It must have been awhile since I’ve read Ephesians because I am really touched by it. In the last two or three years, we have used a chronological bible plan. There are many reasons I like it, but it does have a drawback. Most of the New Testament letters are covered in a single day. That’s way too fast. Ephesians 2 itself could take a week or more to enjoy.
In fact, the first ten verses give us the entire gospel. Verses 1-3 explain our problem. Then comes the wonderful, “But God,….” Oh, how beautiful are those six letters! “But God!”
And you were dead in the 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. Ephesians 2:1-3
This pretty much sums it up for this guy. Furthermore, if I need any more convincing, Romans 3 says the same thing. It’s not just me; it’s everybody. While I liked to compare myself to others, my problem consumed me. Comparing myself to others was futile. This test isn’t graded on a curve. Clearly, I failed, like the rest of mankind.
The language is terrifying. Dead in the trespasses and sin in which I once walked. Following the prince of the power of the air. That’s Satan, folks. I didn’t call myself a Satanist, but I followed his lead. Sons of disobedience. Lived in the passions of my flesh. Carrying out the desires of my body and mind. By nature, a child of wrath.
That’s absolutely terrifying! Back then, I laughed it off. Now? Well, let’s say I had a near death experience that I will never forget.
Here comes the good part!
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 Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
Look at this carefully. “Even when we were dead in our trespasses.” People like to think that we make a decision to follow Christ. I used to think that way. Yet how can a dead man choose that which he refuses? Something has to change before he can choose a different course. The bible consistently says we were dead. Whether we like the idea or not, we simply must entertain the idea of “irresistible grace” if we are to honestly read our bibles.
I don’t know about you, but I am so, so glad that he had mercy on me – even when I was dead in my trespasses. Let’s face it. I was a blasphemer. Big time. And so were you. I didn’t want to be a Jesus Freak. I marched to a different drummer. But God….
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this 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. Ephesians 2:8-10
God initiates our salvation. This conclusion was evident in v. 4-7, but it is undeniable here. Faith is a requirement of salvation, but that faith comes from God. He gives it to us. It’s not a decision. Faith is something we receive. As a gift. We don’t work for it. We don’t earn it. It’s not a conclusion to anything we have done. On the contrary, anything we have done only reinforces the fact that we are children of wrath, God’s enemies.
Our faith is a gift. So is our salvation. So are the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. My friends, do you realize what God has done for you? You didn’t do it. God did it! If you indeed have been saved.
Does It Matter?
Can I be saved and not understand this? Can I be saved thinking it was my decision? Of course. I didn’t understand this stuff at first. But I kept running into passages like these in Ephesians that really made me wonder. Then I really started to pay attention to radio preachers like Charles Stanley and Alistair Begg. They taught that God is the initiator of our faith, that it is a gift. Once I started to understand these things, my eyes were really opened. That’s when I started to dive deep into Reformed Theology. A good starting point is R.C. Sproul’s “What Is Reformed Theology?” It’s simply fascinating!
Folks, I believe understanding that salvation is a gift matters for many reasons. I’ll give you two. First, it allows you to far better appreciate what grace is once you understand your true, natural condition. Overall, churches don’t talk about sin, how prevalent or how damaging it is. Once we truly uncover sin, we will be forever changed. That’s when we will start to understand just how hopeless our situation is and just how merciful God is. It will truly change the way you view God.
The Second Reason
Second, it will change the way you share the gospel. You can’t convince someone to become a Christians. Oh, sure, we have lots of people say lots of prayers, and we have most who never bear spiritual fruit. We can’t convince someone to believe in Jesus. That’s God’s business. We’re there for the ride, not to drive. Give credit where credit is due. Share the gospel. The full gospel. Tell people the need to repent. Yes, it is a command. Tell them that following Jesus will cost them everything, maybe even their life. It’s true, so don’t hide this fact. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel.
Look, the number of people you get to say the prayer doesn’t matter if they don’t become Christians. Why do we make this a badge of honor when we have nothing to do with conversion? This should radically change the way we share the gospel. Elevate God, not man. Man is nothing more than a filthy rag. God alone is worthy of respect, honor, and praise! And obedience. Let’s not forget that. Do you want to show how much you love Jesus? Then obey him.
Father, I thank you for my salvation. Yes, it truly was your doing. I had no intention of becoming a disciple of Jesus. Irresistible grace. Yes. Thank you for Ephesians 2. Amen.
Copyright © 2021 Scott Powers