Ephesians 2:16

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:16. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:16

… and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.

Christ has abolished in His flesh the Law so as to create one new man from the Jew and Gentile, making peace by reconciling us to God in one body.

God’s plan is to bring reconciliation of all people to Himself through Christ. This applies to Jews and Gentiles specifically, but to all people more generally.

If we are untied with Christ, then we must be one with each other. There can be no hostility between people who claim allegiance to Christ. That is the theory. The truth is that we are all still in the process of crucifying the old nature, and so we can find ways of developing and expressing hostility to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If Jews and Gentiles are truly reconciled to God through Christ, the walls of hostility must come down.

It is not clear from the words whether Paul is referring to the physical body of Christ on the cross, or to the church as the body of Christ. Both explanations are possible.

Jews and Gentiles, all the people who are saved, are reconciled to God through the body of Christ crucified on the cross. There is no way to sugar coat this. The cross was horrible and offensive, and people still try to minimise it, but it is the body of Christ that brings people to God. The price is paid for us on the cross. Our sins are forgiven, and we are brought back into relationship with the Father.

The body is also a metaphor for the church, which Paul uses often. In the church we see people of every tongue and tribe worshipping together and fellowshipping together. People with Ph D’s and people who never finished high school, men and women, all can come to the Body of Christ and fond peace with God.

Whichever way we choose to interpret the “one body” it is the cross that is at the centre of it all. Without the cross there is no forgiveness of sins for anyone. Without the cross we are still in darkness and heading for hell. Without the cross there is still the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles.

It is the cross that changed things, that changes us.

Key points in this verse:

  • God wants to reconcile all people to Himself
  • We are reconcile in one body- Christ’s physical body or His metaphorical body, the church.
  • Without the cross there is no reconciliation.

Ephesians 2:15

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:15. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:15

“… by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one man in the place of two, so making peace.”

We are used to saying that Christ took our sins on his body on the cross, here Paul is saying something far more radical. Christ took the law with all of its commandments and regulations, and put it to death on the cross.

Jesus dealt with our guilt by destroying the power of the law to condemn us. If there is no law, there can be no transgression and no condemnation.

Every year politicians add more and more laws to our law books. There are so many now, some of them contradictory, so that it is impossible for any person to know all the laws that might apply to them, much less to know if they have broken the laws.

Just in driving a vehicle, the laws have become so many and so varied that most people break the law every day.

Paul says that in respect to the Jewish law, the law of God, Christ abolished the law in his flesh.

What freedom this brings to us, knowing that we are no longer bound by laws of sacrifice and diet. When we break those laws we are no longer under judgement because the laws are no longer in existence. Christ abolished them.

The early church had to wrestle with the question of whether the Gentiles who became Christians first had to become Jews. Did the uncircumcised have to belong to” the circumcision” to be acceptable to God? No,the Law had been abolished in Christ.

The result of the abolition of the law was the abolition of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. If a Jew was the person who obeyed (or tried to obey) God’s law, then where there is no law there is no distinction between the two, other than perhaps cultural differences.

When it comes to salvation, when it comes to God, both Jews and Gentiles are in the same boat. They are “one new man.”

If the law has been abolished by Christ, Jewish people cannot be saved by the Law. Like Gentiles, they can only be saved by grace through faith in Christ. And many have been.

The” one new man” that Paul talks about here is the Christian Jews together with the Gentiles who follow Christ. Whether Jew or non-Jew, it is faith in Jesus that saves us, and it is faith in Jesus that unites us.

By abolishing the law in his flesh, Jesus is made peace between the two factions. There can no longer be any debate, conflict or hostility between the two as we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where there is family, there is peace

Key points in this verse

  • Christ abolished the law in his flesh
  • Where there is no law there is no guilt
  • Jews and Gentiles alike are saved by faith in Christ, not by the law
  • Jews and Gentiles who are saved are part of one family, brothers and sisters in Christ
  • Where there is family there is piece

Ephesians 2:14

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:14. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:14

“For he is our peace, who is made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility”

Christ is our peace. He is the source of all peace in the world, just as satan is the source of all enmity.

Peace is a major idea in Hebrew thinking, in fact it is a desire in many human hearts. The Hebrew people, and their language, elevated peace to a highly desirable quality- in the same way that Western democracies emphasise freedom as a basic human right.

The Romans had their Pax Romana, a peace obtained across the Empire by military might. It could be said that while Roman citizens enjoyed peace, their subjects often did not.

We may think of peace as an absence of conflict or hostility, but peace is more than that.

the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which at its heart understands peace as about harmony or fitting together.

To fond true peace, we need to have:

1. Harmony with God. We live in a world scarred by sin and alienated from God. There can be no peace in our lives until we are reconciled to the Father .
2. Harmony with others. We need to be fitting in well with our family, neighbours, village, and nation. Unless a group of people knows peace with God, there can be no peace for individuals within the group. Lawlessness is perhaps the biggest sign of disharmony within a community.
3. Harmony with creation. We need to recognise that we are a part of the created world, and that our our activities either help to improve the creation or they help to destroy the natural harmony within creation which God declared to be good.
4. Harmony within. We are complex beings with body, mind and spirit. Our sins and hurts from the past may tend to pull us in directions that displease God or which setup warring factions within our own being. We cannot function as peaceful people while we are facing internal battles.

Christ is our peace. He restores the situation that hostility and conflict steal away from us. It does this by firstly restoring our harmony with the Father, and then, over time, showing us areas in our lives that need to be healed or repented of. He also gives us the grace to be peace makers where needed.

Others may rely on military might, diplomatic skills, force of personality, or other human qualities, but Christ is our peace.

To know peace, true peace, we must stay close to the source of peace, that is Christ. We need to listen to him, obey him and walk closely to him in order to live in his peace .

Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles , making both one people. He did this on the cross, offering God’s forgiveness to all who receive it, and extending his kingdom to all nations.

The division between Jews and Gentiles is no longer relevant. The wall that had previously separated the two groups is now irrelevant in the light of the revelation of God’s grace.

Jews and Gentiles, at least those in each group who are being saved, are all children of the living God. It is therefore wrong for a Gentile believer to disrespect a Jewish believer. This would be dishonouring the Father of both, and saying that the sacrifice of Christ is not important.

We can apply this to every group that sets itself as superior to other groups. A white christian has a responsibility to love an aboriginal believer and vice versa. The sufferings of each group in conflict is nothing to the suffering of Christ. If he has forgiven, then so must we.

We are the people who walk-in shalom because Christ is our peace. Wherever there is a failure of shalom, it is a failure of us to see Christ in the other.

Key points in this verse

• Christ is our peace
• The peace that Christ brings is not just an absence of fighting. It is all encompassing.
• This peace can overcome deep hostility if only we will let Christ rule.
• We must not allow flights with Christian brothers and sisters to stand .
• As christians we are called to be peace carriers and peace makers .

Ephesians 2:13

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:13. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:13

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.”

We were once far off, alienated and strangers to the covenant of promise. We had no hope.

We Gentiles were out of the family because of our birth. This is in contrast to every Israelite who was in the covenant because of their birth.

But now in Christ Jesus, we who were once “far off” have been brought “near.” We were distant, out of reach, but now we are near to the family of God.

This could be interpreted as all christians, the saints to whom Paul is writing, are now near to Christ and His people. In fact so near that we are as close to God as any Jewish person ever was.

Alternatively it could mean that every Gentile, every person who is not Jewish, is brought close to the covenant promise. Not that they are “in” the promise already, but that the gulf that separated them from God has been closed up. In some ways it is just a line that needs to be stepped over to receive Christ and His forgiveness.

All this is God’s work. It is the gift which He has offered to us. The Jewish people, the people of the covenant, had allowed their favoured position to become a cause of pride and self-righteousness. As Gentiles “brought near”, we must never allow our status as saints to become a source of pride. God did it all.

We have been brought near in the blood of Christ. He has paid the price for our sins with His blood.

There is no other way to enter into God’s family. We must all be cleaned by the blood of the Lamb.

For some people, this is a stumbling block. They are offended by the cross, by the thought that God should suffer on their behalf.

That is just pride. They want to think that they can save themselves, or even that they are not sinners who need saving. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Therefore, to be saved we all need to come through the blood, through the cross. There is no other way.

This is a continuous process. We don’t get ”washed in the blood” just once, but many times. We come to God “in” the blood of Christ, not through the blood of Christ.

This means that repentance becomes a way of life. We don’t just say the sinner’s prayer and get saved. We need to be constantly on guard against sinning. When we fall, we need to repent (again and again), turning away from those sins that so easily entangle us.

This repentance and regular confession of sins keeps us “ in the blood”, in the place of humility before God.

However, we need to also ensure that this is not an obsessive preoccupation with our guilt.. That is a religious bondage, not the freedom of Christ.

As the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin, we ask Jesus to forgive us. We bring ourselves back in the blood and receive ongoing forgiveness and cleansing.

Key points in this verse

Salvation is always a gift not a reward

We were once far off but now we are near

The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin

Ephesians 2:11-12

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:11-12. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:11-12

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

We were once Gentiles, outside of God’s people. We were called uncircumcised by those who called themselves “ the circumcision.”

Those of us who were born outside of the Jewish tribal system were outside of God’s covenant people. The world was divided into two camps – the people of Israel and the Gentiles

Israel had been established by God to be a light to the nations ( literally to the Gentiles). This action was intended to show the world what a whole nation surrendered to God’s purposes could look like. Of course they failed in this, so much so that God allowed them to be conquered by multiple enemies, including lastly Rome.

Rather than being an open, inclusive, witnessing community, the Jewish people, at times, could be very exclusive. They would not mix with the Gentiles for fear of being made unclean.

They established a claim for their exclusivity calling themselves “ the circumcision”. They focused on a sign of the covenant rather than the covenant itself in order to feel better about themselves.

In doing this, they ignored their prophets who had spoken of the circumcision of the heart which was far more important. God wanted to change them from the inside and not just on the outside.

Human beings have an infinite capacity for looking at outward appearances, trusting in external rituals and behaviour. God looks at the heart, and it is the affections and thoughts He changes first, not just the outward signs.

We Gentiles were once far off from God. We were separated from Christ. There was a chasm that separated us because we were born as foreigners. We were outside the nation of Israel. Relationship with God could only be attained by birth in the faith community. We were born outside the people of God.

We were foreigners to the covenants of Promise. God promised wonderful things for His people Israel. but we were left out. How could we ever hope to experience God’s favour? How could we aspire to eternal life?

We were without hope because there was no way for us on the outside of grace to get inside. Yes there were ways to become a convert to J Judaism, but many did not know. They lived lives of quiet desperation.

We were far from God – “without God”. Unable to reach the one true God, the Gentiles invented their own lesser gods. Unable to see him, they bowed down to idols made by human hands.

In the joy of fellowshipping with God, it is easy to forget who we once were. We become complacent, even self-righteous and prone to judgmentalism.

We are in God because of God’s grace; He did it all for us. The cross was God’s idea. The desire to see all men and women saved was born from God’s love.

This was not our own doing – we just happen to have been smart enough to put out our hand to receive the gift of salvation.

It is like riding a train. I did not build the tracks or the train. I do not know how to drive the train or how the signals work. How the train is powered is a mystery. But I know that if I get on to that train it will take me to the place I need to get to.

Jesus Christ is like the train. I don’t know how it works, but I know his death liberated me from sin and raised me to a new life in Him. It all comes as a gift from God to all who receive it.

Key points in this verse

  • We, the Gentiles, were called the uncircumcised.
  • It is common for people to devise names that make us feel superior.
  • Christians have no reason to be self-righteous
  • We were once without hope and without God, but He brought us into His kingdom.

Ephesians 2:10

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:10. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In the previous verse, Paul stated unequivocally that we are not saved by good deeds, but now he tells us that we are saved for good deeds. Salvation comes first, then the good deeds, God’s deeds.

There is a certain strand of Christianity that constantly emphasises the sinfulness of people, even those who are born again. It is important that we recognise that even as followers of Jesus we can sin. The problem comes when we start to take on board the message that we are not good enough, that we will never make it.

Here is the amazingly good news. We are God’s workmanship. Literally the Greek term means a masterpiece. The word is poiema from which we get the word poem.

Before we were saved we were created in God’s image. We were knitted together inside our respective mothers. We are, just in terms of our physical construction, an amazing creation. Then add in our awesome mental capabilities and our ability to make wise decisions and our moral judgement- you are a work of art! Sin messed things up, like oil poured over a Rembrandt. But God has now cleaned that up and restored us to the original state.

Even better than that, God has restored you into a pre- sin state and marked you with His Holy Spirit. What an amazing work of art!

People speak of their awe at seeing the Sistine Chapel with all its art surrounding on every side. As a redeemed child of God, you are a work of art, a masterpiece of Gods creation.

We are Gods masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus. Being born again means that we are created anew. The part of us that was dead has come to life. the part of us that was stained by sin has been recreated. The overwhelming, never-failing grace of God, passed on by Jesus makes us a new creation.

We get to have a new start, a purpose in living that should galvanise us and put a spring in our step every day.

We are created in Christ for the good works that God has prepared for us.

it’s not about “pie in the sky when you die.” It’s not about basking in the glory until we are promoted to Heaven.

No, we have been born again for God’s good works. We are God’s workmanship created to do his work.

We are not created to do good works generally, although there is no harm in that. God has created us in Christ for His good works. We are created for a mission, for God’s mission.

Some people are activists who will support any cause that they think is a good thing. They run themselves ragged doing good works, but they may not be doing God’s good works.

Each disciple needs to ask God, “What is my purpose in being created and recreated in Christ?” He has a specific purpose for us. Everything else is just punching at the air .

Each of us has been created for good works that were prepared for us long ago. Before we were born, God had a plan of what He was wanting us to do. He moulded us and shaped us for these deeds.

We often get this the wrong way round. We think that there are things we can do, missions or community work that is already there. We were not created to fill a gap. There are deeds created for us to do, prepared before the beginning of time. Our job is to find these deeds, not volunteer to do good things.

God’s pre-prepared deeds give our life purpose. We must not get distracted by everybody else’s life purpose and so miss out on the thing God has prepared for us to do.

The idea of walking in these deeds suggests a long-term commitment. Each of us has a vocation or calling that determines our reason for being. When we find that vocation, we cannot do anything other than walk in it or stick with it.

Each of us has a different vocation. That is why the church is called a body. When everyone uses their spiritual gifts and their natural talents to fulfil the good deeds that God has created for them to do, then the church explodes with energy and vitality. Every member of the church is working together in their own mission in order to collectively fulfil the mission of the church.

Key points in this verse:

  • You are God’s masterpiece
  • We are saved for good deeds and not by good deeds
  • God has prepared a mission for each one of us
  • We are most fulfilled when we are walking in the mission God has called us to
  • When every believer walks in their calling together, the mission of the church becomes highly effective

Ephesians 2:9

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:9. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:9

… not because of works lest any person boast.

We are saved by faith and not by works lest we should become boastful.

The idea that we could save ourselves in any way is, on the face of it, ludicrous. There is a huge chasm separating us from God. The chasm is called sin. We might be able to cross that chasm if we were not crippled by sin. but everyone is born in sin. It is only someone without sin who can cross the chasm, that is Christ. We cross the chasm by trusting in the one who can cross it for us.

it is folly to think that our works and get us to heaven. This does not stop people trying.

Religion is one such method. It is almost universal that people fearing God, or the gods, are angry with them present sacrifices or perform religious rituals in order to earn God’s/ the gods’ favour. This does not work, and cannot work, because it starts to with the false premise that God is impressed by our puny gifts. He made the whole of creation! Will He be swayed by our returning to him what he already owns?

Sometimes even christians think that God may be impressed by religious activities such as a forty day fast or some kind of prayer marathon. God already knows who we are. It is He that gives us the ability and determination to do these things.

Charitable deeds are another way people try to assuage gilt. Selling your possessions and giving it all to the poor is a worthy deed, but it will never, of itself, gain the favour of God.

In ancient times there was a collection of belief systems called Gnosticism. These varied in lots of ways and tended to collate beliefs from all the religions including paganism, Judaism, and Christianity. The common link in all of these belief systems was that attaining certain types of knowledge (Greek: gnosis ) would allow a person to rise to higher levels of spiritual power, and ultimately to Heaven itself.

The modern-day equivalent would be the conference junkie, or the person who looks for hidden “Bible codes” thinking that such knowledge will set them free or draw them closer to God.

Other works might be living a lifestyle of poverty, volunteering to serve the poor, missionary work, or whatever. Pastors are often bemused to receive discounts from business people hoping to earn brownie points with God.

All of these things that have been mentioned are not wrong of themselves. When they become ways in which we try to earn salvation or God’s favour then they become toxic to our souls.

People try to earn God’s favour, seemingly unaware that his love is there for the taking. We try to please God in all kinds of ways, but it is futile because he already loves us.

if only the person driven by guilt to do the good works would stop, hear the promises of God, and then put their trust in Jesus.

My works will never tempt God to love me. but a heart surrendered to him, trusting in Christ, will draw his affection.

John 3:18 says,” He who believe believes in Christ will not be condemned.”

We are saved by faith and not by works so that nobody has anything to post about.

If I were to do some outrageously courageous religious deed, such as fasting or charitable work, I could, with some justification, boast about that. I could draw attention to myself as a “good person.”

When I simply turn away from my sins, and accept the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, then there is nothing to boast about. I can’t even think that I was smart enough to work it out, because even the faith that allows me to reach out to Jesus is a gift from God.

There is nothing to boast about. Any fool can get saved. Any sinner can repent. To boast about it is as foolish as a person claiming to be superior because they put on a life preserver as their boat was sinking.

One sin that christians should never be capable of his self-righteousness. It is Christ who makes us righteous and not our own works. Therefore we should never assume that we are better than paedophiles, prostitutes, or drug addicts. We just sin differently to them.

What an awesome message this is, to be saved by faith not works. Of course, some people find this offensive. They think that people should have to atone for their sins in some way. Pride makes it hard for them to believe it is all free of charge. Grace sometimes can be offensive to people who want to pay their own way.

Key points in this verse:

  • We are not saved by works
  • Religious deeds, charitable giving, and extensive knowledge of the Bible will not impress God
  • Christians have nothing to boast about and have no reason to be self-righteous

Ephesians 2:8

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:8. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith,.and this is not your doing, it is the gift of God.

It is God’s grace that saves us, setting us free from sin and death and lifting us to eternal life in the heavenly realms.

grace is God’s favour extended towards us. The same word in Greek (charis) is the root word for gift (charisma). God’s favour is a gift to us.

God loves His creation, His people, and so He is constantly pouring out his love, his gift to us.

Life itself is a gift from God. He sustains us and the whole of creation right down to the level of atoms. We are held together literally by God. He sustains us with an abundance of every necessity. He knitted us together in our mother’s womb.

Eternal life comes as a gift also. We could not earn this, and we certainly do not deserve it. Every person has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Some people say they just want justice from God. They see God as a judge who must surely punish “sinners” – which they think would be other people. But we have all sinned and we all deserve nothing less than death at God’s justice .

Salvation from the death penalty comes in the form of grace. God gifts us eternal life, not because we deserve it but because he loves us.

This grace of God – never ending, overwhelming in its nature – brings us to salvation. Salvation means to be made whole in body, mind and spirit.

To be saved is to be restored to our right state, the state we were created to live in before sin spoilt things. This is more than a legal status or a legal position of being moved from the” guilty” list to the “ not guilty” list. Salvation is not merely a legal transaction.

When Jesus healed people, the word translated as “ healed” is the same word used for salvation. On different occasions in the gospels, the same words are used for “ your faith has healed you” and for “ your faith has saved you.”

Salvation is a state of wholeness.

Sin leads to death at every part of our being because it separates us from the Father, the source of life. We are born in sin, so from the time we are born we start to die. Our bodies inherit death because sin has mutated our DNA. We are dead spiritually because we were designed for the Holy Spirit to dwell with our spirits. We are dead mentally because without the Holy Spirit to teach us, even the most intelligent person can only reach 50% of their potential.

We are in this state of death right until the time that Jesus comes in and pronounces, “Your faith has saved you.”

We still live in a broken world so that the healing we receive from Christ is partial. Our salvation is also only partial in the sense that we continue to fall short of God’s glory.

What is imperfect in this life will be made perfect in the next life when we are liberated from all the effects of sin and death forever.

Salvation is received by faith. Faith is the ability to reach out and receive God’s gift. A gift is only a gift to the extent it is received and valued by the recipient. Faith recognises the gift and its value. Faith receives salvation offered to us by grace.

A gift only comes into being at the behest of the giver. The giver must decide to make a gift before the recipient can receive it. God’s grace comes first.

Faith, then, is the act of reaching out to receive God’s gift of salvation.

Faith is often misunderstood as believing what is not true along the lines of believing six impossible things before breakfast.

Faith is rather the act of trusting that the giver of life wants to give to us what we could not get for ourselves. Faith is, in part, an assenting, a mental agreement process. But it is more an act of the will than just an intellectual exercise. I believe in my head that planes can fly. When I board a plane, I have to trust that the pilot, along with a whole community of specialist workers, can get me safely to my destination.

So I may know with my head that God is able to save people. I need to know in my heart that God is able and willing to save me. When I trust him for my eternal destiny, I don’t have to rely on good works, right doctrine, or religious practice.

My God has saved me by his work alone.

There is nothing I can add to God’s grace. There is no sense in which I can contribute to salvation. It is not my own doing, it is the gift of God.

If I can earn salvation it is not a gift. If I can substitute another path to salvation than the gift God has given, that is not faith.

Key points in this verse:

  • We are saved by grace
  • Salvation is God’s gift to us.
  • Salvation is more than a promise of eternity.
  • Salvation is wholeness of body, mind and spirit.
  • There is nothing we can add to what God has given us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:7

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:7. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, www.new-life.org.au

Ephesians 2:7

“In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

God has” seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (v. 6) ”in order that in the coming ages…”

God’s purposes in seating us with Him are now revealed. It is firstly about the future.

God looks at the really, really long term outcome. From before the beginning of time He purposed to create a race of people capable of responding to His love, having first tasted the reality and consequence of sin.

The goal of this plan is expressed in the future, “in the coming ages.” The word “ages” here is the word which we derive aeon. it is a long period of time, a multi-generational period. When you are in the middle of it, it seems like it is all you have ever known, the only way things have ever been or ever will be.

There have been several such ages in history. One of them began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. It will end when Jesus returns for his church, and the new heavens and earth of Revelation are instituted.

This present age will come to an end. Nobody knows the day or the hour, except the Father. From Paul’s perspective, writing in the first century, that time was an aeon away. For us it might still be a long time away.

In the coming ages God will show the incomparable riches of his grace.

This phrase makes me think of another phrase,”trophy of grace.” Every born again follower of Jesus is a trophy, a prize won for God by his grace through the death of Christ.

We are in God’s trophy room or His treasure house as signs of His great victory in Christ. Often we don’t feel like we are rating very highly on the Christian league table. It doesn’t matter; the fact that we persevere in our walk of faith with Christ makes us his treasures.

Who is God showing the riches of his grace to?

Firstly, He is showing off to the rest of humanity what he has done for them in Christ. For as long as we live faithfully, our words and actions serve as an ongoing testimony of God’s rich grace. The Holy Spirit is constantly nudging people to see Christ in us.

On the Day of Judgement, we will each be rolled out as a testimony to God’s great love , both to those who are saved and to those who are unsaved alike.

To the saved, we will be an example of the same grace that they experienced. I used to think that Judgement Day was about God revealing all my secret and shameful sins, but now I see it as a day when God brags about all his beloved children, and his grace being on show to the universe.

To the unsaved, we will be the end of all excuses. If God could save me from my messed up life, and thousands of others who had all kinds of abuse, violence, and neglect to overcome, then there is no excuse for anyone to reject him.

Secondly, God wants to show off his grace to all the heavenly beings — the angels and seraphim , cherubim and living creatures. “These people, billions of them, were born in sin yet were saved by my love.” The miracle of salvation is something that angels have never experienced.

Finally, God wants to show off his great grace to satan, the great enemy. Satan rebelled because he wanted to be God, and he has projected that desire onto people ever since. Every believer is a testament against the deception of satan.

God desires to show the incomparable or immeasurable riches of His grace. God’s grace cannot be measured or compared to anything else.

When God was showing Abraham the destiny that God had for him, He used analogies such as the grains of sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky.

In our age we have become used to the huge numbers that scientists come up with. We know that the universe is bigger than Abraham could see. But God’s grace is greater still.

If you had all the gold in the world, all the mansions, all the privately-owned islands, all the cattle and sheep, it is just a fraction of God’s grace.

The incomparable riches of God’s grace.

His grace never gives up and never runs out. We can’t fly far enough to escape it; all we can do is close ourselves off from it.

Of course, the great tragedy is that so many people prefer to block out the grace of God rather than humble themselves to admit that they need it. The limitation is not in God, but in people.

God’s grace is expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Jesus did not have to die for us. He chose to do that out of love for us. You could describe that as an act of kindness.

We tend to think of kindness as a desire to give someone a treat or a gift for no particular reason other than we want to do it for that person. We might buy flowers for someone going through a hard time, forgive a small debt, buy dinner for someone.

Kindness is motivated by love, a tangible expression of love.

Our idea of kindness just fades into insignificance when compared to that of Christ.

He died for us. He received no personal benefit from the transaction except for the joy of our response. This is perfect kindness.

The reason why we are now seated in heavenly places is the kindness of Christ. He bore the brunt of our sin and our rebellion against God. He paid the price of our redemption.

He saw a need we could not fulfil ourselves, and rather than seeing us die, He died for us. The innocent died and the guilty ones were set free.

Every hope that we have for eternity is in Christ.

Key points in this verse:

  • God’s plan extends to the coming ages
  • This present age will come to an end, but God is looking to the future ages
  • We are both the riches of God’s grace and the recipients of the riches of His grace
  • God wants to brag about his children, showing us off as trophies of grace
  • God’s grace never fails and never runs out
  • We are saved by the ultimate kindness of Christ

Ephesians 2:6

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:6. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 2:6

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

The work of God in saving us from sin and death is already completed. When God rose Christ from the dead, He also raised from the dead all who were, and all who would be, “in Christ.”

Even those of us who were born historically two millennia after Christ, were raised with him.

The Lord has a different perspective on time than we do, so it’s best not to get too caught up in chronology.

The fact that we have already been raised with Christ means that the work of salvation is completed. There is no doubt about whether God will do this for the followers of Christ as it has already been done.

There are all kinds of anxieties that can be set Christians.

  • Am I good enough?
  • Do I have enough faith?
  • Will God accept me?
  • What else do I have to do to be saved?

No! It has already been done. We’ve been raised up to new life in Christ. We have been raised to heaven and are sitting there with Christ now.

Because that work has been completed, it cannot be undone. It can’t be added to or taken away from.

When we know this in our hearts, then we can relax in Christ. There is no fear, no anxiety. We do not have to prove ourselves worthy of salvation or do enough good deeds. It is finished! We have been raised up.

Every church service is, or should be, a reminder that Christ died for me, and that He has been raised up to life, and therefore I am raised up also.

Our resurrection depends on being “with Christ.” It is as if we have to hold onto his hand as he is raised in order to be raised also.

Connection with Christ, or fellowship with him, is the central, most important duty of a Christian. It is in Christ that we are saved, and it is with Christ that we are raised to the heavenly realms.

Many Christians seem to struggle with maintaining a close relationship with Christ, but this is essential to our salvation. It is not enough to say just one prayer to be saved, although this is a good thing.

We have to maintain the relationship with Christ. There are various means for this such as reading the Bible, prayer, corporate worship, fellowship with other believers.

Many of us are like the man who told his wife, “ I told you I loved you on our wedding day. If there is any change to that I will let you know.”

No, our being with Christ or in Christ requires us to deepen the relationship.

We were raised on the first day we said “Yes” to Christ, but why would we settle for anything less than close communion with him?

God seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

When Christ was raised from the dead, He raised us with him, and when He was seated at the right hand of the Father, we were there too. We are there “in Christ Jesus.”

This means that I am both a creature of earth and of heaven. My physical body is on earth, but my spirit is united with Christ in the heavenly realms.

We see the world in three dimensional form, but there are many more dimensions that we do not see. We experience the world through physical senses, but the spiritual realm is often hidden from us.

Paul tells us that we are already seated in the heavenly realms with Christ- even if we are not aware of this.

Our sins have been washed away through Christ and we are now entitled to dwell in heaven. In the past, our sin cut us off from all fellowship with God, but now we have authority to be with him in the heavenly realms.

If we are already seated with Christ, we need to see all things from His perspective, from a heavenly perspective. We need to develop spiritual senses that enable us to see beyond the physical. Paul talks about this later in his discussion of spiritual warfare. We are not fighting in the flesh but in the spirit, overcoming spiritual powers.

As Christians, our real dwelling place is in the heavenly realms- in the spirit realms. This is not future but is a present reality founded on what God did in the past in Christ.

Key points in this verse:

  • We have already been raised from death in Christ
  • We do not need to add to Christ work. It is complete
  • We must pursue relationship with Christ
  • God has seated us in heavenly places in Christ
  • We must learn to see things from a heavenly perspective, not just the physical perspective