Insights From Ephesians Part Four

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All of us tend to exaggerate our loveableness. First, we exaggerate our personal loveableness by asking what each of us considers a rhetorical question: “Why shouldn’t anyone love a person like me?” We tend to think “everyone should love a person like me!” If I love me, why shouldn’t you love me?

Second, we exaggerate our personal loveableness by citing all our good qualities: “I am this, and I am that; I do this, and I do that; this person is blessed by me, and that person is blessed by me.”  Most of us tend to have a very good opinion of ourselves! If I convince you to look at only my good qualities, deeds, and characteristics, I can make you see a pretty good person.

Third, we exaggerate our personal loveableness by citing all the good things we do. “Look at all the good organizations I am a member of! Look at all the good things I do in those organizations! Look what I did for him! Look at the ways I helped her! Look at what I did for that family! Look at how much I give and what I give to!”

By doing those things, I can control the way you see me and all my goodness. Inevitably (if I succeed in determining the way you look at me), when someone else is in conflict with me, you say, “I do not see how anyone could have problems with (him or her). (He or she) is such a nice person and does so much good to so many!”

Do something (honestly with yourself) that likely will make all of us feel very uncomfortable. Honestly list all your worst characteristics (in your mind). Honestly admit to yourself all your weaknesses. Honestly confess to yourself all your flaws. Honestly admit how many times your wife or husband, your children, and your friends had to forgive you last month. Honestly admit to yourself your biggest goofs. Honestly admit to yourself what others would see if they saw you at your worst.

After doing all those things, ask yourself why should anyone love you?

Listen or read with me Ephesians 2:1-10: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 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 the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward 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, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

  1. Paul declared a deadly war raged (which has raged for a long time) and described those who were victims of that war.
    1. Fifty per cent of the war is waged by what Paul referred to here as “the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.”
      1. Paul also referred to this force in Ephesians 6:12 in this statement: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
      2. Jesus said in John 12:31-32, Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
      3. Most of us would refer to this war as the war between good and evil.
    2. Paul said there were two casualties in this war.
      1. We need to understand that many casualties did not consider themselves casualties.
      2. The first casualty was the person who was dead (spiritually) in his trespasses and sins, in context the non-Jewish person that Jews called gentiles.
      3. The second casualty (in which Paul included himself) was the person who lived in lust and indulgence, in this context the Jewish person.
      4. All the Christians to whom Paul wrote were in one situation or the other–they all needed God’s intervention when they were victims of the war between God and Satan.
    3. God rescued all of them.
      1. Their salvation (their deliverance from an impossible situation) occurred because God acted.
      2. God acted for two reasons:
        1. God by character is a merciful God.
        2. This merciful God loved them with a great love.
      3. How did God do this?
        1. God made them alive with Christ.
        2. In Jesus’ resurrection from physical death, God made it possible for all of them to be resurrected from their spiritual death created by their past errors and rebellion.
        3. By what God did in Jesus’ resurrection, in Jesus Christ sitting at God’s right hand, they sit with Jesus–Jesus Christ perfectly represents those who accepted salvation.
        4. And God through Christ will yet do something even more incredible for these people!
    4. The emphasis must be (as it should be) on the fact that all of this occurred because God took the initiative in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
      1. Salvation happened because of the goodness (grace) of God!
      2. Salvation did not occur because anyone obligated God, or deserved God’s kindness, or created an indebtedness that God was forced to respond to.
      3. Our salvation exists because God acted first in love for people–all we can do in any age is to respond to God’s kindness in love for Him.
  2. I ask you to take particular note of some statements in Ephesians 2:10.
    1. First, note Christians are God’s workmanship.
      1. The people of the first-century lived in a day when things were made by the “know-how” and the “patient” hand of a craftsman.
        1. There was no manufacturing, or mass production, or power tools and machines.
        2. The craftsman:
          1. Had to have the “eye” that “saw the possibilities and potential.”
          2. The craftsman had to take what was and transform it into what could be.
      2. God had the “know-how” and “patient hand” to craft us into something that did not exist.
        1. Christians are not mass produced–each person is unique with his/her gifts and abilities.
        2. Christians are individually crafted by God in Jesus Christ.
          1. God has the ability to see in each of us our possibilities and potential in spite of our failures, flaws, indulgence, and rebellion.
          2. God has the power in Jesus Christ to transform each individual into what he or she has the potential to become (no matter what I am, God has the ability to transform me!)
    2. Note that God, the Craftsman, has created Christians for good works.
      1. We exist physically and spiritually because of acts of God.
      2. By God’s intent, we who are in “Christ” exist to do good (as defined by God).
        1. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16?
          Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
        2. The focus of doing good is people, people in and influenced by an evil world.
        3. The objective of doing good is the glorification of God in this evil world.
      3. Obedience to God in fulfilling our created purpose in doing good works is not an after-thought of God.
        1. Before Jesus came, God’s intention was that those who accepted the resurrected Jesus as the Christ would do good works.
        2. The lifestyle and focus of life of these people would be on doing good works.
        3. They would be obedient to God in doing good (which involved a change of life focus) because they appreciated what God did for them in Jesus Christ.
      4. The objective of people in Christ doing good works was not to attempt to obligate God to themselves through human deeds.
        1. Those in Christ understand they are saved by God’s grace (goodness) given to them as a gift (an inheritance), not because God in any sense is obligated to them.
        2. Those in Christ are merely showing their appreciation for God’s grace.
        3. These people are merely fulfilling the purpose of the Craftsman who created them in Jesus Christ.
        4. They dedicate themselves to doing good works in order to do what God intended them to do.

The object of Christian obedience is not and never has been earning anything. The idea that humans can place God in any form of obligation through any human act fails to deal with the reality of divine nature.

God is God–He can do what He chooses to do. God does not have to consult with us or depend on us in any divine act He chooses to take. God does not need us. We need God. A basic distinction between an idol and the living God is the independence of the living God. An idol has to depend on a human act for everything–it can do nothing independently. However, the living God is independent–He cares for Himself. We depend on Him for existence–He does not depend on us. That is Paul’s point in Athens to idol worshippers in Acts 17:24, 25 and 28, 29.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, “For we also are His children.” Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

Christians obey God to express appreciation for what God has done and continues to do for them in Christ. Christian obedience says, “Thank you,” to God. It is an expression of faith for those in Christ. It is not some form of hell insurance. If obedience is viewed as a means to obligate God, it is horribly misguided. Nor is obedience a way of getting God to act favorably toward us without our having to place trust in God.

Before we ever loved God, God loved us (Romans 5:8). There are two ways we show God our love for Him in what He did. First is by accepting Jesus as the Christ. Second is by obeying God as His children.

How do you express your love and appreciation for God in all He has done and does for you?

David Chadwell

Author: Greg

Welcome to Gods Message on the web. My name is Greg and I want to welcome you. I started doing these Podcasts, MP3, and Audio Books back in 2007. Stay awhile and make yourself at home. The Christian Podcasts here are free and for everyone to enjoy. I’m doing a complete series on David Chadwell who is a retired minister from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve also done an Audio Book for Wayne Jacobsen’s the Naked Church. Plus a series of MP3s for Pastor Billy Crone and his The Final Countdown series.

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