As I dive deeper into the Ephesians I want us to unlock the key element in the eternal glory of our salvation. In Ephesians two we see that salvation is a gift of grace. Does this mean that free will is not involved?I would definitely say that free will is involved but do not be quick to assume that you can freely choose your sanctification without the Sovereign will of God. Repentance is the “response” to the gift, not the offer. And yes, repentance itself is a gift.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (v1-3)
The difference between a person who is in Christ should look remarkably different from a person who is still dead in their trespasses. I heard David Platt put it well when he compared the difference of a person who is transformed in Christ to a person who is not with a man who is late for a speech and runs up to the pulpit to apologize for his lateness. He claims that he was late because while pulling his car over onto the side of the interstate highway to change his tire that had just gone flat, he got hit by a semi truck going seventy-five miles per hour square on and run over. It took him a moment to catch his breath, get up, fix his tire, and finish the trip. Platt finishes the story by saying that most people hearing this man would probably suspect that he was lying because most people getting hit center on by a giant truck would either not be there, or would look remarkably different that they did before.
In the same way, as new creations in Christ, putting off the old self and embracing our new self: Christ, we should look quite a bit different.
As Satan, the prince of the power of the air, controls this dying world, while God, through Christ and His Spirit, has authority and control over the air. He is sovereign over everything that our enemy schemes and plots with his kingdom. This explains why the demons shudder. Because they never know when God is going to show up and undermine, or as I say: over-mine their work at any given moment.
“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 Jesus Christ.” (v4-6)
I remember growing up at times hearing that Christ’s love for me was great enough to blot out all sin, but never really believing that if He really understood the depths of my grief that He could never accept me. But the Bible is clear that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) We were dead in our sins, even blinded to its severity, when at the same time, Christ was pursuing us. He was literally setting out on a journey to capture your soul. He is the Good Shepherd and He left ninety-nine sheep just to find you, pick you up and carry you away to set your feet upon the narrow road that He had prepared for you and His beloved saints before the foundations of the universe. Christ has always had His sights on the soul of the believer. This makes our salvation, by grace, a love story consisting of a proposal, and a response.
“For by grace you have been saved through grace by faith. And it is not your own doing: it is the gift of God. Not 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, that we should walk in them.” (v8-10)
Just as a love relationship takes two, so does a personal relationship with Jesus. It takes His offer of grace and your response of repentance and faith. Because repentance is so painful it must take faith to willfully allow the Lord who promises so much, to turn us 180 degrees around in an opposite direction from which we were headed. It takes faith to abandon everything that you possibly have going for you and to risk it all for the treasure of heaven. It takes faith to bet your entire life and your eternity on the works of someone other than yourself. This is God’s marriage proposal to you on a Cross, and along with your faithful response of repentance we have something extraordinary: an eternal and everlasting relationship!
“But now, in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself, one new man, in place of two, so making peace. And He might reconcile us both to God in one body through the Cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (v15-16)
Christ is the Prince of Peace. We were once sinners who were hated by God in our defiance of Him and our embracing of ourselves as our own gods. We were His enemies and Satan was leading us day by day closer and closer to the gates of hell. But because our God is a God of love, patience, peace, and mercy, His grace was shown in an act of satisfying His hostility towards us upon His own Son instead of us. This is extraordinary! No god and no person in myth or in history could, would, or has ever done this for someone! Especially a lost and wayward enemy! Praise God!
“For through Him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (v18-19)
This means that we are family members with our Father! What was lost in the garden of Eden between God and Adam is now restored through the second Adam: Christ! The first was born, and devoured by death. The second was born, and devoured death! We who are in Christ are of the second Adam and have access to the Holy Spirit who communicates with us and is our connection with the Father through Christ!
“In Him, you also, are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (v22)
While on earth, we are nowhere near done! We are still being perfected. We are still sinning at times. We are still in a fallen world. We cannot reflect Christ in a dying world, but Christ can transform us into reflecting Him in this dying world. We are given a commission to make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:16-20)
We do not complete this on our own, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ through Christ, our head.
But in this life, we have a job to do, a reward to look forward to, trials to endure, and a race to finish!