May 8, 2013

Ephesians - Chapter 2: Salvation is a Gift ....a work of Grace!

Ch. 1 - Sealing the Deal
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus from prison.  He wrote majestically in what is often termed "the doctrine of ecclesiology" or simply, the doctrine of the "church".  

  1. God has reconciled us to himself, and then furthermore...
  2. We are to be reconciled to each other through "the church", the christian community that God calls "The Bride of Christ".  

You may want to think on this the next time you are tempted to put another brother (or sister) "in-line" from where you think his viewpoint should be compared to yours!!!

 Unity is far more important than who is right and who is wrong!  

Paul even had to explain to the Ephesians that Gentiles (non-Jews) could be partakers in the grace of God, just as well as the Jewish believers, as they seemed to think otherwise.  Imagine seems so strange that Paul had to explain to them something as simple as that!

Recently I visited a community of 40,000 people in the USA for several days in the so-called "bible-belt".  One thing that stood out was that on nearly every street..... (and this went on for street after street after street) there was yet another small church, in most cases just a few thousand feet from another small church.  I probably could have counted over 150 churches of every stripe and notion.  Each one had their own brand, their own little sign and little community going on.  My suspicions were that whenever a point of contention arises, or somebody has a different viewpoint (or ____fill-in-the-blank), half of the congregation packs up and moves on to start another church, instead of work together to iron out their differences and collectively stand to be the church.  This is not the spirit of Paul's teaching whatsoever.  Instead he explains we are to be in unity, "one-in-Christ".  In other scripture, he teaches "forbearance", which roughly translated means to "put-up with each other".   Similarily, Paul encourages "deference", which perhaps is easily explained as "in all humility, consider others, and the needs of others, as being more important than yourself and your needs".  I realize these teachings are probably not popular in today's "me-first" generation, but this is what Paul's teaching in scripture is, and we are to learn and apply it reconciled!
But my favorite part of Chapter 2 is where Paul explains to us the way God reconciled us to himself.  "It was a gift ..." Paul says:
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

If ever you want to in-graft a passage of scripture into your memory ... Ephesians 2:8-10 would be one of the most fundamental, and a constant reminder to you that it was all of what God has done for us and not something we have achieved.  

Some cults try to convince you that you need to "work" your way to God or heaven by "doing" something (often something which benefits their organization).  However here Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us here that our salvation is all a work of God's grace.  It isn't something that we can "do" or work towards.  Christ Jesus has done it all for us...all we have to do is to believe on Him!

> Next: Chapter 3: God Gives Grace to the Humble...Want some more?

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