Summary: Three things God wants us to do: Put the past behind us. Come alive spiritually in the present. Display His grace in the future.
“Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow”
Ephesians 2:1-10 October 26, 2008
OPEN: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, God’s way are higher than man’s way
The issue is perspective. There is a great deal of difference between seeing life through a horizontal lens and seeing life through a vertical lens. God wants us to get a handle on a vertical perspective.
How do you get this? You won’t get it this view of reality by watching the news –by reading the paper, watching television or just by talking to Joe the Plumber. God’s perspective is different than ours. And it’s important that we get his perspective because it’s going to benefit us. His take on reality in the final analysis is the only that really matters.
This passage follows the discussion we started last week about three things God wants all of His children to realize in their life. He’s prayed that the eyes of our heart would be opened that we might know three things:
* The hope to which he has called you. The steadfast expectation that the God who chose us and adopted us and redeemed us and sealed us will one day finish His work by bringing His Church into complete conformity to Christ and restoring all that was lost after Creation due to sin. Paul is praying: “God don’t let your people get so caught up in the day to day stuff of life that they fail to comprehend your unswerving, unfailing purpose to bring your people and all of history to its final completion in Jesus Christ.”
* The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. “Father, help them to see who they are in your Son. Help them not to seek their identity and purpose in what they can make out of themselves, help them not to spend their lives trying to define their worth in secular terms—how much money or intellect or physical beauty or power they can try to muster or maintain—but help them to see that because of your grace and mercy invested in them and paid for by the blood of your Son—they have a preciousness that makes them your own treasured possession!”
* The incomparable great power for us who believe. This part of the prayer is where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to have pie in the sky—it’s quite another to actually start slicing it. It’s one thing to have hope on Sundays—it’s another thing to see yourself actually moving toward the fulfillment of that hope on Mondays.
- Paul’s great passion when he starts this letter is that you might know who you are.
- Paul’s passion last week was that your eyes would be opened to what is available to you. Paul is praying: “God don’t let your people get so caught up in the day to day stuff of life that they fail to comprehend your provision for them.”
Elisha prays in 2 Kings 6:17 God is giving inside information about enemy movements to Elisha so he can in turn pass the information on to the King of Israel. When the King of Syria finds out about this—he is enraged and sends an army out to pick up and presumably eliminate Elisha and anyone affiliated with him. When Elisha’s servant sees that they are surrounded by a hostile enemy, he panics and says: What are we going to do? To which Elisha responds by asking God to open his servant’s eyes and see what the angelic army that is already there!
It has always been a struggle for God’s people to see and comprehend and apply to their lives in a practical way that which God has already provided for us.
OK, so the question is why does God want us to know these things? I’m so glad you asked! The end of chapter one tells us three things God wants us to know – the beginning of chapter two tells us three things God wants to do.
God Wants to Put The Past Behind Us.
He starts out by redirecting his readers to their past. And he wants them for a moment to remember where they were. He wants them to remember the sin in their life and its consequences. The reason individuals grow cold, the reason why God’s power seems to fade in the church, is that we have forgotten the awfulness of our sin and our need of God’s greater grace. The church is never stronger than her view of sin. You look carefully at the Great Awakening —and you will find that this awakening began with a revival of the doctrine of sin. It had nothing to do with clever evangelistic techniques. It had everything to do with people coming face to face with the awfulness of their sin. When that happens—and not until that happens—we can never appreciate grace. Ill of selling light products. One of the specialty items we sold was this tiny little quartz light bulbs. They are fairly common today but in those days they were an expensive specialty item. They were small and gave off an intense bright white light. Jewelers like these bulbs particularly. I soon learned why. They would place a piece of black velvet on the counter and place a piece of jewelry on top of it. They’d ask the person what they thought of it. “Yeah, that’s nice.” Then they’d flick on the light. The item would shine and sparkle they’d turn it under the light it would glisten and twinkle under the light. It wasn’t long before they were standing in front of the cash register.- The doctrine of sin is the black velvet upon which the diamond of God’s grace glitters. De-emphasize the doctrine of sin and suddenly grace is no longer “amazing.”