Ephesians:2:4-10, “God’s Grace Meets Man In His Condition”
1.1. In our last study, we looked at the first three verses of chapter 2 in which Paul began to describe the life of a non-believer, that life which each person is born into and which is only transformed and regenerated through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
1.1.1. Paul described for us in the most graphic and compelling of terms the condition of sinful men apart from Jesus Christ.
1.1.2. We saw how that understanding the condition of men apart from Christ should encourage us to reach out and to share the gospel with people whenever and wherever we are able to do so.
1.2. In this study, we are going to look at verses 4-10 of chapter 2 and we will begin to see how that Paul details for us how that God reacted to men in their condition as lost and without hope in this world.
1.2.1. As we study this section we need to keep in mind the fact that just as we saw in Paul’s references in chapter one concerning the many aspects of our inheritance that we have “in Christ” that these things mentioned in these verses we will study are true of us today. None of these things Paul speaks about concerning God meeting sinful men who were once apart from Jesus Christ are “pie in the sky” kinds of things, they are true of us now.
2. VS 2:4-5 - “4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” - Paul writes that regardless of the fact of man’s condition that God because of His love for man made us alive together with Christ
2.1. We have seen in our study so far in this book of Ephesians that chapter 1 dealt primarily with the delineation of the incredible riches each of us as Christians has inherited through Christ simply because of being “in Christ,” (that phrase that is found all throughout the book). Then, in the first three verses of chapter 2 we studied the incredible and graphic description given by Paul of men apart from Jesus Christ. Now in this study we will study the incredible gospel message of how the Lord regarded men in their fallen condition and reached out to them in love providing the means for men, women, and children to be saved and resurrected to new life through Jesus Christ.
2.2. In our last study, we studied closely how Paul described “man in his condition apart from Jesus Christ” and we observed the following things:
18.104.22.168. He described men apart from Jesus Christ as being “dead” :
22.214.171.124.1. It was “spiritual death” that was implied, not physical death and we observed that men apart from Jesus Christ are walking zombies, dead men yet still walking around.
126.96.36.199.2. We saw what the concept of death implied?
188.8.131.52.2.1. One who is dead does not move and is not able to move for rigor mortis has set in.
184.108.40.206.2.2. He does not feel or sense anything, does not even think.
220.127.116.11.2.3. After death decay begins to occur.
18.104.22.168.2.4. There is finality in death.
22.214.171.124. The people of this world apart from Jesus Christ are dead “in trespasses and sins.”
126.96.36.199.1. People apart from Jesus Christ break God’s Law constantly in that condition and these two terms, ‘trespasses’ and ‘sins,’ describe that fact.
188.8.131.52. The people of this world walk according to, or under the dominating influence of, two different primary influences:
184.108.40.206.1. “The course of this world.”
220.127.116.11.1.1. We saw in our previous study the prevailing philosophies of the people of this world, philosophies that are based upon humanism and the notion that man is really basically good in his essential nature, as well as the fact that this life in the here and now is all that matters.
18.104.22.168.1.2. This world provides mankind with every kind of temptation imaginable for the fulfilling of “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:15-17).
22.214.171.124.2. “The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
126.96.36.199.2.1. We saw that people may think that they are free to do as they wish however it is instead the case that their wills are bound, for they are actually “slaves of sin” (see John 8:34 and Rom. 6:17-20), and their minds are blinded by wicked spirits in high places to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
188.8.131.52.3. Paul wrote that we “all” formerly (before coming to saving faith in Christ) “lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”
184.108.40.206.3.1. We are human beings with desires. Lusts are strong desires, and ‘lusts of the flesh’ are strong desires for all of the things that are against God’s revealed will (in His word) for our lives.
220.127.116.11.3.2. ‘Lusts of the mind’ are those strong desires against God’s will that primarily are consumed in our thought life: pride, jealousy, envy, hatred, anger, etc.
18.104.22.168.4. Paul wrote that by our very “nature” as descendants of Adam having inherited a sin nature from Adam we were “children of wrath, even as the rest.”
22.214.171.124.4.1. From birth each and every one of us were alienated from and at enmity with God, and therefore were objects of His wrath and awaiting the future day of judgment when He would pour out His wrath upon us.
126.96.36.199.4.2. We saw that God’s wrath is not like man’s wrath. Man’s wrath arises quickly and is often unjust and carried out rashly. However, God’s wrath is constant, controlled, and gradually growing against all of those who are living their lives in rebellion against Him. God’s wrath is always a justified wrath, a righteous anger.
2.3. Now, we see here in these verses God’s reaction to mankind in his deplorable and disgusting state apart from Jesus Christ. First of all, these first words, “But God” really are the gospel message in a nutshell. In spite of man’s condition apart from Jesus Christ, God in His incredible grace, acted on man’s behalf to redeem. God sent His only begotten Son to pay the price of the debt of our sin. In response to men who in their condition have no power to respond to God even if they wanted to, the Lord gives those who in their hearts are willing to respond to Him the ability to hear His voice, realize the state of sin that they are in, understand the great truths of the gospel message, and respond in saving faith to Jesus Christ.
2.4. I want to make a point here in my own words that Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes in his commentaries on Ephesians. These verses we are looking at here reveal also what the gospel message is not. God did not try to institute social change here to improve mankind’s condition apart from Jesus Christ. He did not act to improve man’s living conditions, environment, social interactions, employment opportunities, provide living subsidies to make life more bearable, etc., etc. Nothing external to men could ever truly improve mankind’s condition apart from Jesus Christ. Nothing short of being resurrected with Jesus Christ, regenerated to new life through Him, could ever truly improve mankind’s condition. The fact that only an internal change in the very nature of mankind can truly improve his condition should lead the church to be very careful about using too many of their precious resources towards improving mankind’s external surroundings. Now, it is true that a hungry man isn’t going to be in a position to hear the good news until he is first fed, but there is really only so much that we can do external to men that will truly improve their condition.
2.5. Paul tells us in these verses that God’s solution to mankind’s condition was to make those who are willing to respond to Him through Christ (the ones he speaks of as being ‘us’), ‘alive together with Christ.’ Nothing short of an infusion of the very life of God into men’s hearts and life can change their very nature and thus transform their nature. This act by God in our lives is regeneration, or what Jesus referred to as being “born again.”
2.6. This phrase ‘alive together with Christ’ also speaks of the fact that everything that God’s has done in our lives as Christians to resurrect and redeem us has come about because of our “identification with Christ.” When He was nailed to the cross and died, we died with Him, we died to our old sinful nature we inherited from Adam. When Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead, we too were raised up with Him and made to walk in the newness of life. These are facts that are true of us now if we have truly been saved.
2.6.2. Whereas Adam had been our federal head before coming to salvation through Jesus Christ, now Jesus Christ is our federal head. Having inherited a sinful nature and condition from Adam our first federal head, we have now inherited everything we have “in Christ” through Jesus Christ, our new federal head. This is our identification with Jesus Christ, and it is a complete identification that covers all that we are as people.
2.6.3. Though God has left the remnants of a sinful nature within each of us as Christians, that which Paul refers to as “the old man,” this sin nature is no longer our essential nature if we are “in Christ.” Our essential nature is that of Christ’s nature with whom we are identified with, and “in Christ” through our identification with Him we have received:
188.8.131.52. A “new nature” and we are now “new creatures” in Christ.
184.108.40.206.1. 2 Cor. 5:17, “17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
220.127.116.11.2. Titus 3:5, “5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
18.104.22.168. A “new heart.”
22.214.171.124.1. Ezekiel 11:19, “19 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”
126.96.36.199. A “new mind.”
188.8.131.52.1. 1 Corinthians 2:16, “16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
184.108.40.206.2. Romans 12:1-2, “1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
220.127.116.11.3. See Deut. 30:6.
18.104.22.168. A “new will.”
22.214.171.124.1. Romans 6:12, “12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”
2.7. Notice that after Paul mentions here that despite man’s condition apart from Jesus Christ that God’s reaction to men who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is to infuse new resurrection life in them, that he puts a parenthesis in here when he says, ‘by grace you have been saved.’ What an appropriate reminder of the fact that especially due to the deplorable condition of men apart from Jesus Christ that for God to bring men to salvation and regenerate them, through His sending of His only begotten Son, is only by the ‘grace of God.’
2.8. Paul tells us the motive that God had for reacting to mankind apart from Jesus Christ, and this was ‘because of His great love with which He loved us.’ This phrase corresponds to what Jesus taught His disciples in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but inherit eternal life.” How incredible it is to know a God who is love!!!
3. VS 2:6 - “6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” - Paul tells us that God the Father has raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenlies
3.1. Here we see more about our identification with Jesus Christ. Not only have we died with Christ and been made alive together with Him, we have been ‘raised up with Him,’ and we have been ‘seated’ with Him.
3.2. Jesus Christ has been ‘raised up’ from the dead making it possible for the believer in Christ to also be ‘raised up’ in resurrection life in Christ and walk in the newness of life. We have already looked at Paul’s writing about this resurrection of believers in Romans chapter 6.
3.3. The concept of being ‘seated’ involves primarily “rest,” especially in our context here. After His resurrection from the dead when Jesus ascended up to heaven, God the Father caused Him to be ‘seated’ at His right hand. Jesus’ work was done so He could now rest.
3.4. The word ‘places’ is in italics here and this is because the word has been added in. What Paul is saying then is that each of us who are truly Christians are seated ‘in the heavenlies.’ In this resurrected life that we are living in this world there is a sense in which we are all existing in the very presence of God, in heaven. There is therefore something of heaven in everything that we experience and everywhere we go for we Christians are there in heaven all of the time.
3.5. I hate to beat this to death, but note that Paul says yet again that these things are true of us because we are ‘in Christ.’
4. VS 2:7 - “7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” - Paul tells us that the reason that God has done these incredible things for us in meeting us in the condition we were in when we were apart from Jesus Christ is so that ‘in the ages to come’ that He might reveal the ‘surpassing riches of His grace’
4.1. Here in this verse Paul does what He has already done twice, he takes a step backwards and reveals the overriding plans and goals that the Lord had in mind for all eternity for the things that He has and is doing in our lives. Earlier in this book Paul wrote that God had revealed the incredible riches of His grace to us through Jesus Christ in order that we might be “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Then, later he wrote that God was doing these things in our lives that we might be “to the praise of His glory.” Here Paul tells us God’s overriding motivation for saving us through His grace saying that these things God has done in our lives in order that through all of the eons of time that He might show or display ‘the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.’
4.2. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes a very interesting and compelling point in his commentary to this book which he sets up by asking the question of why the Lord created the human race knowing all along that Satan would first fall into sin and then that mankind would fall into sin?
4.2.1. He first makes the obvious point that men would never have been able to love the Lord if they first hadn’t been given a choice to do so, and thus they had to be given free wills to choose for themselves right and wrong. There would be little point in making robots who loved God never having had a choice in the matter.
4.2.2. Then, Lloyd-Jones states that if mankind first hadn’t been allowed to fall into sin and become so deplorable in their condition apart from Jesus Christ, that which we studied in our last lesson (chapter 2 verses 1-3), then we would never really have been able to understand the love, kindness, and grace of God. This is I believe why also we read in the New Testament that angels that have not fallen are very curious about us humans who have been redeemed by God’s grace. We have experienced something that they have never experienced. We know a side of the Lord’s character that can only be textbook to them, you see. God wanted to reveal to mankind His gracious and loving nature and therefore He was willing to allow us to have a horrible fall and then reach out to us in love and grace and restore and redeem us to Himself, capturing our loyalty and praise for eternity in the process.
4.3. There is one further thing that I would like to bring out. We all tend to think subjectively about our own salvation experience. We love those passages that tell us that God so loved us (the world) that He was willing to give His only begotten Son so that we might be saved. We tend to have sort of an egocentric view of God’s purposes then as a result, especially considering the things He did in sending Christ to earth to rescue us. However, there is another sense in which we need to look at the salvation that God has provided mankind in Jesus Christ. Sin is always rebellion and utter disregard for the Lord. Whenever we sin we sin against God, just as the Devil’s sin was sin against God. Because all sin is against God, sin is a horrible and contemptible act. The Devil rebelled against God and tried to usurp His power and take His glory, and then mankind followed Satan’s temptation and example and did the very same things, tried to usurp God’s power and take His glory. The salvation that is provided by the Lord though Jesus Christ is then a vindication of God for all creatures to see. The salvation that we receive reveals how wrong every creature who rebelled against God was in spurning such a holy, loving, gracious, and kind God. Whenever a person comes to know and live for the Lord they become a personal trophy of God’s vindication and glory. They reveal the riches of the glory of His grace to all. Again, this is one of God’s overriding motives for the things He does in our lives as Christians.
5. VS 2:8-9 - “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” - Paul tells us that we have been saved by grace through faith and that even this is a gift from God, and not because of any works that we commit
5.1. We saw in the salutations of chapter 1 that ‘grace’ means “undeserved merit’ that the Lord gives to us, or as one person has called it, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’
5.2. Paul tells us then that when our ‘faith’ is combined with God’s ‘grace’ that we are ‘saved.’
5.2.1. We have deserved none of the things that the Lord has done for us in providing the means for us to have our sins forgiven, be justified, and inherit eternal life, and thus, all this has come about because of God’s ‘grace.’
5.2.2. We must then
place our faith (trust) in the Lord and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and in
the completed work on
5.3. Notice that Paul does not say that perhaps these things shall become true of us at some point in the future, rather he speaks of our salvation as what has already happened if we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord (master) and Savior, we ‘have been saved.’
5.3.1. Right after 911 occurred, we had a few people who came into our church here who were not church. These people had become awakened by the events of those terrorist attacks upon our nation and they felt that they had been get their lives right with God because things in our world were coming to a head. These people began coming to our Sunday services as well as our midweek study in the book of Isaiah. I believe it was the second week at the study that one of the two women who were coming made the comment that she didn’t what to hear about getting saved or have anybody pray for her, she just wanted to learn about God through the services. The other woman strongly agreed with her. At the time I didn’t say anything because I was afraid that these women wouldn’t come back if I did. All of the people who started coming after 911 were gone within a month or month and a half. Other more important things took them away I guess. But, after they left the church I began to wish that the night that this woman had said this about not wanting to get saved that there really is no Christianity apart from getting saved. Getting saved is where you begin your Christian experience. Christianity is not primarily about learning principles or trying to do good works, its about a personal relationship with God that we can have through Jesus Christ and coming to know Him as Lord as Savior of your life. Without this personal relationship you won’t even understand the scriptures if they are taught, you can’t understand them. You must come to know Jesus to then begin to understand God and how He has revealed Himself in His word. Paul writes to these Ephesians acknowledging that they had come to be saved, for they had entered into this personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They had been born again (or regenerated) and they possessed eternal life.
5.4. This salvation is a ‘gift’ Paul tells us here. A gift by definition cannot be earned, otherwise it is not a gift. A gift can only be received or rejected by someone.
5.5. Paul says that this salvation that we who are genuine Christians have received is ‘not of yourselves.’ In coming to salvation, the only thing that we ever did was be willing to let the Lord speak to us and reveal Himself and His plan of salvation to us and then simply place our meager faith in Him. God has done everything else, and in order for we who once were dead in trespasses and sins to even hear His voice He had to perform a miracle of healing in us first.
5.6. Since this salvation we have received cannot be earned by a single thing or things that we would ever do, then no one can boast of having earned or gained salvation. When a person receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, only the Lord can get the praise and glory, for salvation is an incredible work in our lives performed only by the Lord Himself.
6. VS 2:10 - “10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” - Paul tells us that though we were not saved by our works that none-the-less we were ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works’
6.1. Speaking of the regeneration of a believer in Christ, Paul says that each one of us were ‘created in Christ Jesus.’ Those of us who are Christians are twice created beings.
6.2. Although good works can never bring a person to salvation , it is never-the-less the case that God has created and called us to be people who commit ‘good works.’ We are called to live a life that is of ‘good works.’
6.3. Paul writes here that we are ‘His workmanship,’ a project of His own creation and effort. God has poured out His love, mercy, and grace in our humble vessels and sculpted us down into a “piece of art” that He can display to all creatures as being a revelation of His greatness and glory.
6.4. Before coming to salvation God was working in many generations prior to prepare us for the work that He wants to do in and through us so that we can display the work of the Master craftsman of all, the Lord God Himself.
7.1. As we consider this study and how we should apply to our own lives the things that we have looked at, we first of all need to thank the Lord afresh for the love and grace we have received from Him through Jesus Christ. As we consider our condition that we were in apart from Jesus Christ, how can we not marvel at the glory of God’s grace?
7.2. As we consider how that we are saved by grace through faith, and not as a result of works or anything of ourselves, we need to give up trying to deserve or work for what God declares He has already done in our lives.
7.3. Having come to salvation by grace through faith, lets remember also that we need to see our lives as being lived before all of creation as ‘His workmanship.’ Let your life shine in all of the glory that God intended for it to shine as ‘His workmanship.’ Display God’s work of grace in your life everywhere you go!