Summary: Unity in the church
May 2, 2010
This morning we’re continuing through the book of Ephesians.
In the first chapter we read about the supernal blessings of the believer: we stand blameless before God, we’ve been adopted into His family as sons, we’re recipients of God’s freely bestowed grace, our sins have been washed and we’ve been forgiven, we’ve received the revelation of God’s will, we’ve received an imperishable and inalterable inheritance, and we’ve been sealed with the Spirit as a promise guaranteeing our inheritance.
We finished chapter one with Paul’s prayer that the church would be made aware of “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” which is the same power used to raise Christ from the dead!
Last week we started chapter two and we saw how we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and powerless over sin and Satan.
Then, as a deliberate contrast, we saw how Christ had been raised and set up above every authority. Where we were dead, He is alive! Where we were powerless, He is over every authority!
Then we came to those two great words: “but God!”
We were dead but God, motivated by love and mercy, saved us by grace for His own glory. This resulted in our eternal life and our being raised up with Christ…another deliberate contrast to the old way of life.
He ends the chapter saying that we have been saved for God’s glory through the demonstration of His grace and through the works He has prepared for us to do.
Now we come to the second half of chapter two with the word “therefore.”
“You were dead, but God raised you with the power He used in Christ for good works which will demonstrate His glory…therefore.”
11Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- 12remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
First, note that Paul is talking to the “Gentiles in the flesh.” These are Gentile believers who are now saved, but considered infidels by the self-righteous, unbelieving Jews.
Paul commands them to remember their previous state of hopelessness.
Your past is cast as far as the east is from the west as far as God is legally concerned, but He doesn’t want you to ever get over being saved. Remember what you were before God saved you!
Remember that you were separate from Christ.
Look at how the phrase “in Him” or “in Christ” is used in Ephesians:
(1:3) Our blessings are in Christ
(1:4) He chose us in Him
(1:6) His grace was bestowed on us in the Beloved
(1:7) In Him we have redemption
(1:11) In Him we have obtained an inheritance
(1:13) In Him we believed for salvation
(1:13) We were sealed in Him
(2:6) We are raised up in the heavenly places in Christ
(2:7) His grace is shown to us in Christ
(2:10) We were created for good works in Christ Jesus
(2:13) We were far off, but we’re brought near in Christ Jesus
(2:21) We are a holy temple being built in the Lord
(2:22) We are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit
The concept of being in Christ is emphasized in Ephesians because apart from Him there is no Christianity. A man can’t practice faith from within himself even after salvation. Everything we do and every blessing we enjoy is only because our lives are within Him.
But for some reason this simple truth seems difficult to understand. I think there’s a tendency to see it through some new-age mystical perspective, and that makes it seem unattainable. It’s like the scene in The Matrix when the little boy is bending spoons with only his mind.
He says, “Do not try and bend the spoon; that is impossible. Instead only try and realize the truth—there is no spoon!”
That’s how some Christians approach this concept of what it means to be in Christ. But look at how simply Scripture states it:
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Being in Christ is an immutable truth for the believer which is experienced at present; we don’t have to realize that “there is no spoon;” we only have to seek Christ and let Him live through us.