A Real and Present Death

The glorious power of God’s saving grace in Christ is heralded by Paul in Eph. 2:4-5 – “But God…made us alive together with Christ…”!  God has done this mighty work for those who were once “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1-3); those who were helplessly and hopelessly bound in the death-grip of depravity.  Soberly, this is the condition of every human being outside of faith in Jesus Christ.  A more desperate situation could not be imagined; a more magnificent and sufficient salvation could not be conceived!  As John Calvin observes,

“He does not mean simply that they were in danger of death; but he declares that it was a real and present death under which they labored. As spiritual death is nothing else than the alienation of the soul from God, we are all born as dead men, and we live as dead men, until we are made partakers of the life of Christ.”  (Calvin, on Eph. 2:1)

Beloved, God wants His people to always remember what it meant to be dead in sin (Eph. 2:1-3), and what it means to be alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4-10)!  Most of our struggles in the Christian life occur because we so easily forget these things!  Let’s persevere in praying for one another (Eph. 6:18-19), and faithfully “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to one another.  What a great privilege and responsibility we have to build each other up as fellow partakers of the life of Christ!

Because He lives, and is returning,

Profound Identity and Significance of the Church

What a remarkable truth, that the One who rules the universe – Jesus Christ – is also the One who loves and leads His church!


“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”  (Eph. 1:22-23)


God the Father has given this authority to His Son, as the means by which His glory is displayed through the church.


“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”  (Eph. 3:10)


Beloved, these truths reveal the profound identity and significance of the church, and thus the great privilege every Christian has as a member of Christ’s body!  As we’ll continue to see in our study of Ephesians, these truths have deeply practical and relevant application for our daily lives as God’s people.  In fact, the more we understand and savor the riches of God’s work revealed in Eph. 1-3, the more we’ll be eager and joyful in fulfilling the details of God’s will revealed in Eph. 4-6!


I love how Dr. Peter O’Brien, in his excellent commentary on Ephesians, expresses this:


“Clearly the apostle wants his readers to appropriate more fully ‘every spiritual blessing’ that has graciously been given to them in Christ.  Paul wishes them to understand the place which they as God’s people have in the divine purposes.  What has been done in Christ is for their benefit: God’s power is available for those who believe (v.19), and Christ’s rule over the universe is for their benefit (v.22).  There are profound implications arising from all this.  But for the moment let them grasp the wonder of God’s majestic purposes in His Son.”  (pg. 126)


Amen, and amen!


Learning to grasp the wonder with you,


His Powerful Provision

Is God’s lavish grace in Christ (Eph. 1:7-8), and immeasurable power in Christ (Eph. 1:19-23), genuinely sufficient for YOU?  Are you seeking to singularly trust, and confidently submit to God’s provision in Christ?  Is HE enough for YOU?  What does this look like in real life, anyway?  Listen to the Apostle Paul’s experience:


So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   (2 Cor. 12:7-9)


When we experience “thorns” in our lives – God-ordained trials and troubles more powerful than us – we’re faced with a critically important choice.   Are we going to arrogantly pursue our own strategies and resources in vain efforts to remove the thorns, or will we humbly trust and submit to the absolute sufficiency of God’s grace and power, even in the midst of the thorns?  Paul learned to be confident and content in God’s powerful provision.  Thus he declares:


Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor. 12:9-10)


Oh beloved, let the Good Shepherd have His way in your life!  Let him show forth the abundant sufficiency of His grace and power, even through your weaknesses and trials.  Don’t fight against God, but fight the fight of faith in God!  Fight to find your hope and strength only in Him (see Psalm 62)!!


Because Christ lives, and is returning,


Overwhelmed by Awe

Are you OVERWHELMED??  We often experience this in daily life, don’t we?  We know what it is to be overwhelmed, sometimes crushed under the burdens and challenges of life in this groaning, fallen world.


But let me encourage you to think of being overwhelmed in a completely different way than we normally do.  While there’s no denying the difficult things we often face, there is also no denying that God Almighty, the “Father of Glory” (Eph. 1:17), would have us be OVERWHELMED at the wonder of His greatness, goodness, and grace in Jesus Christ!!


In Eph. 1-3, the Apostle Paul is clearly overwhelmed with wonder and awe before God and in view of the riches of His grace.  Paul opens this great letter by bursting forth with adoration and praise:


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:3) 


As Paul’s words unfold from this starting point, you quickly sense that he’s beside himself with amazement at the glory of God and the goodness of His grace.  He simply can’t find enough adjectives, enough superlatives, to adequately describe the overwhelming reality of God and His glorious grace in Jesus!


Paul was certainly much like King David, who likewise was often overwhelmed  by the knowledge of God and His grace.  Consider the beginning of Psalm 103, which sets the focus for all that follows:


“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”  (Ps. 103:1-2)


Beloved, whatever your circumstances and cares may be this day…even this moment…God calls you to look to Him by faith, rejoice in Him, and praise His glorious name.  Take some specific, undistracted time to Look to His word – His revelation of His glory – and ask Him to help you be overwhelmed, amazed, and in awe of all He is, and all the blessings He’s given in Jesus Christ.


Remember:  a “worthy walk” (Eph. 4:1), is first and foremost a walk of praise – being more and more overwhelmed in the knowledge of God’s glorious grace.  Let’s keep praying for, and encouraging one another in these ways!


Because Christ lives, and is returning,