Monday, June 3, 2013

A Study in Ephesians: Pt. 11, Ephesians 2:1-3

So far, we see Paul's thought flow in chapter 1 as follows:
  1. The Father has a plan for praising His glory and grace. This plan was the salvation of those who believe in His Son. According to this plan, the Father chose, the Son redeemed, and the Spirit sealed*. In all of this, His Son, Jesus Christ, is central to His plan. (verses 3-14)
  2. In saving the Ephesians, God once again glorified Himself, for which Paul gives thanks. He also tells them that he continually prays that the Father will give the Ephesians wisdom and understanding regarding how their salvation and continued love for others brings glory to God. (verses 15-18)
  3. Paul continues to express that this wisdom and revelation will come by the power of the Father, which the Father demonstrated by raising Christ from the dead, seating Christ at His right hand, placing Christ over all things for all time, and appointing Christ as head over the Church. (verses 19-23)
In short, God has a plan to glorify Himself, He is powerful enough to accomplish it, and He wants us to understand how we are part of that plan. Up until this point, Paul's focus on highlighting the glory of God has been from the Father's point of view. We are to glorify God because He is worthy of His glory. But in verse 1 of chapter 2, Paul switches gears: Not only is God awesome, we were once awful. Paul turns his attention to highlighting what should already be apparent, namely that there is an infinite gulf between God's glory and our sinfulness.

Paul underscores three aspects of our sinfulness in these three verses:
  • We were once dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1)
  • We once lived only to gratify our sinful desires, just as the world does (Eph 2:2-3a)
  • Because of this, we were once by nature subject to the wrath of God (Eph 2:3b)
This is leading in to Paul continuing to praise the gloriousness of God's grace and perhaps one of the most foundational statements in all of Scripture regarding the nature of our salvation (Eph 2:8-9). I will be discussing these verses next time, but for now I want to dwell here.

As I have preached and, I'm sure numerous others have said, understanding what we have been saved from is paramount to fully embracing what we have been called to. The life to which we have been called is not an easy one. It is not comfortable, and it is not safe. 

Philippians 1:29 For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him
John 15:20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.

Is that something any of us would just voluntarily sign up for, suffering and persecution? Without understanding what Paul asserts in these three verses, we will shy away from the fullness of the calling God has placed on our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

You were once completely, utterly, totally dead in your sins and wholly unable to save yourself (Romans 8:7-8).  In that state of total death, you lived only to satisfy your own sinful desires (Ephesians 4:17-19). By very nature of who you were, you were subject to the eternal wrath of God, eternal  punishment in hell (Ephesians 2:3, Matthew 25:32,46)

Can anything this world throws at us compare to what once awaited us? Embrace what you are called to, and stand in awe of what you were saved from.