighten them into behaving as some people believe.  This biblical truth stands to reason and saving faith (Proverbs 20:12; Matthew 13:16).   

God’s Word mentions both reason and saving faith.   Many Christians think there’s a conflict between reason and faith.  But there’s no conflict.  This book says we have to have a good reason for what we believe, and we are to share that reason with others:

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).

God tells us to reason:  Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool…” (Isaiah 1:18). 

We are also required to exercise our faith.  We are to trust God and not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  This book says “the just will live by (exercise their) faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). 

This book is saying we are to have good reasons for what we believe and we are also to demonstrate faith.  Truth be told without faith we could not have reason.  God gave everyone the ability to reason.  Reason is a means that allows us to draw conclusions from information we receive, and particularly information given to us in His Word. 

Our Apostle Paul reasoned with his brethren using the O.T. Scriptures (Acts 17:17).  By using the Old Testament he showed Jesus Christ was who He said He was to those who needed to hear God’s message.  It’s also a fact without reason none of us would realize we are saved by faith.  We reason because of our trust in God’s Word we are saved.  Thus, we know our names appear in the book of life (Revelation 13:8, 21:27).  So when all is said and done the kind of reasoning God expects us to use is derived from the principles of God’s Word; the only source of Truth in this darkened world.  This is how the Ephesians realized what God said was true.  They were dead to God once, having reasoned it out. 

sin entered into the world, and (spiritual) death through sin - the LORD God created man, placed him in the perfect environment, and gave him dominion over all living things and the earth (Genesis 1:26).  In every dispensation we find God testing mankind to see if they will place their trust in His Word, demonstrating saving faith.  The test in the Dispensation of Innocence was given to the man with these words from the LORD: 

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die (Genesis 2:17). 

Now, the man and the woman did not die right away.  We are to reason he did die spiritually not physically.  Spiritual death is separation from God.  So, the answer to question #2, “What does Paul mean by “dead,” is the Ephesians (and all the unsaved of this world) are spiritually dead.  They aren’t just the “walking wounded,” they are dead to God. 

…and death spread to all men – spiritual death spread to all.  The why is explained in clear language at the end of Romans 5:12 – because all sinned.   Since the man is guilty, we are all guilty.  Adam is the federal head of the human race.  He represents all of us (Romans 5:12-21).  When he disobeyed the LORD’s command, His transgression was added to our account.  Meaning, we are all born dead.  But, as I’ve already said, this problem is not fatal.  God has provided the way for us to be reconciled to Him and that by faith (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Verse 6:

6: and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places - the word raised in Koine Greek is Sunegeiro (soon-eg-i’-ro), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4891, meaning:  to raise up together.  Since God has “made us alive,” this is referring to a spiritual resurrection from our previous position of being dead to God. 

Raised us up…seated us with Him – the tense of this statement indicates these actions are both immediate and a direct result of believing the gospel of peace.  So let’s be clear; not only is the true Believer dead to sin and alive to righteousness through Christ Jesus’ resurrection, but they also share in the Lord’s unsurpassed glory.

Here Paul explains the purpose of our salvation in regard to us and in regard to God.  The most immediate and direct result of our salvation is to be raised up with Him, and then in the future, seated with Him in the heavenly places.  I personally believe we’ll never fully comprehend the meaning of Paul’s words until the moment it happens.  But this verse says what it means and means what it says.  We will be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. 

Paul mentioned this before in Ephesians 1:20-21, but here in 2:6, the wording is different, instead of referring to Christ being raised up and seated on God’s right hand, here Paul’s referring to us Believers.  We’ll follow the path blazed by the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words.

“…YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”  For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him.  But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.  But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings…” (Hebrews 8-10).

In WW II there were a group of men known as the Pathfinders.  These men would parachute into enemy territory before the assault or as in the case of the Normandy Invasion, before an all out attack on enemy soil by the allied forces.  Their mission:  “to light the way,” allowing pilots and other paratroop forces to see exactly where they needed to land safely.  In the midst of darkness and chaos, fear and danger, their light provided a way for others to head in the right direction safely. 

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Great Pathfinder.  The author of our salvation went before us; He is the Firstfruits, i.e. the First of God’s harvest (1 Corinthians 15:23).  The verses from Hebrews explain He is pulling us back to Him in effect saying, “This is what you can become.  Don’t ignore it!” 

Jesus Himself declares:  "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  This emphatic statement from God’s Son reveals there is but one way to approach the Father and that is by faith in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

Our destiny is identified with Christ’s destiny, His sacrificial work.  He was made alive; we are made alive together with Him.  He was raised up; we were raised up together with Him.  He was made to sit at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places; we have been made to sit together with Him in the heavenly places. Why have we been identified with Him?  For this simple reason:  God made Him to be the Head of the Church, the Body of Christ, what He does, He does for those who believe.

(To be continued)

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