Summary: We as believers in Christ, and as the church of the living God, have a story to tell. What does our story say about our relationship with Him?
A thirty-four-year-old German woman named Anna Rosmus recently told the tragic story of what happened in her hometown in Germany during World War II. Speaking at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, she told of growing up in Passau, Germany, years after the war. As a teenager, she wrote a school essay about the postcard beauty of her hometown. The town is located near the Austrian border in Bavaria. The essay won her a national award.
The following year, on a similar school project, Anna decided to write about her hometown during World War II. She wanted to write about the stories she had heard about how bravely her town resisted the Nazis, fought against them, and rejected the political machine of Hitler.
What she discovered shocked her and the world. She found in old newspaper clippings that not only did many people in her town sympathize with the Nazis,
but they actively worked and collaborated with them.
She later found that eight slave labor camps were begun in and around her hometown. The camps were used by the Nazis to work Jewish prisoners to death.
Instead of using gas, the Nazis killed thousands by working and starving them.
Prisoners were forced to dig their own graves.
Then she learned something even more horrible. As American soldiers were entering her town on May 2, 1945, many of the townspeople were pouring gasoline on defenseless Russian Jews, strapping them to railroad tracks, and setting them on fire.
What were the churches doing during this time? Anna Rosmus stated that the swastika was on daily display in the churches in her town. The churches obeyed and supported the Nazi movement because of the biblical teaching that all authority is given from God and must be obeyed (Romans 13:1-2).
By wrapping itself in the German flag, the church lost its prophetic voice and its soul. It failed to read Revelation 13, which exhorts believers to resist governments which become evil and satanic. Civil religion .... the marriage of church and state .... always makes the church a loser.
Because Anna Rosmus found and told this story, she has been treated with contempt in her native land. She has been knocked down in restaurants. She has even received numerous death threats.
Like Anna Rosmus, we have a story to tell. Even churches have a testimony to share. Do we share it?
The testimony of the Ephesian congregation is given in Ephesians 2:1-10.
It is divided into three parts: Past, present, and future.
Let's examine each.
First, the Ephesians had a testimony about...
Paul begins by describing the pre-Christian condition of the people:
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world ..." (2:1-2). "You" is plural, thus referring to the church.
Living under the sentence of death
Before they became Christians, the Ephesians lived under the sentence of death.
Now, don't misunderstand. This was not a death imposed by natural calamity,
such as a devastating flood or a horrible earthquake. It was a self-imposed spiritual death. Paul stated that their trespasses and sins caused their spiritual death.
The word "trespasses" literally means to fall beside. It refers to a lapse or deviation from truth, a departure from God's straight and narrow path.
The word "sins" means to miss the mark or target. Sin means failing to make life what it is capable of becoming under God.
The point is that the Ephesians' condition of death was self-imposed. They willfully and actively made their own sinful choices and determined their own pagan lifestyle. Not Adam's sin, nor their parents' sin, but their own personal sin produced the sentence of death.
Living under the authority of evil
In the lifestyle they chose, they were following the course or age of the world.
Paul adds, that they were following "the prince of the power of the air" (2:2).
This title is one of twelve titles ascribed to the devil in the New Testament.
Either we serve God or we serve Satan. There is no middle ground. We must make a choice. Like us, the Ephesians made a choice ... the wrong one.
Living under the wrath of God
Paul noted that the Ephesians were "by nature children of wrath" (2:3). This does not refer to the biological transmission of sin. Sin is not transmitted through the genes. Sin is an act of the human will. We choose to do the evil and not the good. Granted, we may grow up with certain family prejudices, false values, immoral attitudes, and selfish goals. But the decision to commit and to perpetuate them is a personal choice. And it becomes sin.
Paul declares that this condition is true not only for the Gentiles of that day, but for "all of us" (2:3). We all shared in the human condition prior to our Christian conversion.