By Nikki Daniel
In Chapter one of Ephesians, we find Paul praying for Christians to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus’ resurrection power. Chapter two explains why they so desperately needed that power. They were dead, enslaved, and condemned. This is bad news, especially because it applies to all of mankind, including you and me. Paul couldn’t have come up with a more grim and depressing image for us. However, he follows this bad news up with two beautiful words: but God. But God! This is the most crucial turning point in all of history.
From grim to breathtaking. Depressing to exhilarating. Death to life. Christian conversion is nothing less than resurrection from the dead! There are three key verb phrases describing what God did for us in verses five and six: “made us alive” (5), “raised us up” (6), “seated us with him in the heavenly places” (6).
First, he made us alive. This means that we were dead to God and his desires. However, now we are alive to God because God made us alive. We now trust, love, and follow God because we have been given new life!
Second, he raised us up. This phrase parallels with ascension and means that Christians are members of a different realm. We are no longer citizens in the world, but citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20). This has deep implications for the core of our desires, intentions, and thoughts. We once reasoned with “what’s in it for me?” but now we reason with “what’s best for my soul?” (Col. 3:1-3).
Third, he seated us with him in the heavenly places. There are two kingdoms at play: the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. We were once enslaved to the dominion of Satan (earthly kingdom), but we have been set free. Fleshly desires no longer squelch us because we are thinking about ourselves less often. We have a new master on whom to focus!
I find myself asking why God would do this great work for miserable, dead sinners. There are four glorious reasons revealed in this passage. He is merciful (4), loving (4), gracious (5, 7, 8), and kind (7).
Paul explains in verses eight and nine that salvation is God’s gracious work. We have nothing to contribute except for a fierce depravity. It is not as though humans can be good enough to earn God’s favor because, as the text says, all humans are dead in their sin. God did the “doing”.
The image of being brought from death to life is finalized with verse ten. The Holy Spirit gives beautiful new desires to Christians for God-driven good works. These works are not us working for God, but rather, God working in and through us. The gospel not only saves us, but it also transforms us.
Nikki Daniel is a pastor’s wife from Augusta, Georgia. Her husband has been the pastor at Berea Baptist Church (www.bbcaugusta.org) for over ten years. She has three children, Noah (5), Isaiah (4), and Tatom (4 months). She enjoys working from home as a freelance writer and graphic designer. Nikki graduated with a BA in Advertising from the University of Houston and a MATS degree from Southern Seminary.
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