- Depraved And Dead (verses 1-3)
- Arrested And Alive (verses 4-7)
We come to our study again in the book of Ephesians and we're now into chapter 2, this is our ninth study - not our eighth study as it says on your sheet, it's actually our ninth study. It's been a bit confusing and I apologise to Steven Smith [and] thank him for printing these week after week - I keep meaning to thank him, but I always forget. But it's been confusing, because we've been running the same sheet into the second week quite a lot and it's actually the ninth week of our study. It's taken us eight weeks getting through chapter one, but I hope it's been well worth it - studying those beautiful truths that we have in the Gospel. We're looking at chapter two and we're going to read the first seven verses, and God willing we'll get through them all this evening. So let's read them, and please read them in the light of what we have already read and studied in chapter one. It's important that you don't see it as a section on its own, so remember election, predestination, adoption, all those beautiful things, redemption, the riches of the knowledge of wisdom that we have in Christ, all the things that we have been blessed with in heavenly realms, that we have seen already within chapter one. So in that light and remembering Paul in prison, on his knees, praying to God and writing to God about these blessings - he already has all of this in his mind as he comes to write chapter 2 verse 1: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and in sins: Wherein time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
Let us take a moments prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we seek Thee now. We ask that Thou wilt come, Amen.
I'm told that Mount Whitney, in the US of A, in the state of California, is the highest spot in the whole of the Continental US. There's not a higher spot or mountain or piece of land - it's 14,495 feet. As you stand on that precipice, you can see from that great height a panaroma of the Sierra Nevadas, the beautiful mountains snow-capped all around - and then in the distance you can also see the low lands of the desert plains panned out before your eye. On one side you can see clearly the crystal, indigo and turquoise lakes all around, glistering in the sun. It seems like the top of the world - as you stand there it seems that there could not be a higher point in all of the universe - as you look on God's earth, you look down at it all. But if you look carefully, about 80 miles southeast is what is called Death Valley, and although this great mountain - Mount Whitney - is the highest point in the US, Death Valley is the lowest point, 280 feet below sea level - and indeed the hottest place in the whole country with a record of 134 degrees in the shade. What a contrast: standing on one place, the highest point, the highest hill, yet able to see from there the lowest point in the whole of the country.
Ephesians 2 - which could be called the 'purple passage' of the 'purple book' of the New Testament - Ephesians - is a bit like that. For Paul brings us from where we have been - in heavenly places, blessed in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus with all those blessings that we've already thought about - and he has us on that mountain, that pinnacle and we've been on it. We saw that he was getting to a climax in the last verses of chapter one, talking about the power that rose the Lord Jesus from the grave and seated Him at the right hand of God, and he talks about how that power is available to you and to me. Now from that pinnacle, from that mountain, he wants us - just for a moment - to take a little glimpse into where we have come from. From the highest point that any human being or spirit can reach, to look down to the depths of depravity that we came from.
Don't let the chapter division put you off, or rob you of its connection with chapter one. Because what Paul is saying, the power that he talks about in the last verses, verse 19: "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality...". This power that raised Christ from the dead, this power that put Christ at that privileged, honoured place at the right hand of His Father, that power is the power that saves you! That's what Paul's getting at, Paul is saying: 'It is that power that works in you'! God has let this atomic, dynamite power of His own strength to infuse your spirit and to ignite your whole being - He has lit you!
If you were to turn to chapter 1 of Genesis, and let's do it for a moment this evening - chapter 1 of Genesis - you see a parallel with what we're reading in chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians, for you know that the universe began in Genesis chapter 1: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." - verse 2 - "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Deadness, darkness, just like what we read in Ephesians chapter one, or two, dead in trespasses and in sin. Then secondly, if you read on it says: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The infusion of the Spirit of God, directed to deadness and to darkness and what did it bring? It brought the power of God's creation, let there be light! Amen. Then what we have in the next verses, right down to the end of the chapter and verse 31, we have the new creation, don't we? Coming from darkness and deadness, and the Spirit of God comes and hovers upon the waters and we have that infusion of the power of God, and then we have the great thing that God has done, and we'll read about in the weeks to come, chapter 2 verse 5 to 22. Oh, there is nothing new under the sun! I believe way back there in Genesis chapter 1, that God knew what He was going to do through His Son Jesus Christ. He was sending a type and a picture, an arrow pointing forward, a shadow of what He was going to do to glorify His Son, to bring worship and honour to Himself in the courts of heaven one day, where He would redeem a people to Himself.
So Paul plugs into that eternal truth, that was right there in the beginning at creation, and he talks in verses 1 to 3 of chapter 2 about being - look at the first point - depraved and dead. Let's read those verses again: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and in sins: Wherein time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." As Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, opens chapter 2 of Ephesians, all we can see are spiritual corpses in the valley of death, have you got it? Death! Spiritual decomposition, absolute rotting, death!
I want you to notice that there's a bit of a difference from verses 1, 2 and 3 - for in verses 1, 2 and 3 and verse 4 there's two people being addressed. Verses 1 to 3, you see that Paul says: 'you', he uses the second person, as he used in chapter 1 and verse 13: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth". We remembered there, as we looked in chapter 1, that at that point Paul was talking to the Gentiles. Paul the Jew was saying to the Gentiles: 'You also trusted when you heard the Word of God'. He uses the second person again in verse 1, 2 and 3 '...you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses...wherein times past you walked according to the...prince of the power of the...spirit', and so on. He's addressing them as the Gentiles, those who were in darkness from all time, those who were not given the Law of God, nor the prophets of God, nor the Spirit of God in any form - nor the worship of God - they were in darkness in all times past. But in case the Jews got proud, in verse 4, or I beg your pardon verse 3, he says: "Among whom also we" - it changed - "we all had our conversation in times past". So he analyses what the Gentiles were like, how they were dead in their trespasses and sins, walked according to the spirit and the god of this world - but then in case the Jews get proud he says: 'All of us were the same! All tarred with the same brush!' And the first thing he has to say about them all is this - verse 1: "Who were dead!".
Now you'll notice, if you have the authorised version of the Scriptures, that 'hath he quickened' in the first verse is in italics and that simply means that the translators have added that - it is not in the original scriptures in Greek. Now they did that for a purpose, but if you read the original Greek you will read it: 'and you who were dead in trespasses and in sins' - there's no sign of that quickening yet. These people were dead, and that's the first thing I want you to add underneath your first title, 'spiritual deadness'. What is Paul talking about? He is talking about man without God. He is talking about man unable to reach the requirements of God, man falling short of the glory and the standard, the holy mark of God - and let me say this, this evening: when Paul, by the Holy Spirit, says 'dead' he means dead! Do you understand? He means the cessation of life. It is an absolute statement, he doesn't simply mean in the danger of physical death, or even the second death - in danger of hell. And it doesn't simply mean, as some of the conservative evangelical scholars believe, the absence of the highest life: that when man fell in the garden, that he was deprived of the highest form of the life of God and he fell to a lower life - and it would surprise you who believes that! No my friend, this means dead! Absolutely, categorically, dead! It's not just separation from God, but as John Calvin the great reformer insisted: 'This is a state of real and present death'. Paul's not using a figure of speech here. Paul means that the Gentiles were dead - verse 1. Verse 3 we all had our conversation in times past - the Jews were dead - and all are dead under sin and done, universally, spiritually, morally dead!
You see the most vital part of the personality of a man is his spirit. The spirit was given so that we might know God, and the tragedy of the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is that that part died - that's what God meant when He said 'the day that thou shall eat thereof thou shalt surely die'. It didn't mean that Adam was carried out in a coffin, the minute he sinned against God - but his soul, his spirit, eternally was in a coffin, dead. And therefore men are dead to God, and Paul gives the evidence for this in verse 1, he says: '...who were dead' - look - 'in trespasses and in sins...'. 'Transgressions' that word trespass means - and transgress simply means to have a line drawn, some law, some rule, some boundary, and for you or I to step over that boundary, to trespass, to transgress, to fall from that law. The word 'sins' simply means shortcoming - missing the mark - that's what Paul meant in Romans 3:23: "All have sinned and fallen short from the glory of God", missed the mark of God.
Now what's Paul doing? He is showing the multiplicity of the ways that our deadness is evidenced. Some people believe that these transgressions and sins are the cause of the deadness - no - my friend, as you will see, that is not the case. The trespasses and the sins are not the cause, but are the evidence, the mirror that shows men and women, boys and girls that - without Christ - in their sin they are lost, eternally lost, condemned, damned! There is nothing that can be revived in their souls because the most vital part of the human being, the spirit that relates to God, is dead! How do we know that? Paul says that 'with the law came the knowledge of sin'. Did Paul say with the law came sin? No. You see the law was God's giant magnifying glass, to show mankind that he could never ever keep up to God's glory, God's standard, before. Paul even described himself as being alive before he had the law - as far as he was concerned he was OK, as long as he was in his Judaism - but when God gave the law, all of a sudden, all were condemned.
Do you see it? There's a subtle difference, but we need to draw the line this evening: there is nothing in the human heart that can be revived. There's a hymn that I love, 'Rescue the perishing, care for the dying', but my friends there's a verse in that hymn that is scripturally incorrect. It goes like this, 'Down in the human heart, crushed by the temper, feelings lie buried that grace can restore, touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, cords that were broken will vibrate once more'. Impossible! We are dead! Have you ever tried reviving a corpse? Doesn't work, does it? For when life leaves the body - what are you? Dead. Dead my friends, and what it needs is not a reviving, for reviving presupposes that there was life already! But what you need is the Creator of the creature to come and to bring new life again, he needs to be born again! Sure isn't that what the word means? Born again.
Now I'm not saying that everybody's as sinful as one another. I'm not even saying that one person has to be as depraved as another person, that a mass murderer is as equal in depravity as a little child - that's not what I'm saying. For if you look into the Scriptures you see that there were illustrations of this in Jairus' daughter and the widow of Nain's son and Lazarus. Three resurrections that the Lord Jesus Christ performed, do you remember Jairus' daughter? It wasn't long that she had died, perhaps a few minutes, and even when her father was out trying to get the Saviour to resurrect that body, they came and said 'It's too late, your daughter's dead' - a few minutes dead. Then the widow of Nain's son being carried - he was a few hours dead, he was prepared for burial. And then there was Lazarus, Jesus standing at Lazarus' tomb and He was going to resurrect him - and they looked at Him and said 'Are you mad? By this time he stinks!' - a few days dead. You see the fact of the depravity of man is that you're dead. It doesn't matter about the extent of your depravity, the fact is: it is a spiritual fact that the part in you that relates to God is dead. It didn't matter how much decomposition or rot had set in, like our sins, they all were as dead as one another and it took the same resurrection life to raise them again!
What a past and what a present. Isn't it? Do you ever ponder the past that you had before you were saved, have you? Dead, helpless, hopeless, morally reprobate, depraved, you couldn't do a thing for yourself spiritually speaking - and Paul lists the evidences of their deadness. Dr. Geboline (sp?) went into a meeting on one occasion, and the head of the YMCA came over to him - the secretary - and passed him a little decision card, and on it read: 'I promise faithfully henceforth to lead a religious and Christian life' - and then there was a place to sign your name. 'How do you like that? Isn't it pretty good? Isn't it a great way of putting it?', he said. The Doctor replied: 'How on earth can a dead man live any kind of life?'. Is that not true? Dead! You see, you cannot live a life for God, until you receive a life from God! Have you got it?
The first thing that Paul wants us to know is that we were dead. The second thing is this: he wants us to see that one of the evidences of our deadness was the way that we walked. This is the second thing under our first point, the world - in verse 2: '...dead in trespasses and in sin, wherein times past ye walked according to the course of this world'. The Greek word is the word 'kosmos' - it's used 186 times within the New Testatment scriptures, and virtually every instance of its use has an evil connotation. It's not talking about the physical world, with the birds, and the trees, and the soil, and the rocks, and the mountains - that's not what it's talking about. It's not talking about the racial world the black and white, the Roman Catholics, the Buddhists, the Protestants, all different races and creeds. It's talking about the world system, the spirit of the world, the evil world - it's often translated 'way' or 'age'. We read of it in Galatians 1 and verse 4, Paul says: "[Christ] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father'. That's what it means, the world, the evil system that is against God, that is at enmity with God, that will have not God to rule over them.
The dead today are walking around us. They're captive to social and the value systems of today's culture, and it's all hostile to Christ! It might seem harmless on the outside, it mightn't seem blatantly obvious that they are against Christ - but if you ask them what part has the King of kings and the Lord of lords in the whole of their system - and they will dismiss Him, and if they could they would crucify Him again! Never be duped by the world. The sign of a dead person in the world is that they are a slave to pop culture, to the media culture, to the group think of talk shows and magazines and newspapers, they indulge in the sins of the time. You see the world has a mould and it wants to pour each and every one of us into its mould and make us its devotees. It is the mould of depravity! Young person I speak to you specifically: the Word of God says this, and this is a scripture that I think many a modern day Christian - and that phrase galls me - would love to cut out of their Bible: 'Love not the world, neither the things that are of the world' - that's the fruit of the world - 'for if you love the world the love of the Father is not in you'. I heard of Christian churches this week taking their young peoples fellowships to a public house, renting a room and having a disco - do you know why? To show the world that Christians can have as much fun as the world, without drink. Is that not sad? Is that not tragic? A total misconception, that it's deadness! Anybody who's been in the world knows it is, anybody who's tried the broken cisterns have saw that the waters fail and the devil laughs at the child of God that tries to be satisfied in such deadness.
The course of this world does not necessarily have to be a depraved course, in the sense that we think of drinking, and smoking, and sleeping around, and pornography, and child abuse and all those awful sins, murder and terrorism and all these things - but often, beware! - because the course of this world can often be a religious and a moral one.
There's a story told, an amusing story, about Jeremy Bentham (sp?), he was a philosopher and the father of Utilitarianism - and he's dead, but he still sits on a chair, dressed in old garb and hatted in the early 19th century gentleman's wear. For when he died he wrote down and gave orders, that his entire estate be given to the University College Hospital in London - on one condition - that his body be preserved, and placed in attendance at all the Hospital boards meetings, now don't you elders get any ideas! He is there today, he's there today. They bring him in, a corpse in all the garb, and do you know what the chairman of the board says, year after year, after year? 'Jeremy Bentham present, but not voting'. My friend that is the course of this world, religiously speaking, for the false religionists, the false ministers and preachers today - they are present in the churches, they are present in their pulpits, they are present in their garb, and in their religious names, but they are dead - and dead useless! But the world loves them, for they don't condemn the world, but they love the world and the things that are of the world. They are kind to the world, but in their selves they have a form of godliness that is powerless, and a costless religion that they give nothing to of themselves, but they live off it.
Oh the world loves religion! 500 years before the Lord Jesus Christ was born, some Greek philosophers were debating with one another, and the question that they were asking was: 'What is the briefest definition of man?'. Plato was there and he stood to his feet and he said: 'Man is a two legged animal'. And one of them went out and brought in a rooster and held it up and said: 'Behold, Plato's man!' Then one exclaimed, 'I have it!' 'Man is a religious animal'. There is no other beast, or creature that looks up to God, and that cries to God, and wants to please God, and wants to live for God - why? Because men are incurably religious - and even the atheist worships himself, he worships man and everything that man does. But my friend whether it be the deadness of overt sin or whether it be the deadness of religiosity - it's all dead! All dead!
We're dead, and we see it in the world, and then in verse 2 we see it in the devil: '...according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience...'. One by one we are beginning to add to the unholy trinity, the enemies of the child of God, the world the flesh and the devil. The prince of the power of the air, who is he? At times he's called 'the prince of the world', 'the prince of demons', and this awful title that makes us shake in the age in which we live - 'the god of this age'. The Bible describes him as the chief of evil spirits, it describes him as having his realm in the atmosphere, and he commands innumerable hosts in the unseen world - and thus what he does is create a spirit of the age, a spirit that presumes all of humanity, in which he will knit together just enough good, with just enough bad, to achieve his purposes. He - the Word of God says - is the one that energizes the dead of the world.
Don't believe this nonsense about 'God is our Father' - that everybody has God as their Father - nonsense! Jesus said to the Pharisees: 'Ye are of your father the devil!' And my friend, if you are not converted this evening - don't you call God, Jehovah, your Father, for He's not! Your father is the devil, and it is that spirit that he has created around this world in all the fashion and media, in all the drive to bring humanity down to hell, to dupe them, to drug them, to make them drunk with their iniquity, with that new culture, and drag them as far away from Christ as he possibly can - to bring them to hell with himself. He is the ape of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, it says, 'will lead you into all truth', but what does it say of the devil here? 'The spirit that now worketh', verse 2, 'in the children of disobedience'. The Holy Spirit will take you into obedience, but he will take you to disobedience. Whatever it is, this is a sign of deadness. Today we have a Church, much of it, finds nothing wrong with a social drink, with a business drink, finds nothing wrong with going to certain places, leading themselves into temptation. Churches think nothing of sidelining God's Word, to make way for music or entertainment - and many of them have a view of the Scripture that says that only the fundamentals count - even those now have been watered down! We need to beware my friends, for we live in a godless age, and I think on many occurances 'Ichabod' could be written on so many places, for there is no reverence of God, no fear of the Almighty, no realising the One that we come to worship, [on the] Lord's Day and during the week, that He is the Almighty, the mighty God, the King of creation, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord of all the universe, the Head of the Church, the One who is above all principality and power, all demons, all angels, and He has been set as our Head and given to us as a Gift - yet we think we can come to Him any way.
Then Paul begins to speak to the Jews. He has finished speaking to the Gentiles in verse 1 and 2, and now he turns to the Jews and he makes sure that he includes them: 'Among whom also we' - the Jewish race - 'all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh'. There you are, the third of the trinity, the devil, the world, and now the flesh. What's Paul saying? He's saying that the dead, spiritually speaking, are not just corrupted from without, but they are corrupted from within. Not just a problem from the world - and mind you the bright lights of the world, the cry of the world, the temptation and the pull of magnetism to the soul of a believing child of God that has never known the world, can be so strong, and I do not underestimate it because I've known what it is! But my friend that's not the worst, for Paul could say 'In my flesh dwelleth no good thing. Who shall deliver me from this body of' - what? - 'death!' Decomposition, and we all know what it is, that's why when the little monks go off into the desert and enclose themselves in to seek God - and they might have a right motive, they might be very sincere - but they can't get away from their sin, because it's in them!
It's like the little girl who was scolded for kicking her wee brother. She was kicking him in the shins, and then she began to pull his hair, 'Sally!', the mother said, 'What are you doing? Why did you let the devil make you kick your little brother and pull his hair?' To which she answered, 'The devil made me kick him, but the pulling of the hair was my idea'. Isn't that what we're like at times? 'Oh the devil made me do it'. Oh you wouldn't say that to your partner, or to your friend, but that's what you think in there [to yourself]. My friend, most of the time I would vouch - the devil has bigger things and you do it yourself. The devil's not to blame, it's an act of your will, it's a choice that you have, but there's a deeper problem - because within you there is this thing that Paul alludes to called 'carnality', the fleshliness, the life within you that is a wrong life, gratifying yourselves in the lust of the flesh, your desires that have more base desires, the appetites of the flesh that you want to gratify.
He goes on talking about corruption and he doesn't just talk of the flesh, but what does he say? '...in times past...the lusts of the flesh' - look - 'fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind'. You mightn't be doing it in the flesh, but you could be doing it in the mind - and I think there are many Christians feeding like parasites among the filth of the world, in a closed room with a television, with videos, with magazines - it would surprise you! F.B. Meyer put it like this: "It is ruinous to indulge in the desires of the mind, as those of the flesh. By the marvellous gift of imagination we may indulge unholy fancies, and throw the reins on the neck of the steeds of passion, always stooping short of the act". Oh, you can get the buzz by just thinking about it! "No human eye follows the soul when it goes forth to dance with satires, or to thread the labyrinth maze of the islands of desire". Sure somebody could be feeding their mind on filth at this very moment and no-one else in the whole meeting knows about it, no-one can check it, only God can see it. Half the time we're not aware of God, we're not living in the consciousness of the presence of God - therefore we feel we get away with it. He says: "It goes and returns unsuspected by the nearest, but if this practice is unjudged and unconfessed" - listen - "it marks the offender a son of disobedience and a child of wrath". We need to see that God is saying that this is a fruit of the child that is dead.
A lot of people go through times doubting their salvation, don't they? I went through a long period of my life doubting my salvation because I could not just believe God - that He has said 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved'. Well, sometimes I wonder ought some so-called 'Christians' to doubt their salvation a little bit more. To be sure that you are in the faith, to persevere that you may show works - the Lord Jesus says - meet for repentance, why? Because if you are continually feeding upon the spirit that now worketh among the children of disobedience, the likelihood is that you are a child of disobedience - a child of wrath!
Paul talks not just of carnality, of corruption, but now of condemnation. The Word of God says we are condemned already, the wrath of God abideth on him who is condemned, who is without Christ, who is without hope, who is not saved - unconverted! Many have said that verses 1 to 3 of chapter 2 of Ephesians is like a summary of the first three chapters of the book of Romans. You have the Biblical doctrine of depravity, and then you have the truth that God can save! Now when I talk about depravity, what I'm talking about is this, not that everybody is depraved - as depraved as they could be - but that every single part of our person is tainted with sin, is that not true? Your mind, your will, your body, so much that has tainted motives - all sorts of feelings and emotions tainted with sin. And we have here a total awful picture of the valley of death - he's just been on the mountain of the blessings that we have in Christ Jesus, but he has us looking down now into the awful depths of our past, where we were brought from, where we were saved from. Some people say in churches: 'Man is well. Man's alright - what are you talking about? He's trying his best and there's an innate goodness within men and, if we all try our best with one another, man will be alright'. Some evangelicals say: 'Man is just sick. If you give him the medicine of the Gospel and the Word of God that he'll revive and he'll be alright. He may be mortally wounded, if he doesn't get the Gospel he'll die, but treat him and he'll be alright'. But my friend the Word of God says 'man is dead'! You can go to any morgue and try and puff and blow into the lungs of a corpse, you can shout 'Boo' in the face, you can do all sorts of things - but once the life is gone, they're dead.
Do you ever think back to what you were? I love this, verse 4, we've come through a cemetery of sin: 'But God' - Hallelujah! - 'God who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ'.
'But God!' - but God! What a cry! What that should do for our hearts, for the sinner deep dyed in his sin and his deadness. McDonald says, 'It's one of the most significant, eloquent and inspiring transitions in all literature', why? Because it indicates a stupendous change, something that I could not change, you could not change, no church could change, or minister or system, or philosophy of belief could change, 'but God'! Hallelujah!
God is the author, but look what it says about our God: 'God who is rich in mercy'. What did the Psalmist say? 'He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him, as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us'. The mercy of our God is an inexhaustible mine. You can't plumb the depths of it, you can't measure the width of it, the riches of His mercy and then what does it say? 'The great love wherewith He hath loved us', why is it a great love? It's a great love because it's His love, and it's better to be loved by the sovereign Saviour of the universe than by every human being that has ever been born. His love is a great love because of what it cost Him to love us, because it cost Him the blood of His only begotten Son - it is great also because of the wealth that it gives to you and I, all the riches in Christ Jesus! Verse 5, 'Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ'. 'When we were dead', it's a great love because it shows the gulf that God did span at Calvary! It shows what God had to do to bring us from the depths of the mire of the dirt, and the shame, and the darkness, and deadness that we were in. The deader we realize we were - that we are - the greater the cross becomes.
Oh it's wonderful, that He quickened us. That word literally means 'made us alive' and in scripture, most of the time, the word is actually translated to describe the physical resurrection - but what he's talking about here is a spiritual resurrection. The resurrection of a dead spirit, that's why he was talking in verse 19 and 20 in chapter 1 about the great power of God that rose Christ from the dead, that set Him at the right hand of the Father on high - that that is the power that works in you, to bring new life to your spirit, to resurrect you, to give you that born again life in Christ - to quicken you. You have been quickened - look at the verse: '...quickened us together with Christ'. Isn't that beautiful? Together with Him: that means that when He died, I died in Him, when He was buried, I was buried in Him, when He was raised, I was raised with Him, and when He ascended on high, I went to sit there with Him in heavenly places.
What did we read Paul said? 'We are blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places' - why? Because we're in Him, and He's up there, do you see it? Together with Christ - and Paul is so overwhelmed with the undeserved blessings that he has, that he interrupts his train of thought here in verse 5, and he just exclaims: 'By grace you're saved!'. It's all of grace, he gets so excited that he realizes what it was - and then in verse 6: '...and has raised up us together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ'. Positionally, positionally you're not waiting on the rapture, positionally you're not waiting on the millennium, or the new heavens and new earth, because positionally you're in them already. That means you can enjoy it, you can enjoy all the blessings, all the blessings of Christ in Him. Look at verse 7, as we finish, in verse 7 - this is wonderful: '...that in the ages to come He is going to show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ'. God, for all eternity, will be unfolding new revelations to us of the blessings that we have in Christ. Do you know what I believe God's going to do? He's going to take us into the school of heaven, and He's going to be our teacher, and He's going to tell us what it cost Him to show grace to us. No matter how long we're there - do you know what the term spell is? Eternity, and in all eternity it will never tell how great the gulf that my Saviour spanned at Calvary.
Read that verse again, verse 7, look: 'His kindness toward us', he multiplies it, 'His grace in His kindness toward us', he multiplies it again, 'the riches of His grace in His kindness toward us' - and finally - 'the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us'. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Our Father we thank Thee for Jesus, the Lord and Christ - the One who saved us from our sin. We thank Thee that there is a day coming, when we will learn in the school of God, for all eternity, what it meant to show the exceeding riches of the grace of God toward us. Lord let us never lose the thrill, let us never lose the joy, of what it is to be a child of God and to be saved from our sin. Part us now with Thy blessing, we pray, in Jesus Name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the ninth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "From Death To Life" - Transcribed by Judith Watkins, Preach The Word.
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