Would you turn with me to Ephesians Chapter 2 as we continue in our
study on "The marvelous grace of our loving Lord." Verse 8 is one of the
key verses of all of Chapter 2. If you will look there again, letís read
that and understand afresh a little what he is saying: "For by grace you
have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is
the gift of God."
Itís wonderful to me to see how God has worked salvation. If a man
goes to hell, he can never blame God, but if a man goes to heaven and is
saved, he can never pat himself on the back. God has orchestrated it in
such a way that it is just absolutely magnificent. "It is by grace that
we are saved through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast."
Grace is what only God can do to a man, for a man, in a man and through
a man that a man could never deserve on this earth, and certainly could
never do himself.
Letís go back and read verses 1, 2 and 3: "And you were dead in your
trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the
course of this world, according to the prince of the power of air, of
the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them
we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the
desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of
wrath, even as the rest." Thatís the backdrop. The apostle Paul is
showing the Ephesian believers where they had come from. He shows that
awful, awful mire of sin.
Verses 4-10 gives us the most beautiful picture of the grace of God.
Itís always up against the backdrop of the blackness of manís sin. We
looked at the giver of grace in our last study. We discovered some
wonderful things about Him. It says in Verse 4, "But God, being rich in
mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,..." Heís full
of love, and because Heís full of love, Heís full of mercy. Now
remember, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin. Grace deals
with the sin. Mercy deals with the consequences of our sin. It says He
is rich in mercy. Mercy always is that wonderful thing that we are so
desperate for. Yes, we can be forgiven, but oh, the consequences to what
we have chosen.
We used to have a sign in front of the church that read, "You are
free to choose whatever you want to choose, but you are not free to
choose itís consequences." Those consequences are what are so difficult.
The main consequence of verses 1, 2 and 3 is that we were separated from
God. God, being rich in mercy, sent Jesus to this earth to die for our
sins, to help us to bear up under and to bring us out of the mire of
that consequence. God cares about you and about me. He is full of mercy.
He is rich in mercy. Why is He? Because He loves us, He died on a cross
to prove His love for all of us.
So much then for the giver of grace. Letís look at the quickening of
grace. Look at verse 5: "...even when we were dead in our
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have
been saved)." Now think about the quickening power of that grace. Grace,
being what God alone can do to a man, in a man, for a man and through a
man, made us alive together with Christ. Paul says we were in a state of
deadness when Godís grace intervened. He says, "we were dead in our
transgressions." The tense there when it says "we were dead" is present
active. Literally it would be, "we were existing as dead people." We
looked at that in verses 1, 2 and 3, and now we see it again in verse 5.
Now to make sure you understand that, letís go over it again. Manís
spiritual life was lost when Adam sinned. A man without Christ has no
spiritual life whatsoever. Yes, he has a spirit, but Godís Spirit is no
longer in his spirit. He cannot know God, communicate with God, or
understand anything about God. His spiritual life was lost when Adam
sinned. Manís soul, at the same time, was immediately disengaged from
the wisdom and the knowledge of God when Adam sinned. Man could no
longer understand God, comprehend God or know Godís will. Manís body
began to decay when Adam sinned. Now this is the state of deadness that
men were in. While we were existing as dead people, in the state of
being dead, through His grace, God did what no one else could ever do:
He made us alive together with Christ.
When a person receives Jesus Christ, at the very moment of receiving
Christ, he is immediately made alive in Christ. That spiritual life
comes back within him. Letís look at the text a minute. The Greek word
for "made alive" is suzoopoieo. It comes from two Greek words,
sun, which means "together with" and zoopoieo, which "means
to make alive or to quicken." Itís an aorist indicative active which
means at a certain point in time. In other words, the very moment I
bowed down and received Jesus into my life, immediately I was made alive
with Christ. You see, God has given me back that spiritual life.
What does it mean to be made alive together with Christ? Jesus rose
from the dead, completely and wholly arose from the dead. Jesus now has
given us as complete a resurrection from a life of sin to a life of
righteousness as His body had being raised from the dead.
When we believe, immediately the first thing that had disappeared in
the garden is regained: spiritual life comes back within. Thatís part of
that resurrection. Thatís part of that newness of life that we are
talking about. I John 5:12 says that he who has the Son has the life.
The life comes back in. If you have never received Christ, you donít
understand God, you canít communicate with God, your prayers go
unanswered. When you do receive Christ, then the Holy Spirit, the Spirit
of Christ, comes in and that life returns. You are raised to walk in
newness of life. Itís a brand new day when a person becomes a believer.
Itís a resurrection of spiritual life.
Immediately something else happens. Somehow we now can understand the
things of God. Why? Because the Spirit who is that life, now brings with
Him the ability that we need to understand spiritual truth. It doesnít
happen overnight. There is a progression. This is what sanctification is
all about. Iíve got to make some choices. Iíve got to get in the Book.
Iíve got to know Him by obeying Him. All of this progressively begins to
happen, but thereís been a resurrection. Thereís been a newness of life.
Now I can understand the deep things of God.
I Corinthians 2 says we didnít receive the spirit of the world, but
the spirit is from God who teaches us the deep things and searches the
deep things of God. Thatís why Romans 12:2 says that we ought to renew
our minds. Rip out the old way of thinking and put in the new way of
thinking. There has been a resurrection not only to spiritual life, but
now the ability to comprehend His wisdom, His will, and His Word.
One day, the third thing that was effected in the garden when Adam
sinned will be restored: our bodies will resurrect one day. When we die,
we put our bodies in the ground. Why do we do that? Well, itís like
planting a body. When you plant it, what do you expect it to do? You
expect it to come up one of these days. We know what is going to happen
to that body. When we are saved, a newness of life comes in, and one day
everything that was lost in the garden will be restored. Itís a
resurrection of a brand new life that God has given to us.
I Corinthians 15 documents that it will take place. I Thessalonians
4:13-18 tell us when it is going to take place, at the Rapture of the
Church. That final thing that needs to be restored is going to be given
back to us, a glorified body. In the same progression that it was lost,
it will come back. We have been raised up with Christ Jesus. We have
been made alive with Him. Oh, the quickening power of the grace of God.
Heís not just the giver of grace but Heís also the quickener of grace.
Look at that little last phrase there in verse 5: "by grace you have
[already] been saved." It was Godís grace that reached down and saved
us. It was what He could do, not what man could do. The word "saved"
means "delivered out of, to be rescued." It comes from the word sozo.
The perfect tense is used there. When the perfect tense is used it
describes the state that something now is permanently in. We were in a
permanent state of what? Being dead in our trespasses and in our sins.
Because of the grace of God we have been rescued out and made alive with
Christ Jesus. What God makes alive, He keeps alive. It is in the passive
voice. It is not up to us. Itís up to Him.
If youíve been saved, youíve been born from above, made alive in
Christ and made inseparable from the mysterious union that man now has
with Him. Thatís the quickening of grace. Oh, the marvelous grace of our
loving Lord. Heís the giver of grace. Heís full of compassion. Heís full
of mercy. How do we know that? Jesus came and died. Why? To effect a
brand new way of living for you and me. I once was dead, but now I am
alive with Christ Jesus. We are not the same anymore.
You know caterpillars are not really fun to look at, are they? That
caterpillar secretes a little fluid inside of its own body and makes a
cocoon that he wraps around himself. He loses all of his identity. You
wouldnít know it was a caterpillar with that cocoon wrapped around him.
Then one day, something happens. That cocoon begins to break open, and
you wouldnít recognize that little caterpillar. He is a brand new
creature. We call that metamorphosis.
Thatís the word "transform" in Romans 12:2 when it says, "Be ye
transformed," that means "be ye metamorphosized." "Be ye being changed
and transformed in your life." Thatís what happens to us. When you are a
believer, you are no longer the same. Youíve been made alive with
Christ. Just as the order in the garden was lost, now it is going to be
regained. The final thing will be the glorification of our body.
First of all we saw the giver of grace. Then we saw the quickening of
grace. Now thirdly the identification of grace. Verse 6 is the toughest
verse Iíve dealt with in a long time. What do I mean by the
identification of grace? Well, there are two words that stress
identification. One is the word "with," and the other one is "in."
Look in Verse 6: "and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him
in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." The word, "with" and
the word "in" are identification words. Iím in Him. Somehow, we are
identified mysteriously together. We are one together. Not only did God
make us alive with Christ, but He raised us up and seated us with Christ
in the heavenlies.
Weíve been raised up and seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenly
places. I think in order to believe it, weíve got to better understand
it. Look back in 1:20. Look where Jesus is seated: "which He brought
about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His
right hand in the heavenly places." He is seated by the Father in
the heavenlies. Now I am in Him so, therefore, I am seated with Him in
the heavenlies at the right hand of the Father.
Maybe somehow this is what was on Paulís mind when he wrote Romans
8:37. Hereís Paul, talking about always being a conqueror: "But in all
these things [speaking of persecution] we overwhelmingly conquer through
Him who loved us." He is saying we are always conquerors in Jesus
Christ. Now wait a minute. We know that Christians are martyred, we know
that Christians die; what does he mean, "we are always conquerors in
Christ Jesus"? Could he have on his mind that positionally we are seated
in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus?
Look in II Corinthians 2:14. He says, "But thanks be to God, who
always lead us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the
sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place."
We saw in Ephesians 1 that Christ is far above all rule and dominion
and powers and every name thatís ever been named. Heís seated at the
right hand of the Father, and mysteriously, we are seated with Him in
the heavenly places. We are identified in Him and with Him. Those are
identification words. Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote
Ephesians, and yet thereís no smell of a prison in Ephesians. There is
no clank of prison chains to be heard. Why? Because Paul is not bound in
his spirit. He is only bound in his body. Where is his spirit? Well,
technically and positionally, it is seated in Christ in the heavenly
places. He is identified completely and wholly in Jesus. He claims not
to be a prisoner of Rome in Ephesians. He says, "I am a prisoner of our
Lord Jesus Christ." Paul knows that he is in Christ and seated with
Christ. Therefore, he can go through anything down here on this earth.
His spirit is free, though his body is imprisoned.
This is positional truth. Yes, we are down here, but we are seated in
the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. Itís finished. Itís done. Itís over as
far as God sees it. We are victorious in Christ, and we are always led
in His triumph.
The key to understanding this is in the word "heavenlies." He is
saying to those people at Ephesus, "You are at Ephesus but you are in
Christ." We are in Chattanooga, but we are in Christ. Yes, we are here,
but we are there! Thatís hard to grab hold of. The word "heavenlies"
there refers to the things that pertain to or that are in heaven. Now
weíve got to realize that we are not of this world. Paul has already
shown us this in the same book. Ephesians 1:3 says, "Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." In
other words, they are not material blessings. This is something much
greater than that. They are the spiritual blessings of God.
So another way of saying we are seated in the heavenlies is to say we
are no longer of this world. We are in it, but we are not of it. We are
of a different world. We do not live as if we are still dead in our
trespasses and our sins. We donít walk according to the course of this
world any more. Our position is now in Christ. What did it used to be?
It used to be that we belonged to the world. If you know somebody that
is lost that doesnít know Jesus, they totally belong to the world and
the devil until they come to receive Christ in their life. That is the
only moment they will know freedom from the domination of their flesh
and from the domination of Satan using their lives.
I want you to see one more thing. In 2:6 it says, "...and seated us
with Him in the heavenly places." He seated us. You know, that
depicts rest. We can rest, folks, because we are in Him and we are with
Him. In Him we find and have our victory. We triumph in Him. Whatever
happens to us down here canít affect whatís going on in that inner man
and in that position that we have spiritually with the Lord Jesus
Have you learned to rest in the conqueror who is far above all
principalities and powers. I thought I had, but something will pop up,
and immediately I get under it, and I forget. All I have to do is listen
to Him. He is the One who has already conquered. If Iíll just surrender
to Him, I can rest in the fact that Heís far above all principalities
and all power. Nothing can come against you or against me that He cannot
handle. He is far above. We are seated with Him. Donít ever get the idea
you can do anything. It is what He does in accordance to our willingness
to surrender to Him.
Thatís why it says in Ephesians 5, "Be filled with the Spirit." If
that wasnít in there, then we could be arrogant. But no, it says you
have to be up under the control of the Holy Spirit of God. As you are,
then you walk in victory, and you are always caused to triumph. He has
seated us with Him in the heavenlies.